If you’re trying to narrow down a Caribbean vacation between the Bahamas and Saint Lucia, you pretty much can’t go wrong.
But there are notable differences between the two, especially when it comes to price, lodging, natural beauty, and attractions.
Growing up, I visited various parts of the Bahamas multiple times on cruises. But my most recent trip was on a catamaran island hopping for a week. I feel like that gave me a fresh perspective on all the Bahamas has to offer, from animal encounters to white-sand beaches.
I recently returned from a trip to Saint Lucia where I fell in love with this gorgeous island. There’s a reason they call it a honeymooner’s paradise… we’ll get more into that later!
Currently as I write this (in March 2021), due to pandemic restrictions, you can’t leave your resort in Saint Lucia unless you’re on a certified tour. You can find up-to-date info here.
Even with COVID safety measures, my trip to Saint Lucia was totally worth it as I hope you can tell from this video I made from my trip!
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For the Bahamas, you can leave your hotel at the time of writing; see up-to-date travel restriction information here.
But for the sake of this article and representing a clear view of what each island has to offer, I’ll be discussing what each island offers without pandemic restrictions.
Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia: Price
First things first, let’s talk expenses. It’s no secret that travel can be expensive. But whether you’re on a tight budget or are looking for luxury travel experiences, this information is for you!
It is cheapest to fly to both destinations from the East Coast.
A return flight from Atlanta to Castries (Saint Lucia’s capital) in peak season costs around $600.
From New York, it costs around $500. If you fly from the West Coast of the USA, you will usually need to change planes somewhere in the country.
Return flights from New York and Atlanta to the Bahamas are also around $500, with one-way flights costing about $300. Again, you will probably need to change planes if you are flying from the west.
Cost of travel in the Bahamas
Like most locations, the Bahamas can be expensive or inexpensive depending on how you travel.
That said, because The Bahamas imports most of its food and other products and prices for these items factor in an import tax, you’ll likely see elevated prices in restaurants and bars.
The most budget-friendly way to enjoy a trip to the Bahamas is to stay in an all-inclusive hotel. As well as your accommodation, the hotel will take care of your meals, drinks, and even your airport transfers!
The only extra money you’ll need is to buy some souvenirs or food if you want to dine outside the hotel. Prices of all-inclusive hotels generally start at around $1000 per person for one week – although you may be able to get a cheaper deal if you visit in the off-season.
If you are planning on exploring the Bahamas independently, or want to make some money for activities outside your hotel, here’s a rough guide of prices (all prices in USD and based on one person).
- Lunch at a fairly nice restaurant will cost around $13. Dinner can cost up to $60.
- Beer costs anywhere from $6-$10, and other drinks will cost up to $20.
- Taxis cost about $30 from the airport and an average of $25 to destinations around the island, depending on where you are going.
- Hotels typically cost $80-$250 per night.
- Tours cost $50-$150. Scuba diving will cost more than $100 (extra if you don’t have your own kit), snorkeling is about $80 and watersports cost around $70.
Chartering a catamaran is a great way to explore multiple islands in the Bahamas- but will cost a pretty penny. That said, you can also fly into Nassau or Georgetown and book excursions from there for a cheaper option.
Car Rental in the Bahamas
Car rental is not common in the Bahamas. The only reason that you would rent a car is if you are planning on road tripping the island! Most hotels organize tours and transfers.
Cost of travel in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia has plenty of resorts as well as options for independent travelers.
You’ll find AirBnBs throughout the island, as well as both luxury and cheaper hotels. Here is a ballpark estimate of what you might pay in St Lucia (prices in USD and for one person):
- Lunch will cost anywhere from $5-$15. Dinner at a nice restaurant will cost around $35.
- Beer costs around $2, and other drinks slightly more.
- Accomodation costs from $40-$165. You’ll find luxury hotels from $500-$7,500- it just depends on what you’re looking for.
- A taxi from the airport to Castries is around $70, and Castries to Soufriere is about $90. However, minibusses are readily available and cost $1-$3.
- Tours in Saint Lucia generally cost around $50-$100. Hiking tours start at $50, and you can go snorkeling from $70. Scuba diving is slightly more, but you can generally find a tour for $100.
Car Rental in Saint Lucia
Some tourists hire cars in Saint Lucia, and it can be an economical way to see the island without relying on the bus service. Just remember that they drive on the “wrong” side of the road for us Americans, so make sure you’re comfortable driving that way! Prices start at around $55 for a day, though you can get deals if you rent a car for a whole week.
