Two popular Caribbean islands are St. Lucia and St. Martin (or Sint Maarten). With stunning resorts, beautiful beaches, and great food, these destinations both have so much to offer.
If you’re trying to decide between St. Lucia and St. Martin, this article will compare the two so you can figure out which is best for you.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin: Our Quick Take
The best island depends on your interests and the type of trip you want. We personally prefer St. Martin for its nighttime fun and lively atmosphere, and St. Lucia for the breathtaking views and natural attractions.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin: Did You Know?
- It’s possible to take a plantation tour in St. Lucia where you can create your own chocolate bar!
- Despite being split into two, there is no physical border between the Dutch and French sides of St. Martin.
- St. Lucia’s ownership was passed seven times between France and Great Britain in the 1800s, eventually falling to the British. St Lucia gained independence in 1979 and became a member of the Commonwealth.
St. Lucia Overview
St. Lucia is famed as being one of the most beautiful destinations in the Caribbean. With lush mountainous landscapes, pristine beaches, and tons of things to see and do, many people choose to visit this destination time and time again.
This island may be small, but it boasts some truly breathtaking white sand beaches such as Grande Anse Beach, Anse Chastanet, and Sugar Beach. Snorkeling and scuba diving is very popular here. The lovely landscape includes the famous Piton Mountains and La Soufriere Volcano. There’s also a great selection of hidden gems to discover here, such as Sault Waterfall and the Tet Paul Scenic Nature Trail.
Although it is popular with hikers and divers, St. Lucia is also a hit with those looking for a relaxed and laid-back vacation. There are plenty of resorts featuring stunning views, luxurious infinity pools, tropical gardens, and relaxing hammocks to lie in, making this island a paradise and popular honeymoon spot.
The cuisine in St. Lucia is a blend of French, Creole, and West Indian flavors. Be sure to try some popular dishes such as green fig and saltfish and chicken roti. And of course, drink lots of the local rum! The food and music are both huge parts of the culture here, so be sure to try some traditional cooking and head to a festival if you can.
St. Martin Overview
Many people imagine St. Martin / St. Maarten to be another laid-back and tranquil Caribbean escape, but there is a lot more to it. While there are still luxury resorts, beautiful beaches, and scenic views to admire, there’s so much more on offer at this truly unique destination.
This dual-governed island offers two distinct sides and cultures that you can enjoy all in one vacation. That’s a rare find on an island with so much beauty. It’s a popular spot with those who like to dine well, party hard, go beach hopping, and shop till they drop in a selection of duty-free stores.
The north side of St. Martin is controlled by the French government, so as you can expect it’s the part of the island where you can find the best restaurants and great party beaches. St. Maarten, on the other hand, is popular for its casinos, bars, and nightclubs, and is a territory of the Netherlands Antilles.
While known for its lively atmosphere, this unique destination is still a laid-back and stress-free environment, making it a great spot for a vacation. You’ll be surprised to see how easily you can pass between both sides of the island, with many travelers crossing the border between the two sides multiple times a day.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin: Best Time to Visit
No matter when you’re hoping to visit, you’ll be pleased to know that both St. Lucia and St. Martin offer warm weather all year round. The average temperature in St. Lucia ranges from 72 F to 87 F while the average temperature in St. Maarten ranges from 74 F to 89 F.
That said, you’ll want to try to avoid traveling during the wet seasons, which fall between June and December in St. Lucia and July to November in St. Martin.
Of course, the high season falls at the peak of the Caribbean summer in both destinations, which are typically some of the cooler months back home. To get the best deals, visit just before or just after the wet season. While you may risk a little rainfall, traveling at this time can bring the price of your trip down significantly, and also help you avoid large crowds of tourists.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin: Weather
When it comes to comparing the weather in these two islands, it’s safe to say that conditions in both St. Lucia and St. Martin are quite similar. In fact, the weather is so similar that it’s barely a deciding factor.
Both have ideal weather for enjoying a variety of fun outdoor activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, hiking, and watersports.
