While both are big-game players in the tropical holiday scene, the Bahamas is one of the Caribbean’s top challengers, and while both are big-game players in the Atlantic, each difference may settle some scores. But, in the end, anything a determined tourist desires will always contribute to the appeal of these sites.
There is always something special to take pleasure in when vacationing in an archipelago like the Bahamas. You cannot simply imagine the scale that comes with touring the sixteen inhabited islands in one sitting. It makes several return trips to the Bahamas even more appealing.
The good news is that the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is not limited to those “big 16” islands, but rather is brimming with 700+ islands, cays, and islets. Bask in the wonder of what each landform brings to the table of tourism, be it natural or artificial. It does not matter if you can step on the islet or not, there is always something to behold, near or far.
Who says natural sights and beaches are all there is to the Bahamas? Wrong-o! The destination has got a deeply rooted and extremely fascinating history, from early settlers to the pirates of the Caribbean (sound familiar?) to the modern-day tourism scene. There is something for everyone here, even treasure hunters!
What Makes the Bahamas Unique?
700 Islands, 700 Reasons
The Bahamas has its famous “big” islands. And then there are the 700-not-so-big islands that are nothing to sneeze at. Can you really say you have experienced everything in the Bahamas if you haven’t seen it all?
If you want to tackle all the 700 islands or a substantial number thereof, some tours are tailor-made to hop from one spot to the other to maximize your stay. The most common strategy to manage this mind-boggling number is to line up the smaller islands into day trips. So choose the tours that will help you in this regard.
Pink Sand Beaches
Not every day do you get to see pink sand. Only a handful of territories have this peculiar property on their beaches. Fortunately, one such location is in the Bahamas, more specifically, Harbor Island.
These pink beaches are a welcoming embrace to the town of Dunmore, filled with rows of pastel homes that complement the pinkish reflections from off the sand. Truly a perfectly pink paradise.
Cave Dive Extravaganza
One of the crowned kings of cave diving, the Bahamas is the place to pay your respects. It has the best to offer beginners and expert-level daredevils alike. From underwater caves to blue holes, you would be hard-pressed to find anything of similar value anywhere else.
You’d be amazed to find that the cave-diving sites are very much like aquariums. With the intense biodiversity contained within, it’s almost as if you are peering into a heavily stocked, large-scale tank. Visualize the vibrancy of its marine life — crabs, lobsters, shrimp, sponges. And best of all, you get to swim with the fish (in a good way).
Rich History: From Columbus to Blackbeard
Ah, the good old Columbus. He had explored a ton of lands in the Americas, and the Bahamas was one of those fortunate (or, in some circles, unfortunate) to cross his path. This fact has been part of the documented history of the Bahamas; things like Colombus’ landing on the shores of San Salvador.
Not only is the Bahamas known for the exploits of Columbus, but there are also the origin and tales of the notorious Blackbeard himself.
To get the most out of the historical experience, check out the Bahamas Historical Museum in Nassau. It has an extensive collection of artifacts from the pre-Columbian era to the current age.
If you are curious about how Blackbeard came to achieve his notoriety, and perhaps get some clues to some hidden treasure (legend has it), visit the Pirates of Nassau attraction.
When it comes to beauty, it is without a doubt that Jamaica stands right at the top. The island nation of Jamaica is touted to be one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, as Christopher Columbus called it “the fairest isles the eyes have beheld” upon first setting sight on the island centuries back. And true enough, many well-traveled souls have seconded Columbus’ motion.
Filled with all the Caribbean classics like uber gorgeous beaches, quirky local culture, interesting history, sunny skies and warm days, and even warmer fun-loving people, Jamaica is the most visited island in the Caribbean. With over 170 attractions all sprawled out on the island, on top of all the natural wonders, and vibrant energy, the island nation can be your playground.
What Makes Jamaica Unique?
The Birthplace of Reggae
Championed by Bob Marley, and still reverberates in Spotify playlists and radios to this day, Reggae is as smooth and funky as its birthplace. The music genre first manifested in the 1960s in Jamaica and quickly rose as the prominent music on the island. In the 70s the music was imported and became a popular choice in Britain, the US, and Africa. Locals consider the music as a manifestation of the Jamaican soul.
Reggae music and dance represent the heart and soul of Jamaica, it became such a powerhouse that you can even hear the music and see people dancing to its rhythms in every corner of the island. Drink and dance till the early hours of the morning on Montego Bay’s Hip Strip. Visit Rick’s Café in Negril to view the sunset while listening to a rocksteady beat.
Jamaica is also home to the famous luminous lagoon just off Falmouth, which you can reach by purchasing tours around the lagoon. Observe and revel in the seeming mysticism that the waters exhibit at night. This phenomenon has amassed slews of people that are curious enough to experience the buzz.
