If you’re looking for the ultimate Caribbean vacation then you might be trying to choose between St Lucia and St Barts.
As I’ve personally visited both of these islands, I’d love to share my insights into the differences I noticed between them.
This ultimate guide will compare things like activities, cost, location and beaches to help you decide which to visit.
Table of Contents
St Lucia vs St Barts – Summary
St Lucia is known for its two epic mountain peaks, lush rainforests, volcanic beaches and impressive waterfalls.
St Barts (or St Barths), on the other hand, is known for its white sandy beaches, fancy hotels and being the playground of the rich and famous.
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 St Barts:
- St Barts is much more expensive than St Lucia. Hotels, restaurants, things to do and flights all cost significantly more.
- St Barts has a more exclusive and luxurious reputation.
- There’s a wider choice of hotels and accommodation options at all levels in St Lucia. St Barts is mostly just expensive 5-star resorts.
- St Lucia has mostly dark sand beaches but St Barts only has white sand beaches which are often considered the most beautiful in the Caribbean.
- St Barts is better for fine dining whereas St Lucia has dining options at all levels including cheap street food, mid-range and fine dining.
- St Barts is safer as it has very little poverty and little crime. St Lucia has a higher crime rate (it’s still safe to visit though).
- St Lucia has a more laid back atmosphere compared to St Barts.
- St Barts has more of a European feel to it (it feels like you’re in Paris) whereas St Lucia feels much more Caribbean.
- St Lucia has more mountainous scenery and is better for nature lovers as it has waterfalls, rainforests and even a volcano.
- Overall there’s a wider range of things to do in St Lucia compared to St Barts.
- St Barts is better for fine dining and high end shopping.
- St Barts is easier to get around as the roads and infrastructure are better. It’s difficult to rent a car in St Lucia as the roads are poor.
As a whole, St Lucia is better for an active vacation as it has mountain views and adventure activities whereas St Barts is better for a relaxing, beach-type vacation and fine dining.
It really comes down to what you prefer.
If you love nature, epic scenery, exploring local culture and you’re looking for a more casual vibe then choose St Lucia.
If you’re looking for ultimate luxury, a high-end elegant vibe and the best restaurants and shopping that the Caribbean has to offer then choose St Barts.
Based on my personal experience (after visiting both islands), I preferred St Lucia. This was mainly due to the beauty of the island and the laid back feel.
St Barts was also great but I just didn’t get the same feeling of serenity that I felt in St Lucia.
I’m also not a huge fan of super fancy high end food and definitely preferred the more local style restaurants that you’ll find in St Lucia.
The rest of this post will go into more detail on each aspect to help you decide which island is right for you.
St Barts vs St Lucia: Location & Size
St Lucia is located in the eastern Caribbean near Barbados and Martinique, whereas, St Barts (officially Saint Barthelemy) is in the northeastern Caribbean near Anguilla, St Kitts & Nevis and the Virgin Islands.
As they’re both located in the eastern Caribbean, St Barts and St Lucia are fairly close to each other.
The distance between them is just 486 km (302 miles) which would take around 2 hours by plane.
Check out the location of the two islands in the map below:
St Lucia is much bigger than St Barts in terms of size.
St Barts only covers 21km2 whereas St Lucia covers 617km2 making it almost 30 times larger.
Check out the size difference on the map below:
Additionally, the population of St Lucia is much higher with 183,600 people whereas St Barts has just 9,000 local residents.
In terms of tourist numbers, St Lucia gets over 1 million tourists each year. Compare that with St Bart’s 200,000 yearly tourists.
This means that, in general, St Lucia feels a bit busier than St Barts.
St Lucia vs St Barts – Best Time To Visit
As both St Barts and St Lucia are located in the eastern Caribbean, they generally experience very similar weather patterns and seasons.
The best time to visit both St Lucia and St Barts is between the months of December and April. This is the peak tourist season as the weather is pretty much always hot and dry.
