St Maarten vs St Barts (Which One Is Better For You?)

St Maarten vs St Barts. No matter which island you choose to visit in the Caribbean, St. Maarten or St. Barts, there are plenty of things to see and do.

Both islands offer beautiful beaches, rich culture, and delicious food. However, which one is right for you? Read on to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of each destination.

St Maarten vs St Barts Comparison

St Maarten and St Barts are two of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. The two islands have a lot in common, from their people and culture to the beauty of their landscapes. However, there are also some distinct differences between them which set them apart as unique travel destinations.

In this St Maarten vs St Barts comparison, we’ll highlight the key differences between these two islands so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

1. Size: St Maarten is the larger of the two islands and has a population of 73,777 people as compared to St Barts which has a population of9,939. The island of St Maarten also has a much larger land size than St Bart’s with an area of just over 87 square kilometers compared to St Bart’s area of only 25 square kilometers.

Like many Caribbean islands, both Saint Martin and Saint Barth have relatively small populations compared to other countries in the region such as Haiti or Cuba. In terms of natural resources, both islands are rich in coral reefs, white sand beaches and lush rain forests.

2. Beaches: When it comes to the beaches, there is no doubt that St. Maarten has better options. With its long stretches of golden sand and crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder the island is a top tourist destination. However, if you’re looking for even more stunning beaches, head over to St. Barts.

The small Caribbean island has some of the most beautiful coastline in the world, with crystalline water and soft white sand. Whether you’re looking for an adrenalin rush or simply some peace and quiet, these two islands are sure to offer something for everyone.

A view of St Barts coastline.
Image by H Rabbitt from Pixabay

3. Nightlife: Looking for a place to party? Check out St Maarten or St Barts – the two islands offer some of the best nightlife in the Caribbean. While both islands have their own distinct charm, St Maarten clearly edges out St Barts in terms of vibrancy and entertainment.

Whether you’re into dancing until dawn or simply enjoying a refreshing drink on a sunset cruise, there’s something for everyone on these islands. And if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, be sure to test your luck at one of the island’s many casino resorts.

4. Activities: Both islands boast a wide variety of activities that visitors can enjoy. While St Barts offers more opportunities for water sports, including sailing and windsurfing, St Maarten has more options for those looking to golf or snorkel.

The two islands also have their own unique attractions, such as the turtle reserve on St Maarten and the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum on St Barts.

In terms of nightlife, both islands offer some great places to party. Whether you’re looking for nightclubs or bars with live music, both islands have something for you.

5. Cost: When comparing the two islands, St. Maarten comes out on top when it comes to affordability for tourists. For example, a meal for one can cost as little as $10 in St. Maarten, while an equivalent meal on St. Barts will cost upwards of $15.

Additionally, accommodation is also more affordable on St. Maarten – a room can be rented for around $50 per night, while the same accommodation on St. Barts will cost around $100 or more per night. 

One other key difference between the two islands is that St. Maarten has much better infrastructure when it comes to tourism. For example, there are more restaurants and bars available to tourists than on St. Barts, and public transportation is much better organized on St. Maarten than on St. Barts.

6. Weather: St Maarten is known for its crystal clear waters and stunning beaches; while St Barts is known for its lively nightlife and beautiful coral reefs. Both islands boast a variety of tropical weather, with average highs of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and lows of around 70 degrees, and both islands have their own distinct cultures and languages, but they are generally similar in terms of climate, food, and attractions. 

The two islands are also fairly close by – just 17.6 miles away – so you can easily hop on a ferry to explore each one in depth. If you’re looking for a party island, St Barts is definitely the place to be; while if you’re more interested in spending your time outdoors, then St Maarten is the perfect destination.

Shell beach in St. Barts.
Image by kristinekelly from Pixabay

7. Shopping: When it comes to shopping, one of the main differences between St Maarten and St Barts is the availability of certain items. For example, while most stores in St Maarten carry common items such as clothes and cosmetics, St Barts has a much wider variety of products, including luxury brands. 

Groceries are generally lower on St Maarten, though not by much. However, there is a wider variety of restaurants and shops on St Barts, making it more convenient for tourists. Additionally, St Maarten has a larger selection of luxury brands than St Barts does.

Visitors should also note that transportation is much cheaper in St Maarten – buses and taxis are about half the price of what they are on St Barts. However, despite the difference in available products, both islands have their own unique shops that are worth visiting.

8. Crime: When it comes to safety, there are a few clear comparisons that can be made between the two Caribbean islands of St Maarten and St Barthélemy. While both regions have their share of crime and dangers for tourists, statistics show that St Barts is generally seen as a safer destination.

One reason for this could be that it has a smaller population, which makes surveilling the area easier. Additionally, much of the crime in St Barts is related to drug trafficking and organized crime. This is not the case on St Maarten where violent crime is more common, though theft remains a problem.

9. Location: St Maarten is one of the Dutch islands in the Caribbean and it is located about 17 miles east of St. Barts. The two islands are very similar in size, shape, and climate. They are both situated on a coral reef and have lovely white-sand beaches.

