If you are planning to go on a Caribbean cruise with St Maarten on the itinerary, I would highly recommend taking a trip to Maho Beach, better know as Aeroplane Beach. A short taxi ride from the cruise port, it is the perfect opportunity to sit, eat, drink and watch the incredible sights of airplanes coming in to land, literally just metres above the heads of beach goers. This Caribbean destination is well-known for thrill-seekers clinging to the fence whilst aircraft take off from Princess Juliana International Airport.
Where is Aeroplane Beach?
Maho Beach AKA Aeroplane Beach is situated on the Dutch side of St Maarten. The popular cruise port is in Philipsburg in the South East and Maho Beach is on the South West coast of the island. A taxi ride from the cruise port to Maho Beach is approximately 25 minutes and costs $18 return per person (2020 price).
We visited Aeroplane Beach in 2017 and 2020. We arrived first thing in the morning as it gets quite busy, especially when there are multiple cruise ships in port (this is common in St Maarten).
Sunset Bar and Grill at Maho Beach
The best place to enjoy the aeroplanes landing is at the Sunset Bar and Grill because you can see them coming in from the Caribbean Sea, over the beach and on to the airport runway. In the Sunset Bar is a daily board that provides information about arrivals and departures.
The Sunset Bar and Grill is a great spot to watch the airplanes whilst sipping cocktails and the food was also excellent.
The beach bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as drinks and cocktails.
The beach is a great place to stand and watch the aeroplanes soar overhead. Since the hurricane that hit St Maarten in 2017, the beach has become smaller and so there is limited space on the beach. It’s mostly people standing and watching the airplanes rather than tourists sunbathing.
Tips for Visiting Airplane Beach
Top tips for visiting Airplane Beach on a cruise:
- Get there early, Maho Beach and the Sunset Bar and Grill can get busy as it’s a popular tourist spot on St Maarten, we arrived around 9.30am and got a great table overlooking the beach.
- If you can, check the arrivals and departures for Princess Juliana International Airport in advance.
- Arrange a return journey to the cruise port with your taxi driver to avoid getting stranded at Maho Beach. Our taxi driver recommended that we arranged the return journey with plenty of time to spare as the route back can get busy in the afternoons.
- Watch the aeroplanes land from the beach or the Sunset Bar, don’t be tempted to hang on to the fence when planes are getting ready to take off. Unfortunately, there have been injuries and fatalities when people have been blown on to the road and concrete blocks.
- If you’re planning to swim in the sea, beware of the strong waves that were knocking people over (amusing for those watching but probably not as enjoyable for the swimmers!).
- Enjoy the atmosphere and tick this amazing experience off your bucket list!