You can expect peak temperatures between 82ºF and 86ºF (28ºC and 30ºC) most days.
Rainy season starts in June and lasts until November. Tropical rain showers are common during these months but the temperature is still hot.
This also coincides with the hurricane season which puts people off from visiting.
It’s worth knowing that the heavy rain showers don’t usually last very long and are usually over within 30 minutes.
As the weather is still really hot, the water dries up fast and you can get back to your day.
Many people still choose to visit both islands during the rainy season as it is actually the cheapest time to visit St Lucia and St Barts due to the unreliable weather.
Peak temperatures still average around 86ºF to 88ºC (30ºC to 31ºC) during rainy season and you’ll still get plenty of good weather.
Which is Cheaper: St Lucia or St Barts
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 St Barts nor St Lucia are exactly cheap but you could save some money by picking one over the other.
I personally ended up spending almost twice as much money in St Barts compared to St Lucia and didn’t think the extra money was really worth it.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how much it will cost to visit St Barts or St Lucia:
- St Barts is considerably more expensive compared to St Lucia.
- St Lucia is much cheaper and suited more to budget travelers.
- St Barts is extremely expensive and mainly has 5-star resorts with some costing over $1,000 per night.
Cost of a Vacation in St Lucia
An average vacation in St Lucia will cost between $3,000 and $5,500 for two people for a week-long vacation.
This estimate assumes that you’re not staying in a fancy 5-star resort.
If you want to stay in a fancy resort then the average cost for a week-long vacation in St Lucia increases to 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.
The Sandals resorts are, by far, the most popular resorts in St Lucia and many people visit the island just to stay at them. With 3 amazing Sandals resorts to choose from, St Lucia doesn’t disappoint.
You can also definitely do St Lucia on the cheap if your budget is a bit smaller.
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.
Cost of a Vacation in St Barts
The average cost for a week-long vacation in St Barts is between $5,500 and $8,300 for two people.
This price assumes you stay in a regular hotel and not a fancy 5-star resort.
If you want to stay in a fancy resort then the average cost for a week-long vacation in St Barts rises to between $8,200 and $14,600 for two people.
Here’s an overview of what you’ll spend in St Barts:
- Standard hotels in St Barts cost between $300 and $500 per night.
- 5-star resorts cost between $700 and $1,500 per night.
- You’ll spend between $100 and $200 per person each day on food, transport and activities.
- Flights from the US cost, on average, between $750 and $1,150 per person.
All prices are in USD.
One of the biggest costs associated with visiting St Barts is the expensive flight price.
Unfortunately due to the fact that St Barts is a small and not super popular island, there are not any direct flights from major US cities.
The most common way to fly there is by taking a flight to the nearby island of St Maarten and then taking a connecting flight over to St Barts.
Flights to St Maarten are still expensive, costing around $500 if you’re on the east coast of the US and up to $900 if you’re on the west coast.
Annoyingly, the connecting flight from St Maarten to St Barts is just 15 minutes long but prices for this short flight are between $270 and $300 per person for a return ticket!
After spending ages searching for flights, this was the cheapest return flight I could find:
You can save a bit of money by taking the ferry from St Maarten to St Barts instead but it takes around 40 minutes.
Pretty much everything is pricey in St Barts. This island is known to be a favorite vacation spot of many famous celebrities and billionaires so naturally it has prices to match.
As the island itself is pretty small, there’s not a huge range of hotels and due to its luxe reputation most of them are expensive 5-star resorts so if you don’t have a big budget then St Barts might not be for you.
Hey, you never know though, you might bump into Beyonce so it could be worth it.
St Lucia vs St Barts – 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.
For me, I love hiking and nature and I found that St Lucia was a better fit for me in that regard but St Barts is definitely better for certain types of activities.
Here’s a quick comparison of the things to do in both St Lucia and St Barts:
- Overall there are more things to do in St Lucia compared to St Barts.