Due to St. Martin being a little more developed than St. Lucia, the large amounts of buildings and construction here can contribute to it feeling a little warmer in built-up areas. Aside from that though, the temperatures on the beaches and within the air-conditioned resorts are relatively the same.
St. Lucia vs St. Martin: Accommodations
Both islands have a wide variety of hotels and resorts available. Since St. Martin is the larger of the two, there’s arguably more choice here. That said, when it comes to which is best for accommodations, it really comes down to what kind of vacation you’re looking to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a relaxed and luxurious experience, then St. Lucia may be the better choice. If you’re looking for a more fun-filled experience with a resort that features lively bars and a fun-filled nightlife, then St. Martin may be the better destination.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin: Things to Do
Both St Lucia and St Martin are excellent choices with plenty of things to do. Aside from their shared draw of history, culture, and beaches, though, these destinations can be quite different in terms of what is best to see and do.
Best Things to Do in St. Lucia
There’s plenty of choice in St. Lucia, with many desirable attractions both natural and man-made.
One of the most popular attractions in St. Lucia is the Sulphur Springs drive-in volcano. Here you can drive by the active volcano, tour Sulphur Springs Park, and even take a dip in the mud baths. Admission to the park is only $11 USD (and $ 5 USD if you bring the little ones with you)! Admission to the mud baths is charged separately.
The Piton Mountains are another must-see. One of the world’s largest volcano plugs, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is nothing short of spectacular. Admire these from afar, or, if you’re an experienced hiker, you can climb up the mountains with a guide for only $50. It must be noted that this must not be attempted by beginners, due to how dangerous it is.
If you’re just starting out with your hiking though, don’t despair. A more simple hiking route is the Tet Paul Nature Trail, also known as “The Stairway To Heaven.” This is only a short hike, around 45 minutes long, and provides you with gorgeous views of the Piton Mountains. For this trail, you can take a guided tour run by locals for only $10 USD, and learn about exotic flora and fauna, medicinal plants, and cassava production on your journey.
Another great hike is through Pigeon Island National Park, where you can explore ancient forts, spot beautiful birds, and hike to the top for spectacular views of the whole island.
If you’re a lover of chocolate, be sure to head to Hotel Chocolat, where you can take a guided tour of the cocoa plantations in the rainforest. Learn how cacao is cultivated, taste freshly made chocolate, and bring home some ripe cacao beans! On some tours to Hotel Chocolat, you can even spend time creating your very own bar of chocolate.
Looking for a more relaxed way to explore the island? Hop on the Rainforest Aerial Tram, where you can ride in an open-air gondola through the beautiful rainforests. Tickets are a little pricey, but this once-in-a-lifetime experience makes it all worthwhile. If money isn’t an object though, it may also be worth considering a helicopter ride over the rainforest.
There is also an excellent selection of beaches to relax on in St. Lucia. Be sure to stop at Reduit Beach, Sugar Beach, or Anse Chastanet Beach, all of which are some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll find in St Lucia.
Anse Chastanet Beach is a top spot for snorkeling among coral reefs in the calm, clear waters. Sugar Beach is great if you’re looking to catch a tan with a cocktail in hand. If you want to catch a wave instead, head down to Reduit Beach where you can grab some seafood and enjoy fun-filled watersports.
Best Things to Do in St. Martin
St Martin, or Sint Maarten, is known for its stunning white sandy beaches and lively atmosphere. It offers plenty to see and do on both the French and Dutch sides.
Located on the Dutch side of the island, Maho Beach is one of the most popular beaches and is located right at the end of an airport runway, where planes fly closely overhead. As it can be dangerous to stand directly on the sands when watching the planes, it’s often a better idea to head over to Sunset Beach Bar and Grill where you can enjoy great food and drinks while watching the planes. Parking here is free, and there are plenty of other good bars and restaurants to discover in the area.
Another top spot to visit on the Dutch side is Parrote Ville Bird Park, a popular bird sanctuary boasting more than 25 unique species of birds. It’s perfect for families and couples alike, as you’ll have a chance to feed and hold the birds.
