December 2016 – We visited the island of St. Maarten, the Dutch side, and St. Martin, the
508 St Maarten French side, on a cruise stop for a day.  We prebooked a tour so that we could see both sides of the island.  After boarding a pretty comfortable bus, we set off on a narrated tour of the island.

We stopped at a couple of scenic points and also to see iguanas on the side of the road.

493 St MaartenOur next stop was Orient Beach, where we were dropped off for about an hour at a resort.520 St Maarten_Orient  521 St Maarten_OrientThe beach was beautiful and clean, and there was a tiki bar at the resort.  It was still fairly early, so it was a nice, quiet stop to sit and relax.

We reboarded the bus and traveled to the heart of the shopping district in Marigot, the capital of the French side of St. Martin.  We had lunch at a little restaurant on a patio.  The food was good, but the wait for food was very long.  We were rushed for time and had to head back to the bus as soon as we finished eating.  528 St Maarten_Margot

Our next and last stop was Maho Beach, the highlight of our visit to the island.  We spent 532 St Maarten_Maho Beachabout an hour at the beach and watched many planes 545 St Maarten_Maho Beachland and take off at the Princess Juliana International
Airport.  It was an amazing experience as the beach is known for the extreme runway that is just across a fence from it.

A bar on the beach lists the major landings on a chalkboard surfboard.  Tourists stand at the “Do Not Stand” area to feel the incredible jet blast from some of the engines before takeoff.

People stand on the beach for hours to experience as CAMERAmany plane landings as they can.  The excitement is palpable when the big jets are spotted coming in.

I would like to one day fly into this airport simply to experience the landing from a different perspective.  Standing on the beach was an incredible experience, though, and I recommend it as a must-do for anyone visiting the island.