MAHO BEACH, ST. MAARTEN
In February 2015, while on a cruise to the Caribbean Islands, we made a stop in St. Maarten and decided we would all go to Maho Beach. The beaches of St. Maarten are some of the prettiest ones I have ever seen. Maho Beach is located on the Dutch side of the island and also earns the distinction of being the
place to do plane watching. You see, Princess Juliana International Airport is located directly across the road from Maho Beach. Tourists from all over the world flock to this beach to watch the planes coming and going from the island, and we were no exception. This activity is so popular that the departure and arrival times of airplanes are posted on boards at most of the restaurants and bars on the island.
We had a beautiful day of clear blue skies above and turquoise water below for our plane watching. As we arrived at the island the beach was pretty crowded, but we did manage to find some empty spots near the middle. We watched several planes come in to land, some of them coming in at altitudes of less than 100 feet above ground level—we were thrilled. They were so low you felt that you could reach out and touch them. Later that afternoon, we noticed a huge Air Jamaica jet lining up to take off. This was the first take-off we would witness, and it was at that time we noticed that we were sitting directly behind the tail of the plane. As the pilot began revving up the engines the sand began blowing, and you could literally feel the heat off of the engines. The more throttle the pilot used the faster and harder the sand was hitting people and the hotter it was getting. Some of us ran into the ocean to try to escape, and some of us sat huddled on the beach wrapping ourselves in beach towels and covering our eyes. It was pretty painful, yet fun and thrilling all at the same time! Once the plane lifted off and the sand storm ended, it was pretty much chaos on the beach. Beach towels, hats, coolers, etc., were all floating in the water and people were scrambling to find their stuff. We then realized why there were those empty spots in the middle of the beach when we first arrived—because they were directly in line with take-off! I was cleaning sand out of my ears for days, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It was crazy, fun, thrilling, exciting and maybe even a little bit dangerous, but I can’t wait to go back to Maho Beach. Maybe next time, though, I’ll sit a little bit to the left or the right.