Two of the most popular vacation spots in the Caribbean for both stop over visitors and cruise passengers is St Lucia and St Maarten.
In this article, we review these two destinations in several categories such as night life and beaches to help you decide which one is better for your Caribbean vacation.
As a general rule, St Lucia is better for travelers who are interested in exploring a drive in volcano and outdoor activities. Alternatively, St Maarten is ideal for a visitor who is looking for a bubbling nightlife atmosphere, white sand beaches and to experience jet blast at 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.
St Lucia Vs St Maarten- Which Island Is Bigger
St Lucia is the larger of the two islands being 238 square miles.
The highest point is Mount Gimie which stands at 3,120 feet.
According to Worldometer, the population of St Lucia at the time of writing was 184,711.
On the other hand, according to Worldmeter, at the time of writing the population of St Maarten was 43,592 thus making the island densely populated. St Maarten is only 13 square miles.
St Lucia Vs St Maarten- Does The Currency Differ?
The official currency of both countries differs. For the island of St Lucia, the official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.
This currency is also shared by seven other Caribbean Islands with the central bank located on the island of St Kitts.
Contrastingly, the official currency of St Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean Guilders or Florin.
The Antillean Guilder exchange rate to the US$1 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.
St Lucia Vs St Maarten- Which Island Has Better Nightlife
St Maarten has the more vibrant nightlife of the two islands.
The island has a variety of options to choose from movie theaters, restaurants, casinos, night clubs and discos. There is something available for everyone.
Lotus Night Club is one of the leading spots for dancing and partying on the island in Simpson Bay.
Ocean Lounge Bar in Philipsburg is another venue that attracts visitors as well as business professionals with live music, wine, cocktails and a delicious tapas menu.
On the other hand, St Lucia is one of the most vibrant islands in the Eastern Caribbean but in comparison to St Maarten, it is quiet.
Rodney Bay Village usually comes alive at nights in St Lucia. There are several restaurants with a variety of cuisine that you can choose from such as Mexican, Indian and Chinese foods.
Each and every Friday with the exception of Good Fridays, Gros Islet in St Lucia is the place to be.
Vendors sell barbecues and other local dishes and there is a live band featuring music from the island.
Vendors also sell souvenirs and other arts and craft items.
St Lucia Vs St Maarten- Can You Hop To Other Islands
Both islands offer excellent opportunities for island hopping to nearby territories. St Lucia has ferry services with easy access to the French Caribbean Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Additionally, one can also visit Dominica which is another island in the Eastern Caribbean via ferry from St Lucia.
The official currency of Dominica is also the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.
Likewise, St Maarten presents various opportunities for island hopping. Ferry services are available for seamless transfer to St Barts, Anguilla, Saba and St Eustatius.
St Lucia Vs St Maarten- Which Island Has Better Beaches
If white sand beaches are your preference, then St Maarten is the ideal destination.
One of the favorite and well-loved beaches is Mullet Bay Beach. This beach has white sand, clear turquoise waters and great landscape.
Mullet Bay Beach is a good option for beginner snorkeling as you can see fishes near the shoreline.
There are no full restrooms but there is a port-a-potty available and usually there is a crowd on weekends.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent and local foods can be found at Rosie’s Snack Bar.
St Maarten is well known globally for Maho Beach. Also known as Airplane beach, airplanes approaching the Princess Juliana Airport fly at an altitude of less than 100 feet.
Individuals from all over the world usually flock to this spot to take pictures, make videos and experience the thrill of jet blast.
Great care must be exercised as persons have died in the past due to the effects of the jet blast.
The beach itself has suffered significant erosion due to the jet blast. As such there is little vegetation.
Due to the volcanic nature of St Lucia, a number of the beaches are black sand.
Sugar beach is one of the best beaches in St Lucia where you can get a view of the famous twin peaks called The Pitons.
This beach is loved by divers and individuals who enjoy snorkeling.
St Lucia Vs St Maarten- Which Island Is Better For 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.
You can find selection from international brands such as Gucci and Versace.
International businesses such as Little Switzerland have a presence on this street which offers the best names in watches and jewelery design from Omega and Breitling.
There are duty free shops available in St Lucia. However, there is no comparison to the variety and brands available in St Maarten.
St Lucia Vs St Maarten- What Are The Unique Things To Do
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.
Unique Things To Do In St Maarten
Ride The Flying Dutchman– located on the Dutch side, this is the steepest zipline in the world. This ride gives you a scenic view of St Maarten while passengers sit on a chair.
The service is offered by Rainforest Adventures and one gets to fly at an elevation of over 2,800 feet.
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.
Visit Mermaid’s Chair – this is also a location on the Rock City’s West Coast which is a must see on the island of St Thomas.
This area is a small strip that separates the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
It is best to visit during low tide if you will like to walk across this strip.
On a whole, St Lucia is an ideal choice for a traveler who loves beautiful natural scenery with an interest in island hopping to the French Caribbean. Alternatively, St Maarten is an exceptional choice for a traveler whose priority is duty free shopping and riding the steepest zipline in the world.
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