AvGeeks Beware: Changes May Be Coming To Maho Beach

Filed Under: Travel

If you’re an aviation geek, you’ve no doubt heard of Maho Beach in St. Maarten. It’s the beach located right off the end of Runway 10 at Princess Juliana International Airport. As an aviation geek, what could be better than sitting on a beach while watching planes pass literally just tens of feet over your head. If you head over to YouTube, you’ll see a countless number of takeoff and landing videos taken from here.

Maho Beach isn’t just cool for planes landing over your head, but is equally well known for the takeoffs. The jet blast from takeoffs can be exhilarating as well, given the amount of thrust from the engines that’s blowing right at you. Some people hang onto the fence, while others just sit on the beach.

Unfortunately just over a week ago someone died due to the jet blast at Maho Beach. A 57 year old lady from New Zealand was standing by the fence, and the jet blast from a plane taking off knocked her into a retaining wall. There’s a sign at the beach indicating this danger. In the past some people have been injured by the jet blast, though this was the first fatality.

Based on this fatality, it looks like the government of St. Maarten is planning on taking action. The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure, has plans to close down the street immediately behind the runway, and also to push the fence at Maho Beach out further. While nothing has been finalized, here’s what’s being considered, per SXM Talks:

“There should be no traffic in that area. When we have more information about our plan, the public will be notified. We are also looking at pushing out the fence a little bit more. The concrete section of the road will also be removed and this won’t hamper the sand anymore. These accidents are not good for our image and this is why something needs to be done,” said Emmanuel. He added that despite large signs boards warning visitors about jet blast, tourists still go to the area and hold on to the fence.

This will certainly be a sad day for aviation geeks. While it’s tragic that one person died, I imagine that over the years hundreds of thousands of people have enjoyed the beach (and the thrill of this) without injury. Everything in life has some risks, including skydiving, bungee jumping, etc. So while I don’t think the terrible fatality should be dismissed, I’m not sure it should be a reason to change an attraction that has safely been enjoyed by a lot of people.

What do you think — is moving the fence back at Maho Beach a smart move given the death that happened, or an overreaction?

(Tip of the hat to Lufthansa Flyer)

  1. One function of government: protect its citizens from themselves…aka prevent natural selection.
    You can be in awe of the majestic airplane without wanting to have a jet blast in your face. This is simply a dangerous activity.

  2. Absolutely no overreaction. As mentioned in the release, even though there are signs lots of people willingly take the risk of death without any precaution.

    I don’t think it was a tragic accident but more or less natural selection. Sometimes the stupid die.

    It has been well known that it is dangerous to hang onto the fence.

  3. I’m not sure that removing the road behind the runway or moving the fence a bit would prevent anyone from enjoying the beach or the view of the planes. It doesn’t say the beach itself would be closed. I mean, would they shut down the hotels that are on the beach as well? Even with that section of the road removed, I would assume you could still access the beach from either end of where the road used to be.

  4. Stupid grandmother! Because of her, many people can’t enjoy the view anymore…. may she rot in hell forever!!!!

  5. I actually think removing the road would make it much better. And regarding the fence, depends how far back.

  6. how about just having someone ticket people all day long make them pay cash. They don’t Patrol the area ever

  7. I wonder if all those of you who are saying that it is dangerous and stupid and everyone who does it is a moron have ever actually been there or done that. I have, and I can tell you that it was a lot safer than a lot of other fun things I’ve done in my life that were sanctioned by various safety authorities. I go to other countries to get out of the nanny state. It seems like this will be another loss to the world of enjoyment.

  8. They have warnings there. She fell down and hit her head. That’s on her. I don’t see a need to change anything. They tell people don’t do it and if people decide to do it then they do so at their own risk. It would be one thing if this kept happening but it was a rare incident and people engage in this behavior knowing the risks.