If you’re staying at a resort, they will arrange tours for you, so no car is needed. But airport transfers to Soufriere start at $75 one way- keep that in mind!
Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia: Natural Beauty
The Bahamas is a beach-lovers paradise – in fact, there’s a whopping 3,542 miles of coastline, whereas St Lucia has just 98 miles!
If you want a beach holiday where you can choose from tons of beaches, the Bahamas is probably a better choice than Saint Lucia.
It has hundreds of breathtaking white sand beaches that the Caribbean is famous for. (Check out this post on the 30 best places to visit in the Bahamas to see what I mean!)
There’s a breathtaking natural world underwater, too – and countless opportunities to go snorkeling or scuba diving.
Saint Lucia has breathtaking beaches too, as well as diving and snorkeling opportunities. However, as a smaller island, there are naturally fewer dive shops and opportunities here.
Away from the coastline, the two countries are very different.
The Bahamas is quite flat inland, whereas Saint Lucia is a volcanic island with a vibrant rainforest and lots of hiking trails and waterfalls.
It’s small but mighty! Home to two Pitons, twin volcanic spires which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, St. Lucia has a stunning landscape. You can see one of them in the photo above.
If you want to just enjoy what the Caribbean is most famous for – its beautiful beaches and tropical sea – the Bahamas is probably your best bet.
However, if you want to explore a bit more and have some hiking adventures while still enjoying the beach, go to Saint Lucia.
Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia: Lodging
If you’re staying in the Bahamas, chances are you’ll base yourself at an all-inclusive hotel. Lots of these are luxurious – if you want a pampering holiday, the Bahamas has definitely got you covered!
However, if you are on most of a budget, there are cheaper all-inclusive alternatives as well. Guesthouses are uncommon, but you will find a few dotted around the island.
Saint Lucia has plenty of smaller guesthouses, as well as higher-end resorts. We stayed at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, and had the most luxurious stay. You can see our bathroom in the photo above- we felt so pampered!
But if you’re on a budget, know that there’s a great range on Saint Lucia, so you should be able to find one that meets what you’re looking for!
Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia: Activities and Attractions
Alright, now lets get into how the activies and attractions differ between Saint Lucia and the Bahamas.
Popular Activities in the Bahamas
Most tourists to the Bahamas visit to enjoy the beaches and not do much else!
It’s the ideal destination for a relaxing holiday where you can unwind and distance yourself from everyday life back at home.
That said, it’s a wonderful island for activities like jet-skiing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
The Bahamas has more than 2000 islands – many of them uninhabited – in close vicinity to its shore, so tour operators also run boat trips to see them.
For a more deluxe beach experience, pay a visit to Paradise Island. This resort area has casinos and beach clubs – perfect for spending a full day in.
While the Bahamas doesn’t have as much staggering natural beauty in its hinterland, there are some excellent cultural activities and animal experiences.
Nassau is home to the Heritage Museum of the Bahamas, which details the history of the island, and Fort Charlotte, which is a good place to learn about piracy on the island.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include all of the incredible animal encounters you can do in the Bahamas! From iguanas and nurse sharks, to rays and swimming with pigs, the Bahamas is jam-packed with opportunities to see cool animals.
Popular Activities in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia, on the other hand, has countless national parks with fascinating histories.
Pigeon Island National Park is home to colonial artifacts from when the French and British fought over Saint Lucia.
Or check out Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens which are set on an 18th-century estate.
Here you’ll both be able to enjoy the beautiful atmosphere as well as learn about the island’s history!
For adventurers, there are an endless amount of things to do in Saint Lucia.
The Pitons are a volcanic mountain range with plenty of jungle treks.
You can also take a cable car to see the jungle from a birds-eye view!
Saint Lucia also has the world’s only drive-in volcano.
Here, you can drive to the summit and admire the volcano and the views – and there are also waterfalls, mud baths, and sulfur springs!
Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia: Weather
The Bahamas has hot, tropical weather with a distinct rainy and dry season. Peak season is from mid-December to mid-April, which is in the dry season. There is a risk of hurricanes on the island from June to September. Some hotels actually close during these months.
If you visit during shoulder season (April and May or October and November), you will probably find cheaper deals, but beware that hurricanes can still strike during these months.
