If you’ve been searching the internet for the best Caribbean destinations to vacation, then Barbados and Jamaica have likely come up in the search results. The reason is that both Caribbean islands have a lot to offer tourists looking for a break from the everyday grind.
While Jamaica and Barbados are, in fact in the Caribbean, their geographic location couldn’t be more different. Jamaica is located in the Greater Antilles, which is a group of islands that include Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and Hispaniola (Island of the Dominican Republic and Haiti). Barbados, on the other hand, is far east of this area, and just north of South America and the country of Venezuela.
Both countries are famous for tourists looking for a destination wedding, honeymoon trip, romantic getaway, or family vacation, but which one is better? In this article, we will discuss the key differences between Barbados vs Jamaica to help you determine which one will fulfill your wanderlust.
Barbados vs Jamaica: Overview
As mentioned, Barbados is just north of South America, near the country of Venezuela. Barbados is a small country with a total area of just 161 square miles and roughly 60 miles of coastline.
The capital and largest city of Barbados is Bridgetown, the nation’s main seaport. From the 17th century to 1966, Great Britain controlled Barbados, which established sugarcane plantations and brought enslaved Africans to the island.
Since Barbados’ independence, the small country has become a top tourist destination in the Caribbean. It’s easy to see why because Barbados is beautiful, with white-sand beaches, turquoise-colored waters, and lush tropical forests home to green monkeys.
Barbados is also the birthplace of rum and is known to have some of the most friendly people in the Caribbean.
Jamaica is quite a bit bigger than Barbados (like ten times bigger), with 4,244 square miles of land. Jamaica has iconic white-sand beaches with turquoise waters, but it also has mountain ranges across the country.
While Jamaica isn’t the birthplace of rum, reggae was born here and is now what most tourists think of when they picture Jamaica. It is also known for Blue Mountain coffee, one of the rarest and most expensive coffees in the world.
Jamaica is also well-known for its luxurious all-inclusive resorts and accommodates millions of tourists each year. In addition, Jamaica and Barbados have rich cultures that any traveler would be lucky to experience, but which one should you choose for a vacation?
Let’s take a closer look at what each nation offers in terms of beaches, resorts, and activities. We will also discuss the costs associated with traveling to each island and how safe they are, so read on!
Barbados vs Jamaica: Beaches
When comparing Barbados vs Jamaica in terms of beaches, you can’t go wrong with either one. Both have postcard-worthy beaches that make your family and friends back home jealous.
Since Jamaica is way bigger than Barbados, it will naturally have more beaches to enjoy. However, even though Barbados is a small island, there are still 80 pristine beaches.
In fact, Barbados is nicknamed the “Platinum Coast” due to how white the sand is, which is saying something, as there are several white-sand beaches in the Caribbean.
Best Beaches In Barbados
Some of the most popular beaches in Barbados for relaxing and swimming include Carlisle Bay beaches (Bayshore Beach, Pebbles Beach, and Brownes Beach), Miami Beach, also known as Enterprise Beach, Paynes Bay Beach, and Brandons Beach.
If you are looking for the best surfing spots, then we recommend going to Bathsheba Bay beach or Silver Sands beach. There are also several beaches that are great for snorkeling, scuba diving, and other watersports in Barbados.
If you are looking for romantic beaches, then Barbados has those too. Some of the best beaches include Bottom Bay Beach, Drill Hall Beach, and Gibbes Beaches. As you can see, there are several beaches in Barbados, and we didn’t even scratch the surface!
Best Beaches in Jamaica
Jamaica is known for two things, reggae music, and breathtaking beaches. In fact, Jamaica has some of the best beaches in the world, so it’s no wonder why so many tourists visit every year!
Some of the best beaches in Jamaica include Seven Mile Beach, which is one of if not the most beautiful and popular beaches among tourists. Seven Mile Beach isn’t just popular due to its white sand, crystal clear water, and coral reefs; it also offers a wide range of activities.
Tourists can go swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, or just relax on the beach. There are also several restaurant and bar options along Seven Mile Beach.
You will also find several all-inclusive resorts, such as Sandals Negril.
Several other beaches in Jamaica are a must-see. If you plan on staying in the Montego Bay area, you can check out Doctor’s Cave Beach. Other beautiful beaches include the famous James Bond Beach, Bloody Bay, and Frenchman’s Cover, to name a few.
To be honest, you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches in Jamaica, as one is just as beautiful as the next.
Barbados vs Jamaica: Resorts
While Jamaica is known for having an extensive list of all-inclusive resorts and high-end hotels, Barbados has several luxury accommodations, including all-inclusive resorts, boutique hotels, and poolside villas.
Like Jamaica, you won’t have difficulty finding a Sandals Resort to book. In addition, the Crane Resort, Sandy Lane Hotel, Turtle Beach, and Fairmont Royal Pavilion are all excellent choices. While these are all luxury stays, you can also find budget-friendly accommodations in Barbados.
You won’t have an issue finding accommodations in Jamaica as there are several. However, with so many choices, it may be tough to make a final decision. First, of course, you can book an all-inclusive stay at Sandals Resorts or Beaches Resorts.
However, there are other great resorts and hotels to choose from, such as the Jamaican Inn, Golden Eye Resort, The Caves Hotel, and Half Moon Resort. Each of these has something unique to offer tourists that will make for an unforgettable vacation.
As you can see, there isn’t a clear winner regarding resorts in Barbados vs. Jamaica. Of course, since Jamaica is bigger, it will have more variety, but you won’t have a problem finding a place at either tropical destination.
Barbados vs Jamaica: Cost
When it comes to cost, Jamaica is less expensive. You will find that eating out, drinks, transportation, and sometimes accommodation are less expensive in Jamaica. This could simply be due to supply and demand since Jamaica has so many options.
However, while the cost of goods in Barbados is generally more expensive, it doesn’t mean you can’t find deals. If you visit during the shoulder season, you can find discounted rates on resorts and hotels. To avoid the cost of dining, you could stay at an all-inclusive resort where all food and drinks are included.
In addition, if you are flying from the United States, you may find cheaper flights to Jamaica. This can be due to Jamaica being a lot closer to the United States than Barbados. However, if money isn’t an issue, you can’t go wrong with either destination, as they both have a lot to offer.
Barbados vs Jamaica: Safety
Safety is always a concern for tourists visiting a new country, and rightfully so. It can be scary to travel to a new place and not know if you and your loved ones will be safe.
Luckily, both Barbados and Jamaica are safe destinations for tourists. In fact, Barbados is said to be one of the safest islands in the entire Caribbean. The Bajan people are known to be welcoming, friendly, and polite to travelers.
In general, Jamaica is a safe destination for travelers, but there are areas that should be avoided. It’s good to research these areas before you go so you know not to wonder. If you stay in areas such as Montego Bay, Negril, or Ocho Rios, you shouldn’t have an issue.
While Barbados and Jamaica are safe tourist destinations, it’s still good to take precautions when visiting. By having common sense, such as not leaving your belongings unattended, not being flashy, and wandering alone at night, you should have a fun and safe trip.
Barbados vs Jamaica: Final Verdict
At the end of the day, there is no clear winner between Barbados vs Jamaica. Both islands have rich cultures, beautiful beaches, luxury resorts, and friendly locals.
However, Jamaica does have its advantages due to being bigger and less expensive. If you have already visited Jamaica and are looking for another Caribbean island to explore, then Barbados is an excellent choice.
If you have the budget, we prefer Barbados where it seems safer and the beaches are better.