Come see Planes Landing at Maho Beach


Maho Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world, as it finds itself at the end of the runway of St Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport (sxm) laying the scene for many vacation videos and selfies that went viral of planes landing and departing at the adjacent Dutch side airport.


The runway was initially built by the United States army in the Second World War as a hub for search flights for German submarines. The hilly island of St Maarten only allowed for very few spots to build an airport; the most excellent being a sand bar bordering the sea and the Simpson Bay Lagoon.


Over time, as planes got bigger, land was claimed from the lagoon to expand the runway. The proximity of the runway to Maho Beach became an attraction by itself giving it the nickname “airport beach”. Stayover as well as cruise visitors consider a visit to the beach a unique moment for a picture or video as there is few other opportunities in the world to get as close to a flying or departing aircraft ( For directions how to get to Maho beach from hotel areas or the cruise port, please see below).


The beach has also become a global must see for plane spotters. The spectacular landing over Maho Bay even made it into Microsoft’s famed Flight Simulator program. The departure itself is not less of a phenomenon, as the hills of St Maarten rise steeply behind the other end of the air strip. 



See airplanes land and depart at our Maho Beach Webcam!


To plan your international plane spotting session from afar: Operating times of the airport are during St. Maarten daytime (Atlantic Standard Time). Also adjust your off island beach day with help from the arrivals and departures list of Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) so you know when to expect what type of airplanes will land and depart. Whereas the most famous St. Maarten selfies are often those of “touching” planes landing, the true St. Maarten jet blast spectacle is when planes take off. Enjoy your plane spotting!


Maho Beach Experience


When is the best time to see planes landing at Maho Beach?


As Princess Juliana International Airport has grown into an archipelago tourism hub you are ensured that when visiting Maho beach during daytime, you see planes landing every few minutes. Most tourists however aim for the larger boeings and airbuses arriving and departing. Particularly popular are the intercontinental flight departures to Europe (KLM to Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) and Air France to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in the afternoon.


A surfboard changed into a chalkboard at the Sunset Beach Bar provides you with a schedule of what airplanes to expect soon to arrive and depart. You can also check in advance what (type of) airplanes are prone to come in soon at the arrivals schedule website of Princess Juliana Airport (SXM).


The same accounts for departing planes, known for their whirlwind of sand pushing beachgoers into the sea when leaving.
Regional propeller planes are not to be feared, but when larger planes are about to depart, keep your belongings together and brace! Remain on the beach side of the road and do not hold the airport fence to keep yourself and others safe. Do not worry about that would be less of an experience; the jet blast will reach you at the beach side too…



Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Beach and its Amenities!


As with all St Maarten beaches, Maho beach is open and freely accessible for plane spotters and beach fans. Famous for its ongoing traffic above your head or not, Maho beach is also a pristine beach at a beautifully situated deep blue bay, that you can enjoy by swimming and sunbathing on the beach. Many amenities and bars are adjacent to the beach, and some of St Maarten’s largest resorts are situated around this area.


If you situate your beach towel towards the corners of the beach, the blast of larger planes will not be not much of a nuisance and only gives you a great view of the crowds experiencing the blast effect.


In the evening, enjoy nearby Maho Village or the Morgan Resort area for a cocktail to shake off the sand. See below for some great spots for a drink or bite after visiting this plane spotting mecca.



Best things to do at Maho Beach



• Have a delicious dinner on either end of the beach. SALT restaurant can be found on the east side of the beach; Spices of India and Oasis food court are renowned suggestions when out for dining in the adjacent Maho Village.


• Go golfing! No golf course combines the view of the Caribbean sea with a fine green as St Maarten’s sole Mullet Bay golf course in Maho!


• Take a well deserved Spa treatment!


• Get a day pass for All inclusive Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa and enjoy some of the best combinations of amenities the island has to offer.



How to get to Maho Beach


How to get to Maho Beach by Bus / Public Transport from Philipsburg and Cruise Port St. Maarten


Buses to Maho Beach depart every some minutes from Emmaplein bus station on the east end of Philipsburg. Emmaplein is only a five minute walk from the AC Wathey cruise pier, where all cruise liners to St. Maarten dock. Take the buses either displaying “Maho” or “Cupecoy”. Tell the driver you want to leave the bus at Maho Beach. Your total estimated travel time will be, depending on traffic, between 20 to 35 minutes. Taxis to Maho Beach can also be taken from Philipsburg or the cruise port. The same accounts for excursions that stop at this beach.



How to get to Maho Beach from Philipsburg or Oyster Pond


If you come by car from the Oyster Pond area, take the main road in the northeastern corner of the bay for ten minutes until you reach the Emancipation Monument Roundabout in Philipsburg to Pondfill road.


Continue Pondfill road with the Great Salt Pond on your right hand. Pass the traffic lights and the Prince Bernhard bridge. In five minutes you reach a roundabout, turn left and follow the road uphill. When you reach the next roundabout, turn right as a view of the Caribbean unfolds itself.


After the road winds down with a panoramic view of the Simpson Bay Lagoon, turn left on the Krayenhoff Roundabout and follow this main road for 10 minutes throughout the Simpson Bay area with the lagoon on your right hand side until you see the Princess Juliana International airport runway. Keep following the main road you are on to the right until you reach a roundabout with a statue of brown pelicans flying in various directions.

On the roundabout, turn left and follow the runway all the way along the airport  terminal and buildings until you reach the roundabout at Maho Beach. For parking suggestions, please see below.



How to Get to Maho Beach from the Lowlands and Cupecoy areas


From the lowlands, cross the border towards Cupecoy. Take the main road through the Golf Course and continue through Maho Village until you reach the Maho Beach roundabout. See for parking suggestions below.



How to get to Maho Beach from Orient Bay, Grand Case and Marigot


If you are coming from Orient Bay, the easiest route to Maho Beach is via Grand Case. Depart Orient Bay gates and take the road to the right, turn left on the first roundabout and continue along Grand Case L’Esperance Grand Case Airport.


Remain on this road as it passes through Grand Case and bends to the south. Keep continuing this road until you reach the Emancipation Statue Roundabout. Turn right and continue this road all along Marigots waterfront. At the next roundabout, turn left and continue to the Concordia Monument. After you entered the Dutch side the Concordia Monument, turn right onto the Causeway Bridge. Continue straight at the roundabout with the statue of pelicans taking off, and continue to follow directions mentioned above.



Parking at Maho Beach


Maho beach consists of a narrow stretch between the sea and the airport; parking or standing still along the road parallel to the beach is not possible. To park your car, it is best to make use of the paid parking’s either at Morgan Resort (east side of the runway end – you get there by turning left on the roundabout and a short drive along the beach) or the garage at the far end of the Maho village (turn right on the roundabout, drive through the village and enter left just before you reach the golf course).



Where to find Maho Beach


Find Maho Beach and other Beaches of St Maarten / St Martin on our Interactive Map or see the 360° video of the beach above!




 If you are looking for contacting the airport, please see our dedicated page of Princess Juliana International Airport for its address

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