However, St Maarten is much more developed than St. Barts, with many more restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is also considerably cheaper to live on St Maarten than on St Barts Island. ​​​​​​​

10. Friendliness: While both islands have their share of residents who are warm and hospitable, St. Maarten wins out in terms of friendliness. The locals here are more likely to stop and chat with tourists on the street, or help them find their way around town.

11. Towns & Villages: both islands have beautiful towns and villages nearby, St Maarten has more commercial centers while St Barts has more rural areas.

St Maarten carnival.
Image by ameliaechampion from Pixabay

Is St Barts worth visiting?

Yes, St Barts is definitely worth a visit. The island has everything you could want or need and the people are friendly and welcoming. The island can be busy during peak season, but it’s well worth it to experience all that this beautiful place has to offer.

If you are looking for a party town, then St Barts is not the place for you. However, if you are looking for a laid back environment with great food and beaches, then St Barts is definitely worth visiting.​​​​​​​

How long is the ferry from St Maarten to St Barts?

The ferry from St Maarten to St Barts takes 45 minutes, 3 times a day and arrives in Gustavia.. It sails from Philipsburg at 7:15am, 9:45am, and 5:30pm. The ferry from St Barts to Philipsburg sails at 8:30am, 11:00am, and 6:45pm.

Is St Maarten worth visiting?

Is St Maarten worth visiting? If you’re looking for a party island with great beaches, plenty of nightlife, and interesting attractions, then yes, St Maarten is worth a visit. The island has everything you could possibly want in a vacation spot: lots of activities to keep you busy both day and night, gorgeous beaches that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing, and restaurants serving all sorts of cuisines.

Plus, the locals are friendly and welcoming – making it easy to make new friends while you’re on vacation. But there’s also plenty to see and do on this Caribbean paradise if you’re looking for something more quiet or relaxed. So whether you’re planning your first trip or your tenth – St Maarten has something for everyone!

Why is St Barts so popular?

The popularity of St Barts can be attributed to a number of reasons. Firstly, the island is rich and famous – it has been home to celebrities and billionaires for generations. Secondly, the natural beauty of the island is unrivaled – from stunning beaches to lush forests, there is something for everyone on St Barts.

And finally, the locals are warm and welcoming – they are happy to offer advice on where to eat and drink, and will go out of their way to make you feel at home. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing escape or an exciting adventure, St Barts has everything you need and more.

What is the best time to go to St Barts?

St. Barts is known for its beautiful weather during the winter months. December to May are considered the best times to visit because the temperature stays relatively stable and there is little rain. The best time to go is when the sun is shining and there isn’t too much humidity.

How much is ferry from St. Martin to St Barts?

If you’re looking to take a ferry from the island of St. Martin to the island of St. Barts, it’ll cost you around $60 one way and with return same day $80 usd.

Ferries run roughly three times a day, so there’s plenty of time to make the trip if you’re on a schedule. Most ferries leave from either Marigot or Philipsburg, and both ports are easily accessible by car or taxi.

Where do celebrities stay in St. Barths?

Celebrities flock to the secluded Saint-Barthélemy island for a little R&R. The island has long been a favorite of film and music stars, as well as wealthy businessmen. Here are some places where they tend to stay: ​​​​​​​

1. The Ritz-Carlton St. Barths – This luxury resort is home to some of the most famous names in Hollywood, including Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Cher, and Robert DeNiro.​​​​​​​

2. The Hermitage – This colonial-style villa is known for its luxurious interiors and beautiful gardens. It’s often rented by celebrities who want to getaway from the cameras and Paparazzi.

3. Le Carlota – Another popular choice for celebrities, Le Carlota is a luxury hotel that overlooks the ocean. It has private beaches, an outdoor pool, and rooms with views of the Caribbean Sea or the mountains beyond.​​​​​​​

4. Eden Roc is a luxury hotel located on the cliffs overlooking Saint-Martin’s capital, Philipsburg. It has been home to A-list celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks, and has even been used as the location for movies like The Aviator and Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

5. Villa del Palmar is a villa located on a pristine stretch of coast just outside Philipsburg. It has been used by many Hollywood stars including Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Jamie Foxx and Russell Crowe.

Can you do a day trip to St Barts from St Maarten?

If you’re looking for a short and sweet day trip from St. Maarten, consider heading to the beautiful island of St. Barts. You can easily do this by catching a ferry from Philipsburg, which takes around 45 minutes.

Once you arrive on the island, you’ll be able to find plenty of things to do and see, including exploring the stunning beaches and shopping in the many stores and boutiques.

Is St Maarten or St Barts Better?

The two islands have their pros and cons, but overall most people seem to prefer living on St Maarten. It’s less expensive than St Barts, there are more jobs available, and it’s generally easier to get around. The difference in culture is also noticeable – while St Maarten focuses on tourism, St Barts is more oriented towards agriculture.


  • Karin K

    Meet Karin, the passionate author and founder of My love affair with St. Maarten began in 1994 during a memorable trip. The island's allure was so captivating that I decided to make it my permanent home. Since then, I've been committed to sharing the beauty and wonders of St. Maarten through my adventures and insights. Join me on this incredible journey!