Maho Beach is a beach on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, in the country of Sint Maarten. It is famous for the Princess Juliana International Airport adjacent to the beach. Arriving aircraft must touch down as close as possible to the beginning of Runway 10 due to the short runway length of 2,180 metres (7,150 ft) resulting in aircraft on their final approach flying over the beach at minimal altitude
ADue to the unique proximity of low flying airliners, the location is very popular with plane spotters. This is one of the few places in the world where aircraft can be viewed in their flightpath just outside the end of the runway. Watching airliners pass over the beach is such a popular activity that daily arrivals and departures airline timetables are displayed on a board in most bars and restaurants on the beach, and the Sunset Beach Bar and Grill has a speaker on its outside deck that broadcasts the radio transmissions between pilots and the airport's control tower.
There is a danger of people standing on the beach being blown into the water because of the jet blast from aircraft taking off from runway 10. The local government warns that closely approaching and departing aircraft can "result in serious injury and/or death". An additional fence has been added recently behind runway 10, in order to prevent irresponsible people from hanging on to the main fence surrounding the runway in order to experience being blasted by the jet flow.
The beach itself is white sand and has little to no vegetation because of jet blast erosion. The Caravanserai Resort, the popular Sunset Beach Bar and other restaurants/night clubs such as Bamboo Bernies and Bliss are located nearby. The beach is popular with windsurfers and skimboarders because of occasional large waves. On October 16, 2008, the Maho area of St. Maarten was badly damaged by Hurricane Omar, which destroyed the Sunset Bar and Grill as well as Bamboo Bernies and Bliss. As of November 2009, Sunset Beach Bar and Grill and Bliss have both re-opened. Omar reduced the beach to boulders, and damaged the nearby Royal Islander Club La Plage which re-opened February 14, 2009.
Float on your back in the warm Caribbean water while a 747 jumbo jet from Paris thunders less than 50 feet over your head. Experience a 150-mile-per-hour jet blast across your body as a plane takes off less than 50 feet in front of you! Sip cocktails at a beachside bar while watching people think that standing on a sandy beach during a 150-mile-per-hour jet blast is a good idea!!!
And another review clarifies the exquisite agony brought upon those who choose Maho for a weekend getaway. As the planes furiously crank their engines to make it off the short runway, they create a powerful current of superfast air that screams down to the beach, filling every orifice with sand:
Ever experienced 150 mile per hour winds? You will if you're standing at the fence or on the beach! It creates a big wave in the water which sends a wake a good half mile out into the sea.
Many people think it will be fun to stand on the beach and experience this jet blast, without thinking that with 150 mile per hour wind comes 150 mile per hour SAND. And thus, it is quite amusing to stand on the observation deck at La Terrasse, or at the Sunset Beach Bar right next to the beach, and watch the spectators line up for a 747 departure. Seconds later they all being shrieking in pain and alarm, and either dive to the ground or run for the water as the sand blasts into their skin. It's really funny! Take a camcorder. The reviewer goes on to say that the air whistles with turbulence a good 5 minutes after each plane has landed. I'm guessing the ringing in the ears doesn't stop until you're back in the United States... if ever.
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