Having millions of dinoflagellates as a resident. When disturbed at night, the lagoon glistens and sparkles, as these minute organisms emit an unearthly glow that reflects the silhouettes of fish and other items in the water. The Luminous Lagoon is said to be the world’s largest and brightest of four, a fact that continues to attract and astonish people and experts from all over the world.
At this point, being in the Caribbean, stunning beaches seems to be a common draw among all the islands. However, Jamaica’s beaches are in the top-tier rankings. Thanks to its many beaches’ beauty, charm, and fame, the island nation is big on beach bums and holidaymakers. How else would Jamaica be so famous? The island’s myriad beaches can give you just the right kind of experience that can make you call Jamaica a slice of heaven on earth.
To narrow down your choices, here are some of the best beaches on the island:
Also called the “Seven Mile Beach”, Negril Beach is the most famous beach in Jamaica. A classic tourist go-to, the beach is famously long and usually crowded with sunbathers, watersports enthusiasts, and swimmers. If you want an extra flair in your Negril Beach experience other than just lounging around, you can rent a sailboat or a kayak and test the famous waters of a Jamaican beach yourself.
James Bond Beach
The beach gets its name from the iconic James Bond film Dr. No, which was shot in this coastal area. Just east of Ocho Rios, the beach is nothing short of spectacular, just as you would expect in a James Bond film and the producers deemed it more than phenomenal. Although the beach is modest, you will be able to participate in all of the typical beach activities. There’s a little beach bar with an extremely pleasant bartender, and the music from the bar frequently drifts onto the beach, adding to the mood.
If you want to get away from the playful waves, Winnifred Beach provides solace and calm because of its serenity. Known for being free, lovely, and clean, people who prefer Winnifred love to lay back, chill, people watch, and even snorkel thanks to the corals nearby. The shade provided by the lush trees further inshore is a perfect spot to relax and basically do nothing. You can also go horseback riding along the beach and participate in a variety of other land and water activities.
Often hailed as one of the most beautiful places on earth, Frenchman’s Cove is a dream come true, a part of the world where God took extra time to fashion. Characterized by a peaceful, bath-water-temperature lagoon, the immaculate sandy beach feels unique. It has a more tranquil beach environment than other parts of Jamaica. The tranquil stream that converges into the blue ocean is what makes Frenchman’s Cove so alluring.
Treasure Beach is perfect for those looking for an escape from the roaring crowds of the most popular beaches in Jamaica. This exquisite piece of nature is an off-the-beaten-path option for the younger crowd. The nine-kilometer stretch is a peaceful haven with both sandy and rocky areas. The sand is a mixture of light and dark colors, giving the scenery more depth. Treasure Beach is laid-back, with modest local vendors offering jerk chicken and other regional specialties from stands.
The thing you should know about Jamaica is that it’s not all about good music, and great beaches. If you explore around the island’s interiors you’ll realize that its beauty and landscape are as diverse and colorful as its culture. From waterfalls you can walk up to, rivers you can raft along in, and jungle-clad mountains you can explore. There’s more to Jamaica than most know.
Raft Along the Martha Brae River
Rafting the Marthe Brae River is one of the most popular things to do in Jamaica on a vacation. The river’s picturesque beauty and the atmosphere it provides are perfect to get you reacquainted with nature. Popular among couples, you can also expect to be entertained or serenaded by your guides, and expect some good reggae tunes.
Walk Up Dunn’s River Falls
At Dunn’s River Falls, near Ocho Rios, white water pours down a 180-foot (55-meter) staircase of natural rock stairs. Climb these stairs, stopping along the way to relax in natural ponds and shower in the foamy water of the falls. If scaling the falls isn’t thrilling enough, a zip-line circuit with seven zip lines and four hanging bridges is available.
Explore Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park
For its unique natural and cultural legacy, the beautiful Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park was included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2015. You can visit jungle-clad mountains, waterfalls, beautiful rain forests, and coffee plantations within its borders. The wildlife is equally spectacular. The park is home to over 800 indigenous plant species, 200 bird species, and the world’s second-largest butterfly. Getting around the park may be a thrilling experience in and of itself. Because the roads and terrain are rugged, especially after rain, 4WD vehicles and/or experienced guides are strongly advised.
The Home of Jerk
Reggae isn’t the only thing born in Jamaica, a popular food all over the world, the Jerk was also conceived on the island nation. Jerk is a method of cooking that involves marinating slices of meat and seafood in allspice and scotch bonnets and then smoking them over hot coals. You can expect to find all sorts of jerks on several of the island’s restaurants and street food stalls.
If you want to trace back the roots of this delicious Jamaican food, head to Boston, Portland. The jerk was first conceived and cooked for commercial sale in Jamaica was in the very city of Boston in the 1940s, years before reggae. Now, jerk in Boston is served in a variety such as jerk chicken, lobster, shrimp, fish, fruits, and natural fruit juices are just a few of the culinary delights.
