Tourist hotspot Maho Beach is unrecognisable after Hurricane Irma lashed the island of St Martin with life-threatening winds and rain.

The normally idyllic Caribbean beach is on the Dutch side of St Martin, known as St Maarten. It's famous for the Princess Juliana International Airport right next door, which has seen it become a popular site for travellers looking to take thrillseeking pictures of planes that appear in touching distance overhead.

A New Zealand woman was killed this year by a jet blast from a plane.

Bars reportedly display flight arrival times on boards outside.


However the beach has been rendered unrecognisable by the Category 5 storm that lashed the island with winds of up to 300km/h.

Twitter user "Bondtehond" has posted pictures showing cars smashed into fences, corrugated iron that appears to have come off roofs and grey wind and rain coming in sideways.

Pictures from the airport show the check-in lounge flooded and sand blown onto the runway. Walkways and buildings have been damaged and rocks reportedly smashed into planes.

LIve-cam footage on the Maho Beach Facebook page also shows the devastation.

Acting airport CEO Michel Hyman said he regretted "any inconvenience" the damge would cause.

"We will continue to closely monitor the developments of Hurricane Irma as it passes over our area and keep all our personnel, users and stakeholders informed of any further developments."

The island has been one of the worst hit by the hurricane. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the airport and port have been devastated.

"The priority now is to bring emergency aid to the people; sending food and water to 40,000 people over the coming five days," Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said.

Eight people have been killed on the French side of the island.