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Last updated on February 6, 2023 by Wandering our World

If you’re looking for white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and that laid-back island vibe, then Barbados and Grenada are both great destinations. However these islands, despite their similar size, are actually quite different.

For example Barbados is a very tourist-orientated island well catered to visitors, with great beaches, and plenty of beach-side resorts.

However as we’ll show you below, if you’re looking for a holiday that combines great beaches with opportunities for hiking, jungle trekking and excursions away from the coast, then Grenada is probably a better choice than Barbados. 

Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how these two paradise islands are different.

But that’s where we can help! Having visited both, we compare them below, and show you what each has to offer. We look at which has the better beaches, what excursions are available, compare the culture, food and more!

CONTENTS:

  1. A Quick Overview & Comparison?
  2. How Do The Beaches & Landscape Compare?
  3. How Does The Culture & Vibe Compare?
  4. Where To Stay According To Your Budget
  5. How Does The Cuisine Compare?
  6. Which Is The Better Choice?
An infographic pitting Barbados vs Grenada and showing some of the key differences that will be discovered later in the article.

A Quick Overview & Comparison: Barbados vs Grenada

For tourists looking to sunbathe and swim, both Barbados and Grenada are fantastic options. Barbados is slightly smaller though, possessing 60 miles of coastline compared to Grenada’s 75 miles.

Both of these friendly islands have stunning beaches. But Grenada – as the less touristy and more rustic of the two islands – tends to have more isolated and secluded beaches.

In contrast, some of the more popular beaches in Barbados can get busy, and persistent hawkers do exist – that’s less of a problem in Grenada.

However the infrastructure in Barbados is some of the best in the Caribbean, and it’s a very easy island to get around.

That means you can get from beach to beach, town to town, in Barbados a lot easier than in Grenada. Buses are cheap and easy to use to get between resorts, which is another big plus point compared to Grenada.

iStock.com/NAPA74

When it comes to natural scenery though, Grenada has a little more to offer than just beaches.

Grenada has a lush hilly interior which is home to fantastic hiking and trekking opportunities. In fact the highest mountain on this Caribbean island is 840 meters. In contrast, Barbados’ highest peak is 336 meters.

Therefore if you’re looking for a more active holiday that involves outdoor activities away from the coastline, Grenada may be a better choice than Barbados. Grenada also opens up opportunities to island hop to other stunning parts in the Grenadine Islands – such as Carriacou.

In terms of which is cheaper, Grenada is definitely cheaper than Barbados, especially if you eat and drink outside of resort complexes. To put the prices in more context, expect to pay around 1.50-2 USD for a beer in Grenada, compared to 2.50-3 USD in Barbados.

Below we look at some of our favorite places in both islands, before comparing the vibe and cuisine in both. Spoiler alert – they’re very different!

iStock.com/dusanpetkovic

How Do The Beaches & Landscape Compare?

Barbados: The Beaches & Landscape

This island is perfect for sun, sea, and sand, and as a mainly flat island with little forest inland. It’s therefore best suited for sun-seekers who like to beach hop easily around the coast.

This well developed island has a thriving tourist sector – and a bigger one than Grenada – so expect great service in hotels, well-developed beaches, and lots of excursion options centered around tourists.

As for the best places to top up that tan and swim, make your way to Oistins and Miami Beach for great swimming and one of the best sunsets in the Caribbean.

Beaches in Barbados can get busy with tourists though, and sometimes it’s harder to find a secluded beach there than it is in Grenada.

iStock.com/Above Barbados

However the reality is you can find turquoise water and perfect beaches up and down Barbados. One of our favorites is Bottom Bay. It’s not a great swimming spot, but it’s secluded, romantic, and with swaying palm trees it has a real deserted island feel to it.

Barbados’ teeming sea-life can also be viewed when out and about swimming and snorkeling. Bell Buoy reef, near Accra Beach is the perfect place to spot angel fish and parrot fish. While at Carlise Bay Marine Park you can dive among numerous ship wrecks that have been taken over by colorful fish, nurse sharks, and manta rays!

