When it comes to dream getaways, St Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis are two destinations that should be 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 a bit of adventure.
However these islands, despite their similar size, are very different.
Choosing whether to visit St Lucia or St Kitts and Nevis 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.
St Lucia or St Kitts & Nevis: Stunning natural scenery
Both islands have comparable beaches and a friendly vibe, although the duel island of St Kitts and Nevis is much easier to navigate and drive about on than St Lucia.
That’s because St Lucia has a lush mountainous inland made up of 19,000 acres of rainforest. That opens up many opportunities for walking, jungle trekking and exploring, but the winding roads on this island are difficult to drive on, and getting from town to town is harder than in St Kitts. However St Kitts and Nevis also has its fair share of pretty mountains, rainforests and sugarcane fields.
Both are low-key destinations which avoid much of the tourist crowd. However while part of the reason for that is their relative remoteness, it’s also true that part of the reason is that the beaches on both islands are not as spectacular as the beaches in the Bahamas, or Barbados, for example.
In terms of expenses, St Lucia – which does have a bigger tourism sector than St Kitts and Nevis – is a more expensive destination.
Below we look at some of our favorite natural sights and spots in both, before comparing what to expect culturally in each.
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, and less-tourist orientated vibe. When it comes to accommodation options, St Lucia is a more affordable choice than many Caribbean islands too.
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 (and arguably better than Antigua), the backdrop of mountains against the beach is spectacular. This dive map shows the best spots on the island. A great underwater camera – such as this one – is a must.
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!
St Kitts and Nevis
If shimmering turquoise water and white sand beaches are your priority then a holiday in the Bahamas may suit you better than one in St Kitts and Nevis. However this island nation has a bit of everything, and provides an exciting vacation for an adventurous traveler who likes avoiding the tourist crowds.
You can still get gorgeous stretches of coastline here, and locals often regard Cockleshell Bay Beach as the best. The warm shallow water is perfect for swimming, and the sand is soft and enticing. This is a place many families come at the weekend to enjoy a picnic under the swaying palm trees.
A quieter spot, and our favorite, is Major’s Bay Beach. This beach on St Kitts offers a spectacular view across to nearby Nevis. There are no facilities, but that makes this place peaceful, and quite romantic.
If you’re a scuba diver then Booby High Shoals on Nevis is a fantastic dive spot which is full of life. Expect to swim alongside sting rays, nurse sharks, and sea turtles at this colorful underwater world.
Of course a trip to St Kitts isn’t complete without visiting the large dormant volcano that dominates the island – Mount Liamuiga. You need a good level of fitness to trek this 1,156 meter peak, but the views are spectacular. Green vervet monkeys live in the rainforest on the slopes, so keep you eyes on the trees as you hike!
Another place for panoramic views – and a bit of history – is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. This fort – built by slaves – is one of the best preserved historic forts in the Americas and sits on a lush hilly green slope that looks across the island and the Caribbean.
St Lucia or St Kitts & Nevis: Explore the sights and experience the tropics
Along with the natural scenery on offer, both St Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis have a wealth of attractions and cultural experiences worth checking out.
This island 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.
St Kitts and Nevis
Unlike many Caribbean destinations, St Kitts and Nevis are two islands that aren’t reliant on tourism and therefore life still revolves around several different sectors such as agriculture.
One of the best ways to see the real St Kitts is to visit the quaint towns that dot the landscape and sit on the island’s hills and slopes. An excellent way to do that is the St. Kitts Scenic Railway – a 29km long railway that takes you through these pretty villages and towns in the most leisurely way.
St Kitts was colonized by both the British and French, and the imprints of that time remain throughout the island. Built in 1701 as the residence of a French military commander, the Fairview Great House and Botanical Gardens, is a preserved and working remnant of that history. The guided tour of the house and its lush gardens, as well as the rum tasting, are well worth doing.
For something more lively, if you are traveling during the end of November to the start of January you can witness – and take part in – the St Kitts and Nevis Carnival. This festival is the biggest event on the island’s calendar, and whole streets become kaleidoscopes of color. Expect music, dancing, great food, and events up and down the island. It’s a real experience!
A taste of the Caribbean
Both countries will provide a treat for your taste-buds, with cuisine focused around seafood.
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.
If you want 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!
St Kitts and Nevis
For such a small island nation, St Kitts and Nevis packs a real culinary punch. The food here is very good, and much of it is based of locally caught seafood.
Like St Lucia, conch is very popular. Try conch fritters – this snack involves conch meat fried in golden batter.
Goat water is another popular dish up and down the islands, and while it doesn’t sound appetizing we promise you it is delicious. This is a goat meat stew garnished with chilies, onions, papaya, and yams.
For a delicious dessert, try Tourment d’amour. While this traditional coconut jam, vanilla custard and shortcrust pastry treat is popular throughout the Caribbean it originates from St Kitts and Nevis.
St Lucia or St Kitts & Nevis: Which one should you visit?
Both St Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis provide a Caribbean holiday that is off the beaten track, adventurous, and away from the main tourist crowds. The more beautiful of the two is probably St Lucia due to the majestic Piton mountains, however this island is difficult to navigate and hard to get around.
St Kitts & Nevis is easier to get around than St Lucia, and also cheaper, which may make it a better holiday choice for many.