As I touched on in our previous post, the famous/infamous Princess Juliana International Airport of Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten is often the cause of many heated "discussions" on the internet, and understandably so! Many photos taken by visitors show a truly jaw dropping scene.
Located on the Dutch side of the island (Sint Maarten) and literally feet from the public and very active Maho Beach, this attraction is a must see for any visitor. Once a military airstrip, the strange location was chosen because it is one of the few places on the island that is flat enough for a runway and allows a (somewhat) clear flight path for both landings and take off. With airport security and safety skyrocketing around the world, this unique setup will likely be the most memorable airport you'll ever visit. Watching planes come and go is spectacular but being on that plane is even more intense.
The only thing separating the beach from the landing strip is a chain link fence and a very narrow road. Everything is so squeezed in that cars are not allowed on the road when planes are landing or taking off for two reasons. The first is that when a plane is landing, its landing gear often gets so low over the road and fence that there's a chance it could hit taller vehicles.
The second is that when a plane, especially larger ones, are taking off, they taxi to that end of the runway, mere feet from the fence. When they throttle up for take-off, the exhaust could easily flip vehicles. Notice that while the road is closed for cars, there are no set (or at least enforced) rules for beach goers. A popular game for locals and tourists alike is to see if they can remain standing during a take off. Pro Tip: you really should hold on to something. Even that is no guarantee you won't find yourself flat on your back or rolling down the beach feeling like you’ve been scrubbed with sandpaper.
So would you be crazy enough to try withstanding the blast from a jet taking off?