Last updated on March 13, 2023 by Wandering our World
When it comes to dream getaways and honeymoon vacations, St Lucia and Jamaica should be two destinations top of most people’s lists. However these island nations are actually very different from each other.
That means making the right decision to visit either Jamaica or St Lucia for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday or honeymoon is especially important….
For example, if your priority is great beaches then lively Jamaica is the better holiday choice. Jamaica’s coastline is gorgeous and better than St Lucia’s, and on top of that, this nation has plenty of excursion possibilities away from the coast like hiking in the Blue Mountains.
However if you’re looking for a vacation with good beaches, a quiet atmosphere, and a bit of adventure too, then St Lucia with its lush scenery and wild landscape would be perfect. It’s smaller than Jamaica, but for many that makes it a more manageable vacation too.
That’s just the beginning when it comes to how these two Caribbean island destinations differ though…
Luckily after visiting them both, we compare St Lucia and Jamaica below and show you exactly what each has to offer!
We look at which has the better beaches, nightlife, what activities you can do in each, how the vibe compares, and lots more. All to help you make the right vacation decision!
- A Quick Overview & Comparison
- Which Has The Better Beaches & Landscape?
- Which Has Better Culture?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- How Does The Cuisine Compare?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
Jamaica vs St Lucia: A Quick Overview & Comparison
Both islands are a mix of beach and lush mountains, but Jamaica is huge compared to St Lucia. Jamaica can boast 635 miles of coastline in contrast to St Lucia’s 98 miles!
Although you can find white-sand beaches on both islands, Jamaica does have the better coastline of the two. Therefore if beaches are the main priority, then Jamaica should be your choice.
However the popular sites in Jamaica can get busy, and tourists are sometimes harassed by people trying to hawk goods – something that is far less of a problem in St Lucia.
The large local population in Jamaica does mean there are many different accommodation and food options in the country though, so it can cater to tourists on a range of budgets. Which is why Jamaica is included on our list of cheapest Caribbean islands to visit!
In fact Jamaica is significantly cheaper than St Lucia due to that fact. On top of that, St Lucia also tends to be aimed more towards upscale tourism, which further drives up prices.
There are plenty of upscale resorts in Jamaica too, so if you’re looking for a luxury holiday on the island you will find options. However in general it’s a far better option for those traveling on a budget in terms of accommodations and dining out.
However there’s no doubt that St Lucia is a safer island in terms of crime. Although crime in Jamaica tends to happen in the big cities and away from tourist areas.
In essence, St Lucia is quiet, quaint, and feels remote. Jamaica is a more lively and busy place. Both, however, have a stunning landscape at the coast and inland.
We show that below as we look in more detail at what both islands have to offer potential tourists, before explaining how each is different culturally, and what to expect.
Which Has The Better Beaches & Landscape?
Jamaica: Beaches & Landscape
Jamaica has it all when it comes to a tropical island paradise, but what most tourists want are spectacular beaches – and luckily Jamaica has some of the best in the world!
One of the best on the island is Seven Mile Beach at the town of Negril.
This is a popular spot, and 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.
In particular 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. There 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 there, and the sunrise in the morning, are unrivaled. Recommended: Snakes in Jamaica
All in all, Jamaica has plenty to enjoy at the beach and inland. It’s a huge island compared to St Lucia with a very varied landscape, and consequently you’ll find more beaches, more hiking trails, more adventure activities and loads of cultural excursions (more on those later).
It’s perfect for all kinds of vacations. However one downside is the fact traveling around the island can take time out of your holiday, and another is that the less tourist-orientated areas may not be as safe as you’d like.
St Lucia: Beaches & Landscape
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 a sun-seeker who wants some adventure too, but without having to spend a lot of time traveling between activities or sights.
It’s an island that feels more cut off from the rest of the world than Jamaica as well, with its winding roads, quaint villages, and less-tourist orientated vibe.
But 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, wildlife spotting 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 (photo below) 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 advantage of St Lucia compared to Jamaica is that as a small island it’s possible to visit and see all the main tourist sights – like the ones we mention above – in two or three weeks. That’s just not possible in Jamaica.
In fact, in St Lucia you can also quite easily be hiking in the morning, sunbathing on the beach in the afternoon, and then enjoying a cocktail in the capital of Castries in the evening. It’s the perfect pocket all-in-one island.
Which Has The Better Culture?
Both islands have colorful cultures, but as a bigger nation with a varied population, Jamaica has a lot more to offer in terms of cultural experiences and excursions.
St Lucia is probably more of a family friendly destination, whereas Jamaica tends to attract a younger crowd and has a lively nightlife.
Below we show you some of the main cultural highlights in each island, so you can work out which one suits your vacation preferences the most:
Jamaica: The Culture
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.
St Lucia: The Culture
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, and is a good example of typical St Lucia nightlife!
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: Set on 400 acres, the excellent Half Moon all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay has three kilometers of private white-sand beach and features three restaurants and five bars!
The active-minded can enjoy the basketball, volleyball, squash, and tennis courts, and there’s an 18-hole golf course and spa. It’s one of those resorts we all want to stay in at least once in our lifetime. See photos and rates here!
Luxury: The stunning GoldenEye resort features private beaches, hidden coves, and a saltwater lagoon. GoldenEye was actually author Ian Fleming’s Jamaican retreat, with all 14 James Bond novels being written here.
The property features three outdoor pools and a full spa. Guests can choose from a range of villas, beach huts, and cottages, including beachfront and lagoon-front properties. See photos and rates here!
Budget: Tet Rouge Resort is an adults-only resort that offers a romantic getaway with stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, an infinity pool, and a covered patio with bar – but at a budget most can afford!
The world-famous Pitons, stunning beaches, waterfalls, botanical gardens, and cocoa plantations are all just a few of the tourist hotspots nearby. See photos and rates here.
Luxury: When you arrive at the Cap Maison Resort & Spa, you’ll know that you’ve arrived somewhere special.
This five-star luxury resort was meticulously built and combines exquisite attention to detail with highly personalized service. It is beautifully situated above a secluded sandy beach with gorgeous views and even has luxury private villa suite with rooftop pools. See more photos and rates here.
A Taste Of Island Life: How Does The Cuisine Compare?
Both Jamaica and St Lucia will provide a treat for your taste buds, with cuisine focused around seafood.
Jamaica: The Food
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.
St Lucia: The Food
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!
Jamaica vs 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 your priority is beaches, then Jamaica is the better holiday choice. The popular beaches can get crowded though. Another upside to Jamaica is that it’s cheaper than St Lucia.
If you’re looking for a vacation with decent beaches, a quiet atmosphere, but one that encompasses a bit of adventure too, then St Lucia with its lush scenery and wild landscape would be perfect.
However the island can be expensive and the roads can be a little difficult to navigate.