Wondering whether to travel to St Lucia or St Maarten for vacation? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

St Lucia is known for its volcanoes, towering mountains, chocolate tours, hiking, and serene beaches for snorkeling. St Maarten is known for its picturesque white sand beaches, luxurious resorts, and exceptional restaurants. 

But, which island is better for a vacation? Although they both have breathtaking landscapes, they differ widely in many ways. 

My guide will cover the key differences between St Lucia and St Maarten’s beaches, tourist activities, nightlife, cuisine, and much more.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know what each country has to offer so you can decide where to go for vacation! 

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase through these links we may earn a commission. This helps keep our content free, at no additional cost to you. 

St Lucia vs St Maarten

St Lucia At A Glance

St Lucia is a beautiful country in the Caribbean, that’s part of the British commonwealth. The landscape of St Lucia consists of lush rainforests, volcanoes, towering mountains, and pristine white sand beaches.

Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia (Photo by: Eagle Clarke)

Whether you’re looking to hike through a rainforest with scenic waterfalls or simply relax on the beach, St Lucia has something for you. 

Due to it’s diverse landscape, there are endless activities for tourists. Some of the most popular tourist activities include visiting the drive-in volcano at Sulphur Springs, hiking, going on chocolate tours, and getting scenic views of the Piton mountains. 

Pitons Mountains, St Lucia
Pitons Mountains, St Lucia
(Photo by: Corinne Kutz)

The Piton Mountains are one of the largest volcanic plugs in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The two mountains were formed 200 to 300,000 years ago from the process of magma cooling within the vent of an active volcano!

You can hike the Piton mountains or take a boat tour in Piton Bay to get a scenic view of the mountains. 

St Lucia is also home to Sulphur Springs, the world’s only drive-in volcano. It’s one of the only volcanoes in the world where you can drive by an active volcano.

If you’re up for an adventure, you can take a guided tour through the volcano, or take a dip in a mud bath. 

Soufriere, Saint Lucia
Soufriere, Saint Lucia
(Photo by: Germine Sealy)

St Lucia is surrounded by lush rainforests with picturesque waterfalls. You can go hiking through various nature preserves, or overlook the rainforests in the Rainforest Aerial Tram. 

Being that St Lucia’s in the Caribbean, there’s no shortage of stunning beaches. Whether you’re looking to snorkel, get scenic views of the Piton mountains, or enjoy a drink at a beach bar, there’s plenty of options. 

If you’re looking to enjoy a night out in St Lucia, there’s local street parties, popular beachside bars and lively nightclubs. 

All in all, St Lucia is an excellent place to visit if you seek a blend of adventure and relaxation on vacation.  

Things To Do In St Lucia

St Lucia has many exciting tourist activities. One of the most popular attractions is the Sulphur Springs drive-in volcano.

You can drive-by the active volcano, tour the Sulphur Springs Park, or take a dip in the mud baths. Admission to the park is only $11 USD, and $5 USD for kids. The admission fee to the mud baths is $10, and $30 for a mud bath and volcano tour. 

Petit Piton, St Lucia
Petit Piton, St Lucia
(Photo by: Scott Taylor)

Another must visit attraction is the Piton Mountains. These magnificent mountains are one of the world’s largest volcanic plugs, and they’re considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a scenic view of the mountains, head to the Soufriere Beach, or take a boat tour in Piton Bay.

You can climb the mountains with a guide for $50. However, the climb is quite vigorous and can be dangerous. 

Piton Mountains
Piton Mountains
(Photo by: Nick Fewings)

A better alternative hike is the Tet Paul Nature Trail, which is known as “The Stairway To Heaven”. It’s a short 45 minute hike with scenic views of the Piton Mountains.

You can take a guided tour run by locals for $10 USD to learn about plant medicine, cassava production, exotic horticulture, and more. 

If you love chocolate, head to Hotel Chocolat to take a guided tour of the cocoa plantations in the rainforest. You’ll get to learn how cacao is cultivated, taste freshly made chocolate, and bring home ripe cacao beans. 

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
(Photo by: Omar Eagle)

For more scenic views of St Lucia, hop aboard the Rainforest Aerial Tram to ride in an open-air gondola through the lush rainforests.

Tickets to ride the tram are $85 USD and the tour is 2 hours and 30 minutes. Helicopter tours and guided tours by locals are widely available throughout the islands as well. 

If you’re looking to relax on a beach, Reduit Beach, Sugar Beach, and Anse Chastanet Beach are some of the most beautiful beaches.

