Choosing between St Lucia or St Thomas for a vacation? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

St Lucia is known for its magnificent volcanoes, cocoa tours, serene beaches, and mountains for hiking. St. Thomas is known for its stunning beaches, shopping, and exceptional snorkeling opportunities. 

Although they’re both Caribbean islands, there’s significant differences between them. I’ve put together this guide to help you decide which place is best suited for you. 

My guide will cover the key differences between the beaches, tourist activities, nightlife, cuisine, and more. 

Ready to learn how St Lucia and St Thomas compare? Let’s dive in!

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 Thomas
Image by: Rabih Shasha | Andy Feliciotti
St Lucia vs St Thomas

Overview of St Lucia

St Lucia is an island state in the Caribbean that’s commonly traveled to, and for good reason! St Lucia’s landscape consists of volcanoes, mountains, white sand beaches, and lush rainforests with beautiful waterfalls.

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

It’s known for its stunning natural attractions, outdoor activities, and lively nightlife. Whether you’re looking to explore a volcano or simply relax on a picturesque beach, St Lucia has something to offer. 

From drive-in volcanoes to chocolate tours, you won’t be bored in St Lucia. Some common tourist activities include volcano and mud bath tours at Sulphur Springs, hiking the Piton mountains, cocoa plantation tours, and snorkeling at Anse Chastanet Beach. 

As you explore St Lucia, you’ll get scenic views of the Piton Mountains. These mountains are two of the world’s largest volcanic plugs, that were formed 200 to 300,000 years ago as a result of magma cooling within a now-dormant volcano!

Piton Mountains
Piton Mountains
(Photo by: Nick Fewings)

You can hike one of the Piton Mountains (Gros Piton or Petit Piton), or get incredible views by going on a boat tour in Piton Bay. 

In addition to the Piton Mountains, St Lucia is home to the world’s only drive-in volcano at Sulphur Springs! Sulphur Springs has mud baths, hotsprings, and waterfalls.

You can drive by the active volcano, or go on a volcano and mud bath tour. Once you’re done taking a dip in a mud bath, rinse off under a waterfall, and enjoy a Creole lunch. 

For more scenic views of St Lucia, take the Rainforest Aerial Tram through the lush rainforest to see picturesque waterfalls and fascinating wildlife. 

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

St Lucia is also known for its serene white sand beaches, with abundant coral reefs. Almost all of St Lucia’s beaches are ideal for snorkeling, with calm, crystal clear waters. 

Lastly, St Lucia is known for its lively nightlife, with plenty of beachside bars and nightclubs. The Gros Islet Street Party is an exciting street party held every Friday night that has Caribbean music and a food fair with fresh seafood.  

When it comes to accommodations, St Lucia has upscale resorts, hotels, and private villa rentals, primarily on the beaches.

Things To Do In St Lucia

St Lucia has endless opportunities for fun. Whether you’re looking to visit waterfalls or hike the Piton mountains, St Lucia has many adventurous activities.

Head to Sulphur Springs to see the world’s only drive-in active volcano. The Sulphur Springs park offers volcano, mud bath, and waterfall tours where you can take a dip in a hotspring or mud bath, and wash off under a waterfall!

Tickets of the park are only $11 USD, and $5 USD for kids. Admission to the mud baths is $10, and $30 for a mud bath and volcano tour. 

One of the best ways to experience St Lucia’s natural beauty is to visit scenic waterfalls in the rainforest.

Diamond Botanical Gardens, St Lucia
Diamond Botanical Gardens (Photo by: Tharun Gowda)

The Diamond Falls, Piton Falls, and Toraille waterfall are some of the most stunning waterfalls throughout the island. Check out our article on the most beautiful waterfalls to chase in St Lucia for a full list of options.

If you enjoy hiking, the Piton Mountains are worth a visit. These are two magnificent volcanic plugs that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hiking the mountains can be quite vigorous so it requires a guide and costs $50 USD.

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

For a more relaxed hike, explore the Tet Paul Nature Trail or the “Stairway to Heaven”. This lovely 45 minute hike is run by locals that will teach you about plant medicine, cassava production, exotic plants, and more.

It’s $10 USD for a guided tour, and it gives a spectacular view of the Piton Mountains from the top. 

If you love chocolate, touring a cacao plantation is a must. Head to Hotel Chocolat for a guided tour of the cocoa plantation within the rainforest. You’ll get to learn how cacao is cultivated, try freshly made chocolate, and bring home ripe cacao beans. 

Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia (Photo by: Eagle Clarke)

Hop aboard the Rainforest Aerial Tram to get a bird’s eye view of St Lucia’s vast landscape in an open-air gondola. The tickets are $85 USD to ride the tram and the tour takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

If you’re up for an adventure, you can take a helicopter tour to get a view of the Piton Mountains, Soufriere Volcano, and Pigeon Island.

Piton Mountains
Piton Mountains
(Photo by: Corinne Kutz)

If you want to snorkel, Anse Chastanet Beach is arguably the best beach in St Lucia for snorkeling. It has calm crystal clear waters and abundant coral reefs with parrot fish, sea turtles, octopus, and other impressive marine life.

