If you’re looking for a Caribbean vacation then you may be trying to choose between St Lucia and Jamaica.
After visiting both of these beautiful Caribbean islands, I’d love to share my thoughts with you.
This ultimate guide will highlight the key differences between them including things like activities, cost, location and beaches to help you decide which to visit.
Table of Contents
Jamaica vs St Lucia – Summary
St Lucia is known for its two epic mountain peaks, lush rainforests, volcanic beaches and impressive waterfalls.
Jamaica, on the other hand, is known for its stunning beaches, glorious waterfalls, rainforests and being the birthplace of reggae music.
Although these two paradise islands share many similarities, there are some key differences that make them unique.
In a hurry? Here’s a quick overview of the key differences between St Lucia and Jamaica:
- Jamaica is much cheaper than St Lucia. Accommodation, food and activities are all cheaper.
- Both locations have world-famous Sandals resorts but Jamaica has more to choose from. Jamaica has 7 Sandals resorts whereas St Lucia has 3.
- St Lucia is more beautiful as it has epic mountain scenery.
- Jamaica has more and better beaches.
- St Lucia feels way more upscale and luxurious compared with Jamaica.
- Jamaica has a more vibrant nightlife scene.
- St Lucia is generally safer as there is much less crime.
- St Lucia is much quieter and feels more exotic and remote making it ideal for a honeymoon.
Overall, Jamaica is better for letting loose and having fun whereas St Lucia is better for a quiet, romantic getaway.
It really comes down to what you prefer.
My Personal Favorite
It’s super difficult to choose between them but if I had to, I’d probably pick St Lucia.
The scenery on St Lucia, particularly the Piton mountains, were like nothing I’d ever seen before and really blew me away.
I didn’t quite get the same feeling in Jamaica although it was certainly still very beautiful.
The rest of this post will go into more detail on each aspect to help you decide which island is right for you.
St Lucia is located in the Eastern Caribbean near Barbados and Martinique, whereas Jamaica is located in the Western Caribbean just below Cuba.
Despite both being in the Caribbean, Jamaica and St Lucia are not close to each other. The distance between them is 1,804 km (1,121 miles).
Check out the location of the two islands in the map below:
Jamaica is slightly closer to the US meaning your flight will be shorter (if you’re traveling from the US).
Here’s the minimum flight times for both locations from various starting points:
One funny misconception that many people have is that St Lucia is in Jamaica but this isn’t true.
Jamaica is much bigger than St Lucia.
Jamaica covers 10,991km2 whereas St Lucia covers just 617km2 making Jamaica over 17 times bigger.
Check out the size difference on the map below:
Additionally, the population of Jamaica is 2.9 million whereas St Lucia has just 183,600 local residents.
In terms of tourist numbers, St Lucia gets over 1 million tourists each year. Compare that with Jamaica’s 4 million yearly tourists.
This means that, in general, Jamaica feels much busier than St Lucia.
When to Visit
As St Lucia and Jamaica are located in the same area of the world, they experience the same weather patterns and seasons.
The best time to visit the Caribbean is between the months of December and April. During these months the weather is dry and hot.
Rainy season runs from June until November when the weather is still super hot but you may experience some heavy rain showers and thunderstorms. This time of year is also hurricane season.
Many people still choose to visit during this time to save some money as flights and accommodation tend to be a bit cheaper.
Take a look at the weather chart below for more information:
Which is Cheaper: St Lucia or Jamaica
The cost of a vacation is often one of the most important things to consider when planning a trip.
It’s no lie that neither Jamaica or St Lucia are exactly cheap but one is definitely cheaper than the other.
Overall I spent a lot more in St Lucia compared to Jamaica. Most of the additional cost came down to the hotel but I did notice that food and activities were also a bit more pricey in St Lucia.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how much it will cost to visit Jamaica or St Lucia:
- Jamaica is significantly cheaper than St Lucia.
- You can stay at an all inclusive 5-star resort for considerably less money in Jamaica.
