Photo Friday #1: Maho Beach

It’s time for our very first ‘Photo Friday’, where I do my best to bring you one photo that reflects a great personal experience that I’d recommend to all.

Every now and again, on Fridays I’ll share with you somewhere you may not have been or something you may not have done before, focussing on places where I have felt most comfortable in my own skin (which isn’t always the case!).

The Location

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s both, plus a guy that needs to iron his t-shirt.

Creating a blog that frequently talks about the Caribbean without showcasing Maho beach is almost criminal. For me, this exact spot has to be one of my favourite places in the world. 30C heat, watching planes, a beach with golden sands and clear seas, and a bar to drink at whilst admiring the view, what more could you want?!

Maho beach is located in Sint Maarten (the Dutch side), and sits at the foot of the runway for Princess Juliana airport. It is one of the biggest airports in the Caribbean, and as a result, receives multiple flights per day (including widebody jets) from the US, Europe, and other Caribbean islands so there’s plenty of reasons to sit at the bar all day.

You may have seen this place before on a TV show commonly named something like ‘Most Shocking Landings’, and in all honesty arriving or departing here is not that shocking. Psychologically it can be quite scary because the sea is literally 20 metres away from the runway, and to take-off there’s a mountain that the pilots must avoid by banking as soon as the wheels are up, but in reality either of these events feel no different to any other take-off or landing. I’ve personally done this four times. The KLM 747 was the most interesting as you could feel the jet flexing it’s engineering power to get out of the way of the mountain whilst it still needs to use the whole runway, the Air France A340 didn’t feel particularly special, and the little propeller LIAT jets are the most fun because you can see the whole island as you leave from both sides of the plane as it’s so small.

I took this photo myself to prove this sign is real.

For some reason, people like to take part in ‘riding the fence’ when they visit here. I personally think they’re crazy, and as a compromise I stood on the beach behind a 737 firing up its engines at full blast ready for take off – I don’t see what the appeal is! The sand feels like shards of glass, people lose their footing and fall over onto a concrete road or into the sea, and people have actually died here taking part. I worry that this fashionable craze will cause the area to close one day which would be a real shame. Someone died doing this as their head hit the concrete of the road directly behind the fence, so please don’t do this!

How Do I Get There?

Unfortunately there’s no direct route here from the UK, so you need to look for flights to SXM or take a Caribbean cruise. From the UK you can fly via Paris or Amsterdam, and from the US there are several carriers that fly there too.

Remember: This article was written during the COVID-19 global pandemic, and you should take note of any travel restrictions in place in both home and destination locations. I tried to make sense of it all a couple of months ago here, but the situation can change at a moment’s notice!

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