For food, head to Sugar Beach to enjoy fresh seafood at some of the island’s best restaurants. For watersports, stay at Reduit Beach where you can rent out water sport equipment, lounge chairs, and pick up street food.  

Take a trip to Pigeon Island National Park for a day, to go birdwatching, explore ancient forts, and get a spectacular view of the island. Admission to the park is $10 USD for adults, and the hike is fairly easy. 

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

Here are some of the top tourist activities 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 Thomas

What is St Thomas known for?

Unlike St Lucia, St Thomas is a U.S. Virgin Island that’s known for its pristine beaches, shopping, golfing, and top-notch snorkeling spots. 

St. Thomas, USVI
St. Thomas, USVI
(Photo by: Katrina Mulfati)

St Thomas’s landscape is mountainous and hilly, with lush green rainforests, and white sand beaches. St Thomas is most known for it’s exceptional beaches for snorkeling.

Magen’s Bay Beach, Sapphire Beach, and Secret Harbor Beach are just a few of the many beaches with abundant coral reefs.

When it comes to accommodations, St Thomas has upscale all-inclusive resorts, boutique hotels, and private villas with breathtaking views of the ocean and nearby islands.

Magen's Bay Beach
Magen’s Bay Beach
(Photo by: Toni Osmundson)

The beaches have plenty of colorful fish, sea turtles, stingrays, starfish, squid, and more fascinating marine life. 

If doing water sports is high on your priority list, St Thomas offers kayaking, parasailing, paragliding, and boat tours. 

St. Thomas, USVI
St. Thomas, USVI (Photo by: Colin Chong)

Once you’re tired of spending time at the beach, St Thomas has an aquarium, historical landmarks, museums, botanical gardens and a popular tram ride that overlooks the harbor. 

If you want to shop on vacation, St Thomas has a variety of shopping malls, small boutiques, and outdoor markets. Near the cruise port is Main Street in Charlotte Amalie, which has jewelry, clothing, chocolate, and souvenir and trinket shops. 

If you’re a foodie, St Thomas has everything from small pizza shops to fine-dining seafood and Caribbean cuisine. 

The nightlife in St Thomas is often thought of as the best in the US Virgin Islands. Whether you want to cruise during the sunset or enjoy live Caribbean music at a beach bar, there’s many great places to enjoy a night out. 

St Thomas is festive and celebrates cultural traditions throughout the year. The St Thomas Carnival is the largest carnival that celebrates Caribbean culture through parades, music, dancing, food fairs, and more. It’s held around April and May, and the carnival lasts a month!

Things To Do In St Thomas

As you arrive in St Thomas, you’ll be surrounded by lush green mountains and streets lined with colorful buildings.

Tourists often go beach-hopping, visit historical landmarks, and get scenic views of the bay from vantage points throughout the island. See our article on 20 fun things to do in St Thomas for a full list!

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
(Photo by: Andy Feliciotti)

Head to Magen’s Bay Beach to relax on a picturesque beach with powdery white sand and clean, clear waters. The beach has watersport rentals, lifeguards, and showers so it’s perfect for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

Entrance to the beach is $5 USD, and parking is $2 USD. Hike one of the 20 different trails throughout Magen’s Bay to get spectacular views of the beach. 

Magen's Bay Beach
Magen’s Bay Beach
(Photo by: Karl Callwood)

If you want to snorkel on vacation, St Thomas is the place to go. Nearly every beach has great opportunities for snorkeling.

Sapphire Beach is a popular snorkeling spot on the East End of St Thomas. This serene beach has abundant coral reefs, and is brimming with sea turtles, colorful fish, and stingrays.

You can rent out snorkeling equipment from a water sports booth that also offers kayaking and windsurfing equipment. 

Coral Reef in St. Thomas
Coral Reef in St. Thomas
(Photo by: Karl Callwood)

For a glimpse into St Thomas’s History, head to Fort Christian, a fort built all the way back in 1672 to protect the Charlotte Amalie Harbor. The fort has a museum open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, and admission is $10 USD. 

99 steps
99 Steps (Photo by: Brendan Stephens)

While in Charlotte Amalie, stop by the Pirates Treasure Museum, 99 steps staircase, and Blackbeard’s castle to explore more of the island’s interesting history.

For a scenic view of the harbor, hop aboard the Skyride to Paradise Point tram for breathtaking views of the island. It’s only a 7 minute ride, and it costs $24.95 USD.

And if you’re looking to shop, head to Main Street in downtown Charlotte Amalie to shop jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs at chic boutiques.

During golden hour, take a sunset cruise or enjoy a cocktail at a beach bar. Read our article on the best things to do in St Thomas at night for a glimpse into St Thomas’s nightlife.

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

  • Honeymoon Beach
  • Pirates Treasure Museum
  • Water Island
  • St. Thomas Synagogue
  • Mountain Top
  • Drake’s Seat
  • St. Thomas Mangrove
St Lucia vs St Thomas

Which island is better for vacation?

