When it comes to dream getaways, the Bahamas and St Lucia are two destinations at the top of most people’s lists. Both of these Caribbean paradises can offer amazing experiences, especially if you’re looking for sun, sea, and sand.
However these countries, despite being Caribbean neighbors, are exceptionally different.
Choosing whether to visit the Bahamas or St Lucia for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday or honeymoon destination can therefore be difficult. Having visited both, we compare them below, and show you what each has to offer.
The Bahamas or St Lucia: Stunning natural scenery
For tourists looking to sunbathe and swim, both the Bahamas and St Lucia offer fantastic turquoise swimming waters.
Both are vastly different sizes though, with the Bahamas possessing 3,542 miles of coastline, compared to just 98 in St Lucia!
When it comes to beaches, both islands have great choices. However as a coral island, the Bahamas has countless iconic white sand beaches – making it the picture-perfect image of the Caribbean. So if breathtaking beaches are one of the main factors when deciding between the Bahamas or St Lucia, then the Bahamas is the better choice.
However beaches aside, the scenery in both countries is very different. The Bahamas is mostly flat and there’s little forest inland. St Lucia, on the other hand, as a volcanic island, has a lush mountainous inland made up of 19,000 acres of rain-forest which opens up many opportunities for walking, jungle trekking and exploring.
Below we look at some of the natural sights and spots you will encounter in both, before comparing what to expect culturally in each country.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches in the Bahamas, which has countless sandy bays and coves across 655,000 square kilometers!
One of our favorites is Greenwood Beach on Cat Island, because it is a long sandy stretch that is far less touristy than other beaches. In many ways this is where the Bahamas shines over St Lucia. Here it is still possible to find many beaches to enjoy in peace and quiet.
Iconic beaches such as Pig Beach on Big Major Cay are a must visit too. It’s famous not for the turquoise-hued waters, but the pigs that swim here! Visiting this uninhabited Bahamian island can be expensive though. (Recommended: The Best Island in the Bahamas For You).
A more accessible, and equally iconic beach, is Gold Rock Beach in Grand Bahama. Regarded as one of the best swimming spots – and beaches in the Caribbean – the sunsets here are unparalleled. In fact it’s the sunset reflecting off a nearby cay that gives this beach its name.
The Bahamas also have some of the world’s best diving spots in arguably the world’s clearest water. And with 340 days of sun a year, there’s rarely a day when scuba diving and snorkeling isn’t possible.
Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park is probably the best snorkeling experience in the country, where you can see a huge variety of colorful sea-life. A great underwater camera – such as this one – is a must.
Although the Bahamas lacks mountains and rainforests, it’s not all beaches and coral reefs. There are some forests to be explored in northern Bahamas, particularly on the islands of Grand Bahama and Andros. However this country is definitely suited more to a sun-seeker, than an adventure-seeker. (Recommended: Are There Snakes in the Bahamas).
The Bahamas is that picture-perfect Caribbean holiday many people are looking for, with upmarket hotels, and beach-side bars set on stunning coasts. That does, however, make it a more expensive destination than other Caribbean islands, like St Lucia.
Although St Lucia has some excellent beaches, this Caribbean paradise is a place to enjoy all aspects of nature. It’s rugged, lush, and dramatic, and is perfect for the sun-seeker who wants some adventure too.
It’s an island that feels cut off from the rest of the world, with its winding roads, quaint villages, and less-tourist orientated vibe. When it comes to accommodation options, St Lucia will be a much more affordable choice too, than the more tourist-orientated Bahamas.
For beaches, head to Rodney Bay where you can find Reduit Beach. This is one of the longest strips of sand on the whole of St Lucia. The golden sand, set against lush green hilly vegetation and the Caribbean Sea, makes it a perfect spot to relax. If you’re looking for white sand, then Anse des Pitons is the place to go.
St Lucia is also home to incredible coral reefs which are teeming with life. For one of the best snorkeling spots in the Caribbean, head to Anse Chastanet. Not only is the snorkeling world class here, the backdrop of mountains against the beach is spectacular. This dive map shows the best spots on the island.
But the real beauty of St Lucia lies away from the coastline. The phenomenal Pitons – a volcanic mountain range – rise up against the backdrop of blue near the town of Soufrière. This majestic must-visit world heritage site is a great place for hiking and jungle treks – many of which lead to waterfalls. There’s also a cable car that provides a view of the jungle from the canopy top – it’s pretty special.