Anse Chastanet Beach is one of the best places to go snorkelling, having calm, crystal clear waters, and abundant coral reefs.

Soufriere, Saint Lucia
Soufriere, Saint Lucia (Photo by: Germine Sealy)

Sugar Beach is a great beach for relaxing that has resorts and some of the best restaurants. Reduit Beach is an excellent beach for watersports, and you can rent out lounge chairs or pick up food from a street vendor. 

Head to Pigeon Island National Park to hike through one of St Lucia’s most fascinating landmarks. You’ll get to explore ancient forts, spot beautiful birds, and hike to the top for spectacular views of the island. 

Pigeon Island, St Lucia
Pigeon Island, St Lucia
(Photo by: Belinda Fewings)

Here are some of the top tourist attractions in St Lucia.

  • The Pitons
  • Marigot Bay
  • Anse Chastanet Marine National Park
  • Pigeon Island National Park
  • Sulphur Springs
  • Tet Paul Nature Trail
  • Helicopter Tours
St Lucia vs St Maarten

St Maarten At A Glance

St Maarten is a popular travel destination for people seeking picturesque beaches and delicious food. The landscape of St Maarten consists of mountainous rainforests, and coastal lowlands with Caribbean beaches. 

St Maarten
St Maarten
(Photo by: Lauren Ostrout)

Saint Martin is divided into two parts, Sint Maarten (the Dutch side), and Saint Martin (the French side).

The Dutch side is lively and has many popular beaches and bars, whereas the French side is more laid-back and known for its incredible French restaurants. 

On the French side, you can stay at Grand Case Beach Club, which has two private beaches where you can swim and snorkel in serene beaches. The beach club offers free snorkel, paddleboarding, and kayaking equipment.

The Grand Case Beach Club area is one of the most walkable areas in St Martin, and is near shopping centers, cafes, and restaurants. 

Unlike St Lucia, St Maarten is relatively easy to drive around, and the beaches are more accessible. Saint Maarten’s beaches are ideal for water sports, relaxing, and enjoying a drink at a beachside bar.

On the Dutch side, Maho Beach is a popular beach at the end of an airport runway which has airplanes fly directly overhead.

Maho Beach, Sint Maarten
Maho Beach, Saint Maarten
(Photo by: Brighton Pereira)

You can relax on a lounge chair or enjoy a cocktail at a bar while watching airplanes fly over. On the French side, Orient Bay Beach is one of the most stunning beaches in St Maarten. It has white sand, and calm crystal clear waters for swimming. 

If you’re looking to avoid crowds, take a shuttle to Pinel Island off the Dutch coast of St Maarten.

Pinel Island is a small island with unprotected beaches, snorkeling trails, and a restaurant making it a great spot for a day trip. The shuttle costs $12 USD, and it’s only a 5 minute ride to get there. 

St Maarten
Orient Bay Beach, St Maarten
(Photo by: Federica Bisso)

Similar to St Lucia, St Maarten has a lively nightlife, with beach bars, sunset cruises, casinos, hookah lounges, and nightclubs on the Dutch side.

The French side of St Maarten is laid-back and ideal for a sunset dinner at an upscale restaurant. 

St. Maarten
St. Maarten
(Photo by: Ramon Kagie)

St Maarten is often thought of as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, so there’s no shortage of amazing food throughout the island.

The French side has many fine-dining French and Italian restaurants, and bakeries where you can pick up a French pastry. The Dutch side has many popular Caribbean, creole, and budget-friendly food options. 

The capital of Philipsburg on the Dutch side has museums, shopping centers, historical landmarks, and the Parrotville bird sanctuary as well. 

Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
(Photo by: Scott S Bateman)

Overall, St Maarten is an excellent place to visit if relaxing on a white sand beach and trying out delicious restaurants is high on your priority list. 

Things To Do In St Maarten

St Maarten is most known for it’s stunning white sand beaches. Whether you stay on the French or Dutch side, there’s serene beaches to relax at. 

One of the most popular beaches is Maho Beach on the Dutch side. Maho Beach is a pristine white sand beach at the end of an airport runway, where planes fly closely overhead.

Maho Beach, Sint Maarten
Maho Beach, Sint Maarten
(Photo by: Robin Canfield)

Head to the Sunset Beach Bar and Grill to enjoy food and drinks while watching the planes fly over Maho Beach. Or, relax on the beach in one of the free lounge chairs.

The parking at Maho Beach is free, and the surrounding area is close to various bars, restaurants, and boutiques.

