Destinations Mexico

Jamaica Vs Barbados: Which Island is Better For You?

Last updated on March 12, 2024

Jamaica Vs Barbados is a tough one because both of these islands are truly two of the best ones in the Caribbean! They have been popular tourist destinations for years because they both offer stunning beaches, authentic food and perfect weather.

Having recently visited both of these places ( on two very different trips may I add)- I am here to break down all the differences, similarities and things to note!

Jamaica Vs Barbados: Overall

Jamaica Vs Barbados

Jamaica is the bigger island both in size and in population while Barbados is much smaller at only165 square miles. You can actually take a day and drive around Barbados or get from the South to the North in just under 2 hours.

Jamaica on the other hand is very spread out and some of the key tourist destinations are hours and hours apart. Some people base themselves in only one area of Jamaica ( ie: Montego Bay or Negril) and do not travel around due to how long it takes!

Jamaica is known for reggae music, Rastafarian culture, and its vibrant art scene. It is lush, mountainous and has many waterfalls. Barbados, on the other hand, is known for its calypso and soca music, has a British and colonial background and traditional charm to it.

Jamaica Vs Barbados: Budget and Price

If you are looking to book a trip where your dollar will go farther than you will want to head to Jamaica.

Jamaica – given how much bigger it is- has so many more hotel options for every kind of traveller. You can find luxury resorts here but you can also find a lot of budget friendly accommodations that are still very much beautiful!

In terms of food, a lot of the restaurants in Barbados are more on the pricier side if you are comparing apples to apples

Jamaica Vs Barbados: Safety

If we are comparing Jamaica Vs Barbados for safety, Barbados wins.

While I never once felt unsafe during my trip to Jamaica, it has more reports of assaults, cases of kidnapping and robbery than Barbados. More recently the US has issued a Level 3 travel warning for the country due to the increase of sexual assaults specifically. While I think it’s important to keep this in mind and travel with your guard up, I truly felt more scared in the outskirts of Miami than I ever did while I was in Jamaica.

Jamaica Vs Barbados Beaches

Montego Bay, Jamaica

South Coast, Barbados

Jamaica Vs Barbados for Families

Cancun or Tulum

Beaches Turks and Caicos

Both places would be amazing for a family trip depending on what you are looking for in a vacation.

Jamaica resorts are bigger allowing some of them to have a lot more activities for the kids such as water parks, kids clubs and daily activities. Beaches Jamaica in particular is geared towards families and is one of the best all inclusive options out there for families.

Barbados hotels are a bit smaller and not as sprawling so often their resorts have fewer restaurants and pools. This is not a bad thing and some families prefer to have the option to go off the resort and don’t want to be “resort trapped” so it really depends what you are looking for!

Jamaica Vs Barbados for a Girls Trip

S Hotel Jamaica

If you are debating Jamaica Vs Barbados for a girls trip, I think it depends on the kind of girls trip you are looking to do.

If you want to have a lot of fun, Jamaica has a ton of clubs, bars and special events happening ( specifically in Montego Bay) that make it a great option for a girls getaway.

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Barbados night life on the other hand is more chill and laid back. Barbados is home to some amazing spas and golf courses so if your girls getaway is centered around relaxing, it might be the better option for you and your friends.

Jamaica Vs Barbados for a Couples Trip

Flower Tropical Farm and the romantic restaurant The Fish Pot- both in Barbados

Both Jamaica and Barbados are perfect for a couples trip. If you are having problems deciding on a spot with your sweetie, it really comes down to the kind of couple you are. Do you like adventures? Do you want to see waterfalls? Golf? Spa?

Jamaica Vs Barbados Hotel Comparison

Jamaica is focused on large, all-inclusive resorts from the major chains where the vast majority of guests never leave the property. Although recent reports suggest otherwise, the island still has a reputation for a lack of safety off resort grounds. Guided tours are okay but I wouldn’t wander around on your own, especially with children. I’m sure the Jamaica fans on their forum will disagree but the reality is that crime has been a problem on the island for some time. Again, not an issue on the resort property but you mentioned you plan to spend little time there.

Barbados has some AI properties but the primary focus is on traditional hotels where you might eat some of your meals while retaining the freedom to dine in any of the island’s outstanding restaurants in all price ranges, if you choose

Jamaica Hotels

Here is a list of hotels in Jamaica that are beautiful and highly rated! that are rated well and are centrally located on the main strip!

