IT’S one of the most-beautiful and also most-visited islands in the Caribbean, but there’s a beach there that you need to give a big miss to if you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy the sea and sun in peace and quiet.
Because this beach is just over the road from the end of the main runway of Princess Juliana International Airport on Saint Martin Island, and jumbo jets as large as Boeing 747s roar over it a mere ten to fifteen metres above the sands when arriving or departing – some 61,000 aircraft in and out every year, ranging from those big international jets, to little half-dozen seat island-hopper propeller jobs.
And camera-toting beach-goers and simply thrill-seekers will gather on the sands directly under the big jets’ fly paths to brave-out being hit by the cyclonic 160kph blasts from the screaming engines… many often being bowled head-over-heels along the beach or even into the sea by those blasts.
In fact in just July of this year, a 57-year old New Zealand tourist died when she was blown head-first into a concrete block on the beach – the first person to lose their life on the island to a jet’s blast.
Saint Martin is just 87 square kilometres in size, with a little over half still a Constituent Country of the Netherlands named Sint Maarten, and the remainder an Overseas Collectivity of France and spelt Saint-Martin, and the whole referred to officially in English as Saint Martin.
And small as it is, it’s Princess Juliana Airport handles an amazing 1,000,000-plus visitors annually who come to enjoy the island’s average 27 degree days, sunny beaches, coral- and cave-diving, exceptional duty-free shopping, dining that is big on seafoods and barbecues, and night-time dancing to calypso rhythms.
And being bowled-over by the 160kph blast of jet-plane engines…