Top 3 Scariest Airports in the Caribbean
Thursday, 25th February 2010 by Chris Hannigan
What do you get when you mix fast heavy planes with small island airports? A hair-raising final approach! Let’s take a look at three scariest airports to fly into in the Caribbean.
Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten (SXM)
Passengers arriving into Princess Juliana often fly just a few metres over the head of sunbathers below on Maho Beach. The combination of screaming jet aircraft and beautiful tropical scenery in such close proximity make this airport a mecca for the world’s plane spotters. In fact, check out this video showing the arrival of a 747, shot by yours truly on a 2004 trip.
Arrival isn’t the only exciting part of this airport either; departing aircraft must make an immediate right hand turn to avoid flying directly into the 317 m St. Peter Hill. At the same time, the departing planes blow a massive amount of jet blast back onto Maho Beach – so strong is the blast that it can cause you and your belongings to be blown right into the water if you’re not careful.
Gustaf III Airport, Saint Barthélemy (SBH)
This small airstrip is aligned east/west between the beach at St. Jean and a steep hill west of the airfield. Arriving aircraft have to fly very low to the ground and then descend rapidly down the side of an extremely steep hill to make the field. To make matters worse, the top of the hill has a traffic circle and the airfield itself is very short! Take a look at this picture to see how tight the approach really is.
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba (SAB)
Built on the side of a potentially active volcano, Saba is home to the smallest commercial runway in the world. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport’s single runway is only 396 m (1,300 ft) long, making the field totally inaccessible to anything but small aircraft flown by specially trained pilots, and helicopters.
To make matters worse, the ends of the runway drop 18 m (60 ft) off a vertical cliff into the ocean, while the side of the strip is covered in high hills.
To book a trip to any of these airports, use the three letter airport code next to the name. The weather’s great all year round!