  1. S Hotel Jamaica: This boutique all inclusive hotel right in the heart of Montego Bay is absolutely stunning. I love the scale of it, it has a rooftop pool and is situated right on Doctor’s Cove!
  2. GoldenEye – Situated in Oracabessa, this iconic resort was once the home of Ian Fleming and is now a stunning hotel offering a blend of luxury and history. It’s super secluded and private and if you are looking for a honeymoon spot, you should consider it
  3. Trident Hotel – This is where some of the celebrities stay when they head to Jamaica and for good reason. This boutique hotel offers luxurious accommodations and stunning views of the Caribbean Sea.
  4. Beaches Jamaica: One of the best all inclusive options if you are looking for a family resort with all the bells and whistles!
  5. Round Hill Hotel and Villas – This resort has a ton of rooms options, an on site spa and has that timeless elegance to it!

Barbados Hotels

  1. Sea Breeze Beach House: This is where we stayed and it was one of the best places we stayed in the Caribbean! It’s all inclusive yet has a boutique feel to it. It’s perfect for families or couples a like.
  2. O2 Beach Club– 02 Beach Club is located on the south west side of the island and is another all inclusive option with a rooftop pool!
  3. Cobblers Cove – This property is Instagram heaven and only has 40 rooms giving it a very intimate feel!
  4. Fairmont Royal Pavilion – Located on a beautiful stretch of beach in St. James, this hotel offers luxurious accommodations, a beautiful beachfront setting, and excellent dining options
  5. Little Harbour– This eclectic, charming and smaller hotel on the Northern stretch of the island is one to check out for sure!
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Jamaica or Barbados Restaurant Comparison

Jamaica Vs Barbados for restaurants offer some of the same cuisine and that is FRESH fish my friends!

In both of these countries you often can get fresh catch of the day on every menu which is a really nice option! Often these dishes are flavored with Caribbean spices. Jamaica’s cuisine tends to be a bit spicier though!

Barbados restaurant scene features a lot of outdoor restaurants with some very trendy spaces that are similar to restaurants you would find in Tulum or California. While Jamaica also has trendy and modern spaces, I felt that a lot of their restaurants were more simple in design.

One similarity between Jamaica and Barbados is their love of RUM bars!! Both islands have an abundant of rum bars however Jamaica wins here as they have the most rum bars per capita in the entire WORLD!! Crazy fact huh?

Here are 3 Jamaica Restaurants that you can’t miss:

  1. Miss T’s Kitchen: This adorable and funky restaurant is tucked away on a side street in Ochos Rios but do yourself a favour and find it. It’s one of a kind and has amazing Jamaican cuisine
  2. Sugar Mill Restaurant: Hello Glamour! This restaurant is set in an old plantation where the tables are filled with candle lit and you can hear the crickets chirping from afar. It’s a stunning atmosphere and can’t be missed
  3. Scotchies: You actually can’t go to Jamaica and not visit Scotchies. It’s a right of passage of visiting and the locals always insist you go there ( which is when I know a place is worth visiting!)

Here are 3 Barbados Restaurants that you can’t miss:

  1. La Cabane: This restaurant is on the beach. Literally. It has a boho vibe to it and is one of the best spots for sunset.
  2. The Fish Pot: This charming restaurant is on the Good Little Harbour property which I listed as one of the best hotels in Barbados. It’s no surprise that their restaurant is also amazing!
  3. QP Bistro: This restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner aka good at any hour and while the food is delicious, the space is the real jaw dropper here. It can seriously be featured in every design magazine there is!!
  4. The Tides: This is your high end, 5 star option on the island. If you want to get dressed up or are celebrating a big occasion- come here!

Travel Tips for Barbados and Jamaica:

  • Both islands accept credit card at most places and also accept USD in a lot of places!
  • Weather or nature tips: Montego Bay can get windy at night while Barbados has more mosquitos!
  • You will not find mega stores like Walmart or Costco here but there are bigger chains where you can get everything you need
  • Both countries have healthcare and hospital facilities but Barbados has a better reputation for top notch care
  • Electrical outlets are the same as the US

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