The Pitons have more to offer than hiking too – they’re home to the world’s only ‘drive-in volcano’. Here you can drive to Soufriere Volcano and experience the sights and smells of this dormant monster – don’t forget to take a dip in the mud baths on the slopes before you leave!
The Bahamas or St Lucia: Explore the sights and experience the tropics
Along with the natural scenery on offer, both the Bahamas and St Lucia have a wealth of attractions and cultural experiences worth checking out.
The Bahamas is a fascinating mix of culture, with African, British and American influences. In fact with its close proximity to the U.S., there’s no doubt there’s a very ‘American’ feel to the tourist hot-spots in the Bahamas. That’s not so true for St Lucia, which definitely feels more ‘Caribbean’.
However, the Bahamas still has much culture on offer.
The vibrant rhythmic national music of the Bahamas, Goombay, was created as a way for slaves to pass down traditions and customs. Goombay continues to this day, and is a staple of fun summer festivals in the country. The Heritage Museum of the Bahamas in Nassau is a good place to visit to find out more about the history of the Bahamas.
There’s no doubt that the Bahamas is also a country synonymous with having a good time, so if you fancy a flutter then head to Paradise Island. Here you can try your hand at the casinos, and grab a beach-side cocktail at one of its high-market resorts.
For something a bit more historical then visit Fort Charlotte, which sits on a hill overlooking Nassau. The 18th century fort will introduce you to what the Bahamas was like when piracy was rampant a few centuries ago.
St Lucia is a melting pot of cultures, most heavily influenced by African, French and English traditions. The colorful homes here are indicative of the vibrant Kreole culture that has emerged from that mix.
As a country that was fought over for years by colonial powers, St Lucia is home to countless relics. In the north-west, Pigeon Island National Park has to be visited, and is home to many colonial relics left over from when the French and British battled it out for St Lucia.
Staying in the colonial period, head to Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens in Soufrière. Tropical plants and gorgeous colors are everywhere in this garden that’s set on an estate from the 18th century.
For something more local, modern, and lively, then you must join in the Gros Islet Jump Up. This street party is full of food, good conversation between locals (and tourists!), and dancing to Caribbean music that is blasted over speakers. It happens every Friday night.
A taste of the Caribbean
Both countries will provide a treat for your taste-buds, with cuisine focused around seafood.
As a nation made up of numerous islands, it will come as no surprise that Bahamian cuisine is focused around seafood. So if you are a seafood lover, this is the country for you!
Fried conch (aka cracked conch) is a popular dish in the Bahamas and is served in a variety of ways – look out for it on menus. Baked crab is another dish that’s very popular – it’s made up of crab meat, bread crumbs and egg, all baked within the crab shell itself.
As for what to drink, coconut water in the Bahamas is a no brainer! You also have to try Switcha, which is a sort of lemonade, except it’s made with limes.
Want something a little stronger? The beers made by the Bahamian Brewery are definitely worth trying, as are the delicious rum cocktails served up and down the archipelago. The Yellow Bird is a favorite rum cocktail of many Bahamians.
Seafood is a big part of St Lucian cuisine, but in particular shellfish and lobster are favorites here.
When visiting St Lucia, eating freshly caught lobster and lambi (conch) is a must. It’s going to taste great whether from a restaurant or a street vendor.
For a traditional appetizer or side, then baked plantain is the way to go. This is St Lucia’s version of French Fries.
For a very local experience, the quaint fishing village of Anse La Raye is for you. Every Friday night this tiny village hosts the ‘Fish Fry’ where street vendors sell grilled and fried fish, lobsters, and much more – all with drinks flowing and music playing!
The Bahamas or St Lucia? Which should you choose?
Both are great choices, and if you have the time and money, each is worth visiting. However if the priority is beaches, then the Bahamas is a better choice than St Lucia. The infrastructure is well developed, and their are countless stunning beaches to visit.
Traveling around the Bahamas can be expensive though. Especially if you want to visit some of the most beautiful islands, many of which are uninhabited.
If you’re looking for a holiday which encompasses a bit of adventure, as well as sun, sea, and sand, then St Lucia with its lush scenery and wild landscape would be perfect. However the island can be difficult to move around, although in general it’s cheaper than the Bahamas.
Recommended for your trip to the Bahamas or St Lucia
*This article may contain affiliate links which allows Wandering our World to make a small commission on any sales made – and keep the coffee flowing! It involves no extra cost to yourself. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, but only recommend products we believe in.