How to spend a day at Maho Beach

If you are planning a Caribbean cruise with St Maarten on the itinerary, I would highly recommend taking a trip to Maho Beach, better know as Aeroplane Beach. It’s the perfect opportunity to sit, eat, drink and watch the incredible sights of aeroplanes 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 Maho 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 in 2017 and 2020 during Caribbean cruises. 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).

Aeroplane Maho beach

Sunset Bar and Grill at Maho Beach

The best place to enjoy the aeroplanes landing is at the Sunset Bar and Grill. From here 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.

Sunset bar and grill aeroplane board

The Sunset Bar and Grill is a great spot to watch the aeroplanes whilst sipping cocktails and the food is also excellent.

The beach bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as drinks and cocktails.

Airplane Beach St Maarten
Sunset bar and grill breakfast menu Maho Beach
Breakfast menu at the Sunset Bar and Grill
sunset bar and grill food
sunset bar and grill food
Cocktails at the sunset bar and grill maho beach
Maho Beach Aeroplane Beach

The Beach

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 aeroplanes rather than tourists sunbathing.

Tourists taking a selfie with the airplane
Aeroplane Maho Beach
View from Airplane Beach
Aeroplane Beach is popular with tourists so arrive in the morning to get the best spot. Maho Beach is not very big.
The beach is popular with tourists so arrive in the morning to get the best spot.
Maho Beach can get crowded with tourists eagerly awaiting aeroplanes to arrive and take off.
Tourists eagerly awaiting aeroplanes to arrive and take off on Maho Beach, St Maarten

Top Tips for Visiting Maho 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!

For a more relaxing day on a Caribbean beach, I’d recommend Magens Bay, St Thomas.

Happy cruising!

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Laura
Laura

Laura is a UK cruise blogger based in Cornwall, UK. She founded Cruise Lifestyle in 2016 to share useful advice about cruising, destinations and food.
Last port visited: Bridgetown, Barbados
Next port of call: unknown, but she can’t wait for cruising to resume safely!

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14 Comments

  1. November 28, 2018 / 1:42 pm

    Love this! Watching planes land from that close must be an exciting – and slightly terrifying – experience.. But I guess a few cocktails would put the anxious traveller right at ease 🙂 Great tips too, especially about the strong waves to watch out for.

    • cruiselifestyle
      Author
      November 28, 2018 / 11:17 pm

      Thank you, it was an exciting day and the cocktails made everyone happy! I’m so glad that we chose to do this when we visited St Maarten!

  2. November 28, 2018 / 4:40 pm

    I have been on a beach with planes landing in Israel. It was quite an interesiting experience, but cannot tell it was relaxing 😛 I loved the food you had there, it looks really tasty, especially guacamole. You made me hungry.

    • cruiselifestyle
      Author
      November 28, 2018 / 11:15 pm

      I’ve got to say, the guacamole was the best!

  3. November 28, 2018 / 7:19 pm

    I like your idea of watching it from the Sunset Bar and Grill instead of up close and personal. Sounds way less dangerous that way! Plus, it might be funnier to watch the crazy people crashing on the sand and in the water when you’ve had a drink or two. I just can’t seem to believe that people have died there and they don’t do anything about it?? I suppose it’s just Darwinism at it’s finest.

    • cruiselifestyle
      Author
      November 28, 2018 / 11:15 pm

      Yes, the view from the bar was great, we go to do a bit of people watching too, which I love. Very happy to watch the action from a distance!

  4. Daniel
    November 29, 2018 / 7:29 am

    Watching planes land from the beach sure sounds exciting! You also provided some great tips on staying safe too. It’s really shocking that people actually died there and they don’t do anything about it.

  5. Umiko
    November 29, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    Not sure if I will enjoy it that close, but for sure watching people knock over by the wave will bring smile, even laugh, to my face. How many orders of guacamole did you get while sitting at Sunset Bar & Grill? It looks delicious! Cocktails and drinks also looks refreshing!

    • cruiselifestyle
      Author
      November 30, 2018 / 6:51 am

      I believe we ordered one portion on guacamole!

  6. November 30, 2018 / 1:06 am

    We loved our visit to Maho Beach. You were so lucky to get a table at the Sunset Bar! Checking flight times is a great idea. Isn’t that beach so small to handle so many people? Great tips for a cruise excursion.

    • cruiselifestyle
      Author
      November 30, 2018 / 6:47 am

      Yes we got there early to get a good table with a view. The beach isn’t very deep and as the day goes on more people arrive and fill the beach.

  7. Baylee Landowski
    November 30, 2018 / 2:56 am

    Haha, I have heard of this place before but had no idea where it was. Thanks for the tips on it! This would be an interesting experience.

  8. December 3, 2018 / 6:11 am

    I loved reading your posts as some parts are really very funny. Aeroplane Beach is again an interesting one as kids would love to see the planes flying over them when they are soaking into sea waves. I really laughed when you got only a part of your forehead when taking a selfie with flying plane. I think you try for adjusting your mobile camera for burst shots when taking photo with speedy stuff.

    • cruiselifestyle
      Author
      December 3, 2018 / 6:49 am

      Yes, that is a good tip, why didn’t I think of that?

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