St Thomas and Jamaica are two prime destinations of choice for visitors to the Caribbean especially from the United States of America.
In this article, we compare and contrast St Thomas and Jamaica to help you decide which island is better for your upcoming Caribbean vacation.
As a general rule, St Thomas is better for travelers who are interested in duty free shopping, island hopping to other Virgin Islands and tranquility. Alternatively, Jamaica is better for travelers who are interested in unique cuisine, a vibrant atmosphere and visiting the iconic Dunns river.
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 Thomas Vs Jamaica- Which Island Is Bigger
Jamaica is the bigger of the two islands having a landmass of 4,244 square miles.
The blue mountain peak is the highest point of elevation at 7,402 feet and the population according to worldmeters.info was 2,986,016 at the time of writing.
On the other hand, St Thomas is 32 square miles. The highest point of elevation in St Thomas is Crown Mountain at an elevation of 1,556 feet.
St Thomas is part of the island group called the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). The other major USVI are St John, St Croix and Water Island.
According to The Virgin Islands Consortium, based on a US census as at April 01st, 2020, the population of St Thomas was 42,261.
St Thomas Vs Jamaica- Entry Requirements
As a dependency of the United States of America, traveling to St Thomas is considered an internal flight for US citizens. Hence, no passport is required by US citizens for entry.
On the other hand, US citizens require a passport and proof of return ticket for entry and exit into Jamaica.
St Thomas Vs Jamaica- Does The Currency Differ?
The official currency of both islands differs. As an overseas dependency of the United States of America, the US dollar is the official currency of St Thomas.
On the other hand, 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 Jamaican dollar is not pegged to the US dollar and hence there has been massive devaluation against the US dollar over the years.
With this comes increased uncertainty when doing business on the island.
St Thomas Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has The Better Nightlife
If partying and a vibrant nightlife environment is your priority, then Jamaica is ideal destination for you.
The nightlife in Jamaica is superior to St Thomas 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.
On the contrary, St Thomas is a quieter and laid back island.
Generally, there are more restaurants and bars on St Thomas than the other USVI with Red Hook, Frenchtown and Haven Sight areas being hot spots.
These are located near to each other so it is easy for individuals to bar hop.
St Thomas Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has Better Beaches
When it comes to white sand and turquoise beaches, Jamaica is the superior 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.
Contrastingly, St Thomas has over 40 beaches with Magens Bay being one of the favorite of locals and visitors to the island.
Magens Bay is a beautiful one mile stretch of white sand. It has calm waters with no reefs or sharp currents which makes this beach perfect for swimming and great for children.
An entry fee is charged to keep the beach and facilities in good order.
In terms of snorkeling, Coki beach is one of the more preferred options.
The reef of this beach is located near the shoreline which makes it easy for individuals with little or no experience to enjoy snorkeling.
St Thomas Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has The Better Cuisine
The cuisine in St Thomas is the typical West Indian cuisine. Fish and fungi is the national dish of the US Virgin Islands.
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.
St Thomas Vs Jamaica- Which Island Has The Better For Shopping
For duty free shopping, St Thomas is the better destination.
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.
St Thomas is the capital of duty free shopping in the Caribbean.
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.
On the other hand, duty free shopping in Jamaica is more prevalent at the international airports on the island. Brands such as Coach, Dior and Dolce and Gabbana have a presence at the airport.
St Thomas Vs Jamaica- What Are The Unique Things To Do
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. This location is perfect for multi-generational families.
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.
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.
On a whole, Jamaica is better for travelers who are interested in West Indian cuisine, a bustling nightlife atmosphere and visiting the iconic Dunns river. Alternatively, St Thomas is an exceptional choice for a traveler whose priority is island hopping and duty free shopping.
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