Sint Maarten, nestled in the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean, is a spotters paradise like no other.
Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) has to be one of the most recognisable places to photograph planes. Every aviation photographer and I daresay most of the general population know this airport. Not only for its beautiful beaches, but its low approaches over the beach for runway 10.
The traffic you’re likely to see at SXM these days is a little tamer than when I was there in 2013. KLM now uses the A330-200 instead of the 747-400, however Air France does still use the A340-300. You will also get a plethora of business jets as well as small commuter jets connecting the many islands in the area.
There are plenty of spots to photograph from at SXM, but the most common is Maho Beach and the Sunset Beach Bar. What’s better than a bar, planes and a beach?
As the aircraft approach the holding point, you can also shoot through the fence against the road, just watch out for the traffic as you cross over.
Another place I tried out during my trip was from the balcony of The Sonesta Maho Beach Resort. There is a rooftop balcony where you can get photos of the arrivals over the beach looking slightly down on them or level as they go past the resort.
If you’re after a photo with more motive, just down the perimeter road is Simpson Bay Road. I didn’t get to try it while I was there sadly, but it provides an angle back towards the beach with plenty of landscape in the background.
Most of the time you will see airlines like United, American and Delta operating narrow bodies into SXM.
The best time of year to visit is the Northern Winter period. Many US citizens make their way from their cooler homes and this means you may see an increase in flights and aircraft size.
Have you ever spotted at Sint Maarten and have something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below.