Last updated on December 29, 2022 by Wandering our World
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.
- Stunning Natural Scenery, But Very Different
- Explore The Sights & Experience The Tropics: How They Compare
- A Taste Of The Caribbean
- Which Is The Better Choice
Stunning Natural Scenery, But Very Different
For tourists looking to sunbathe and swim, both the Bahamas and St Lucia offer fantastic turquoise swimming waters. Both are vastly different sizes though, as the Bahamas possesses 3,542 miles of coastline, compared to just 98 in St Lucia!
When it comes to beaches, both islands have some great choices. But it’s easy for us to say which one is better when it comes to a beach vacation. The Bahamas hands down!
As a coral island, the Bahamas has countless iconic white sand beaches alongside warm gentle crystal-clear water. 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 definitely the better choice.
The scenery in both countries is very different too. The Bahamas is mostly flat and there’s little forest inland. St Lucia, on the other hand, is a volcanic island with a gorgeous mountainous inland made up of 19,000 acres of rainforest. That 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.
When it comes to beaches in the Bahamas, which has countless sandy bays and coves across 655,000 square kilometers! Some of those bays, beaches and coves are busy, have a party vibe, and are highly developed. But there’s also many secluded beaches and uninhabited islands, that feel like your own slice of paradise.
Subsequently we think the Bahamas has the most diverse beaches in the Caribbean, where there really is something for everyone.
Beaches on the most popular islands in the Bahamas tend to be very tourist orientated though. So to find your own slice of (quiet) paradise you do have to go off the beaten track. One of our favorites is Greenwood Beach on Cat Island. This long sandy stretch is far less touristy than other beaches, and is a great sunset spot.
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.
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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. Expect to 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.
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In reality, 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 many other Caribbean islands, including 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, laidback life, and less-tourist orientated vibe. That puts it in stark contrast with the Bahamas, which is very touristy, highly developed and fast paced.
When it comes to accommodation options, St Lucia is much more affordable than more tourist-orientated Bahamas too.
While St Lucia shouldn’t be viewed primarily as a beach destination, there are still some lovely places to relax on the sand. 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 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 very 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! Considering you can take a mud bath on a volcanic slope, it’s easy to understand why St Lucia is perfect for travelers looking for some adventure!
Explore The Sights & Experience The Tropics: How They Compare
Along with the natural scenery on offer, both the Bahamas and St Lucia have a wealth of attractions and cultural experiences worth checking out.
If you’re wanting to experience that famous Caribbean vibe and culture then St Lucia may be the best choice. That’s because there’s still a very local feel in St Lucia. In contrast, the Bahamas has become overly developed and ‘Americanized’ in recent years as a result of the huge influx of tourists.
The Bahamas is a fascinating mix of culture, with African, British and American influences. But 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 had a knock-on effect when it comes to nightlife. You can find plenty of places to party all night in the Bahamas – such as on Paradise Island and Nassau. Whereas St Lucia in general has a more laid-back nightlife, thanks in part to the Caribbean vibe that remains on the island.
However despite the American fast food restaurants and chain hotels, the Bahamas still has lots of 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 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. Expect tropical plants and gorgeous colors in this garden set on an 18th century estate.
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, and dancing to Caribbean music. It happens every Friday night. This is a good example of St Lucia nightlife. It’s fun, friendly, unique to the island, and not like a night out in LA!
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.
However you can also get lots of American and European food in the Bahamas, and many restaurants cater to tourists tastes. There’s plenty of American chain restaurants and fast food joints in the Bahamas as well.
Staying local, for what to drink you have to try coconut water of course! You also have to grab 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 Is The Better Choice?
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 far better choice than St Lucia. The beaches are made up of soft white sand, and the water is crystal clear, warm and pristine. The infrastructure is well developed too, and there’s countless five-star resorts and classy beach side bars geared towards tourists.
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. Whilst the island can be difficult to move around, it’s far cheaper than the Bahamas. There’s also a great Caribbean vibe in St Lucia, something that is lacking on the more Americanized Bahamas.