Set on a half Dutch/half French island, the Caribbean jewel known as Saint Maarten is a must visit destination if you’re an aviation enthusiast like myself.
If planes aren’t your thing, don’t worry – you’ll find plenty of relaxation at its many beautiful beaches, crowded marinas with superb yachts and many more attractions.
As a pilot for an airline that maintains regular flights to the island, SXM, as we call it, Saint Maarten was on the top of my travel list for quite some time.
Saint Maarten is divided in two parts, each one with its own capital. There is free transit between both areas, both worth taking a look. The island´s main airport Princess Juliana International, the famous Maho Beach and the high nightlife are concentrated on the Dutch side. Its capital, Philipsburg, offers a variety of sightseeing spots, great restaurants (a little bit expensive, must say) and amazing views.
We’ve all seen those images in magazines: wealthy people enjoying meals with an ocean view, partying on tropical islands and having the best time of their lives…
That’s what the Dutch side can offer you, even that just for a couple of days, as it was in my case.
Now, the most famous spot in the entire island is definitely is Maho Beach. This short strip of sand is located right in front of the airport’s runway. Not into airplanes? That’s okay, however, there’s no way one couldn’t feel impressed by experiencing a “Jumbo” 747 overflying their heads only 50 feet above, while sunbathing on the beach.
The thing is, Maho Beach is visited all year round by tourists from the Americas and Europe. All of them turn up to take thousands of airplane pictures.
It’s an amazing experience to hear their engines from such a close distance, and even getting some jetblast during their takeoffs.
Believe me, when you go there, wait for the Air France A340 to takeoff very next to the airport fence. Be careful not to be swept away (literally!) by the wind.
A great option for everyone is seating at The Sunset Bar and Grill, eating a delicious Burger with French fries, or maybe drinking margaritas while checking huge wide bodies on approach to land. This beach is a fun must go spot!
On the other side of the island, there’s Marigot, the French side`s capital. There you can find the best cuisine in the Caribbean, a mix of local and French food. Refined restaurants and boutiques make this part of the island a cool shopping and gastronomic experience.
Looking for remote beach areas, calm and relaxing movie type sunset views? This is the spot for you.
A good thing about Saint Maarten is its local currency and American Dollars are accepted on the whole island; Euros are also accepted on the French side. English is widely spoken by locals, who, I must say, are one of the most polite people I have ever seen in the Caribbean.
Amazing beaches with blue turquoise water, nightlife, beautiful sunsets, airplanes, airplanes and airplanes! It’s definitely a charming island for your next vacation.
For more information on Saint Maarten, visit www.stmartinisland.org.