Runway 10 begins right at the edge of the Maho Beach, so arriving aircraft must begin their final approach over water, startling sunbathers. Image by Beauty

Depending on how you look at it, Maho is either a beach with a lot of air traffic or a runway with a lot of sunbathers. Princess Juliana International Airport’s runway 10 begins just about where the sand ends at narrow Maho Beach on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. Planes make their final approach over the water, buzzing beachgoers and generating mini-sandstorms as their jet engines blast past. It makes for a jaw-dropping juxtaposition as bikini-clad sunbathers bask in the shadow of 747s floating a few hundred feet above.

The bars and restaurants have embraced the airport vibe with airline arrivals and departure times listed alongside drink specials and air traffic control chatter piped through speaker systems. Despite the danger, no serious mishap has occurred at the airport since 1972. In an effort to maintain that safety record, additional security fences have recently been installed to deter thrill seekers from trying to experience those jet engines up close. Idling jets regularly wash the beach in 100 mph winds, effectively keeping it groomed and free of vegetation. Check out this beach blanket runway below.


Daily airline timetables are listed outside local bars and restaurants, some of which also broadcast control tower radio traffic. Image by WikiCommons


Despite the obvious dangers, the airport hasn’t experienced a major mishap since 1972. Image by WikiCommons


The curious airport was featured in Microsoft Flight Simulator X. Image by WikiCommons


The constant jet engine blasts effectively groom the beach and prevent vegetation growth. Image by PO BAG 1


Additional fences have been installed to deter daredevils from trying to experience jet engines up close. Image by HaMe RaNG


Large jet engines can generate winds in excess of 100 mph for more than 200 feet in their wake. Image by WikiCommons


The History Channel program “Most Extreme Airports” ranked Princess Juliana the fourth-most dangerous airport in the world. Image by HaMe RaNG