Despite their apparent differences, Saint Martin and Jamaica are two of the most famous islands in the Caribbean. When you say tropical Caribbean, music, and dancing, Jamaica will always come to mind, and when you say Caribbean experience with a European twang, it’s always the French-Dutch hybrid island of Saint Martin.
What are Saint Martin and Jamaica?
Saint Martin and Jamaica are two of the most coveted islands on the Caribbean stretch with names being whispered, told, and written by seasoned travelers and wannabe travel-savvies from around the world. Thanks to their lush greens, pristine turquoise beaches, and interestingly mixed local cultures you can be sure to have the best of times in either of these Caribbean gems.
However, despite the common theme in the Caribbean like uber-gorgeous beaches that are the stuff of travel magazines and shows, both islands have charms to their own that seem to draw a lot of tourists in, moneyed, or the backpacking types. Saint Martin for one is in itself a thing of utmost curiosity thanks to its bicultural landscape and long busy history. Jamaica, on the other hand, is home to the most soulful people and music, with gastronomy that shadows the entire region, and if you only speak English, fret not, Jamaica is the place to be.
Saint Martin, just like many in the Caribbean, was occupied and controlled by European powers both as an outpost for their conquest around the continent, and a plantation for various sorts of products. Today, the island is shared by two states, the French to the north, and the Dutch to the south.
The French north, or Saint Martin, stays true to European parentage with the people’s more laid-back attitude, careful attention, and tradition to their cuisine, and its fashion. Predominantly of West African descent from the freed slaves of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the island’s denizens make up the most interesting thing about the island.
On top of that, the well-kept beaches, some pristine, some quaint and charming, are what defines an ideal Caribbean Island experience, and Saint Martin has that. Together with superb resorts and hotels, Saint Martin’s landscape has offered the best of the Caribbean.
Jamaica will almost, always ring a bell, whether you’re travel-savvy, geography nerd, or not, as the island is famous for many things. Part of the charm where it’s one of the most visited islands in the Caribbean, together with other big names like the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.
This well-known island in the Northern Caribbean is the birthplace of many music genres that altered the course of music history forever. If you like Reggae, Ska, and Rocksteddy, chances are, you will love Jamaica. Travelers who have been to the famed island recalling a certain vibe that can’t be missed, and can’t be compared to any other place.
Arguably having the best culinary scene in the entire region, Jamaica is like a mecca for the culturally curious and beach-loving set, however, the spirit of the Jamaican people cannot be missed. Teeming soul, warmth, and fun-loving vibe, the Jamaican people are just as much as a gem as the rest of the island’s best draws.
Where are Saint Martin and Jamaica Located?
Saint Martin lies at the northern side of the Lesser Antilles, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Caribbean to the west. The island is situated in the northeastern Caribbean, neighboring other Caribbean jewels like St. Barts, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla to the north.
Jamaica lies 250 kilometers or 160 miles east of Puerto Rico, and 200 kilometers or 124 miles east of the Virgin Islands, all straddling along the northern Caribbean, at the head of the Lesser Antilles, and the Leeward Islands. Saint Barts also lies just southeast off the coasts of Sint Maarten, making it accessible if you’re traveling from Saint Martin.
Jamaica is situated in the northwestern Caribbean, considered one of the region’s largest islands. It is 145 km south of Cuba, and 190 km east of Hispaniola, the island that comprises Haiti and Dominican Republic. It also neighbors the tiny Cayman Islands to the west.
With the island’s proximity to other big players in the region, it is relatively easy for cruisers, and slow-travelers to traverse Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic as a part of their northwestern Caribbean itinerary.
How Far is Jamaica from Saint Martin?
Jamaica is approximately 1,507 km or 936 miles from Saint Martin, directly. Both islands are separated by geographical collectivities, as Jamaica is in the Greater Antilles and Saint Martin being in the Lesser Antilles, the distance between them is relatively far.