- St Barts is better for high-end shopping.
- Both are great for hiking but the views in St Lucia are better due to the impressive Piton mountains.
- St Barts is better for surfing.
- St Lucia is much better for nature and adventure activities like hiking, ziplining and ATV tours.
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 hike Gros Piton (the larger of the two) and make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the land and sea.
I did this hike and really loved it even though I was drowning in buckets of sweat by the end.
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 my favorite places to relax is Marigot Bay which has lots of beautiful beaches to explore. I literally spent an entire day of my vacation here just relaxing on the beach.
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 St Barts
St Barts also has tons to offer but it is most famous for its stunning white sandy beaches.
If you like to explore history then you’ll also find that St Barts is right up your street as you can explore old forts, colonial era buildings and much more.
Did you know that St Barts is the only Caribbean island to ever be occupied by Sweden?
Top Activities in St Barts:
- Kayaking & paddleboarding
- Explore Gustavia
- Cocktail workshop (my personal favorite)
- Designer shopping
As the island is pretty small (it’s just 17.5 km long and 4 km wide!), you can easily see everything in one day.
Fort Karl, which is an old fort that sits atop a hill overlooking the island’s capital city and harbor, dates back to the Swedish colonial period and was built in 1787.
As well as being packed with interesting history, it’s also the best spot on the whole island for sunset.
After the sun has set, you can then take a stroll around St Barts’ lively capital city, Gustavia.
Gustavia is world-renowned for being home to some of the best fine dining establishments on the planet as well as tons of designer boutiques selling high-end fashion.
Make a stop at one of their high-end restaurants to try some tasty treats before heading back to your resort for the day.
Hiking is another popular activity in St Barts as there are plenty of spectacular hiking routes to choose from.
Some will end at a glorious white sandy beach whereas others end with an impressive view of the whole island.
My personal favorite hike in St Barts is the hike to Colombier Beach.
This hike is a little challenging but not too difficult and the best part is that, due to the hike, not many people make it to the beach so you might have the whole thing to yourself like I did!
Water sports are another fun way to pass the time with surfing, snorkeling, kayaking and diving being the most popular. I definitely embarrassed myself a bit by falling off my surf board.
St Barts or St Lucia – Accommodation
Another important thing to consider when planning a vacation is where you’re going to stay as this can really make or break your vacation.
In St Barts, you have little other choice but to book a 5-star resort so it’s no ideal for anyone on a budget. I did find the accommodation was higher quality in St Barts compared to St Lucia.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from hotels in St Barts and St Lucia:
- St Barts mainly consists of 5-star luxury resorts and has very few budget options at all.
- St Lucia has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets.
- St Barts is a smaller island so has fewer hotels to choose from.
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 also has an impressive range of luxurious, 5-star hotels but they can be very expensive (not as expensive as St Barts though).
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. This is where I stayed on my trip.
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 (between $3,500 and $9,000 per night!).
Sandals do have much cheaper options too if your budget doesn’t stretch that far. You can stay in one of their standard rooms for around $400 per night.
It’s also important not to 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 St Barts
St Barts is a very small island meaning that there isn’t a ton of room for lots of hotels.
For example, when I put in some dates into booking.com during the peak tourist season, the website was only able to generate 14 hotels!
As a comparison, I used the same dates for St Lucia and got back 138 hotels to choose from.
Due to its luxe reputation and the fact it’s frequented often by billionaires and celebrities, most of the hotels are super luxurious 5-star resorts that come with a big price tag.
If you don’t mind splashing the cash then one of the best hotels in St Barts is Le Sereno.
This beachfront 5-star hotel overlooks the crystal clear waters of Grand Cul De Sac which means it features spectacular views from all angles.
They pride themselves on offering world-class service and celebrity treatment (even if you’re not a celebrity).