- Standard hotels are also cheaper in Jamaica (between 3 and 4-star).
- Food, transport and activities are also slightly cheaper in Jamaica.
Cost of a Vacation in St Lucia
In St Lucia, an average vacation will cost between $3,000 and $5,500 for 2 people for a week-long vacation.
This assumes you’re not staying in a fancy resort.
If you want to stay in a fancy resort then the average cost for a week-long vacation in St Lucia is between $5,500 and $7,300 for two people.
Here’s an overview of what you’ll spend in St Lucia:
- Standard hotels in St Lucia cost between $150 and $300 per night.
- 5-star resorts cost between $450 and $850 per night. A lot of these are all inclusive.
- You’ll spend between $40 and $75 per person each day on food, transport and activities.
- Flights from the US cost, on average, between $500 and $750 per person.
All prices are in USD.
In St Lucia, there’s a wide range of hotels available at different budgets and you can get a 4 or 5-star hotel for a fairly reasonable price.
There is one hotel in St Lucia that has overwater bungalows but they charge a lot.
The Sandals Grande St Lucian charges between $3,500 and $9,000 per night for their overwater bungalows. This is an all inclusive resort so you do get a ton of extras but it’s still a lot of money.
If an overwater bungalow is out of your price range then you can get a standard room at Sandals for $400 (all inclusive) which I think is a pretty good deal.
You can definitely do St Lucia on the cheap if your budget is tight.
By staying in a local guesthouse and dining in local restaurants, you’ll probably spend less on the whole trip than you would spend on one night in an overwater bungalow!
Flights to St Lucia are expensive for several reasons and there isn’t much way around it.
Cost of a Vacation in Jamaica
The average cost for a week-long vacation in Jamaica is between $2,500 and $3,500 for two people.
This price assumes you stay in a regular hotel and not a fancy resort.
If you want to stay in a fancy resort then the average cost for a week-long vacation in Jamaica is between $4,300 and $4,800 for two people.
Here’s an overview of what you’ll spend in Jamaica:
- Standard hotels in Jamaica cost between $100 and $210 per night.
- 5-star resorts cost between $390 and $500 per night. These are usually all inclusive.
- You’ll spend between $30 and $80 per person each day on food, transport and activities.
- Flights from the US cost, on average, between $485 and $750 per person.
All prices are in USD.
Jamaica is a great place to vacation if you don’t want to break the bank as it’s relatively inexpensive. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest places to visit in the Caribbean.
They also have a range of fancy resorts for a reasonable price that offer that exclusive, all-inclusive experience.
When considering the nightly price for an all inclusive resort, always take into account that you’ll spend very little on food and drink as all of this is included at the resort.
St Lucia vs Jamaica – Things to Do
There are lots of things to do in both locations however you may find that one suits you more than the other.
I personally preferred St Lucia just because I loved the natural scenery but I did find that Jamaica had a wider range of activities available as a whole.
I also loved doing a day trip to St Lucia’s neighbouring island of Martinique. It was really a highlight of the trip for me.
Here’s a quick comparison of the things to do in both St Lucia and Jamaica:
- There are tons of amazing activities in both locations.
- St Lucia has better views with two iconic mountains.
- Both are great for watersports like snorkeling, kayaking and diving.
- Overall Jamaica has more things to do as it’s a much bigger island.
- Jamaica is better for nightlife. This means it can be loud in the evenings though.
- You can easily visit neighboring islands like Martinique and St Vincent from St Lucia on a day-trip. Jamaica doesn’t have any islands close enough for this.
- Jamaica is much busier and louder than St Lucia which is more quiet and laid back.
Things to Do in St Lucia
St Lucia has a wide variety of activities available for every type of traveler from water-based, beach fun to glorious hiking trails and mesmerizing waterfalls.
There’s also tons of interesting history and culture to explore from battles from times gone by to secret pirate hideouts.
Top Activities in St Lucia:
St Lucia’s most iconic site is the twin volcanic peaks of the Piton mountains. These green mountains are absolutely stunning and, if you’re up for it, you can actually hike them.
