If you’re looking for a Caribbean vacation then you may be trying to choose between St Lucia and Barbados.
I recently spent some time hopping around the Caribbean and in that time I visited both St Lucia and Barbados.
Today I’ll be comparing the two and revealing which I think is better and why.
In this ultimate guide, I’ll be highlighting all of the key differences including activities, cost, location and beaches to help you decide which to visit.
St Lucia vs Barbados – Summary
St Lucia is known for its two epic mountain peaks, lush rainforests, volcanic beaches and impressive waterfalls.
Barbados, on the other hand, is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, delicious cuisine and it’s historic capital, Bridgetown.
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 Barbados:
- St Lucia is more beautiful compared to Barbados due to its dramatic, mountainous landscape.
- Overall Barbados has better and more beautiful beaches compared to St Lucia. St Lucia has many dark sand beaches but all of Barbados’s beaches are white sand.
- Overall there are more things to do in Barbados compared to St Lucia but both locations have a wide range of activities.
- It’s easier to get around in Barbados as there’s a well-connected road system. It’s harder in St Lucia to hire a car as the roads aren’t well-kept.
- St Lucia is better for those on a budget as it has more lower-end options. Barbados is mainly filled with high-end resorts and expensive restaurants – it’s more suited to affluent tourists.
- Barbados is safer than St Lucia. Although St Lucia is still pretty safe for tourists, Barbados has one of the lowest crime rates in the Caribbean.
- St Lucia is better for nature and adventure activities whereas Barbados is better for exploring history and lounging on the beach.
- St Lucia is better for hiking and scenic views. Barbados isn’t great for hiking as it’s a very flat island.
- St Lucia feels a bit quieter, more secluded and far less touristy than Barbados.
- The infrastructure is much better in Barbados.
- As a whole, Barbados is more expensive than St Lucia.
- Barbados feels a bit more upscale overall.
As a whole, St Lucia is better for nature, hiking and gorgeous mountainous views whereas Barbados is better for lounging on the beach or exploring historical sites.
It really comes down to what you prefer.
For me personally, I preferred St Lucia over Barbados for several reasons.
Firstly I’m a sucker for mountain views and St Lucia has some of the most beautiful scenery that I’ve ever seen! I’m not kidding, the Piton mountains are truly swoon-worthy.
As Barbados was super flat, there weren’t any epic hikes or cool viewpoints to explore. The beaches were really lovely but I definitely missed the mountains.
I also found that Barbados was way more touristy that St Lucia. In St Lucia, it really felt like I had found some peace and quiet. I felt so at peace but in Barbados, I didn’t get the same feeling.
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 and Barbados are both part of the Windward Islands which are located in the Eastern Caribbean.
In fact, the distance between St Lucia and Barbados is very small and is just 174 km (108 miles).
Check out the location of the two islands in the map below:
As Barbados and St Lucia are located so close together, your flight time will be virtually the same to either location.
Barbados covers 430km2 whereas St Lucia covers 617km2 making it slightly bigger.
Check out the size difference on the map below:
Although it’s smaller, Barbados actually has a higher population compared with St Lucia. Barbados has 287,000 local residents whereas St Lucia only has 183,000.
This means that it often feels a bit more crowded in Barbados.
Best Time To Visit
As Barbados and St Lucia are located in the same area of the world, they experience the same weather patterns and seasons.
The best time to visit both St Lucia and Barbados is between the months of December and April. During these months the weather is dry and hot.
You can expect peak temperatures between 82ºF and 86ºF (28ºC and 30ºC).
Rainy season runs from June until November when the weather is still super hot but you may experience some tropical rain showers. There is also a small risk of hurricanes.
The rain showers tend to not last very long (no more than 30 minutes) and due to the heat, the water dries up quickly.
Many people still choose to visit during these months as it is actually the cheapest time to visit St Lucia and Barbados due to the unreliable weather.
Peak temperatures still average around 86ºF to 88ºC (30ºC to 31ºC) during low season.
Which is Cheaper: St Lucia or Barbados
The cost of a vacation is often one of the most important things to consider when planning a trip.
It’s no secret that neither Barbados nor St Lucia are cheap but you will save a little money by visiting one over the other.
I did spend slightly more in Barbados over St Lucia but not a significant amount.
The extra spend mainly came from the hotel but I did find that food was also slightly more expensive in Barbados too.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how much it will cost to visit Barbados or St Lucia:
- As a whole, St Lucia is slightly cheaper than Barbados.
- Food and dining in restaurants are cheaper in St Lucia.
- St Lucia has more budget options compared with Barbados.
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.