If you’re an active nature lover, there is some good hiking on St. Martin as well. The Loterie Farm in Philipsburg is a nature preserve with hiking trails, ziplining, and canopy tours. Admission is only $5 USD and the park is open between 9 am and 5 pm every day.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, Phillipsburg is also home to the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit Museum. which features a hologram and DVD-narrated tour with “Star Wars” props and costumes. The project of Nick Maley, the special-effects designer who created Yoda in the “Star Wars” movies, this museum is a great attraction if you’re a lover of sci-fi and special effects.
When it comes to the French side of the island, there’s just as much to see and do here. Orient Bay Beach is one beach that truly stands out. Beautiful in its own right, this beach also boasts watersport rentals, a nudist beach section, and a variety of upscale restaurants perfect for dinner overlooking the water at sunset.
If you enjoy visiting local markets, Marigot Market in the capital of St. Martin is a great place to pick up fresh local fruits and vegetables, souvenirs, clothing, spices, and much more. This market is only open in the mornings, and is closed on Sundays.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin: Food
If you’re a huge foodie, then there’s no doubt that cuisine can be a huge deciding factor in where you choose to visit. You’ll be pleased to know that no matter which island you choose to visit, you’ll be happy.
St. Lucia’s cuisine has a variety of flavors taken from Creole, African, American, and Indian dishes, with one of the most common dishes being green figs and saltfish, a dish made from seasoned cod with boiled unripe bananas. Other dishes you’ll want to try out when visiting St. Lucia are St. Lucia Lambi, Fried Plantain, Accra, Callaloo Soup, and Breadfruit Pie. Be sure to try a rum punch while you’re there, as rum is the spirit of St. Lucia.
St. Maarten’s cuisine is also very diverse and takes plenty of influence from Dutch, French, African, and Caribbean foods. One of the most popular dishes in St. Maarten is chicken lokri, a dish made of rice, chicken, vegetables, and tomato paste.
Some dishes you’ll want to try out when visiting the St Martin side are Accra, Grouper Creole, Callaloo Soup, Lobster Thermidor, Escargots, Conch and Dumplings, and French Pastries. When it comes to drinking in St. Martin, be sure to try a guava berry rum, one of the island’s most spectacular drinks.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin: Cost
When comparing the cost of traveling to both of these destinations, St. Lucia typically comes out cheaper overall. The average daily cost in St Lucia is $211, whereas the average daily cost in St. Maarten is $210 to $375 per day.
That said, either of these destinations can be more or less expensive, as ultimately it comes down to your choice of accommodations, restaurants, and how many activities you’re wanting to pay for.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin Honeymoons
If you’re planning a Caribbean honeymoon, then St. Lucia may be the better choice for you. While both islands have a lot to recommend them, St. Lucia has a more romantic atmosphere overall.
Hotel Chocolat is a great draw for lovers, as are the beautiful white sand beaches and lush landscape St. Lucia has to offer. There are also luxurious adults-only resorts that are perfect for a dreamy honeymoon.
That’s not to say that St. Martin is a bad choice for honeymoons, of course. If you’re looking for one filled with fun bar crawls, nights out at the casino, and some delicious French food, then St. Martin may be a better option for you.
St. Lucia vs St. Martin Family Vacations
St. Martin is probably the best destination to take the kids to, due to all there is to see and do, particularly if you’re traveling with older children.
However, if your kids prefer relaxing on the beach, doing watersports, and taking strolls around in nature, then St. Lucia might be the better choice.
St. Lucia vs. St. Martin: The Verdict
These two islands are very similar, so it can be a difficult choice to make. However, there are some differences in culture and landscape that can be deciding factors in which destination to choose for your next Caribbean getaway.
St. Lucia is welcoming and laid-back, while St. Martin is fun-filled and energetic. St. Lucia offers more outdoors activities, while St. Martin has a more vibrant nightlife.
If you’re still struggling to choose between St. Lucia vs. St. Martin, we can help. Reach out to one of our trusted travel advisors, who can help you plan your dream getaway.
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