If you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the land and sea. Totally worth it in my opinion.
St Lucia has many small fishing villages that are super fun to explore and give you a chance to experience local culture and actually see how the locals live.
My favorite one is Gros Islet where you’ll find rum shops and fishing shacks lining the streets.
Another must do activity is Pigeon Island which was actually used by pirates to raid passing ships in the 16th century. The island was artificially joined to St Lucia in the 1970s.
This small island is filled with lush, green foliage and tons of interesting historical clues which give a glimpse into how life used to be there including several forts which were used to spy on passing ships.
One of the best places to relax is Marigot Bay which has lots of beautiful beaches to explore.
It’s incredibly beautiful, so much so that it’s actually been used as the backdrop for several movies including Dr. Doolittle and Fire Power.
Things to Do in Jamaica
Jamaica is a big place so it really depends on which area of Jamaica you stay in.
The two most popular locations for vacations in Jamaica are Negril and Montego Bay. Below I’ve included a range of fun things to do in both of these famous Jamaican towns.
Top Activities in Jamaica:
- Snorkeling & scuba diving
- Water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, parasailing
- Head out on a waterfall hike
- Visit YS Falls Park
- Jungle tours
- Horseback riding
Negril is an ideal location for anyone wanting to sit back and relax. It’s super laid back and has a range of fantastic beaches to explore.
Negril Reef is a great place to meet some tropical marine life including jellyfish, urchins, conch shells and tons of tropical fish.
As the water is super clear, calm and shallow, it’s a great place for beginners to get an incredible view of these creatures.
Negril is a popular spot for honeymooners due to its peaceful atmosphere although it does liven up in the evenings.
My favorite thing to do in Negril is visit YS Falls Park which has not one but seven beautiful cascading waterfalls.
There’s also tons of natural pools for you to take a dip in with some of them being ‘natural jacuzzis’.
If you’re heading to Montego Bay then make sure you book yourself onto a jungle safari tour.
These unique tours will take you out into Jamaica’s rainforest to see the wildlife that lives there. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a crocodile!
You can also take a romantic cruise down the Martha Brae River on a bamboo raft.
These cruises are super romantic (perfect for a honeymoon) and give you the chance to see the tropical Jamaican jungles, old plantations from times gone by and an array of wildlife.
Jamaica or St Lucia – Accommodation
Another key thing to consider when planning a trip is where you’re going to stay as this can really make or break your vacation.
I loved both resorts and am struggling to choose a favorite between the two! If anything I’d have to go for Sandals Montego Bay as it was a bit cheaper for a similar level of luxury.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from hotels in Jamaica and St Lucia:
- Accommodation is cheaper in Jamaica compared with St Lucia.
- You can stay in a 5-star, all inclusive resort for a cheaper price in Jamaica.
- Both locations have a range of options to suit all budgets.
- Both Jamaica and St Lucia have Sandals resorts which are top quality.
- Jamaica has 7 Sandals resorts to choose from whereas St Lucia has just 3.
Accommodation in St Lucia
There’s a wide variety of accommodation options in St Lucia to suit all budgets.
For example, you can stay in a local guest house for as little as $80 per night, a mid-range hotel for $200 to $350 per night or a fancy resort for $450 to $850.
St Lucia has its fair share of luxurious, 5-star hotels but they can be very expensive.
Without a doubt, the best resort in St Lucia is the Sandals Grande St Lucian which is an all-inclusive resort located on its own peninsula.
On one side, you’ll find the picturesque Rodney Bay and on the other, the expansive Atlantic Ocean.
Sandals Grande St Lucian is also the only resort in the whole of St Lucia that features overwater bungalows.
They are eye-wateringly expensive though. One night in an overwater bungalow in St Lucia will cost you between $3,500 and $9,000. This does also include tons of extras like food and drinks though as Sandals is an all inclusive resort.
