Maho Beach is wonderful, a unique spot for thrill seekers. It is THE place to be on St. Martin! Spread your towel, stretch out on the white sand, gaze at the turquoise water, and enjoy a front-row view of an amazing sight.
At first mindfully absorbed by your tranquil contemplation, you’ll notice in the distance, against the azure-blue sky, the flashing lights of an approaching plane. Then, as you look more closely, you’ll see it turn and head straight for the beach. You’ll barely have time to realize that the plane is on its final approach. You won’t believe your eyes as the blast from the jet engines whips up a few waves on the Caribbean Sea! Right above your head, a long-haul flight is coming in for a landing. You’re not dreaming. This is St. Martin and you’re on Maho Beach!
A Spectacle You Can’t Miss
World famous for its location at the end of the Princess Juliana International Airport runway, Maho Beach is one of the best known and most out-of-the-ordinary beaches on St. Martin. Tourists come in large numbers for this impressive experience. The airplanes that land and take off here are a major attraction!
Some of the most incredible photos and sensational videos have gone viral. In disbelief, many people think they are fakes. But they’re not. They’re all real! The decibels, the blast from the engines and the impression that the plane is about to crash are guaranteed to bring a tingle of excitement.
The runway is relatively short, forcing the planes to touch down at its very limit, which means they fly just a few feet above the beach. Private jets, commercial planes and all kinds of aircraft land here and it’s a real spectacle every single time. Boeing 747s, Airbus A320s, and even the famous A380 and Concorde have all touched down on this legendary runway. Only the best, most experienced pilots attempt this maneuver.
Watching the planes has become such a popular activity that the different airlines’ flight arrival and departure times are displayed in the nearby bars. Just before catching their flight home, travelers treat themselves to one last pleasure, a meal outside at one of the many bars and restaurants of the Maho district, to see their plane arrive.
This spectacular show does come with a few behavioral guidelines. This unique experience can be enjoyed without danger if you observe some simple safety rules.
- Stay away from the area in line with the runway and the engines as they fire up for takeoff.
- Close your eyes if you do not have time to get to a safe area. The engine blast can blow sand into your eyes.
- Cover your ears if you do not have time to get to a safe area. Noise from the jet engines exceeds 120 dB.
- Read the official signs warning visitors about the risks caused by the blast from the engines closely. The local authorities warn that being close to airplanes as they take off or land can “cause serious injury and even death”.
- Never cling to the barriers or climb over the fences around the runway.
Iconic Places in Maho
Maho Beach is surrounded by multiple fast food joints where you can enjoy a snack on the terrace and a stunning view of the Caribbean Sea and Princess Juliana Airport. This neighborhood is hamburger heaven, a snacking paradise. It’s a real change of scene and the atmosphere is very warm and inviting. Maho is a relaxed, friendly place with a cosmopolitan feel.
At the far end of the beach you’ll find the iconic Sunset Beach Bar. This is the perfect place to watch the airplanes or the sun set at the end of the day. Its spacious decking with a stunning view is perfect for sipping a mojito or a nice cold beer as you enjoy the spectacle of the planes or the sun’s last rays. The aptly named Sunset’s terrace faces west, offering exceptional views of the setting sun.
Just next door, The Refuge serves the same type of food as the Sunset Beach Bar, with the addition of an Italian touch (pasta and pizza). Both are located in the same complex. You can relax on the lovely poolside terrace, which is lit in the evening, or order pizza to go.
Taco Macho, near the Alegria hotel complex parking lot, is a bright Mexican restaurant. They serve burritos, nachos, tacos, empanadas, and fajitas, as well as the best margaritas on the island. Happy hour starts at 3pm! Curious visitors who want something different can try one of the Colombian dishes on the menu!
There are also lots of bars and snack bars that sell sandwiches and dishes to go. You’ll find them at the other end of the beach, on Maho’s main street (Rhine Road). At the entrance to this street stands the music bar, 3 Amigos. It’s just opposite the casinos, and the place to be in Maho at night.
The tapas are excellent, the cocktails original, and the atmosphere pleasantly musical. The staff are very friendly. Giant screens show sports events non-stop.