Both Jamaica and St Lucia are popular Caribbean islands for a vacation.
Jamaica is a little less than 2 hours flying time from Miami International while St Lucia is three and a half hours from Miami.
In this article, we compare and contrast these amazing Caribbean islands. Honestly, if you have the opportunity to visit both of them that will be wonderful.
As a general rule, Jamaica is better for travelers who enjoy West Indian cuisine, a bustling nightlife atmosphere and visiting the iconic Dunns River. Alternatively, St Lucia is ideal for a visitor with interest in activities such as the hiking the famous Piton and visiting a drive in volcano.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean National who visited both islands extensively.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- How Does The Size & Landscape Differ
Jamaica is the bigger of the two islands having a landmass of 4,244 square miles. Alternatively, St Lucia is much smaller being 238 square miles.
Nevertheless, both islands are very similar in terms of look and feel. Jamaica and St Lucia are lush, green and mountainous in appearance.
The terrain of Jamaica looks a lot like that of Grenada more than St Lucia.
Visitors to both islands may be hesitant to drive during their stay due to the steep and hilly roads.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- Does The Language Differ?
English is the official language of Jamaica and St Lucia and both islands today are still part of the Commonwealth of England. His Majesty King Charles III the official head of state.
Though English is the official language in St Lucia, patois is the language spoken among St Lucians day to day.
As a visitor to the St Lucia, there is a greater chance that this is the language that you will hear the locals speaking during your stay.
Patois is a form of French creole as a result of St Lucia’s history being a French colony in the 17th century.
This language form was also spoken in other French colony islands such as Grenada in the Eastern Caribbean.
Nonetheless, this language died as patois was not passed on from generation to generation.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- Which Island Has Better Beaches
Jamaica has the better beaches of the two islands. Jamaica has a variety of beaches both black and white sand.
Seven Mile Beach also knows as Negril beach is Jamaica’s most famous with white sand and beautiful water.
This location is excellent for snorkeling and water based activities. Doctor’s Cave beach and Frenchman’s Cove beach are also excellent and well-loved beach options in Jamaica.
On the other hand, St Lucia being more volcanic based tend to have darker sand beaches.
St Lucia also has beautiful beaches with Sugar beach being one of the popular ones on the island. From there, you can get an awesome view of the famous twin peaks, The Pitons.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- How Does The Currency Differ
Jamaica and St Lucia have different currencies.
The official currency of St Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD) which has been pegged to the US (United States) dollar since July 7th, 1976 at a rate of USD $1 to XCD $2.70.
This currency is also shared by seven other Eastern Caribbean islands and is managed through a regional central bank which is based in St Kitts.
The Eastern Caribbean currency has bank notes as well as coins. Bank notes are available in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.
Coins are available in 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, $1 and $2 denominations. Coins in 1 cents and 2 cents pieces were recently discontinued.
Alternatively, the official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar since 1969. It is issued and managed by its own Central Bank.
The Bank of Jamaica which is the Central Bank is responsible for the island’s monetary policy.
The US dollar however, is widely accepted by businesses in both countries. US bank notes that are worn, torn and impaired are usually rejected.
Additionally, US coins cannot be used in these countries.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- Which Island Is Safer
St Lucia is the safer of the two destinations and is a perfect choice for a solo female traveler.
According to the US Department State, Overseas Advisory, based on a 2018 crime report per 100,000 citizens, St Lucia recorded 21 murders and 4 kidnappings.
On the other hand, Jamaica has a high crime rate.
According to the US Department State, Overseas Advisory, there was an increase in shootings and murders from 2018 to 2019 by 7.8 % and 3.4%.
Additionally, murders and robberies increased in the same period by 9.3 % and 3.1% respectively.
Visitors to Jamaica should exercise a higher degree of caution. Avoid wearing jewelery and expensive items in public places.
Book tours and outings with businesses authorized by the hotel to ensure safety.