The great Christopher Columbus never really did any mistake of declaring Jamaica as “the fairest isles the eyes have beheld” as you will soon learn that the island never has a shortage of appeals. From the most stunning beaches, fascinating interior marvels, rich local culture, and a people that are just as beautiful and rich as the island they live and love. Jamaica, in this sense, is more than just beauty that eyes can behold because the truth of it all is that it even goes skin-deep.
Which Is Better – Jamaica or Bahamas?
Jamaica is one of the Caribbean’s biggest contenders, and the Bahamas is the Atlantic’s, and while both are big-game players in the tropical holiday scene, each difference might settle some score. But in the end, whatever a decided tourist wants will always add points to how these destinations appeal.
The colorful and festive island of Jamaica is known for its uniqueness and fun, especially with a genre of music that has grown to be a well-loved aspect of the culture. You can expect to be entertained, inspired, and awed by the island nation’s appeals. Jamaica is best for those looking to have that proverbial island life, good food, good music, cool people, and even greater beaches.
The Bahamas is a classic sunny holiday destination, with all its premier resorts, and a slew of islands that each appeal to any type of visitor. You can lounge and bathe under the sun, and relax and be at peace basking in its ridiculous beauty. The Bahamas is best reserved for the classic well-traveled holidaymaker.
Are the Bahamas and Jamaica the Same?
Despite their seemingly similar draws and outstanding beauty, the Bahamas and Jamaica aren’t the same. These island nations are two of the biggest tropical players in the tourism world and have been constantly voted at the top spot by frequent vacationers for obvious reasons. The Bahamas and Jamaica are completely separated nations, not only bordered by the sea, but by a tight competition of the tropic’s best.
The Bahamas straddles the western North Atlantic, while Jamaica sits at the northern reaches of the Caribbean Sea. An island chain situated aright at the Atlantic, the Bahamas sits north of Jamaica further beyond the island of Cuba. Thus they are separated by sea, and no political and historical agreement binds them together.
Is the Bahamas Close to Jamaica?
One lies in the North Atlantic, while one is in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Jamaica is nowhere near each other. But then again, nothing is ever too fat for an avid traveler with a wealth of airline miles. The Bahamas sits approximately 767 km, or 477 miles north of Jamaica. Nothing dramatically far, and not too near either.
Is Jamaica or Bahamas Safer?
While both these destinations rank high up in the popularity index, there is still trouble in paradise. In this case, both Jamaica and the Bahamas, for the most part, are safe for tourists and the general public, however, recent years have seen a spike in violent crime. Jamaica is especially notorious for sexual assaults and the murder of tourists. The Bahamas, on the other hand, can be considered pretty safer than Jamaica. But that doesn’t mean that the island nation isn’t riddled with different kinds of crime.
You can practice caution and vigilance in unfamiliar places, evading questionable situations and people is common sense, and always watch your valuables. Petty crime is still king in the most famous tourist spots all over the world.
Is It Cheaper to Go to the Bahamas or Jamaica?
You can expect to have higher prices on both destinations as they are incredibly famous among tourists, especially during the high seasons. However, the Bahamas is the richest country in the West Indies, and third in the Americas. You can expect to be seeing a much higher cost of living here. As for Jamaica, travelers have concluded that you can get more value for a lesser amount here.
Family Vacation in Bahamas vs. Jamaica
It’s a bit of a draw between these two as Jamaica is cheaper but it’s more appropriate for young adult tourists, even though it is an all-inclusive resort capital. The prevalent crimes in Jamaica can also put a family with younger children at risk. The Bahamas is a tourist haven, ideal for families and friend groups, however, the drawback is that it can be pretty pricey.
Bahamas vs. Jamaica for Honeymoons
If you’re looking for a spicier honeymoon, filled with diversity, cultural highlights, and a whole slew of interesting marvels, Jamaica is the place to be. But if you’re up for a classic island getaway honeymoon, in probably one of the most beautiful islands in the world, The Bahamas is your best bet.
Bahamas vs. Jamaica for All Inclusive
Jamaica takes the spot as the All-Inclusive capital of the tropics. The island is speckled and teeming with all-inclusive resorts that can satisfy every woe of tourists, especially with all the highs and draws that Jamaica can offer. If you’re looking for a top-tier all-inclusive resort experience, book a ticket to Jamaica.
But that doesn’t mean that the Bahamas doesn’t have quality and up-to-par, all-inclusive resorts. In fact, the island nation is also packed with all-inclusive resorts that offer great packages that even include proverbial adventures around the country’s many islands.
Sandals Bahamas vs. Sandals Jamaica
Sandals have proven to be a worthy resort stay wherever it is in the Caribbean or the Atlantic. However, its appeal can still heavily rely on the locale. Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica ranks at the top of all Sandals resorts in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. With all the amenities, thrills, and perks of a classic Sandals resort on top of Jamaica’s appeals, Sandals Montego Bay is the most preferred by many Sandals patrons. The Bahamas can still compete especially with all of the Bahamas’ magic.