How Do You Get From Jamaica to Saint Martin?
With their distance in between, there is only one practical way to get to Saint Martin from Jamaica, and that is by flying. Thanks to the availability of a fleet of airlines, traveling in between the islands is quick and possible. Ticket prices can cost around 426 to 930 USD, with Caribbean Airlines, St. Barth Commuter, Air Caraibes, Air Antilles, and American Airlines, where flight time usually takes around a couple of hours.
The Draws of Jamaica
If you have read, and probably even traveled to a few Caribbean destinations, you can probably tell that a lot of these islands have common features, that every traveler seems to not mind, exploring. However, on every island, there will always be charms, and flavors that hit differently to their culture, and travel palates, and Jamaica is one of the most famous ones.
Known as the birthplace of reggae, ska, Rocksteddy, dancehalls, musicians who have contributed much to music history, and some of the fastest humans on earth. All of that, adds to the island’s rich natural beauty, spectacular white sand beaches, and a plethora of all-inclusive resorts, Jamaica does have every ingredient a tropical paradise needs to be interesting.
First off, the music, the island is home to reggae, and reggae is always synonymous with its earliest proponents, Bob Marley, where it is used to express political and social views, undertones that rooted in the Rastafarian lifestyle. This movement started in Jamaica in the mid 20th century, that stemmed from Protestant Christianity, mysticism, and other pan-African concepts.
The Jamaican people are also warm, and fun-loving, this is evident in their celebration of life through music, familial, and communal living, with heavy attention to culinary and nature. You’ll find that the island will have a distinct vibe that seems to imprint itself on you, drawing you in, and making you fall in love with it.
As for the island’s beaches, you can have even more reasons to love the island as it has 50 public beaches that you could explore, swim, and ling on until your heart’s content. Some of the notable ones include Seven Mile Beach and Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay. 50 beaches are more than enough to give any traveler the experience and the ambiance they want.
The Differences Between Saint Martin and Jamaica
For one, Saint Martin sits differently than most of the Caribbean islands as Saint Martin is not just one country in one island, but two. Saint Martin is the French-controlled side of the island, while in the south is occupied by the Dutch constituent country of Sint Maarten. This dual political and cultural landscape is already a draw in itself.
Saint Martin has a total of 37 beaches, all with distinct characteristics of their own giving visitors plenty of places to explore. A right combination of French refinement, laid-back attitude, and cosmopolitan living, makes this island a worthy place to visit, especially for the Europhile with a love of the tropics. Not to mention the border to the Dutch side is relatively non-existent.
Jamaica may not hit you with that famed European refinement as some Caribbean islands do, but Jamaica is probably one of the most famous islands on the Caribbean, if not the most, all thanks to its culture, people, and natural beauty. A triple combination that never goes old, in this part of the world.
Jamaican people are famous for many things, like music, food, and partying, a tourist favorite activity. The island stays true to its tropical island charm because of its apparent lack of refinement, and more of a relaxed, and humble approach to Caribbean life. The island itself boasts some of the best and most beautiful beaches in the region, it can even compete in Mexico’s Yucatan and Baja California Sur.
Which is Better – Saint Martin or Jamaica?
If you want to get a taste of Europe, particularly France, grabbing a cool drink by the sands of some of the most picturesque beaches, doing nothing, or learning a thing or two about a long blended history, with a bit of shopping, and loves fashion, then Saint Martin is the place for you.
Food, people, music, and partying, is more of Jamaica’s thing, and if you like a couple of those or all of them, then Jamaica is your best bet. Jamaica’s best draws are often, its vibe, and social activities, and that its beaches are complimentary, and a grand one at that.
Comparing islands, and deciding which is better may rob the rest of the islands a chance to show their beauty and experience the full spectrum of the magic of the Caribbean. However, the best way to decide which is which is to get all the necessary information you can about an island, then go from there. It can help you give a clear idea of what you want to experience, and is the factor that can guide you in making travel plans.