This Dangerous Caribbean Airport By A Beach Is Holding A Disturbing Secret

The country of Sint Maarten is a Caribbean tourist destination you should have on your radar. The island nation has it all, including stellar beaches and some of the best snorkeling spots in the Caribbean. Moreover, Sint Maarten is home to Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM). It's located about 30 minutes from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten's capital. SXM is undeniably one of many things that make Sint Maarten so spectacular. However, it is also considered one of the world's most dangerous airports. Why, you ask?


The airport's runway is next to Maho Beach, a tourist hotspot with stunning azure water. SXM is so close to the shore that only a fence and a thin road separate the two. As a result, beachgoers can see the planes landing at SXM up close. Countless videos on social media demonstrate how visceral this experience truly is. The planes are so low that they provide the illusion that beachgoers could touch them if they reach up. 

Additionally, as the planes take off from SXM, beachgoers are hit with extreme jet blasts. Of course, this feature draws visitors to Maho Beach. Nevertheless, it has led to a dangerous tourist trend: fence surfing.

Fence surfing gone wrong at Maho Beach

Reviewers on Tripadvisor note how extreme the jet blasts (seen in the TikTok above) from Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) are at Maho Beach. One individual wrote, "When you pick a good standing place to experience the jet blast, make sure you have no loose items, sunglasses, flip-flops, towels, etc. with you or they will end-up in the ocean. The jet blast is truly powerful and I watched big men get blown over."


However, some beachgoers take the jet blasts as an opportunity to participate in fence surfing. There is even a tour offering this activity. If you're unfamiliar with fence surfing, it's exactly what it sounds like. When a plane is about to take off, individuals grab the fence separating SXM and Maho Beach. They then try to withstand the subsequent jet blast. Note that there are signs warning visitors of the ferocity of these blasts.

For reference, Outside Magazine states that the jet blasts at SXM can produce wind of 250 miles per hour. While fence surfing seems like an adrenaline seeker's dream, the activity has had dire consequences. A teenage girl was injured in 2012 while fence surfing when a jet blast caused her to collide with concrete. Tragically, a few years later, in July 2017, a 57-year-old tourist from New Zealand was fence surfing at Maho Beach when she fell and hit her head. This ultimately led to her death.


Staying safe at Maho Beach

It goes without saying that if you visit Maho Beach, avoid fence surfing. The warning signs are there for a reason. As writer Cynthia Drescher, who has gone fence surfing at Maho Beach, put it (via The Independent), "The airport's aviation operations aren't dangerous. Being a human so near the end of a runway with planes taking off is." Instead, sunbathe, swim, and enjoy the view of the airplanes as they land at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM).


When a plane is about to take off, close your eyes to avoid getting sand from the jet blast in them. Also, note that jet blasts are extremely loud. As reviewers on Tripadvisor have pointed out, hold on to your belongings at Maho Beach, or they could get blown away by a jet blast.

If you want to take a photo or video of a plane landing at SXM, head to Sunset Beach Bar & Grill, located directly next to Maho Beach. The eatery has a flight schedule so you can know precisely when to get that picture-perfect shot. However, Sunset Beach Bar & Grill also offers views of the beach and the planes landing at SXM. Grab a burger and a drink, and watch as the planes go by.