Sint Maarten Princess Juliana Spotting

SXM is one of the biggest and most popular, if not the most popular airport in the Caribbean. Every spotter has seen the famous pictures or videos from the KLM Jumbo´s or the Air France A340´s which are making a low approach over the beach above the visitor´s heads and dreamed about to visit this location one day. The airport is located on the dutch side of the island whilst the french side has with Grand Case its on small regional airport. With only one active runway and a terminal equipped with four jet bridges, the aeral of SXM is not that big. But for all that, the apron is totally cramped and full with biz jets in all sizes, from the smaller Cessna Citation up to the huge BBJ or Gulfstream. The airport is compared with other airports in the Carribean one of the bigger ones, has a nice variety of airlines and offers a huge number of movements with a lot of connections to other surrounding islands.

The traffic is dominated by business jets in all sizes and the small regional airlines like Winair or Windward Express, which operating a shuttle service between SXM and the island of Saint Barthelemy. Thereafter you will see a lot of airlines from the USA like United, Delta, AA/US, Spirit and Jetblue. KLM use the A330 (no longer the 747) for its flights to/from Amsterdam whilst AF takes the A340 to and from CDG. Corsair and Air Caraïbes using heavy equipment too for their flights to France. Amerijet operates a 727 freighter service from MIA, so you get some rare equipment too. The morning is a bit quiet and the bigger stuff begins to arrive at noon. There are many movements at this airport, especially from the smaller props which are flying frequently between SXM and SBH so it is not becoming boring.

Written by Julian Mittnacht, Cedric Valence and Marlin Lehmann (last update  May 2017)

 Rating Movements  Visitor Rating
How was your spotting trip?
Rate this airport now.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Airport Information    Runways 10/28
2.300m (7.546ft)
Terminals Terminal
All airline are served at the same Terminal
Spotting Information Ladder No need.
Car No need. A taxi between SXM and Grand Case airport cost 35 USD and the ride takes up to 30 minutes.
Restrooms Sunset Beach Bar at Spot 1 or inside the terminal.
Drinks/Food Sunset Beach Bar at Spot 1 and inside the terminal with a KFC, Snack Bar etc.
Hotels On the north side there are some Resorts where you can stay and take your pictures from your room or the pool area. But you have backlit for almost the whole day.

Season More traffic during the winter season. Lot of US citizen spend their winter holidays in the Caribbean.
Runway Usage  10/28
RWY 10 is used for all arrivals as there is a high mountain on the other end of the runway. Departures usually taking place on 10 too but I have seen few departures from 28 if there is less traffic. Some US carriers prefer a 28 departures as it offers an easier departure route towards the US.

Spot #1 – Maho Beach – Arrivals & Departures RWY 10
WHERE The most popular location is ‘Maho Beach’ which is located under the approach path of Runway 10. The Beach is very easy to find! When leaving the Terminal just follow the airport road westwards until you see the beach and hotels in the distance after 10 to 15 minutes. If you start elsewhere on the island just use a cab and usually the driver knows where the beach is.
There is not really an exact location where you have to stand as you have so many different angels and can move around like you want. You can also visit the ‘Sunset Beach Bar’ and take a snack there while you photograph the planes.
WHAT All 10 arrivals are possible. For RWY10 take off and taxiway line up shots you just need to climb up the crash barrier to shot over the perimeter fence.
TIME In the winter you can spend almost the whole day at Maho Beach.
MISC. The beach can become very very crowdie with 1000 visitors and more. When I was there, two cruise ships made a stop at Sint Maarten and the beach was full of tourist and it was not easy to find a gap between all those people. The Sunset Beach Bar was crowded as well and I was not able to get a seat.
A surf board shows the most popular arrivals of the day (see picture below).
FOCAL LENGTH For a full frame BN-2 100mm, full frame A320 50mm

Spot #2 – Airport Road
WHERE This spot is located beside the airport’s access road connecting the south of the airport with the terminals. It’s the same route when walking to Maho Beach but just stop when you like the angle. There are holes in the fence, enabling you to take pictures thru the fence. When you leave the terminals just walk down the main road southwestern.
WHAT All landings, departures and taxiies to the runway. Runway 28 departures may have already lifted up.
TIME In the very early mornings and from late afternoon in summer – winter in the afternoons only.
MISC. You can take photos thru the holes which have been made

Spot #3 – Spotters Paradise Apartments
WHERE If you are sick of the crowded Maho Beach and watching for a quiet place to take a break, the SXM Spotters Paradise Apartments is the perfect place to stay! From Spot #1 just continue on the road along the perimeter. Its easy to reach! There is a terrace where you have a great overlook of the airfield and even above the fence.
WHAT Good for almost all operations. Runway 28 departures may be too high already but its a rare direction.
TIME In winter you have light for almost the whole day.
MISC. We really recommend this location as you have your private apartment, free WiFi and a terrace with a fantastic view.
FOCAL LENGTH 18-200mm, 35mm for a 737

Spot #4 – White Sands Rd.
WHERE This spot is directly at the perimeter fence at the White Sands Rd. Just continue from the former spots until the fence. You are directly next to the runway.
WHAT Perfect for all operations. You can photograph different angles from here as you can see on the samples below.
TIME In winter you have light for almost the whole day.
MISC. You can shot trough the mesh there but a small ladder or chair is recommend to shot different motives.
The Zafiro Beach Bar is just behind you with all the amenities you need.
FOCAL LENGTH 10-200mm. You are very very close so have the correct lens with you.

Spot #5 – Simpson Bay Rd.
WHERE The spot is on the opposite site of the other spotting locations. Coming from the Airport Rd. turn into Sr. Patientia Rd up to the end. You come straight on crossroads Simpson Bay and Sr. Agnes Rd – Turn right and drive until you see the fence on the right. Look for something to stay on to shoot over the fence.
It is possible to sit on the wall of the Karakter beach Bar & Restaurant. But ask before spotting and order something! The samples below without the fence in the frame are taken from there.
WHAT Best for landing on RWY10 when the aircrafts make the U-Turn. Otherwise also perfect for RWY28 departures (rare) or on RWY10 if the heavies rotate.
TIME In winter you have light for almost the whole day. Depends on which direction you shoot.
MISC. Parking is possible at Simpson Bay Rd, but don’t block private property. Plenty of restaurants in that area.
FOCAL LENGTH 35 to 120mm as you are very close.

Don´t miss our newest guides!

4 thoughts on “Sint Maarten Princess Juliana Spotting

  1. Ivan

    Does anybody know if the SXM Spotters Paradise terrace is accessible without having booked an apartment?

  2. Ian Woodrow

    No more 747s. The KLM 747 that used to fly AMS-SXM-CUR-AMS no longer operates. Instead KLM use an A330 and the return flight is direct instead of via CUR. They still op on the same days but the flight is later, arriving about 16:00. This change happened at the end of October 2016.

  3. Domien Bormans


    There will be no more B744 flights from KLM starting 1st november 2016, they will replace it with an A330.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *