Signs on Maho Beach warn of potential for “extreme bodily harm and/or death,” but the bikini-clad tourists don’t seem concerned. The danger, after all, isn’t related to shark attacks, sudden drop-offs or even reckless flirtation with melanoma — it has to do with jet-blasts at close range. The beach in St. Maarten, unlike any other in the Caribbean, is situated at the foot of a major airport runway.
Rather than a deterrent, this acts as a draw for hundreds of visitors each day — both airline-industry nerds and regular tourists alike — who are lured by the odd trifecta of white sand, turquoise waters and low-flying 747s. Those in the know quickly locate the nearby Sunset Grill and its surfboard-turned-chalkboard that lists arrival times. Everyone is telling everyone else to keep an eye out for the bigger planes: KLM at 12:40 a.m., American Airlines at 3:10 p.m., WestJet at 3:50 p.m. and the big kahuna, Air France’s hulking Airbus A340, scheduled to arrive from Charles de Gaulle at 1:30 p.m.
For the complete story by Vanessa Farquharson of the National (Canada) Post, click here.