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St. Croix

Virgin Islands Charm with Rich History

Destinations | Caribbean | US Virgin Islands | St. Croix

St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands isn’t just a beach paradise. It’s a Caribbean jewel with a rich history, culture, and natural beauty. In this St. Croix overview, we will explore the island and unravel its treasures.

Overview

St. Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, including St. Thomas and St. John, has a diverse geography. It’s roughly 23 miles long and 8 miles wide with a total area of 83 square miles. About 41,000 islanders live there (based on the latest 2020 census).

  • Eastern End: Arid and dramatic, Point Udall is the easternmost point of the United States. It’s marked by a distinctive sundial monument. This region features dry scrubland with cacti, yuccas, and rolling hills.
  • Central Plains: Once dominated by sugar cane plantations, the area is now a mix of cultivated and rolling plains.
  • North Shore: Christiansted, the former Danish capital, graces the north shore. Rolling hills lead to a charming harbor and beautiful beaches.
  • West End: Frederiksted, the “Twin City,” is on the west coast. It features Mount Eagle, the island’s highest point at 1,165 feet, offering panoramic views. Lush rainforests grace the western slopes.

St. Croix’s history is rich and complex, shaped by diverse cultures and powers.

  • Pre-Colonial Times: The Taino people lived in St. Croix for centuries before Europeans arrived.
  • Colonial Era: Spain and Denmark colonized the island, with Denmark establishing large sugar plantations using enslaved African labor. The legacy of this period is evident in the island’s architecture and cultural heritage.
  • 19th Century: Economic decline and slave revolts marked the century. In 1848, Denmark abolished slavery.
  • 20th Century: The United States purchased St. Croix from Denmark in 1917. Tourism began to develop in the mid-20th century due to the decline of the sugar industry.

St. Croix’s culture blends African, European, and American influences.

  • Music: Calypso, a lively, rhythmic style with social commentary, is popular. Crucian bomba, with African roots and drumming traditions, is also cherished.
  • Art: Folk art flourishes in St. Croix, with vibrant paintings and sculptures depicting island life. Visitors can find Danish colonial architecture, particularly in Christiansted.
  • Cuisine: Fresh seafood is a highlight on St. Croix’s menus, complemented by locally grown fruits and vegetables. Don’t miss “fungi,” a cornmeal-based dish, and stews with Caribbean spices.
  • Festivals: St. Croix hosts vibrant festivals throughout the year. Carnival, held before Lent, is a joyous celebration with parades, music, and dancing. Crucian Christmas Festival, in December, features caroling and cultural events.

Ready for some Caribbean sun? St. Croix is easily accessible by plane from the United States. Two airports serve the island: Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX) on the west end and Christiansted Airport (SPB) on the east. Major airlines offer frequent flights, making it easy to find a good deal.

  • Peak Season (December – April): Expect picture-perfect weather, dry skies, and balmy temperatures. Also, larger crowds and slightly higher prices.
  • Shoulder Seasons (May & June, September & October): These months offer lovely weather with fewer tourists and more affordable rates. The rainy season begins in June, but it’s usually short bursts of showers, not day-long washouts.
  • Off-Season (July – August): Hurricane season (officially June–November) brings storms and the island’s lowest prices. This could be your time if you’re a budget traveler willing to take a weather gamble.

Insider Tip: Plan your trip around Crucian Christmas (late November to January) for colorful parades and lively celebrations. The St. Croix Food & Wine Experience in May tempts with culinary delights.

Exploring St. Croix is a breeze. You have several options:

  • Rental Cars: This option is the most flexible way to get around. It allows you to explore hidden coves and secluded beaches. Just remember, they drive on the left. Take it slow at first, and be extra cautious at intersections.
  • Taxis: These are available at tourist spots and cruise ship docks. Negotiate fares beforehand.
  • Public Transportation: St. Croix has a limited public bus system. But it’s a budget-friendly option for navigating between major towns.
  • Guided Tours: Let a local expert take the wheel! They offer historical insights and can take you to off-the-beaten-path gems.
  • Currency and Language: The official currency is the U.S. dollar. English is the primary language, with Danish and Creole influences in the local dialect.
  • Cultural Etiquette: St. Croix is friendly and welcoming. Dress modestly at religious sites and respect local customs. A smile and a “good morning” go a long way.
  • Safety Tips: St. Croix is safe. Use common sense and be mindful of your belongings in crowded areas. Avoid going out alone at night in deserted places.
  • Health and Medical Facilities: Modern facilities are available on the island, and most doctors and hospitals accept U.S. insurance. Pack essential medications and consider travel insurance for peace of mind.

St. Croix offers more than just beaches. Explore its history, culture, and natural beauty. Venture beyond tourist attractions, connect with locals, savor the unique cuisine, and experience calypso music.