While you’re on the Dutch side, visit Parrote Ville Bird Park, a popular bird sanctuary with over 25 unique species of birds. You’ll get to feed and hold the birds so it’s a great spot to take kids, and the admission is $10 USD per person. 

If you’re looking to go hiking in St Maarten, head to the Loterie Farm in Philipsburg. It’s a nature preserve with excellent hiking trails, ziplining, and canopy tours. Admission is $5 USD to enter, and it’s open daily from 9AM to 5PM. 

Also in Philipsburg is the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit Museum. which includes a hologram and DVD narrated tour with Star Wars props and costumes. The museum was created by the special-effects designer, Nick Maley, who created Yoda in the Star Wars movies. Admission is $12 for adults and $7 for kids. 

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, make sure to visit the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit in Philipsburg. The museum was created by the special-effects designer, Nick Maley, who created Yoda in the Star Wars movies! It’s open Monday to Thursday from 11AM to 3PM, and admission is $12 for adults and $7 for kids. 

If you’re staying in the French side, head to Orient Bay Beach which is St Martin’s most famous beach. Orient Bay Beach is a 3km beach with powdery white sand, watersport rentals, a nudist beach section, and upscale restaurants. 

While on the French side, visit the Marigot Market in the capital of St. Martin to pick up fresh local fruits and vegetables, souvenirs, clothing, spices, and more. The market is open daily from 8AM to 1PM, and closed on Sundays. 

Another place you won’t want to miss visiting is Pinel Island, which is just off the coast of the French side. You can take a 10 minute ferry for $12 USD to get there, and the ferry leaves every 30 minutes from 9:30AM to 5PM.

Pinel Island, St. Maarten
Pinel Island, St. Maarten
(Photo by: Ervin Lukacs)

The island is surrounded by friendly iguanas, and has many excellent beaches for snorkeling, including a designated underground snorkeling trail.

You can take a day trip to go snorkeling and get fresh seafood for lunch at the Yellow Beach restaurant. 

St. Maarten is known for its shopping, with everything from upscale boutiques to small souvenir and trinket shops. If you’re looking to shop, head to Old Street or Front Street in Philipsburg, or the Marigot Market on the French side. 

Here are some of the top tourist attractions in St Maarten. 

  • Miguel’s Hot Beach Spot
  • Great Bay Beach
  • Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit
  • Pinel Island
  • Old Street
  • Little Bay Beach
  • Steepest Zip Line
  • Loterie Farm St.
St Lucia vs St Maarten

Which destination is better?

St Lucia and St Maarten are two beautiful islands that are great choices for anyone looking for a blend of adventure and relaxation. 

St Lucia is most known for its drive-by volcano, the Piton mountains, cocoa tours, and beaches for snorkeling. St Maarten is most known for its exceptional restaurants, shopping, and serene beaches for relaxing. 

If you’re looking to hike rainforests, explore volcanoes, go on a chocolate tour, or visit natural wonders like the Piton mountains, St Lucia’s the place for you.

St Lucia has more adventurous activities for tourists, and there are guided tours for just about everything throughout the islands.

If you are looking to spend the majority of the time relaxing on a white sand beach, trying exceptional restaurants, shopping, and doing water sport activities, St Maarten’s the place for you.

St Maarten is often thought of as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, so it has numerous incredible restaurants. 

Regardless of which place you choose to visit, there will be friendly people, delicious food, and serene beaches to relax at.


St. Lucia has several great beaches, with Reduit Beach, Sugar Beach, and Anse Chastanet Beach being some of the most noteworthy.

Reduit Beach is a popular beach for watersports where you can pick up food from a local vendor and rent out lounge chairs and umbrellas to relax on the beach.

However, Sugar Beach is the best beach for relaxing, having powdery white sand and calm crystal clear waters. Sugar Beach has resorts, excellent restaurants, and it overlooks the Piton mountains.

Anse Chastanet beach is the best beach for snorkeling in St Lucia, with abundant coral reefs, colorful fish, octopus, and other fascinating marine life. 

In contrast, the beaches in St Maarten are ideal for watersports or relaxing. One of St. Maarten’s most popular beaches is Maho Beach, on the Dutch side. It’s located at the end of an airport runway so visitors can watch planes fly overhead as they relax on the beach.

Another popular beach is Orient Bay Beach, which is often thought of as St Maarten’s most beautiful beach. The beaches in St Maarten are surrounded by bars, resorts, and restaurants.

If you want to snorkel in St Maarten, you can take a ferry from the French side to Pinel Island. Pinel Island has a snorkeling trail, and unprotected beaches perfect for snorkeling. 


