St Maarten vs St John (Which Island Is Better?)

St Maarten vs St John. Which Island Is Better? The battle between the two islands is heated. With each island being an excellent destination, it can be difficult to decide which one you should choose for your next vacation. However, there are a few facts that may help make this decision easier on you!

St Maarten vs St John Comparison

When most people think of Caribbean vacations, they think of the crystal clear blue waters and white sandy beaches that are found among the islands. While there are many different islands to choose from in the Caribbean, two of the most popular destinations are St Maarten and St John.

Both have their own unique pros and cons, which can make it difficult to decide which one is right for you. Here is a comparison of St Maarten vs St John to help you make your decision.

1. Size: St John is significantly smaller than St Maarten. In fact, St John is only 20 square miles, while St Maarten is 37 square miles.​​​​​​​ St Maarten has more people than St John, with a population of around 40,000 compared to just over 4,000 on St John. This means that there is more to do on St Maarten – from casinos and nightclubs to water sports and beaches.​​​​​​​

2. Beaches: St Maarten is known for its wide variety of beautiful beaches, from quiet coves to busy party beaches. Philipsburg, on the Dutch side of the island, is home to many popular beaches, including Maho Bay and Mullet Bay. On the French side of the island, Orient Beach is a favorite spot for sunbathing and swimming.

St John is known for its secluded beaches tucked away in tranquil bays. Trunk Bay is one of the most popular spots on the island, thanks to its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Other favorites include Cinnamon Bay and Hawksnest Bay.​​​​​​​

St Maarten cruise ship port
Image by Viola ‘ from Pixabay

3. Nightlife: When it comes to nightlife, there’s no comparison between St Maarten and St John. The Dutch side of St Maarten is known for its lively clubs, casinos and bars, while the US Virgin Island of St John is largely a sleepy town with a few small bars.

If you’re looking to party until the sun comes up, head to St Maarten – but if you’d rather relax with a drink on a quiet beach, St John is the place for you.

4. Activities: When it comes to activities, there is no comparison between the two islands. St Maarten is packed with things to do, from casinos and shopping to nature tours and water sports. By contrast, St John is quite sleepy, with a few small shops and restaurants and some nature-based activities. If you’re looking for an active vacation, go to St Maarten; if you’re looking for a more relaxed escape, head to St John.​​​​​​​

5. Cost: St Maarten is a Dutch territory and is known for its lively nightlife, casinos, and shopping. It’s also much more affordable than St John, with restaurants and hotels catering to all budgets. St John is part of the US Virgin Islands and is known for its luxury resorts and secluded beaches. The cost of living on St John is significantly higher than on St Maarten, so it’s best suited to those with a higher budget.

6. Weather: When it comes to the weather, there is not much of a difference between the two islands. Temperatures are about the same, although St John does tend to be a bit cooler in the winter months. The main difference is in the rainfall – St Maarten gets more rain overall than St John. This means that St John is typically a bit drier, with slightly less humidity.

7. Shopping: St. Maarten is a bustling, vibrant island home to numerous duty-free shops, with a rich history and culture. The shopping here reflects that, with an abundance of stores selling everything from local crafts to luxury items, designer clothes, electronics. There are also plenty of markets where you can find souvenirs or bargain for deals on island-made treasures.

St. John is much smaller and quieter than St. Maarten. The shopping here is more limited, with a focus on high-end boutiques and galleries. If you’re looking for something specific, you’re likely to find it in one of the three towns on the island – Cruz Bay, Coral Bay or Charlotte Amalie.

8. Crime: One important consideration is safety. According to the State Department, crime rates are higher on St. Maarten than on St. John. There are more reports of theft and assault on St. Maarten, so be extra vigilant when traveling there.

The good news is that both islands are generally considered safe for tourists, and you’re unlikely to encounter any problems as long as you use common sense precautions like not carrying large sums of cash or walking alone at night .

9. Location: St Maarten is located at the northeast end of the island chain, while St John is located in the Virgin Islands, about forty miles southeast of St Thomas. Because of its location, St Maarten is a popular stop for cruise ships, and offers a wide variety of tourist attractions including casinos, duty-free shopping, and nightlife.​​​​​​​

10. Towns and villages: The towns themselves are quite different. Philipsburg in St Maarten is a typical Caribbean commercial center, while Cruz Bay in St John is more like a small town with one main street lined with shops and restaurants.

The villages on either island offer different experiences as well. The French side of St Martin has smaller villages that feel more authentic Caribbean, while the Dutch side of the island has larger resorts with all the amenities.​​​​​​​

St. John, Virgin Islands
Image by TallGuyInc from Pixabay

Is St Maarten or St John Better?

So you’re trying to decide if you should visit St Maarten or St John? Both islands offer incredible beauty and plenty of activities, but which one is the best for you?

St Maarten is the larger of the two islands, and it has a more developed infrastructure. There are more restaurants and bars, as well as casinos and shopping opportunities. The beaches are also more crowded, and the nightlife is more active.

St John is smaller and quieter than St Maarten. The beaches are more secluded, and there are fewer shops and restaurants. However, St John is known for its hiking trails and nature preserves, so it’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors.

Is St John close to St. Martin?

Is St John close to St. Martin? The answer is yes and no. The two islands are only about 180 km apart, but it takes just over three hours by flight to get from one to the other. So while they are not right next to each other, they are close enough that visitors can easily explore both in a short period of time.

Is St John or St Croix better?

There is no easy answer when it comes to deciding which of the two U.S. Virgin Islands, St John or St Croix, is better. Both have their own unique charms that are bound to appeal to different people. 

Both islands offer a great escape for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but they do have their own unique qualities that make them stand out. So, which is the better island?

St John is known for its lush, tropical scenery and pristine beaches. It’s also home to the Virgin Islands National Park, which is a must-see for nature lovers. St John is a bit smaller than St Croix, so it’s perfect for those who want a more intimate experience.

St Croix is larger and has more of a city feel to it. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and shops to keep you busy, and you’ll never run out of things to see and do. The beaches here are also beautiful, and there’s something for everyone – whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation.


  • 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!