- 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 which are ideal for a honeymoon 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 still have a great time but you’ll spend significantly less than you would have at one of the luxury resorts.
As you can see, flights to St Lucia are expensive and unfortunately, there’s not much way around this.
Cost of a Vacation in Barbados
The average cost for a week-long vacation in Barbados is between $3,800 and $5,500 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 Barbados is between $6,500 and $8,500 for two people.
Here’s an overview of what you’ll spend in Barbados:
- Standard hotels in Barbados cost between $160 and $350 per night.
- 5-star resorts cost between $500 and $750 per night.
- You’ll spend between $75 and $160 per person each day on food, transport and activities.
- Flights from the US cost, on average, between $580 and $800 per person.
All prices are in USD.
Barbados also has a decent range of hotels and resorts available at various budgets but it has fewer at the lower end compared with St Lucia.
One of the best hotels to get a real bang for your buck is Sweetfield Manor.
This 5-star hotel feels like a tropical paradise, the best part is that it’s significantly cheaper than other 5-star hotels in Barbados with prices starting at just $230 per night during high season.
If you choose to visit during low season, you can get a room here for as little as $150 per night!
Barbados also has its fair share of super luxurious resorts that come with a hefty price tag.
Some of these cost well over $1,000 per night including the Fairmont Royal Pavilion Barbados Resort.
You get what you pay for though as this place is super lavish.
St Lucia vs Barbados – 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.
Views and hiking are kinda my thing so I’m not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed that Barbados didn’t have a ton of these.
Barbados definitely made it up to me though by having glorious beaches and tons of other attractions.
I spent most of my time on the island lounging on the beach and swimming in the ocean. Can’t complain really.
St Lucia was truly a dream as I spent my days partly on the beaches and in the ocean but I managed to fit in some awesome hikes.
Here’s a quick comparison of the things to do in both St Lucia and Barbados:
- As a whole, Barbados has more attractions and things to do compared with St Lucia.
- St Lucia has much better hiking opportunities as it has several mountains and over 19,000 acres of rainforest. Barbados is very flat and has little greenery.
- Overall St Lucia is more beautiful than Barbados and has better views.
- It’s difficult to get around in St Lucia as the roads are windy and rocky. Barbados has a fantastic road system making it super easy to get around by yourself.
- Whilst both have great snorkeling and diving opportunities, St Lucia is slightly better.
- Barbados is slightly better for nightlife.
- St Lucia is better for active vacations whereas Barbados is better for lounging on the beach.
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:
- Hike the Pitons
- Visit Pigeon Island
- Relax on the beach
- Drive-in volcano
- Horseback riding
- ATV tour
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 like I did! It was tough but worth it.
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 was 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 my favorite places to relax is Marigot Bay which has lots of beautiful beaches to explore. I literally spent an entire day there just relaxing and exploring the scenery.
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 Barbados
Whilst Barbados is most well known for its stunning white sandy beaches, that’s not all the island has to offer.
Barbados’s culture shines through wherever you are on the island and its capital city, Bridgetown, is as vibrant as they come.
Top Activities in Barbados:
- Snorkel with turtles & shipwrecks
- Explore sugar plantations
- Relax on the beach
- Explore historic sites
- Bajan food tour
One of my favorite things to do in Barbados was to walk down the Barbados Boardwalk (which I did almost every day).
Every day I was greeted by glorious ocean views as I wandered along the boardwalk that connects two of Barbados’s most stunning beaches.
The boardwalk itself is free but it’s also lined with tons of cafes and restaurants which are ideal for a quick snack or drink.
Bridgetown, Barbados’s capital city, is without a doubt one of the Caribbean’s most interesting and vibrant cities.
You can spend an entire day just wandering around the city, soaking in the culture and admiring the colorful buildings and interesting stalls.
I absolutely loved visiting Bridgetown and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
Another attraction worth seeing is Harrison’s Cave which is 1.5-mile long network of coral caves that lies 160ft underground.
Inside the cave, you get to see impressive icicle-like structures, waterfalls and streams all inside the cave. It’s pretty cool!
Barbados 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.
In St Lucia, I stayed at the Sandals Grande St Lucian and in Barbados, I stayed at the Fairmont Royal Pavillion.
They were both pretty pricey but I really enjoyed my stay at each of them.
If I had to pick a favorite I’d probably go for the Fairmont in Barbados as it was ultra-luxurious, had excellent ocean views and the staff were just so helpful – they literally couldn’t do enough for me.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from hotels in Barbados and St Lucia:
- St Lucia has a few overwater bungalows whereas Barbados doesn’t have any.
- There’s a wider range of budget options available in St Lucia.
- Barbados is better known for having luxurious resorts and hotels.