Sandals do have much cheaper options though if your budget doesn’t stretch that far. You can stay in one of their standard rooms for around $400 per night.
Also don’t overlook some of the smaller guest houses as they usually showcase the local culture more than the fancy resorts.
Another bonus is that, by booking your stay at a guesthouse, you’re investing in the local community as they’re often run by locals.
Accommodation in Jamaica
Similarly, Jamaica has tons of incredible accommodation options to suit all budgets.
They have some decent local guest houses for as little as $90 per night and standard hotels cost between $100 and $210 per night.
If you’re looking for one of those fancy, all inclusive resorts then Jamaica is a great choice. You’ll only need to spend between $390 and $500 per night.
Bear in mind that this price includes a 5-star hotel room and is all inclusive so you’ll get all your meals and drinks included.
When you factor in the cost of meals, staying in a standard hotel isn’t that much cheaper than staying in an all inclusive resort.
This makes Jamaica an ideal spot for a honeymoon, especially for honeymooners on a budget. You’ll easily spend thousands more in most other Caribbean destinations.
Sandals Montego Bay is a great choice as it’s located right by Montego Bay so you’re close to all the action. As this resort is adults-only, it’s a great choice for a honeymoon.
This is where I personally stayed and I loved it!
St Lucia vs Jamaica – Honeymoon
Both St Lucia and Jamaica are perfect for a honeymoon. With their picture-perfect landscapes and sandy beaches, you’ll find romance easy.
For me personally, I think St Lucia is slightly better for a honeymoon as it’s a bit quieter than Jamaica meaning you can easily find some peace and quiet with your new husband/wife.
I also think that St Lucia has better views, especially with the picturesque Piton mountains. The views are just heavenly and super romantic.
Jamaica would also make a fantastic honeymoon location and you’ll likely save some money by visiting there too so it’s ideal for anyone on more of a budget.
There’s lots of romantic things to do in both locations including sunset cruises, couples massages, candlelit dinners and horseback riding.
You’ll also find some pretty impressive resorts on both islands which are perfect for a honeymoon.
These are once-in-a-lifetime resorts that will make your honeymoon unforgettable.
St Lucia vs Jamaica – Beaches
If you are picking between these two locations then I’m guessing you love beaches. Who doesn’t, right!?
Well, you’re in luck because both Jamaica and St Lucia have some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world.
I’m talking soft white sand, crystal clear waters, swaying palm trees and unbelievably blue water.
I personally preferred the beaches in St Lucia over Jamaica because they were so much quieter!
I was constantly approached by beach sellers in Jamaica which was a bit annoying but this rarely happened at all in St Lucia.
Here’s what you can expect from the beaches in St Lucia and Jamaica:
- Both locations have a wide range of beaches that range from super secluded and quiet to more busy with crowds.
- Both have excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities.
- Overall Jamaica has more beaches which are slightly better than those in St Lucia.
- St Lucia also has beautiful beaches and they often have stunning mountainous scenery.
- St Lucia beaches tend to be quieter and it’s less likely that you’ll be approached by sellers.
- The sand in Jamaica is whiter than the sand in St Lucia.
St Lucia Beaches
St Lucia has its fair share of pristine beaches that come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll probably never run out of new beaches to explore in St Lucia.
One of my favorite things about the beaches in St Lucia is that, due to the mountainous landscape, most beaches have an epic backdrop of breathtaking scenery.
Hands down, the best beach in St Lucia is Jalousie Beach, also commonly known as Sugar Beach.
This powdery white beach sits at the base of the colossal Piton mountains and comes complete with crystal clear turquoise waters.
This beach is my absolute favorite because as well as being unbelievably beautiful, it is also a fantastic snorkeling location.
Both snorkelers and divers can jump into the water to meet an array of tropical fish including butterflyfish, parrotfish, eels and even barracudas.
If you’re looking for something a bit more secluded that few people know about then check out Grande Anse Beach.
This Atlantic beach is much more unspoiled and virtually untouched. It feels more wild and rugged compared with other beaches in St Lucia.
