When it comes to dream getaways, Grenada and Jamaica are two destinations that won’t disappoint. Both of these Caribbean paradises can offer amazing experiences, especially if you’re looking for sun, sea, sand, culture and a bit of adventure.
However these islands are pretty different. So choosing whether to visit Grenada or Jamaica for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday or honeymoon destination can be difficult. Having visited both, we compare them below, and show you what each has to offer.
Grenada or Jamaica: Which is the better holiday destination?
Both Grenada and Jamaica have great beaches, although in our opinion Jamaica probably has the better coastline of the two destinations. Although the stunning white sand in Negril in Jamaica, and Grand Anse in Grenada, are two of the Caribbean’s best beach areas.
Jamaica also has better snorkeling. However which island is best for you really depends on what sort of holiday you are after. Jamaica can provide a lively, jam-packed vacation in a country where tourism is booming and the nightlife is legendary. Whereas Grenada is a far more laid-back, quieter and less tourist-orientated option.
Therefore Grenada is by far the less commercialized of the two islands, and certainly feels more local than Jamaica, which has more of a tourist vibe. In fact Grenada is sort of what the Caribbean used to be like before resorts and the tourist sector took over – it’s peaceful and the region’s hidden gem.
Jamaica, on the other hand, is more well known, and the popular sites can get busy. However that does mean that Jamaica is far better equipped for tourists in terms of excursion choices, as well as bars and restaurants catered to visitors. It’s also a very affordable destination, and is included on our list of cheapest Caribbean islands to visit!
Both Grenada and Jamaica are safe destinations, but Grenada is safer than Jamaica – mainly due to there being a much smaller population, less poverty and disparity between rich and poor in the country.
Below we look at some of our favorite natural sights in both, before comparing what to expect culturally in each!
Grenada or Jamaica: Stunning natural scenery
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 here, 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 here 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 what also makes Grenada special is that it 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 here 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 here, 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.
Jamaica has it all when it comes to a tropical island paradise, but what most tourists want are spectacular beaches! However the popular beaches in Jamaica can get busy, and tourists often get harassed by people trying to hawk goods – something that is barely heard of in Grenada.
One of the best beaches on the island is Seven Mile Beach at the town of Negril. This is a popular spot, but this long stretch of gorgeous white sand is your stereotypical Caribbean paradise. Expect clear blue water, great snorkeling, and one of the best sunsets in the region.
For another beautiful beach with calm swimming water, head to Bloody Bay. The turquoise-hued water is a great place to swim, snorkel, paddle board and more. In fact beautiful beaches like this are one of the reasons Jamaica made our list of the best Caribbean islands for couples!
There are many great snorkeling spots throughout Jamaica’s coastline, but one of our favorites is Montego Bay. Head there to swim beside colorful reef fish and sting rays. A great underwater camera – such as this one – is a must.
As one of the Caribbean’s largest islands, the diverse geography in Jamaica is one of the reasons to visit. The iconic Blue Mountains are stunning, and the gorgeous 14 mile Blue Mountain Peak Trail takes you through jungle waterfalls, coffee plantations and more as you make your way up Jamaica’s highest peak.
For panoramic views of the island head to Holywell National Park in the Blue Mountains. Here you can hike up through the jungle. Our top tip is to rent a tent and camp for a night or two – the stars up here, and the sunrise in the morning, are unrivaled. (Recommended: Snakes in Jamaica).
Grenada or Jamaica: Explore the sights and experience the tropics
Both islands are friendly destinations that provide a real Caribbean – and less Americanized – experience than other islands in the region. Both have colorful cultures, but as a bigger nation with a large population, Jamaica has more to offer in terms of cultural experiences and excursions.
Jamaica is far more lively than Grenada too, and has a famous party and nightlife scene. Grenada, on the other hand, is one of the most peaceful islands in the Caribbean.
The Spice island is famous for its vibrant Caribbean culture, and the 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, through 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.
Jamaica’s culture is colorful and vibrant, and the country is a wonderful melting pot of different religions and beliefs.
One of those is the Rastafarianism movement which was borne out of Jamaica in the 1930s. For visitors to the island, the Rastafari Indigenous Village near Montego Bay is an opportunity to connect first-hand with people practicing the religion, while also learning how to make traditional drums and cuisine.
Probably Rastafarianism’s most famous member was Bob Marley, and no visit to Jamaica is complete without visiting the Bob Marley Museum in Jamaica’s capital, Kingston.
For the best nightlife on the island head to Montego Bay – named MoBay by locals. This party town is a place where you can enjoy a cocktail on the beach, or dance to reggae until the early hours of the morning. (Recommended: Montego Bay or Negril: Which Jamaican resort destination?).
Synonymous with both Jamaica and Rastafarians is marijuana – which is legal for medicinal use in Jamaica, and for use by Rastafarians. Being caught with small amounts (2oz or less) will result in just a small fine of around 5 USD. That makes Jamaica a relatively safe place to smoke for tourists looking for their ganja fix. It’s common for tourists to be approached about buying weed in Jamaica – always exercise caution.
A taste of the Caribbean
Both countries will provide a treat for your taste-buds, with cuisine focused around local ingredients and influenced by tradition.
As you would expect from an island nicknamed ‘The Spice Isle’, Grenada is a foodie’s paradise with taste-packed local dishes.
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.
A favorite desert 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!
Jamaica’s national food, ackee and saltfish, combines the national fruit of Jamaica (ackee) with salted cod. It’s a popular dish that famous Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has said he often eats for breakfast!
Another iconic Jamaican dish worth trying is jerk chicken or pork. This type of cooking is native to Jamaica and the spicy cooking style may have been invented by slaves who escaped into Jamaica’s wilderness and invented it as they cooked over wood fires.
For something sweet, try Grater cake – a delicious cake made from grated coconut! As for what to drink, Jamaica’s very-own Red Stripe lager is popular on the island (and around the world). Rum cocktails are also made up and down the island with a variety of fresh fruit.
Grenada or Jamaica: Which should you choose?
Both Grenada and Jamaica are great choices, and if you have the time and money, each is worth visiting. However if the priority is beaches and snorkeling, then Jamaica is probably the better holiday choice. This country has a lively nightlife scene and is well catered to tourists. The popular beaches can get crowded though.
If you’re looking for a vacation with nice beaches, a quiet atmosphere, rustic vibe, and a bit of adventure too, then Grenada with its lush scenery and landscape would be perfect. This island is the place to go if you want to avoid crowds and enjoy the Caribbean in peace.
Recommended for your trip to Grenada or Jamaica
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