Maho Beach One Day in St. Maarten: The Ultimate Up-Close Airplane Experience

Last Updated on June 17, 2022

Maho Beach is easily the most famous beach in St. Maarten, if not one of the most famous in the world! If you haven’t heard of Maho Beach before, you’ve surely seen the photos of huge passenger airplanes landing just above a beach full of packed sun bathers! This is Maho Beach in St. Maarten, where you can get an amazing up close experience with landing airplanes.

Maho Beach Air France

We spent a full day at Maho Beach in order to put together this ultimate guide for Maho Beach One Day in St. Maarten with everything you need to know for your trip.

Disclaimer:  All opinions on what to do at Maho Beach are our own. Please note that some of the links in the below article are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. Click here for the full disclosure statement. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

Maho Beach One Day: The Ultimate Up-Close Airplane Experience

We’ve got answers to all of your questions on visiting the famous Maho Airplane Beach on Saint Martin. It’s a definite bucket list item for any aviation lover, but is also highly exciting for anyone to spend one day at Maho Beach. If you have more time in Saint Martin and would like to check out some of the best beaches and views on the island, we’ve compiled the top 10 most instagrammable spots in Saint Martin.

What is Maho Beach St. Maarten?

Maho Beach is widely known worldwide for being THE place to go to watch giant airplanes land just feet above your head. Maho Beach is popular as a one day destination for cruise ship passengers while in port in St. Martin as well as all kinds of other tourists visiting the island. At Maho Beach for One Day or many more, you can relax in the sand, swim in the ocean, have a drink at the nearby bars, all while watching planes plan at the airport just above your head!

Maho Beach Crowds

Where is Maho Beach St. Maarten?

If you’ve ever been wondering where airplanes land close to the beach, this is it. Located in the Caribbean on the island of Saint Martin, which is comprised of the French side, Saint-Martin, and the Dutch side, Sint Maarten, Maho Beach is a stretch of white sand just before the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport. Maho Beach is on the southern end of the island on the Dutch side, and the beach is only separated from the edge of the airport by a small two-lane road. This makes Maho Beach the famous airplane beach known around the world.

How to Get to Maho Beach St. Maarten

Fortunately, Maho Beach is easy to get to from nearly anywhere on the island of Saint Martin due to the island being relatively small. Whether you want to do Maho Beach for one day or every day of your vacation, it will surely be an unforgettable experience.

How to Get to Maho Beach from the Cruise Ship Port?

Maho Beach for one day is one of the most popular shore excursions for visitors arriving by cruise ship. The main cruise ship port of St Martin is located near Philipsburg and is too far to walk to Maho Beach.

Maho Beach Airplane

The easiest option is to take a shore excursion from the St. Martin cruise port to Maho Beach. The most popular Maho Beach tour includes round-trip transfer, refreshments, and also an opportunity to visit Orient Bay Beach. Another option is to simply book a direct roundtrip transfer to Maho Beach to get straight to the airplane action!

Find the best Maho Beach Excursion for my trip!

A self-guided option is to take a taxi from the cruise ship port or from Philipsburg to Maho Beach for one day. The drive will take approximately 25 to 30 minutes with the cost of a taxi from the St. Martin cruise ship port to Maho Beach starting at $20 USD for up to 2 passengers. You will also have no problem finding a taxi, or sharing a taxi, when it is time to return to the ship from Maho Beach. Be sure not to get too carried away with plane spotting, and

How to Get to Maho Beach from a Saint Martin Resort?

If you’re staying on the island of Saint Martin at a hotel, resort, or apartment that is not within walking distance to Maho Beach, you’ll have to either take a taxi, hire a driver, or drive yourself via rental car. Finding a taxi shouldn’t be a problem at any major hotel or resort, and the bellman can also help you understand what an appropriate fare is from your hotel. The cost of hiring a driver can also vary substantially, depending on your location, how much time you would like, and how large your group is.

If you have your own rental car, there is street parking very close to Maho Beach, but it is most likely going to be very full as this is such a popular destination. One more dependable option is to drive towards the Sunset Bar and Grill and The Morgan Resort to their paid parking lot. If you are visiting the Sunset Bar and Grill at Maho Beach you are eligible to park here, and it costs $5 USD for the day.

What it Costs to Visit Maho Beach St Maarten

The best part about visiting Maho Beach for one day is that once you are here, it is completely free! There is no cost to visit the beach, and you can easily bring your own beach towels and snacks and refreshments to enjoy this incredible beach.

Can You Swim at Maho Beach St Maarten?

Yes! The water here is amazingly clear and a lovely warm temperature. The waves are reasonably strong, but Maho Beach is still a great place to go swimming while spending an afternoon watching the airplanes land over the beach.