Seven Mile Beach in Negril is one of Jamaica’s most famous beaches. It’s known for its unbelievably white sand and clear blue waters.
As the water is super clear and calm here, it’s an ideal spot for snorkeling, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.
Make sure you stick around for sunset as the view is mesmerizing from here.
Whilst Seven Mile Beach is stunning, it can get busy due to its beauty and fame.
If you want to escape the crowds for a while, head north to Half Moon Beach which is much quieter and equally as beautiful.
You can relax in one of the hammocks with a good book or grab something to eat from one of the restaurants that line the beach itself.
If you’re in Montego Bay then there’s also tons of incredible beaches including, my personal favorite, the Doctor’s Cave Beach.
Expect crystal clear waters and soft white sand. This beach has an interesting history too.
Supposedly, the waters of this beach have powerful healing properties!
Well, at least that’s what a famous British doctor claimed back in the 1920s which is what made this place a tourist hotspot!
Even if the waters here don’t cure all your ailments, you can still enjoy swimming, snorkeling or just good old relaxing on the beach.
One thing I don’t love about Jamaica is that they have a lot of ‘hawking’. This is essentially when sellers approach you on the beach and try to sell you stuff.
It’s pretty annoying and not a problem at all in St Lucia.
Jamaica vs St Lucia – Food
Who doesn’t love food?
I’m finding it very hard to pick which island has the best food…can we just call it a draw?
Here’s what you can expect from restaurants in both Jamaica and St Lucia:
- Food is inexpensive in both locations.
- You can try local, traditional food in both Jamaica and St Lucia.
- Both have a range of options for vegans and vegetarians.
- There are lots of restaurants, with a range of cuisines, in both locations.
Here’s a bit more information…
Food in St Lucia
St Lucian food is very unique but it does have some distinct British and French influences as well as influences from the Amerindians who were the original inhabitants of the island from centuries ago.
With 274 restaurants to keep you satisfied on the island, you’ll find no shortage of tasty things to eat.
Vegans and vegetarians will have no problems finding delicious meals. You should definitely try out one of the local rastafarian cafes (as rastafarians usually eat a vegetarian diet).
My favorite restaurant in St Lucia is Jade Mountain Club because they have epic views of the Piton mountains. This fusion restaurant serves a range of traditional Caribbean classics with new twists.
If there’s one thing you should try in St Lucia then it definitely has to be bouyon. Bouyon is traditionally served at large gatherings or celebrations and is a delicious soup made from local ingredients.
Bouyon is based on sweet potato or pumpkin with ham or pork all stewed together in a large pot.
Food is very reasonably priced with an average restaurant meal costing around $20 to $30 per person.
Food in Jamaica
Dining in Jamaica is a true culinary experience. Jamaican food is world-famous as it’s packed with flavor from herbs and spices that you’ll find in every dish.
If you’re staying in Montego Bay then the best place to eat is on Gloucester Avenue. This buzzing street is lined with restaurants offering a range of different cuisines.
One of the best things about Jamaica is that they have a wide range of food options to suit every traveler. Even picky eaters will have a field day in Jamaica.
They even have a Hard Rock Cafe for those of you that just need to get that t-shirt.
Negril also has lots of great restaurants that line Seven Mile Beach itself. My favorite restaurant in Negril is Rockhouse Restaurant as it has the best sunset views in town.
A trip to Jamaica just isn’t complete without trying a jerk meal. Choose from chicken, pork or fish (sorry veggies, you’ll have to skip this one) which has been slow cooked whilst bathed in delicious jerk spices.
The flavor is super unique and, even if you’ve tried it before, it tastes so much better in Jamaica.
Food is also relatively inexpensive in Jamaica with an average restaurant meal costing between $10 and $25.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post which compares St Lucia vs Jamaica to help you decide where to visit on your next vacation.
Both locations have so much to offer and you’re bound to have an amazing time no matter which you choose.
Still unsure of where to visit?