Some of the best reefs to explore in Barbados can be found in this. Just make sure you take a great underwater camera with you – like this one.

iStock.com/anyaberkut

Grenada: The Beaches & Landscape

You can’t go wrong when it comes to beaches in Grenada. And one of our favorites throughout the Caribbean actually exists on this island – Grand Anse.

This gorgeous long stretch of sand is the perfect place to unwind, and the swimming water here is calm, warm, and full of wonderful varied shades of blue. There are several hotel resorts that dot the coastline, so it’s a great place to be based if staying on the island.

Morne Rouge beach is another favorite of ours. The white sand there not only looks beautiful, but its gentle gradient down into the water makes it a safe spot to swim and shore snorkel.

This is regarded as one of the best snorkeling spots on the island too. However we would say that the snorkeling in Barbados is arguably better than Grenada.

iStock.com/Rani Zerafa

What makes this island different from Barbados though, is that Grenada doesn’t feel like life revolves around tourism. In fact this island is named ‘The Spice Isle’ because it’s one of the world’s biggest producers of cinnamon (which is a real ‘superfood’), nutmeg, turmeric, ginger, bay leaves and many others.

Nestled in Grenada’s lush hilly interior, is Belvedere Plantation – one of the island’s biggest spice plantations.

A visit there will transport you back in time, and will also give you the chance to see, smell, and taste, this island’s famous exports.

Staying in the mountains, head to Grand Etang Forest Reserve where you can find a huge lake formed from a volcanic crater.

Keep an eye out on the trees while walking and see if you can spot the friendly Mona monkeys that live in the reserve!

In fact this island has some great hiking opportunities, with mountains, waterfalls and jungle treks to discover. That’s in contrast to much flatter Barbados.

iStock.com/asmithers

How Does The Culture & Vibe Compare?

While both destinations have an easy-going friendly vibe, Grenada feels a lot more Caribbean and local. Barbados has more of an international feel, partly due to being more tourist-orientated.

Barbados: The Culture & Vibe

With a mix of West African and British influences, Barbados is a fascinating country with a rich blend of Caribbean traditions and a culture that emerged out of plantation slavery economy. The British influence in particular is very strong.

Historic Bridgetown is where you should head if you want to learn about the colonial past in Barbados. A walking tour will introduce you to the country’s tumultuous past, and the colonial relics and architecture that still stand today. You can also tour St Nicholas Abbey, a Jacobean plantation house.

As with many countries that were colonized by the British, cricket quickly became the national sport and a way to beat the occupiers on the playing field! Take a trip to Kensington Oval Barbados to watch a game.

Barbados also has one of the oldest horse race tracks in the world, the Garrison Savannah. Situated just outside of Bridgetown, locals and tourists mix on race day as excitement builds. In fact a visit there is on our list of the best things to do in Barbados!

iStock.com/Fyletto

Grenada: The Culture & Vibe

The Spice island is famous for its vibrant Caribbean culture, and it certainly feels more Caribbean than Barbados.

Grenada’s annual carnival celebration – called Spicemas – is a fun-filled colorful celebration of the end of slavery. Taking place at the start of August, expect funky costumes, lots of energy and a party atmosphere on the streets.

With your interest piqued in Grenadian history, take a trip to the Grenada National Museum in St George’s – the capital of the island.

This former French Barracks and British prison has been transformed into a collection of exhibits on Grenadian history from the times of slavery and colonization till the present day.

Along with spice, Grenada is famous for its cocoa which is some of the best in the world. Take a trip to Jouvay Chocolate and tour (for free!) their small organic farm. Feel free to ask the farmers questions as you wander among the cocoa!

For more things to do in Grenada, check out our nine unique things to do in this laid back country. Below we look at the local cuisine in Grenada and Barbados!

iStock.com/Paulo Costa

Where To Stay According To Your Budget

Barbados

Best Budget Option: OceanBlue Resort

With gorgeous sea views from your room’s balcony, and a wonderful outdoor pool for relaxing in, this three-star resort by the beach is a fantastic budget option for those who want to have some luxury but without damaging their bank balance. See photos and rates!

