When it comes to dream getaways, Barbados and St Lucia are two destinations at the top of most people’s lists. Both of these Caribbean neighbors can offer amazing experiences, especially if you’re looking for sun, sea, and sand.
However these islands, despite their similar size, are exceptionally different.
Choosing whether to visit Barbados 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.
Barbados or St Lucia: Stunning natural scenery
For tourists looking to sunbathe and swim, both Barbados and St Lucia offer fantastic turquoise swimming waters.
Both are pretty much the same size too, with Barbados possessing 60 miles of coastline, compared to St Lucia’s 98!
When it comes to beaches, both islands have great choices. However as a coral island, Barbados 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 Barbados or St Lucia, then Barbados is the better choice.
However beaches aside, the scenery in both countries is very different. Barbados is mostly flat and there’s little forest and greenery 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.
However the infrastructure in Barbados is some of the best in the Caribbean, and it’s a very easy island to get around. In theory that means you can get from beach to beach, town to town, in Barbados a lot easier than in St Lucia. Buses are cheap and easy to get between resorts, which is another big plus point. You can also walk around Barbados easily, which is not so possible in St Lucia. Furthermore, Barbados makes our list of five cheapest Caribbean islands.
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.
Barbados is perfect for sun, sea, and sand, but with beaches the main aspect of this island, Barbados can be easily explored in a week. That makes it perfect for a short holiday, whereas St Lucia may be suited to a longer one.
Make your way to Oistins and Miami Beach for great swimming waters and one of the best sunsets in the Caribbean. Beaches in Barbados can get busy with tourists, and sometimes it’s harder to find a secluded beach here than it is in St Lucia.
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 desert 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. A great underwater camera – such as this one – is a must.
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.
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 more cut off from the rest of the world than Barbados, with it’s 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 Barbados.
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!
Barbados or St Lucia: Explore the sights and experience the tropics
Along with the natural scenery on offer, both Barbados and St Lucia have a wealth of attractions and cultural experiences worth checking out.
While both have a Caribbean feel to them, St Lucia – which is slightly more difficult to get around – feels far less touristy than Barbados. However the infrastructure in Barbados is better than St Lucia, but the prices are also higher.
When it comes to historical buildings and architecture, both Barbados and St Lucia have something to offer.
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.
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 here is on our list of the best things to do in Barbados!
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.
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.
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!
Barbados 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 Barbados is a better choice than St Lucia. The infrastructure is well developed, but the popular beaches can get crowded with tourists. Barbados also tends to be more expensive than St Lucia.
If you’re looking for a holiday which encompasses a bit of adventure, as well as sun, sea, and sand, then St Lucia with it’s lush scenery and wild landscape would be a better choice than Barbados. However the island can be difficult to move around.
Recommended for your trip to Barbados or St Lucia
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