Both St Lucia and St Maarten have tropical climates with warm weather year-round.

The average temperature in St Lucia ranges from 72 F to 87 F while the average temperature in St Maarten ranges from 74 F to 89 F.

The wet season of St Lucia is from June to December, whereas the wet season in St Maarten is from July through November. 


The official currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. Although US dollars are commonly accepted, you should convert to their currency for most transactions. 

The official currency in St. Maarten is the Antillean Guilder on the Dutch side, and the euro on the French side. However, US Dollars are widely accepted throughout the island. 


The official language in St Lucia is English, whereas the predominant languages in St. Maarten are Dutch, English, and French.

The majority of people in both St Lucia and St. Maarten speak English. Additionally, many people in St Lucia speak Saint Lucian French Creole. 


There’s no shortage of delicious food in either St Lucia or St Maarten. 

St Lucia’s cuisine is flavorful and has Creole, African, American, and Indian influences. One of the most common dishes in St Lucia is “green figs and saltfish”, which is a dish of seasoned cod with boiled unripe bananas.

If you plan on visiting St Lucia, make sure to try a rum punch, since rum is considered the spirit of St Lucia. 

St. Maarten’s cuisine is also diverse and has Dutch, French, African, and Caribbean influences. One of the most popular dishes in St Maarten is “chicken locri”, a dish made of rice, chicken, vegetables, and tomato paste.

If you plan on visiting St Maarten, make sure to try out a guavaberry rum which is one of their most prized drinks. 

St Maarten is most known for its exceptional French and fine-dining restaurants, whereas St Lucia has some of the best Caribbean, Creole, and seafood restaurants. 

Here are some dishes to try out while in St. Lucia

  • St. Lucia Lambi
  • Green Figs and Saltfish
  • Fried Plantain
  • Callaloo Soup
  • Accra
  • Breadfruit Pie

Here are some of the most common dishes in St Maarten. 

  • Conch and Dumplings:
  • Callaloo Soup
  • Grouper Creole
  • Lobster Thermidor
  • Accra
  • French Pastries
  • Escargots

Cost to Travel

St. Lucia is generally cheaper to travel to than St. Maarten for a vacation. The average daily cost in St Lucia is $211, whereas the average daily cost in St Maarten is $210 to $375 per day.

However, the prices will vary widely depending on your choice of hotels, restaurants, and activities. 


Both St Lucia and St Maarten have lively nightlife scenes. In St Lucia, you can head to the Gros Islet Street Party to enjoy live music, local cuisine, and pick up arts and crafts from local vendors.

The street party is held every Friday night starting at sunset. In addition, Rodney Bay Village in St. Lucia has many energetic beach bars and lively clubs

The nightlife in St Maarten is also abundant, especially on the Dutch side. Maho Village on the Dutch side has popular beach bars, nightclubs and casinos.

The French side has a more laid-back nightlife, where you can enjoy a sunset dinner at a waterfront restaurant.


St. Lucia and St. Maarten are generally very safe for travelers to visit. Like any other location, be aware of your surroundings, avoid walking alone at night, and always read about the areas before you visit. 

St Lucia vs St Maarten

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit St Lucia is from February to May, whereas the best time to visit St Maarten is in the months of May, June, November, and December.

This is when the hotel rates are the lowest, and the weather is most pleasant.

The worst time to visit St Lucia is from June to November, while the worst time to visit St Maarten is from September through November during their respective rainy seasons.

Also read:

FAQ: St Thomas vs St Maarten

How far is St Lucia from St Maarten?

St Lucia is approximately 510 kilometers from St Maarten. 

How do you get to St Martin from St Lucia?

The only way to get from St Lucia to St Martin is to take a connecting flight, since there are currently no direct flights. The flight will take around a day on average due to the stops. 

Caribbean Travel Planning Guide

Can you drink the water in St Lucia & St Maarten?

Yes, the tap water is generally very clean and safe to drink in St Lucia and St Maarten. However, I recommend and always use a Brita water bottle to filter water when going on adventures throughout the islands.

Should I buy travel insurance?

100% YES! Basic coverage starts at $5-$10 per day, and can save you peace of mind. Find the best policy (and prices) for your trip with Travel Insurance Masters.

Should I rent a car in St Lucia and St Maarten?

Yes, renting a car is highly advisable in St Lucia and St Maarten to visit the different beaches and attractions.

Where’s the best place to book accommodations?

My #1 choice for booking hotels is Booking.com. For cheaper accommodations and rentals with a homier feel, my go-to is Vrbo.com. 

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