Avoid crime hot spots such as in Kingston and Montego Bay where gang related crime levels are highest on the island.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- Can You Island Hop To Other Islands
St Lucia is the island that provides greater island hopping opportunities.
There are ferry services available from St Lucia to Dominica and the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
The official currency of Martinique and Guadeloupe is the Euro. Dominica shares the same currency as St Lucia.
Contrastingly, there are no ferry services available from Jamaica. Flights are required to visit neighboring islands.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- Which Island Has The Better Nightlife
Jamaica has a more bustling night life and entertainment options when compared to St Lucia.
The nightlife in Jamaica is superior to St Lucia with the island having countless restaurants, casinos, night clubs, theaters and beach bars.
Margaritaville is a one of the popular spots on the island which is built above the sea with a bar and restaurant.
Pier1 is also a very well loved place for locals and visitors which feature an open restaurant which serves Jamaican cuisine with live music and dancing.
St Lucia has a thriving nightlife atmosphere when compared to other Eastern Caribbean Islands such as Grenada and St Vincent & The Grenadines.
Nevertheless, when compared to Jamaica, the island has a much slower pace of life.
There are a number of restaurants and bars especially in the Rodney Bay area in St Lucia.
Every Friday with the exception of during the Holy Weekend (Easter) Gros Islet comes alive with a band and seafood.
Vendors sell barbecues, seafood and a number of different local dishes. One can also purchase various hand crafted items and souvenirs at this event.
This event is an excellent way to meet and interact with locals in St Lucia.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- Which Island Has The Better Cuisine
Both islands have the typical West Indian cuisine. St Lucia’s national dish is green fig and saltfish.
Seafood also forms a big part of the meals served on the island.
If you prefer authentic creole food such as curry goat and rice and peas then Jamaica is the perfect island for you.
Additionally, Jamaica is well known for jerk food, festival, ackee and salt fish as well as bammy.
The jerk chicken as an example is specially cooked over pimento wood and has a unique flavor which you can only get in Jamaica.
Jerk food is prepared in other Caribbean islands but the Jamaica cuisine in this area is extraordinary.
Festivals are served as a staple with many meals. There is packet festival mix which you can buy at local Jamaica supermarkets.
Island Grill is one of the local restaurants that you can visit for real Jamaican jerk experience.
Devon’s House as well is a nice location to take in some history as well as delicious locally made ice cream.
Jamaica is also known international for track and field with Usain Bolt being the fastest man in the world.
Usain Bolt co-founded a chain of restaurants on the island called Tracks and Records.
It is a great spot to check out for real authentic Jamaican cuisine and experience.
Jamaica Vs St Lucia- What Are The Unique Things To Do
Unique Things To Do In Jamaica
Explore Dunn River Falls- this world renowned water fall is one of the most visited attractions on the island.
Located near Ocho Rio, there are several activities that you can do at the falls and water park which includes zip lining, climbing the falls and purchasing souvenirs at the craft shop.
Visit Bob Marley Museum– for reggae enthusiasts and fans of the legendary singer site see at his former home.
Bob Marley lived at this location in Kingston until his transition in 1981. A tour of his former home features his studio as well as several memorabilia.
There is a theatre, record shop and café located at this premises
Unique Things To Do In St Lucia
Climb The Piton Mountains- the piton is an incredible twin peaks that are designated as UNESCO World Heritage site since 2004 located at the south of the island.
The Gros Piton is 2462 feet while the Petit Piton is 2619 feet. The Gros Piton is the designated hiking trail while the Petit Piton is rarely climbed.
Visit The Drive In Volcano- The sulphur springs is one of the most visited attractions on the island located in Soufriere which is the world’s only drive in volcano.
Visitors are able to enter at certain points and give themselves a mud bath. It is widely believed that these mud baths have medical benefits.
On a whole, Jamaica is an ideal choice for a traveler who wants to enjoy authentic jerk food, amazing nightlife and beaches. Alternatively, St Lucia is an exceptional choice for a solo female traveler who loves beautiful natural scenery with an interest in island hopping to the French Caribbean.
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