Capturing the Airplanes of St. Maarten’s Maho Beach with @samhorine
To view more photos and videos from Maho Beach, explore the Maho Beach, Sint Maarten location page.
Maho Beach on the Dutch side of the Caribbean country of Sint Maarten has white sand and turquoise waters, but that’s not why visitors flock there. The beach is famous for planes that buzz sunbathers at low altitudes en route to landing at the Princess Juliana International Airport. Arriving aircraft must touch down as close as possible to the beginning of Runway 10 because of its short 2,300-meter (7,500-foot) landing strip.
New York Instagrammer Sam Horine (@samhorine) recently visited Maho Beach while on a layover. “I walked down the airport road for 10 minutes and turned a corner to find a large crowd of people swimming, sunbathing, drinking cheap Carib beers and waiting for the jets to come in,” he says. “I first watched a few smaller island hoppers come in—a plane lands or takes off every 20 minutes or so. Then, a 757 pulled up for take off. People ran over to the short fence separating the beach and the runway and grabbed hold of the chain link. The jet’s engines turned on and it tore down the runway kicking up sand. Hats, sunglasses and other small items flew past me as the jet blasted down the runway for takeoff. It was truly an amazing, and sandy, experience.”
To get a great shot of the planes, Sam has a few tips:
- I really liked the perspective of the jets coming in over the beach from the side. It gave a great perspective of how low the planes were and how many people were there.
- If you’re shooting from the side, I found it helpful to frame the shot before the plane gets there to figure out exactly when you’ll need to start shooting.
- You can also stand on the beach and let the planes come right over you or wade out into the water and eliminate the beach completely—at the right time of day the jets will cast their shadows down on the water.
- Don’t underestimate shooting back at the crowd from the beach and catching the planes from behind as they come in above the crowd.
- Shoot in burst mode if you can. It’s a matter of seconds between when the plane’s a small speck in the frame to when it’s roaring overhead. I missed a few planes at first because of the speed.
- Lastly, I shot in the square crop on my phone so I could make sure I got the entire plane in the frame to post to Instagram.