Planes, planes, everywhere planes – just as you’re arriving to your destination by cruise ship, hundreds of thousands of vacationers are arriving to that same destination by commercial airliners. Some of us find it amazing watching these flying beasts descend out of the sky and glider seamlessly onto the runway.
When you add in plane spotting over from a Caribbean beach, local watering hole or hotel, it makes for an amazing photo opportunity. You have a couple options when it comes to getting up close and personal with the airplanes: a shore excursion or hire a taxi driver.
Here are 5 Caribbean ports to watch airplanes:
Montego Bay (Airport Code: MBJ)
There is nothing like sitting at an all-inclusive resort and watching planes fly over your head. Two resorts in Montego Bay, Jamaica offer spectacular views for plane spotting; the first one is Sandals Resort. Cruise passengers can purchase a day-pass at this resort.
Another easy spot to plane watch is from is the Sunset Beach Resort, also offering cruise passenger day passes. The normal landing pattern for the airport will have planes move from left to right if you’re laying back on a sun lounger.
Both properties are close proximity to the cruise pier and be access by a short ride in a taxi.
San Juan, Puerto Rico (Airport Code: SJU)
The quaint area of Pinone sits just northeast of the San Juan airport runway and offers beaches, food trucks, drinks and spectacular plane-watching opportunities. This beach is where the local sun-seekers head and grab regional eats like lcapurrias, bacalaitos, coconut water, piononos, arepas, to name a few.
Expect a 20-30 minute taxi ride from the cruise pier.
St. Thomas (Airport Code: STT)
The cool feature about the airport in St. Thomas is that the runway literally ends at the waters edge. It’s located on the western end of the island and the best part about St. Thomas is that you don’t even have to leave your ship to see airplanes landing. The cruise ship docks at Charlotte Amalie and approximately two miles west of the cruise pier is the airport.
For an up close and personal view, hire a taxi to take you to the Best Western Emerald Beach Resort, the property has the best of both worlds, sitting on the beach and backing up to the airport.
Grand Cayman (Airport Code: GCM)
Sea Harvest Restaurant and Bar in Grand Cayman is a local favorite that sits on the southeast side of the international airport and just minutes from the cruise pier in Georgetown. For decades, this establishment has been named “Best Bar in the Caribbean” and gives a great views of planes landing and taking off.
St. Maarten (Airport Code: SXM)
Maho Beach in St. Maarten could arguably be one of the most exciting places on earth to watch airplanes. You can either spend the day at this beach or take a shore excursion, like Da Party Bus, where you get the highlights of this famous beach and have free time to photograph the airplanes. The most notable plane that lands here is the KLM Airlines 747 jumbo jet from Amsterdam and comes in literally feet above your head.
On lookers should be cautious not to get too close to the fence area of a departing airliner. Jet blast behind an aircraft is very powerful and has blown semi-trucks over, so think twice about wanting to fence-surf behind an aircraft taking off. Yes, people actually grab onto the fence and get blown horizontally from the wind behind the airplane — and it is definitely NOT recommended.
Outdoor photography tips:
- Make sure the sun is at your back.
- Shoot carefully on a cloudy day to avoid blur.
- Take multiple photos at a time if your camera allows.
- Use the “rule of thirds” or a grid when shooting, photographing the main image along the grid lines.