- Both locations have multiple Sandals resorts.
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 Barbados
Similarly, there is also a wide variety of accommodation options in Barbados to suit all types of travelers.
On the lower end, you can book a stay at the Butterfly Beach Hotel.
This reasonably priced 3-star hotel is great for those that don’t want to empty out their kid’s college fund to stay in a luxury hotel.
Prices start at just $140 per night during high season (which is an absolute bargain for what you get).
The hotel itself is beachfront meaning you can enjoy stunning ocean views from all over the grounds.
The hotel also features an ocean-side restaurant and bar as well as a large pool that overlooks the sea.
If you’re looking for a luxurious 5-star resort then the Fairmont Royal Pavillion is the only logical choice. I actually stayed here on my recent trip and loved it!
This impressive resort sits along Glitter Bay Beach in St James with every single one of their 72 rooms coming with a glorious ocean view so you can watch the sunset every night from the comfort of your own suite.
These rooms are pricey with a single night during high season costing $1,100 at a minimum (yikes!).
St Lucia vs Barbados – 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 Barbados 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 adored the beaches on both of these islands and it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite because I loved them both for different reasons.
I noticed that all of Barbados’s beaches have super white sand and vibrant turquoise waters so they looked unreal and truly dreamy.
St Lucia had some darker sand beaches so they weren’t quite as dreamy but they often came with mountainous backdrops which I also adored.
Here’s what you can expect from the beaches in St Lucia and Barbados:
- St Lucia has a mix of dark sand and white sand beaches as it is a volcanic island.
- Barbados only has white sand beaches.
- The beaches are more beautiful in Barbados.
- The beaches are much busier and get more crowded in Barbados.
- All of the beaches in both locations are public. There are no private beaches.
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 scenery, 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.
I literally spent an entire day here lounging on the beach & swimming in the ocean. It was bliss.
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.
When I visited, there were only one or two other people there!
Barbados has more than 80 beaches to explore and enjoy which is certainly more than enough to keep you busy for a week-long vacation.
Pebbles Beach, located in Bridgetown, is probably one of the coolest and most interesting beaches in the whole world.
If you arrive early in the morning, you’ll be able to see the local racehorses having a swim in the water at the beach.
I made the effort and got up early for this and I’m so glad I did, it was super interesting and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Yep, that’s right! The staff at the local racetrack walk the horses most mornings along the beach allowing them to bathe and play in the water.
If you happen to be on the beach at the same time, it makes for a pretty interesting sight!
On the Caribbean side of the island, you’ll find calm waters with sugary white beaches. These are ideal for kids or those looking for somewhere to set down their towel and relax.
Some of my favorites are Mullins Beach, as it never gets too crowded, and Carlisle Bay, which is a small natural harbor ideal for swimming.
If you’re into watersports or surfing and are looking for something a bit more rugged then head over to the Atlantic side of the island.
The beaches on this side are much wilder and the water is less calm making it ideal for surfing, kiteboarding and windsurfing.
My favorite beach on this side of the island is Bathsheba which features dramatic rock formations and feels a lot more untouched compared to other beaches in Barbados.
One thing to note about the beaches in Barbados is that they are all public and free to enjoy, even the ones that form part of a fancy resort.
Barbados vs St Lucia – Food
Who doesn’t love food?
I loved the food in both of these places and I just can’t pick a favorite ok so don’t ask me!
Here’s what you can expect from restaurants in both Barbados and St Lucia:
- Both locations provide a range of food options for all types of diets including vegetarian, vegan and halal.
- Barbados has more high-end fine dining options.
- St Lucia is better for the budget traveler.
- Seafood features highly on menus 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.
Check my guide on the cost of eating out in St Lucia for more information on pricing.
Food in Barbados
Bajan food is very unique and is a mix of African, Irish, Creole, British and Indian influences.
Whilst fresh seafood forms a large part of the culinary scene, there are tons of options available to suit everyone including vegans and vegetarians.
Did you even go to Barbados if you didn’t visit Oistins Fish Fry?
Expect fresh fish sizzling away right in front of your eyes and lively music playing loudly in the background. The whole place feels like a fun Caribbean street party.
One of the most popular meals in Barbados is ‘flying-fish’ which is served in a variety of ways.
The name comes from the type of fish used in the sandwich as it has the ability to ‘fly’ long distances in the water.
There are also tons of places to try out authentic Bajan dishes including Cuz’s Fish Stand in Bridgetown.
Another thing you absolutely cannot miss in Barbados is rum!
Barbados is actually the birthplace of rum so order yourself a rum punch to see what this island is all about.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post which compares St Lucia vs Barbados 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?