Spotting Spot: Maho Beach, St. Maarten
This past summer I was lucky enough to go to what is undoubtedly the most famous airliner spotting location in the world. Maho Beach, at the end of Princess Juliana St. Maarten International Airport's (TNCM) Runway is anything but a quiet relaxing beach. We first arrived at the beach at 9:00 AM on a Friday expecting it to be full of aviation enthusiasts. To my surprise, we were the only ones there and there wasn't much aircraft activity. We decided to go to the famous Sunset Beach Bar to get a drink and a bite to eat while we waited for TNCM's vast assortment of arrivals. Around noon, the quiet beach quickly turned into a crowded tourist destination and the planes started coming in. The first arrivals were smaller turboprops like Winair's Twin Otters and LIAT's (Leeward Islands Air Transport) Dash 8's. Next were a variety of arrivals from the United States including a United a320, American 757-200, Delta 737-800, and US Airway's 767's. Finally around 3:00 PM the Air France a340-300 from Paris arrived. I recommend a trip to Maho Beach for any aviation enthusiast or just someone looking for something exciting to do on the Caribbean Island. There really isn't any need to arrive before Noon local time, as even the smallest local flights don't arrive until then. The jets start to come and go around 1 o'clock and the airport is very active up until 6:30 PM. To get to Maho Beach you can take a "Bus" for very cheap from the Cruise Terminal or downtown Philipsburg. It is about a half an hour ride from either depending on traffic.