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Barbados and St Thomas are gorgeous islands if you are seeking a Caribbean vacation. They both have great beaches, several restaurants options and friendly people.

In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of both Barbados and St Thomas to help you decide which vacation is better for you.

As a general rule, St Thomas is better for travelers who are interested in beaches, island hopping to the BVI and duty free shopping. Alternatively, Barbados is better for travelers who are interested in beaches, horse racing, exploring Harrison Caves and entertainment.

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

Barbados Vs St Thomas: Which Island Is Bigger

Barbados has the larger landmass than St Thomas by 137 square miles.

St Thomas is only 32 square miles and the highest point of elevation is Crown Mountain at 1,555 feet.

Barbados is flat in topography highest point of elevation is Mount Hillaby which stands at 1,102 feet.

St Thomas is an overseas US territory and part of the US Virgin Islands. St Croix, St John and Water Island are the other islands that are included in the group called US Virgin Islands.

Barbados became a Republic on November 30th, 2021 and there is a local President.

Barbados Vs St Thomas: Which Island Is Safer

Both islands are relatively safe destinations and either one of them are excellent destinations for solo female travelers.

Nevertheless, according to the St Thomas Source, since the pandemic there has been an increase in crimes within the US Virgin Islands.

The territory recorded 49 homicides in 2020, two on the island of St John. There were 27 in St Croix and 20 in St Thomas respectively.

According to the US Department State, Overseas Advisory Council based on a 2018 crime report per 100,000 citizens, there were 10 murders and 3 kidnappings in Barbados.

In both islands, however visitors can walk and take public transportation safely during the day.

Nevertheless, due care must be taken as in any other country especially in tough economic times.

Visitors should avoid walking in secluded areas at nights and take only taxis authorized by the relevant taxi associations.

Barbados Vs St Thomas: Does The Currency Differ?

The currency of both islands differs. As an overseas US territory, the US dollar is the official currency of St Thomas.

On the other hand, the official currency of 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 the island’s own local central bank.

Nonetheless, the US dollar is widely accepted in Barbados. US bank notes that are worn, torn or damaged are usually rejected. US coins are also not accepted.

Barbados Vs St Thomas: Entry Requirements

St Thomas is a US territory so flights from the United States of America are considered a domestic flight.

Therefore, no passports or visas are required for US Citizens to enter the island.

On the other hand, if you travel to Barbados a valid passport is required with proof of a return ticket for US Citizens.

Barbados Vs St Thomas: Which Island Is Better For Shopping

Both islands provide opportunities for duty free shopping for visitors. However, in this area St Thomas has the edge.

St Thomas is one of the best islands for duty free shopping in the Caribbean. Each visitor including children is allowed $1600 each of duty free purchases back into the USA.

Brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Little Switzerland, Diamonds International and Bebe have a presence on the island.

Yacht Haven Grande is a premium waterfront development which features a marina and a number of medium to high end stores.

In addition, to some of those previously mentioned, Coach and Bulgari have retail operations at Yacht Haven Grande.

In Barbados, Limegrove Lifestyle Centre is the best location for duty free shopping.

There are luxury stores and international brands present at this location.

These include but not limited to Bvlgari, Colombian Emeralds International, Diamonds International, House of Jaipur and Montblanc.

Barbados Vs St Thomas: Which Island Has Better Nightlife

Barbados has better options for entertainment than St Thomas.

There are a broader range of restaurants, golf courses, clubs, casinos and other forms of entertainment especially on the South Coast.

In Barbados, Oistins also provides a lively venue for visitors and locals to meet and relax on the beachfront which occurs Friday evenings.

There are vendors at this event selling local souvenirs as well as a live band.

Alternatively in St Thomas there are a number of restaurants are bars in areas such as  Red Hook, Frenchtown, Charlotte Amalie and Haven Sight areas.

These restaurants and bars are nearby so it is very easy to go bar hopping on foot. Restaurants and bars usually feature live music from local bands.

Barbados Vs St Thomas: Can You Hop To Other Islands

St Thomas has the more affordable and easier opportunities for island hopping via ferry services to other US Virgin islands and also the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

US Citizens require a passport to enter the BVI from St Thomas and the other US Virgin Islands.

Contrastingly, there is no ferry service available from Barbados to other Caribbean islands.

There are regional airlines such as InterCaribbean Airways and Liat which allows you to travel seamlessly to nearby islands. However, regional air travel within the Caribbean can be costly.

Barbados Vs St Thomas: Which Are The Unique Things To Do

Unique Things To Do In Barbados

Harrison Caves- Barbados has a cave where you can enjoy a tour inside. Visitors can view stalactite and stalagmite formations.

There is a bar and a gift shop on the property for added entertainment. Be sure and wear clothes that are comfortable and walk with a change of clothing if you want to go elsewhere.

UNESCO Heritage Site- Bridgetown and its Garrison has been designated as a UNESCO Heritage site due to its excellent architecture.

These buildings were constructed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and were well preserved until today. Some of the 30 sites and attractions include:-

  • Barbados Museum & Historical Society
  • National Heroes Gallery & Museum of Parliament
  • George Washington House & Museum

Sandy Lane Gold Cup- is one of the biggest horse racing event in the Eastern Caribbean.

The race usually occurs every March at the Garrison Savannah which attracts jockeys, trainers and thoroughbred from other Caribbean islands and around the world.

Unique Things To Do In St Thomas

Visit Coral World Ocean Park– This Park is an amazing way to see and learn more about sea life in St Thomas.

There are activities available for all ages such as educational shark and sea lion tours. In addition, you can enjoy kayaking with the dolphins while at the park.

Visit Mountain Top & Drake’s Seat– These two areas are must visit spots to take in the panoramic views of the island.

Mountain top is 1500 feet above sea level and provides a stunning view the other Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. From mountain top you can see a total of 20 islands.

Explore Fort Christian– This is one of the key landmarks located in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie and is the oldest structure in the US Virgin Islands.

Built between1672 to 1680, Fort Christian has a red exterior with a Victorian clock at the front.

A tour explores the history of the Danes and slavery. The admission fee is $10 for non-locals.

Climb 99 Steps- is another key feature that stands out in Charlotte Amalie.

These steps were constructed from bricks brought to the island from Denmark and are used to connect the streets in the city.

At the end of 99 steps is Blackbeard Castle which is another must visit historic site while on the island.

Final Thoughts

On a whole, Barbados is an exceptional choice for a traveler whose priority is enjoying the beach and snorkeling. Alternatively, St Thomas is an exceptional choice for a traveler whose priority is also enjoying the beach, island hopping to other USVI and the BVI, and exploring Fort Christian.

Need More Information?

Feel free to browse our website for more content on the Barbados, St Thomas and the Caribbean by using the search bar located at the top of this page.

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Grenada Vs Barbados (Which Island Is Better For A Vacation)


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