First off, let me just say that years before I even imagined this cruise, I have seen these video's and promised myself that I would one day experience this!
Let me be clear, THIS IS NOT MY VIDEO. Just one of the many video's showing the Airport at Maho Beach on St. Maarten.
DAY 5, PLANE AND SIMPLE,,,
Like a poster said before, on the 4th night before I went to bed, I noticed we suddenly slowed from a steady 18-20 knots to a turtles 9 knots throughout the overnight. I am not sure about knots but I thinks I may be able to actually row that fast. I found this very odd at first but after seeing the GPS location on my TV map it was clear. It was because St. Thomas and St. Maarten are so close to one another. One would think that the crew would want to get there as fast as possible to conserve fuel and to be able to relax from driving the ship all night but I have to assume maybe it costs the cruise line more to dock overnight than to just stay out at sea. Anyone know better, let me know.
We got to St. Maarten very early (around 8am) and I was excited about this day an knew exactly where I wanted to be. The rest of my party was going to Orient Bay Beach for a day of jetskiing and parasailing. I WANTED A PLANE TO LAND ON MY HEAD! lol I was bound and determined to be at Maho Beach by 11am as that was the time the big planes would start arriving. My party and I separated about 9:30am and after a taxi ride with a couple of younger guys going to watch the same thing, I was on Maho Beach, north of the Port, by 10:30am. There it was, a nice little Caribbean beach butt-up next to airport landing strip with only a very small road and a chainlink fence separating the 2!
The only thing I regretted after getting there was that I did not have breakfast and I was not in the mood for the heaviness of lunch food. As soon as I arrived I found the beach to be a small pretty little beach with a bar right next to it. For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the bar. Anyway, it was a very nice little open air bar. I noticed in front of the bar, at the entrance what looked to be a surfboard stuck in the sand. I looked on the other side of the surfboard and it was actually a billboard showing the times of the incoming flights to the airport. First flight arriving, 11:15am! That gave me about 45 minutes to wait. There were about 8-9 people that I did not know at the bar so I was pretty much alone and hungry. I asked the bartender if they served lunch. He said not until 11:00am. I thought, well, I can wait a half hour. I then went up a level on the mutli-leveled wooden deck where their were tables and chairs and had a seat. About 5 minutes later, a waitress came to me and asked if I wanted anything. I said that I will take a Pepsi and I was waiting for them to serve food since I missed breakfast. She said, "DO YOU WANT BREAKFAST?" I said yes, I do but the bartender said no food until 11am. She said, "No, we start serving lunch at 11am, but right now we are serving breakfast!" HELL YEA!! What I wanted to begin with! I got a menu and ordered my favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict (I was very surprised they had it on the menu). I was a little leery about how good Eggs Benedict would be made from an open air Caribbean bar. I waited for about 10 minutes with my Pepsi and out she came with my breakfast. She put down the plate and it looked like Wolfgang Puck just cooked it! Nice poached eggs on top of Canadian bacon and a lightly toasted English muffin covered in hollandaise with chunk roasted potatoes and thick sliced bacon! It was beautiful and better than any breakfast I have had so far on the ship! Now I am not badmouthing the ships food because their breakfast's are fine, but this bars breakfast was just THAT good!
After breakfast, I decided to walk the beach. Take off my shirt and sneakers and get in the water. I put my shirt and shoes about 15 feet from where the water was breaking onto shore and got in to wait for the planes. Right on time, a smaller plane was in the horizon and about 5 people and myself ran to the road where the landing strip started. I could tell this was not one of the "big" planes but a medium sized double prop plane. As I stood there, it looked as if this plane was headed straight for me. It came over our heads and I am sure there was about 50 feet of clearance between us and the bottom of the plane but it seemed at the time that if I jumped just high enough, I could touch the tires. This was not true of course but it seemed that way! I then went back into the water and waited 30 minutes for the next one. Well, here it comes! One of the larger planes. Maybe a 737, I don't know, I just know it was a medium sized passenger airliner. In it came, slow and steady. All of the sudden it seemed to be coming in at great speed! I truly found it difficult to stop my instinct to duck! It was incredible! Right over our heads! You could feel the heat from the engines as it came down onto the landingstrip! WOW! I stayed for about another hour and a half watching all kinds of planes come in icluding one more "larger" plane. One Leer jet type plane came in and it seemed to bank at the very last minute to line up with the runway at great speed and land halfway down the runway! The first large plane was now taxi'ing the runway to takeoff. By this time, quite a crowd was gathering now. Many of the guys ran to the fence to hold on for dear life. I stood up on an approx. 2 foot high curbed barrier right behind them. The plane taxied towards us and the co-pilot opened his window to wave at us. Everyone excitedly waved back and the plane lined up at the runway with us approx. 75 yards directly behind it. While the plane was just sitting there idling, you could feel the heat coming off the engines! At the other end of this runway were mountains so the plane has to get up to speed quickly and up! The engines started to roar and the blast was quite hard. I thought, well this isn't so bad. Ha! Then they REALLY HIT THE ENGINES! Incredible force of wind and heat hitting us like a tornado! This is where I learned, it wasn't the heat or force that blew most everyone back to the beach, IT WAS THE SANDBLASTING we were getting! Truly incredible and worth the trip! I went back to my shirt and sneakers and found them soaking wet because I did not put them back from the shore far enough! lol DOH! Well, off to find the next taxi and get to Orient Bay Beach where my daughter and friends were! My brother was going to come with me to Maho Beach but his wife talked him into forgoing it even though he was interested in coming. Boy, did he miss out!
I went back to the bar to wring out my shirt and dump my shoes of the water. After I dried off a bit, a taxi arrived and I asked, "How much to Orient Bay Beach?" she said 30 dollars. Wow! It only cost me 6 to get from the port to Maho Beach! I then realized that I was north in the english side and Orient Bay Beach was south of the island in the French part. Ok, well, I won over a hundred at the casino so I thought, no biggie and off we went at about 1:30pm.
Taxi ride clear across St. Maarten and a day at Orient Bay Beach next.