Best Luxury Option: St Peter’s Bay Luxury Resort

It’s hard to find somewhere more relaxing than the five-star St Peter’s Bay Luxury Resort. Their gorgeous villas and penthouse apartments have uninterrupted sea views, hot tubs and direct beach access. Couple that with the stunning outdoor pool and world-class service and you’ve got a holiday you’ll never forget. See photos and rates!

Couple enjoying beach vacation holidays at tropical resort with swimming pool and coconut palm trees near the coast with beautiful landscape at sunset, honeymoon destination
iStock.com/NicoElNino

Grenada

Best Budget Option: Petite Anse Hotel

With uninterrupted sea views, and set amidst a backdrop of lush jungle, this hotel feels romantic and luxurious, yet without a crazy price tag. The little beach in front of the hotel, alongside the outdoor pool, make this a real slice of paradise. See photos and rates!

Best Luxury Option: Royalton Grenada

Sometimes all you want to do on holiday is relax knowing that everything is sorted. That’s exactly what you’ll get at this resort which has some of the best facilities across the island as well as world-class service. This five-star all-inclusive resort is just steps from the beach, has a fantastic pool and sea views, and even has a kids club so parents can get a well-earned break. See photos and rates!

Amazing tropical paradise beach
iStock.com/Lara_Uhryn

A Taste Of The Caribbean: How Does The Cuisine Compare?

Expect a treat for your taste-buds in both of these destinations, albeit each provides a very different style of cuisine.

Barbados: The Food

Unsurprisingly, fish features heavily in Barbadian cuisine, and fried flying fish is one of the national dishes of Barbados!

However with such a mix of cultures here, food is influenced by West African, British, and even Indian tastes.

Here popular dishes include chicken curry, barbecued pig tails and even Macaroni pies!

Just like many Caribbean islands, rum is the drink of choice in Barbados. Luckily for visitors, they make great rum too! Get yourself along to Mount Gay Rum Distillery for a tour and some free tasters.

iStock.com/Lichtwolke

Grenada: The Food

As you would expect from an island nicknamed ‘The Spice Isle’, Grenada is a foodie’s paradise with taste-packed local dishes, and is arguably the better choice if food is your priority.

The first thing to try is Grenada’s national dish – Oil down. This pot stew is a favorite of Grenadian families, and is made up of coconut, salted meat, jackfruit and packed full of spices.

A popular street food on the island is Roti, which is a wrap filled with either curried chicken, fish, or vegetables. Locals like to have them with extra hot sauce, but they’re delicious without as well.

Then of course there’s plenty of fried fish, or if you’re lucky, you’ll come across grilled lobster being sold on the street.

A favorite dessert of ours are Coconut drops. This sweet treat resembles a small cookie, and is made up of grated coconut, flour, egg, sugar, and butter all mixed together and then baked. Tasty! Or just skip dessert altogether and go for a refreshing coconut direct from the straw!

Delicious grilled lobsters on the island of Grenada in the Caribbean
iStock.com/Anfise Tukane

Barbados Or Grenada? Which Is The Better Choice?

If you have the time and money, Barbados and Grenada are each worth visiting.

While both have picture-perfect Caribbean beaches, Barbados is a lot easier to get around – which is a plus point.

The infrastructure is well developed and it’s cheap and easy to take the bus around the island, but the popular beaches can get crowded.

However if you’re looking for a holiday that combines great beaches with opportunities for hiking, jungle trekking and excursions away from the coast, then Grenada is probably a better choice than Barbados. Grenada is also cheaper than Barbados and has more of a Caribbean vibe.

Author

  • Wandering our World

    Hi! I'm Matt, a former globetrotting journalist who's previously worked for media like USA Today and the BBC. I now run the Wandering our World team - this article was either written by one of our freelance staff writers and then edited by me, or written by myself.