Saint Lucia is technically on the hurricane belt, but it sees far fewer storms than the Bahamas – most hurricanes past to the north. However, it has the same wet and dry season. This means that the best time to visit Saint Lucia is from December – April when the weather is cooler and the days are drier!
Shoulder season (May and June and October and November) are also popular with tourists because the island is less busy, and the weather is still decent.
Because Saint Lucia is at lower risk of hurricanes, tourists do still visit during June – September and generally enjoy much cheaper rates. A word of warning, though – while you probably won’t see 24/7 rain, the humidity during these months is intense!
Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia: Night Life
The Bahamas’ best bars are generally at its resorts. A good tip is to try to pick an all-inclusive with a few bars, so you can try lots of different ones out without paying too much. You can also visit other resorts to drink at their bars. In Nassau, there are a few tourist-oriented venues as well.
St Lucia is an ideal destination for authentic Caribbean nightlife.
Rodney Bay Village is generally thought of as Saint Lucia’s nightlife central, with plenty of dining options and bars and clubs.
There are also lots of ‘jump-up’ parties, which take place weekly.
Most famous is the Gros Islet street party, which happens every Friday.
In non-pandemic times, you can expect street food, cheap beer, and rocking Caribbean tunes!
Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia: Family Friendliness
The Bahamas is an exceptionally family-friendly destination.
Many of the island’s resorts have kid-friendly attractions, such as swimming pools with slides, kid’s entertainment, and playgrounds.
There’s also a lot for teenagers, including jet-skiing and snorkeling!
While Saint Lucia isn’t as tailor-made for families, it certainly can work for families!
There are still family-friendly resorts in Saint Lucia, although not as many as the Bahamas (try the Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa). Older children will love the Saint Lucia rainforest zipline and snorkeling opportunities, as well as its epic beaches.
My general advice would be that the Bahamas is best for younger kids who will make the most of kid’s clubs and other attractions, but Saint Lucia is ideal for older children who want a more active holiday.
Saint Lucia is quite popular as a honeymoon destination, and after visiting, I completely understand why! Most luxury hotels on the island give you a private villa- often times with your own private pool.
I’ve got to recommend Sugar Beach to you if you’re looking for romance. With flowers everywhere, luxury service, and the dreamy Pitons giving you stunning views, this is truly a romantic paradise.
Bahamas vs. Saint Lucia: Safety
The Bahamas does have some security issues, but the vast majority of visitors to the island experience a trouble-free stay. The US travel advisory for the Bahamas at the time of writing is ‘exercise increased caution’ (level 2).
However, many countries in Western Europe, such as the UK and France, are also at this level.
Break-ins do happen, but very rarely at resorts, which have security staff and added security features. Muggings are not unheard of, but criminals rarely target tourists. To stay safe, don’t flash any valuables around, and don’t walk around at night in strange places.
Make sure that you pack insect repellant, as mosquitos here can transmit Chikungunya Virus.
Saint Lucia is a generally safe destination, but some suggest avoiding Rodney Bay Village as a few incidents have occurred around here in recent years.
That said, a new police station has opened in response to these incidents so it should be safer now. But like everywhere else, avoid flashing valuables and keep items zipped away in pockets or bags!
Dengue Fever does occur in Saint Lucia, so make sure you pack sufficient insect repellent. (If you stay at Sugar Beach, they provide some for you).
Both islands speak English as their official language, although they both have a creole dialect as well.
But generally speaking, you’ll find that nearly everybody speaks English. So if you have any issues while you’re there, you should easily be able to find some help.
Generally, Saint Lucians and Bahamians feel positively towards tourists and are friendly and welcoming. I definitely got that vibe on all of my visits to both islands.
Saint Lucia and the Bahamas are both tropical paradises, so I’m not surprised that you’ve struggled to decide which is best!
If you want a more relaxing holiday focused mainly around the beach and a resort, the Bahamas is probably the best option. It’s also ideal if you are traveling with younger kids and want attractions to keep them entertained.
On the other hand, if you are after adventure, Saint Lucia definitely has more to offer. It can also be cheaper than the Bahamas (and most other Caribbean islands), so it is ideal for budget travelers!
The great thing about Saint Lucia is that you can still enjoy resorts and beaches as well as the rainforest and volcanoes, so there’s something for everybody!
So, which one do you want to visit more? You can’t go wrong!
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