  9. There are concrete or steel thrust deflectors used at other airports. They block the jet blast and deflect it upward.

  10. @jon, @jl100, @pete have it right. Yes, accidents happen. But when the govt can prevent death it should.

  11. I agree with you Lucky. The government has no business getting involved in this. Infact, I think I should be allowed to go and stick my face into the jet blast at any airport in the world. Who is the government to tell me otherwise??!

  12. The fence is pretty close to the road as it is. You can’t shut the road down as it links to another section of the island, as well as a bar. You can’t curve the road as the beach butts right up to it and it is a pretty crappy and small beach to begin with.

    Not a lot you can really to TBH. The run way is pretty short as it is, a function of the island. You could make the fence solid or not chainlink, which would prevent people from hanging on it.

    @Robert – you have no clue what you are talking about. The government should not be in the business of preventing idiots from being idiots. Besides the fence, the road behind is active. There are rocks on the beach. Chairs, coolers, etc. Anyone with common sense knows it is a bad idea to be tossed off a fence from the jet blast, possibly hit by a car, hit your head on the road, hit a rock, etc etc.

    The woman died. Oh well. Family is sad, I am sure. That is life. Government should focus on improving the economy and providing a legal framework where prosperity can thrive. Some fool wants to intentionally put themselves in harms way and dies, dig a hole and move on.

  13. “There are concrete or steel thrust deflectors used at other airports. They block the jet blast and deflect it upward.”


    I was going to make the same comment, and then decided not to after I saw some of the moronic statements on this thread, but when I saw you wrote I decided to say “nice job.”

    SFO has huge these for runways 1L and 1R, as the jet blast was hitting the Bayshore freeway. I’ve wondered for years why they never installed one of these in St. Maarten.

  14. @Bill, @TravelinWilly because the fence is too close to the end of the runway. A deflector more solid than a chain link fence could possibly strike an aircraft on final approach which would be much worse than tourists getting injured or killed. The ones at SFO are about 600ft back from the runway. At SXM they only have 200ft of space.

  15. Another dumb bureaucrat who feels the need for Govt to protect people from themselves. She was an adult and knew the risk she was taking. Shame to ruin it for everyone else! Complete overreach!

  16. I think it should stay the same she was an adult she knew what she was doing and risks the sign was there it’s very unfortunate and tragic though it was partly her fault

  17. This is crazy! Far more people enjoy the take-offs and landings than are injured, in any way, at Maho Beach. Yes, it was a tragedy but no one made her hold onto the fence.
    I’ve been here, going back in November…I guess we’ll see what they do.

  18. I really enjoy that beach
    You know that it’s dangerous.So don’t do it.I’m not let it stop me for going again
    I have been 3 times
    Life is a risk no matter what you do
    Plz don’t let them move the toad or just put a cement wall thst you can look over

  19. @Tom

    Thank you for the info., I wondered about that, so your clarification is helpful.

  20. No where in the world is danger such as that permitted.
    People holding onto the fence should be fined.
    They should not be permitted on the roadway. Signage on the fence and beach should advise vacationers of a new ordinance strictly prohibiting anyone beyond the beach during aircraft landings and departures. Violators will be fined $500.00 USD or equivalent and will be strictly enforced!

  21. I’ve been there, done that. Yeah it’s dangerous. That’s what draws people in. You know the risk and either commit or sit back and watch. It’s actually more dangerous crossing the road to get to the fence! An option? Put a levy on a ticket to get there, put a tunnel under the back half of the runway somewhere, and extend a solid chainlink fence back to the beach. If someone falls off, nice soft sand landing! Job done tick…
    (Yes, a levy would suck but only an option, once you have control of the beach, you could make us pay to hang on to the fence, but that would suck too….

  22. Why hasn’t the local council (or whomever they are) built a tunnel for the road and put up barbed wire fence so it’s impossible to stand under the jet blast? Or am I just engaging in logical thinking?

    You can’t tell me the community SXM serves is stricken with poverty. Those 5 star resorts are not for the poor.

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