Barbados and St Maarten are beautiful Caribbean vacation spots and a visitor will enjoy a splendid time at either of these two islands.

Nonetheless, there are several differences in these destinations with one fundamental one being the official language.

Due to its British heritage, English remains the principal language spoken in Barbados while Dutch the primary language in St Maarten as a result of its history.

This article continues to explore additional differences between these two destinations to help you decide which one is better for your upcoming vacation.

As a general rule, Barbados is the ideal destination for individuals with an interest in basking on pink sand beaches with turquoise waters as well as a lively nightlife atmosphere. Alternatively, St Maarten is suitable for budget travelers who want to visit the iconic Maho beach.

Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean National familiar with both destinations.

Barbados Vs St Maarten- Which Destination Is Bigger

Barbados is significantly larger than St Maarten being 166 square miles. On the other hand, St Maarten is only 13 square miles.

At the time of publication, Barbados also had the larger population of the two destinations with 288,120 inhabitants.

St Maarten had a population of 43,907 persons according to Worldometer.

Furthermore, St Maarten is a unique destination in the Caribbean as it shares its landmass with the French island of St Martin.

Barbados Vs St Maarten- What Are The Official Currencies

Both destinations use different currencies for day to day transactions.

The official currency used in Barbados is the Barbadian dollar.

USD $1 is equivalent to BBD$2 and is also pegged to the US Dollar. The Barbadian currency is managed by its own local central bank.

Contrastingly, the official currency of St Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean Guilders or Florin.

The Antillean Guilder exchanges at the rate of US$1 equivalent to $1.80 ANG. The Guilders is also the official currency of Curacao.

Despite the difference in currency, US dollars is accepted everywhere on both islands.  

ATM machines in St Maarten dispense US dollars. US coins are also accepted only in St Maarten.

Barbados Vs St Maarten- Which Destination Has Better Nightlife

Nightlife in the both places consists mainly of restaurants, bars, lounges and night clubs.

Nevertheless, St Maarten has the more energetic nightlife atmosphere and has earned the reputation of being one of the best destinations for party lovers in the Caribbean.

Some of the top spots to visit in St Maarten include The Refuge, The Boon Beach Bar and Mykonos.

Barbados also has a lively nightlife environment with most of the entertainment located on the South Coast of the island.

Red Door Lounge and Harbour Lights are two of the main nightlife spots to visit.

For an exciting activity to enjoy on Fridays, visit Oistins for the weekly Fish Friday event. 

This street festival features live band and vendors selling various local dishes with fish as the key ingredient.

Local craft and souvenir items can also be purchased at this event.

Barbados Vs St Maarten- Which Destination Has Greater Risk of Natural Disasters

St Maarten’s location in the Northern Caribbean within the hurricane belt presents a greater risk of being affected by tropical storms.

In 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria were responsible for causing severe devastation to infrastructure in St Maarten.

On the other hand, Barbados due to its eastward location is outside the hurricane belt.

Nevertheless, the island still has sustained damages due to hurricanes. The last storm that made landfall was Harvey in 2017.

Tropical storm Gonzalo in July 2020 passed 12 miles to the southwest while hurricane Elsa passed south of the island in July 2nd, 2021.

As a result, travelers to both Caribbean islands should consider travel insurance in the event of interruptions and delays.

Barbados Vs St Maarten- Which Destination Is Better For Island Hopping

St Maarten offers more options for easy island hopping experience as there are ferry services to various locations.

There are numerous ferry services available to neighboring islands such as St Barths, Anguilla, Saba and St Eustatius.

Therefore, for travelers enthusiasts on a budget may opt for St Maarten due to this reason.

On the contrary, there are no ferry services from Barbados to other Eastern Caribbean islands.

Nonetheless, there are regional carriers such as LIAT and InterCaribbean Airways but the costs to other islands may be expensive.

Barbados Vs St Maarten- Which Destination Has Better Shopping

If shopping is your priority while visiting the Caribbean, St Maarten is the destination that you should choose.

Front Street in St Maarten is like heaven for a shopaholic with endless stores selling a variety of clothes, perfume, electronic equipment and jewelery.

Most importantly, these are all untaxed.

Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown Barbados is the best spot for duty free shopping on the island.

There are various high end and designer stores available such as Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Heidi Klein, Bvlgari, Gucci and more.

Barbados Vs St Maarten- Which Destination Has Better Beaches

If enjoying an exotic white or pink sand beach with turquoise waters is your main travel goal, Barbados is the better destination to consider.

Crane beach is loved for its beautiful pink sand and turquoise waters. The waves on this beach make it a favorite for boogie boarders.

On the contrary, St Maarten has one of the most iconic beaches in the Caribbean being Maho Beach.

Fondly also known as Airplane beach, its location near to the Princess Juliana Airport allows visitors to experience the thrill of jet blast.

Barbados Vs St Maarten-Things To Do In Both Destinations

Folkestone Martine Park, Barbados- this park is perfect for both adults and children.

It features a playground so children can run as well as picnic benches for relaxation.

Also, individuals can snorkel and dive the Stavronikita which is an artificial reef. It is recommended that only experience divers attempt this activity.

Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit, St Maarten– located in Front Street, Philipsburg this museum is a must visit attraction for both Star Wars and movie fans.

It is located approximately 15 minutes walking from the cruise port. This attraction is perfect for both adults and children.

Final Thoughts

On a whole, Barbados is suitable for persons seeking to relax on pink and white sand beaches. On the other hand, St Maarten is ideal for visitors seeking a vibrant nightlife atmosphere, duty free shopping and easy access to the neighboring islands of St Barths, Anguilla, Saba and St Eustatius.

Need More Information?

There are numerous articles on our site that compares various Caribbean destinations.

You can continue reading these articles using the search bar located at the top of this page.

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