Embark on a fantastic yacht vacation in St. Croix and beyond with Charter the Caribbean. We are part of the CKIM Group, specializing in luxury yacht charter vacations worldwide.

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Hotels

St. Croix has a place for you regardless of your style or budget. Here are the types of stays you can enjoy:

Resorts

Choose a luxurious beachfront resort with all-inclusive packages, on-site spas, and gourmet dining.

Boutique Hotels

Immerse yourself in local charm at a character-filled boutique hotel. These properties boast unique architecture, personalized service, and an intimate setting.

Vacation Rentals

These properties offer you a home-away-from-home feel. Villas with private pools and ocean views provide families or groups with a relaxed and social atmosphere.

Finding Your Perfect Stay

Luxury seekers can find resorts around Christiansted and the north shore. Mid-range options are scattered throughout the island. Budget-conscious travelers can find guesthouses and vacation rentals, particularly outside the main tourist areas.

See & Do

St. Croix has a lot of attractions, from historical gems to natural wonders. Here are a few must-sees:

Christiansted National Historic Site

Step back in time at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore Fort Christiansvaern, a Danish fort from the 17th century. Wander through streets lined with colorful colonial buildings now housing museums, art galleries, and shops.

Buck Island Reef National Monument

This underwater wonderland offers top-notch snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean. Glide through clear waters filled with fish, coral reefs, and other marine life. Catamaran day trips take you to this protected haven, with pristine beaches and calm coves for relaxation.

Estate Whim Plantation Museum

Explore St. Croix’s colonial past at this restored sugar plantation. Learn about the island’s history, from Danish roots to slavery’s legacy. The Great House, restored slave quarters, and lush gardens glimpse a bygone era.

Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge

This sprawling refuge is a haven for diverse birdlife, from pelicans to brown boobies. Hike scenic trails, spot sea turtles nesting or relax on the white sand. Aim for a visit during nesting season (April to August) for the best chance to see these gentle creatures.

St. Croix offers stunning beaches for sun-seekers:

Shoys Beach

This secluded gem on the island’s East End outside Christiansted has calm, clear waters for swimming and stand-up paddleboarding. Lounge under palm trees or grab a bite at the beachfront bars.

Cane Bay

This beach on the North Shore, 5 miles west of Salt River Bay, has abundant coral reefs and marine life. Scuba dive operators offer adventures for all levels. After diving, relax on the white sand or rent kayaks for bay exploration.

Rainbow Beach

This beach on the island’s West End north of Frederiksted is perfect for families. It has calm waters, shallow areas for little ones, and plenty of shade. Rent beach chairs and umbrellas, or enjoy water sports like Hobie cat sailing and windsurfing.

St. Croix is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

Hiking

Explore the island’s diverse terrain. The Ridge to Reef Trail offers panoramic views, while the Salomon Trail winds through rainforests. Hike up the Buck Island Reef National Monument Visitor Center Trail for coastal vistas. For a leisurely stroll, explore the Botanical Garden or the historic trails of Fort Frederik.

Diving and Snorkeling

St. Croix has some of the Caribbean’s best underwater attractions. Experienced divers will enjoy Salt River Canyon. Beginners can explore the coral reefs at Buck Island Reef National Monument.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

Glide across calm turquoise waters and discover hidden coves. Christiansted Harbor’s sheltered waters are ideal for beginners, while experienced paddlers can explore the coastline’s secluded beaches and mangroves.

Climate

Sunshine seekers, rejoice! St. Croix has a tropical paradise climate year-round with warm temperatures and refreshing trade winds.

FAQs

Why should I choose St. Croix for my vacation?

St. Croix uniquely blends Caribbean charm, rich history, and natural beauty. St. Croix delivers whether you crave diving adventures, cultural immersion, or relaxing on beaches.

What do I need to bring with me?

Pack swimsuits, comfortable clothing, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and walking shoes. Proof of U.S. citizenship (passport recommended) is required.

What documents must I have to enter/leave the U.S. Virgin Islands?

To enter and leave the United States, U.S. citizens only need proof of citizenship. A passport or raised-seal birth certificate plus a government I.D. will do. Check the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations for non-U.S. citizens.

What will the weather be like while we are there?

Expect warm temperatures year-round with refreshing trade winds. Peak season (December-April) boasts dry skies. Shoulder seasons (May-June and September-October) offer pleasant weather with fewer crowds.

Will my cell phone work on the island?

Check with your carrier for roaming charges, but most major U.S. providers offer service on St. Croix.

Can I access the internet on St. Croix?

Yes, Wi-Fi is widely available at hotels, restaurants, and cafes across the island.

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