St Lucia and St Thomas are two beautiful Caribbean islands that are worth vacationing to. But they differ widely when it comes to their tourist activities. 

If you’re looking to explore volcanoes, go on a cacao plantation tour, and hike the Piton mountains, St Lucia’s the best destination for you. 

If you are looking to snorkel, relax on the beach, visit historical landmarks, and shop, St Thomas is the better destination for you. 

Overall, St Lucia has more adventurous activities for tourists due to its diverse landscape with volcanoes, and natural wonders like the Piton Mountains.

St Lucia has jeep tours, helicopter tours, volcano and mud bath tours, and ziplining and canopy tours. On the other hand, St Thomas has snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking tours. 

That being said, both islands have exceptional beaches, great food, and breathtaking landscapes. Regardless of which you choose to visit, you’ll be left with unforgettable memories. 


St Lucia and St Thomas both have pristine Caribbean beaches that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Some of the best beaches in St Lucia include Reduit Beach, Sugar Beach, and Anse Chastanet Beach.

Reduit Beach is a popular beach that has watersport rentals, food vendors, lounge chairs, and umbrellas. Sugar Beach is another serene white sand beach that’s near the Sulphur Springs volcano, and is only a 10 minute drive from Hotel Chocolat.

However, the best beach in St Lucia is Anse Chastanet Beach which is a prime location for snorkeling. You’ll get to see colorful fish, octopus, sea turtles, and abundant coral reefs. 

St Lucia
Rodney Bay, St Lucia
(Photo by: Simon Hurry)

St Thomas’s beaches are ideal for snorkeling and watersports.

Some of the best beaches for snorkeling are Magens Bay Beach and Sapphire Beach. They have calm waters, large coral reefs, sea turtles, and colorful fish.

Magen’s Bay has an admission fee of $5 USD, whereas Sapphire Beach is free. On both beaches, you can rent out snorkeling equipment, kayaks, and paddleboards.

Beyond the beaches, you can also go on a kayaking tour through a mangrove forest at St Thomas’s mangrove lagoon. 


St Lucia and St Thomas have similar tropical climates with warm weather year-round.

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


The official currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, whereas the official currency in St Thomas is the United States Dollar. 


The official language in St Lucia and St Thomas is English. However, the majority of people in St Lucia speak Saint Lucian Creole as well. Other common languages spoken in St Thomas are French and Spanish. 


St Lucia’s cuisine is diverse and has African, Creole, American, and Indian influences. The national dish of St Lucia is “green figs and saltfish”, which is seasoned cod with boiled unripe green bananas. 

St. Thomas’s cuisine is also diverse and has Caribbean and American influences. The national dish of St Thomas is “fish and fungi”, which is a Caribbean style polenta served with fresh fish. 

Both islands have everything from pizza shops to traditional Caribbean and fine-dining seafood restaurants.  

Cost to Travel

St. Lucia and St. Thomas cost a similar amount for a vacation. Flights to St Lucia are more expensive, but hotel costs are cheaper.

The average daily cost in St Lucia is $211, whereas the average daily cost in St Thomas is $218 per person.

Ultimately, the cheaper destination will depend on when you travel and what you do during your stay. 


St Lucia and St Thomas have lively nightlife. In St Lucia, the Gros Islet Street Party is held every Friday night starting at sunset.

This exciting street party has live music, arts and crafts, and food vendors serving local cuisine. Rodney Bay is another hotspot in St Lucia on the beach with bars and clubs. 

St Thomas has plenty of beachside bars and nightclubs centered around the Charlotte Amalie harbor. 

The legal drinking age in both St Lucia and St Thomas is 18. 


St. Lucia and St. Thomas are generally safe travel destinations and have low crime rates.

Always take precautions to stay safe when traveling such as being aware of your surroundings, reading about the areas you visit, and avoid walking alone at night. 

St Lucia vs St Thomas

Best Time to Visit

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

The cheapest time to visit St. Lucia is between May and September, and the cheapest time to visit St Thomas is from April to June. 

Also read:

FAQ: St Lucia vs St Thomas

How far is St Lucia from St Thomas?

St Lucia is 646 km from St Thomas. 

Is St Lucia or St Thomas better for snorkeling?

Both St Lucia and St Thomas have exceptional opportunities for snorkeling. In St Lucia, Rodney Bay and Anse Chastanet have some of the most abundant coral reefs.

In St Thomas, Magen’s Bay Beach, Secret Harbour, and Sapphire Beach are some of the best options. 

Is St Lucia a US Virgin Island?

No, St Lucia is not a US Virgin island but rather an island state that’s part of the British Commonwealth

Caribbean Travel Planning Guide

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

Yes, the tap water is safe to drink in both St Lucia and St Thomas. However, I recommend and always use a Brita water bottle to filter water when traveling to more remote areas 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 Thomas?

Yes, renting a car is highly advisable in both St Lucia and St Thomas to visit the beaches, waterfalls, and fully explore the islands.

Where’s the best place to book accommodations?

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

Check out our article on the best St Thomas resorts and villa rentals for ideas on where to stay in St Thomas.

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