Sunday, May 18, 2014

Down at the Sunset Grill...a thrill awaits!

Sunset Grill is one of the most popular beach bars in the Caribbean.  Why the thrill? Airplanes! Airplanes? Yes, airplanes!
Most people come to a Caribbean island to enjoy beaches, sun, drinks, and peace and solitude.  Sunset Grill on the island of St. Martin has a different kind of paradise waiting.  Yes, there's a beautiful white sandy beach (Maho Beach), sun (plenty!), drinks (think.. Jet Blast!), but definitely NOT peace or solitude.

Sunset Grill is one of the most unique beach bars in the world. No place in the world can people get so close to planes that they can almost touch the fuselage as the planes fly over the beach and come in for a landing at the Princess Juliana International Airport. Thrill seekers and aviation enthusiasts flock to the beach to drink, catch some rays, and feel the exhilaration of being in the shadow of a jumbo jet landing only 50 feet overhead. 

Near the end of the runway, the Sunset Bar and Grill is packed with people. We got there early (about an hour before lunchtime) so that we could get a good seat on the deck to watch the action. The bar starts filling up a little after noon, and that's when the fun begins.

The flight schedule for the day displays on a big computer screen near the bar. Anticipation builds as the crowd awaits the next landing.  We timed our bathroom breaks so we wouldn't miss a thing!

At first, we watched a few small prop planes arrive. No big thrill there...

And, we had a few drinks... 

and a few more...

We watched as bigger planes started landing and the crowd rushed to the beach, drink in one hand, camera or iPhone in the other. 

We were here to see the highlight of the day...the huge 300-ton KLM 747 jumbo jet arriving from Holland. Looking off into the distance, we saw it approaching! There was a palpable excitement in the crowd as people left the bar and streamed to the beach. Everyone wanted a photo of this!

The Thrill of the Day! Duck!

Camera ready, I snapped several sequential pictures to get the perfect shot. The KLM jumbo thrilled the onlookers on the beach coming in at 150 mph, only 50 feet over their heads.  Many people started ducking their heads out of excitement (or fear)!

But that’s only half the thrill. What comes down eventually has to go up! Every flight that lands, takes off within an hour. Here's the big KLM coming down the short runway (only 1.3 miles!) to begin its' takeoff.  

Doesn't anyone READ anymore??

However, only a thin, two-lane highway separates the beach from the runway, and that’s the real danger. There is a big warning sign near the fence, but no one seems to pay much attention to it.  

We watched from the safety of the deck as the more adventurous (or drunker) of the crowd hung on the fence, only 150 feet away from the tail of the airplane, waiting for take-off. anyone remembering that "extreme bodily harm and/or death" part of the sign?? Obviously not.

The massive jet engines started.  IT WAS SO LOUD!!!! The engines can easily produce winds of more than 100 mph. We saw the jet blast blowing people and sand into the water. 

This activity is not for the faint-hearted (or smart, in our opinion!). This gives a whole new meaning of going to the beach and getting sand in your bathing suit and...your eyes...your ears... and who knows where ELSE. Have fun, honeymooners!

The big KLM lifted off to the friendly skies of St. Martin heading back to Amsterdam...

Ready to return on another day and thrill the crowds once again!

This is LA and Susan, reporting in from the beautiful island of St. Martin. Sometimes, it's just fun being a tourist in paradise! 

More landings of the day... Until next time, y'all!

1 comment:

Gringo said...

Yay! The Captcha is turned off! I bet you get more comments now.

I'm surprised LA didn't try hanging onto that fence.