Maho Beach Airplane

Where Can I Eat and Drink at Maho Beach St Maarten

If you would prefer more service and amenities, you are also in luck because The Sunset Bar and Grill is located immediately on the edge of Maho Beach on the southern side, and features a large outdoor deck for eating and drinking, specifically designed to allow for views of the approaching planes. They also have lounge chairs in the sand for rent so that you have a place to sit, which also includes service.

On the northern end of the beach is the Driftwood Boat Bar which also serves snacks and drinks with a view from the other side.

An additional option is to consider staying at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort which has incredible pool views of the beach and airport runway. If you only have one day at Maho Beach, this resort also offers a Day Pass for $89 USD per adult and $45 USD per child.

When you purchase a Sonesta Maho Beach Day Pass, you get all of the following items included:

  • Resort Access from 9:00AM to 5:00 PM, including:
    • Large pool with swim-up bar
    • Children’s AQUA PARK
    • Complimentary chairs and towels
    • Unlimited WiFi
  • Unlimited dining at on-site restaurants
  • Unlimited alcoholic and other beverages

If you plan to spend the full day at Maho Beach, a day pass can really make sense if you’re able to take full advantage of the dining and drinking options here.

What to Expect When at Maho Beach St. Maarten for One Day

Depending on when you arrive at Maho Beach, it might be quite empty, or already extremely full! During the busy afternoon, planes land here approximately every 15 minutes, however this varies greatly each day and the planes are also predominantly smaller prop planes from nearby islands. You’ll know when the big jumbo jets are arriving as everyone from the nearby beach bars will spill out onto the beach to take in these amazing landings.

Maho Beach Plane Landing

Princess Juliana International Airport only has a single runway, so once the planes land, they have to turn around and taxi back along the runway to reach the terminal. Departing planes are just as exciting as the arrivals. The large jets will taxi to the end of the runway immediately before Maho Beach. When they spool up the jet engines to take off the jet blast covers Maho Beach, and some adventurous vacationers will try to stand in the blowing air. Be aware, the jet blast is extreme, especially on the larger planes, and there are signs everywhere saying how dangerous it is. Approach at your own risk!

Maho Beach Takeoff
Maho Beach Sand Blast

To gain an understanding of what Maho Beach looks like before you go you can check out the Maho Beach Cam with a live feed of the airport.

Maho Beach is a great place to take some unforgettable photos and videos of your trip to St. Maarten! If you’re looking for more great Saint Martin photo spots, check out our blog post on the top 10 best photo locations in Saint Martin!

What is the Best Time to go to Maho Beach St. Maarten?

There are planes landing at Maho Beach throughout the day, however you’re here for the big ones. The best time to visit Maho Beach is when the larger airplanes from the United States, Canada, and Europe are arriving.

This is generally between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM. Check the schedule of arriving flights at SXM on Flightradar24 beforehand to know which planes are arriving each day and when. If you have flexibility in your travel schedule, aim to visit Maho Beach on a day when no cruise ships are in port, or when fewer cruise ships are in port, as there will be noticeably fewer people. You can check the cruise ship schedule on the Port St. Maarten website.

Maho Beach Delta Airplane

The most popular daily arrivals are from Europe, specifically the Air France and KLM flights with their jumbo jets. Unfortunately, Air France and KLM have both long retired their iconic Boeing 747’s that used to fly to St. Martin, however their Airbus A330’s are still mighty impressive when they come in to land!

Maho Beach St. Maarten: The Ultimate Up-Close Airplane Experience

Have you watched the airplanes at Maho Beach St. Martin? Let us know in the comments how you enjoyed the experience!

Pin this post to your Caribbean Pinterest board so you are fully prepared to visit Maho Beach when visiting the beautiful island of Saint Martin.

Maho Beach One Day in St. Maarten: The Ultimate Up-Close Airplane Experience 1
Maho Beach One Day in St. Maarten: The Ultimate Up-Close Airplane Experience 2

10 thoughts on “Maho Beach One Day in St. Maarten: The Ultimate Up-Close Airplane Experience”

  1. I have been there four times …the Driftwood has a full menu and the food, view,, and service is far better than the Sunset. They offer alot more than “snacks”. Right on the beach and a beautiful spot to watch the sunset.

    1. Hi Pearl, thank you for your comment! That sounds amazing, and a perfect location for a great trip to St. Maarten!

    1. There will definitely be tours to Maho Beach as it is very popular. Not sure if there are boat tours specifically but you might be able to do a regular tour or get a taxi to get there. I would check with your cruise to see what they offer. It is definitely worth it.

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