I checked a 5-night stay at Le Sereno in the peak season (when the weather is best) and it costs approximately $8,000.
This cost is for a 5-night stay for 2 adults and includes breakfast. You’ll get your own private bungalow which comes with a pool view.
You can easily spend more or less at an alternative hotel but one thing’s for sure: you won’t find any budget hotels in St Barts.
St Lucia vs St Barts – 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 St Barts and St Lucia have some very beautiful beaches that would look right at home on the front of a postcard.
I was genuinely blown away by the beaches on both of these islands and I can’t pick a favorite so don’t ask me!
I’m talking soft white sand, crystal clear waters, swaying palm trees and unbelievably blue water.
Here’s what you can expect from the beaches in St Lucia and St Barts:
- St Barts has mostly white sandy beaches whereas St Lucia has darker sand beaches.
- St Lucia beaches often come with mountainous scenery.
- Snorkeling is better in St Lucia compared with St Barts.
- Topless sunbathing is common on some beaches in St Barts whereas you don’t really find that in St Lucia.
St Lucia Beaches
St Lucia features many 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. I could have happily spent everyday of my trip of this beach, it’s that stunning.
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.
I saw several sea turtles in the ocean just minutes after arriving here!
Check out my Sugar Beach snorkeling guide to find out what you can expect.
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.
St Barts Beaches
One of the things that St Barts is most famous for is its glorious white sandy beaches. Many people rate them as the most beautiful in the whole of the Caribbean.
One of my personal favorites is Saline Beach located on the southeastern coast which is consistently rated as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
This beach is much more untouched than other beaches on the island. It feels very rural and has a real ‘deserted island’ feel to it that you just can’t beat.
I spent a few hours lounging on this beach reading my book and I can honestly say I’ve never felt so at peace!
On top of that, the water is unbelievably blue and the sand is almost whiter than Santa’s beard so…it’s pretty great.
Another beach you can’t miss is Colombier Beach. This beach requires a bit more effort than the other beaches in St Barts but I promise it will be worth it when you get there.
There’s no roads at all leading to this beach so visiting it requires a 30-minute hike. If you’re not up for walking then you can reach the beach by boat or yacht as an alternative.
This beach is an epic snorkeling spot and you’ll often be able to spot sea turtles feeding on the seagrass (their favorite food), lobsters, starfish, rays and other tropical fish.
St Barts vs St Lucia – Food
Who doesn’t love food?
I personally preferred the food in St Lucia as I’m not a fan of fancy high end dining. In St Barts, fine dining is the main option and I always left still feeling hungry.
Here’s what you can expect from restaurants in both St Barts and St Lucia:
- St Barts has more fine dining and high end options.
- St Lucia has a wide range of dining options at all levels.
- Cheap food is hard to find in St Barts but easy to find in St Lucia.
- Food is much more expensive in St Barts compared to St Lucia.
- Most travelers rate the restaurants in St Barts to be better than St Lucia.
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 St Barts
Often ranked as the best Caribbean island for foodies, it’s safe to say that you won’t be disappointed with the dining options in St Barts.
Despite the island’s small size, there is actually a huge amount of restaurants and bars to choose from and you’ll struggle to ever run out of new places to try.
The majority of restaurants in St Barts are fine dining so if local street food is what you’re after then sorry but you’re going to be disappointed.
Most restaurants in St Barts offer a sophisticated and chic atmosphere with fancy food and delicious wine.
One of the best restaurants on the island is Bonito St Barth which is located in Gustavia and overlooks the harbor.
This top restaurant serves French and Pan-American cuisine and with the interior built to resemble a beach house, you’ll feel right at home.
At a fine dining restaurant like this, a main course will cost between $40 and $60 per person.
For something a bit more casual, head over to one of the many French-inspired snack restaurants, locally referred to as ‘les snacks’.
These serve more informal dishes like pizza, salad, burgers and sandwiches.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post which compares St Lucia vs St Barts 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?