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Formed out from an ancient coral reef and volcanic activity, St. Croix boasts lush rainforests, striking mountains, gorgeous beaches and historic towns. The center of the island is home to dangling lianas, mango groves, mahogany trees, and exotic ferns. Rolling hills and pastures can also be found on the island, making it a diverse, thriving environment.
Hiking and exploring on St. Croix are two of the island's best features. You are sure to encounter some interesting plant and animal life on one of your hiking excursions.
At a mere 82 square miles, St. Croix is the the largest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Croix is located about 44 miles south of sister islands St. Thomas and St. John. And here's a fun fact: The East End of the island is technically the easternmost point of United States territory.
Note: St. Croix was severely hit by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The island has rebounded, and the New York Times reported on Nov. 25, 2018: “Cruise ship arrivals are back to pre-hurricane levels, all beaches are open and nearly all restaurants are back in business.”
On the waterfront just off Hospital Street in Christiansted, the Steeple Building was built back in 1753 and was the first Lutheran church on St. Croix. The full name of the building is the Church of Lord God of Sabaoth. It was deconsecrated in 1831, and since that time it has served as a hospital, community hall, bakery, and a school. Today it is a great place to take a tour and learn about the history and culture of St. Croix.
The marine life at the Aquarium is of fascinating and stunning proportion, with the "night creatures" showcase a particular highlight. The St. Croix Aquarium is a wonderful place for everyone, with a touch pond for the kids, and sophisticated exhibits for the older and more esteemed crowd.
Maintained by the National Park Service as a historic monument, Fort Christiansvaern is the best-preserved colonial fort site in all of the Virgin Islands. The fort houses the St. Croix Police Museum and featured exhibits on all kinds of police work dating from the 1800s up through present day. The fort is right next to the Steeple Building on the waterfront.
Freedom City, as Frederiksted is also called by locals, is located on the west end of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. It was named after Frederik V of Denmark, who acquired the Danish West Indies in 1754 from the French West Indies Company. Frederiksted is a small waterfront town that shows traces of Victorian architecture in the inner city.
Adventurous character is added by the historic Fort Frederik, a national historic landmark, which was built to fight pirate attacks. In 1848, this fort was the setting for a historic event: Governor General Peter Von Scholten declared the emancipation of slaves in the Danish West Indies after a slave revolt. You will find an art gallery and a museum in the fort. Frederiksted is framed by spectacular beaches. For example, Sprat Hall beach is a popular destination for gathering shells and swimming in calm waters.
Hiking on St. Croix is a wonderfully entertaining experience and quite educational. The Rainforest is a fifteen-acre parcel of land that contains some of the best hiking trails on the island. Visit the St. Croix Environmental Association located in Christiansted for all of the best scheduled hiking expeditions, which typically run from December through March.
Buck Island Reef National Monument, managed by the National Park Service, is a volcanic islet that is surrounded by coral gardens. The southwest and west coasts offer white-sand beaches and ample opportunities for snorkeling, with exotic plant and animal life residing within a single breath's distance underneath the water. The interior of this small islet is filled with cactus, pigeonwood, and wild plumeria.
Sandy Point beach is due south of Frederiksted and is the largest beach in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The waters here are calm and shallow, which make it the perfect location for snorkeling and family fare. This is one of the best places for an afternoon swim as well, because the soft sand bottom and tranquil sea is very conducive to relaxation.
Duty-free shops are plentiful within the few blocks around Strand and King Streets in Christiansted. And visit Folk Art Traders, located on Strand Street in Christiansted, to see nearly everything of artistic value that these Caribbean explorers have uncovered.
Indies has an atmosphere similar to that of a 19th century courtyard, and owner/main chef Catherine Plav-Drigger is a renowned Caribbean chef. The menu changes daily depending on what is fresh, with swordfish and lobster serving as house favorites. Comanche Club is a relaxed yet stylish environment with great entrees and salads with an extensive seafood menu, including specialities such as conch chowder.
The weather in St. Croix is pleasant year-round, but hurricane season occurs between June and November, so the winter months are usually the best times to visit.
Cruise ships dock at the Ann E. Abramson Pier at the Port of Christiansted on the northern shore of the island. The town of Christiansted is within walking distance and trips to Frederiksted, the largest city on the island, are possible by taxi or bus.
Buses are a terrific way to get around town in St. Croix. Every forty minutes, buses travel between the cities of Christiansted and Fredericksted, and the fare is only $1. If you prefer to take a taxi around town, you can call the St. Croix Taxicab Association to arrange for a ride. It is recommended to agree upon the total price with the driver before boarding the taxi. Look for taxis with “TP” on the license plates and a dome light above the taxi – these are the only cabs that are authorized.
In Frederiksted a taxi stand is located at Fort Frederik. In Christiansted taxi stands are on King Street near Government House and at Market Square.
Namaste Cafe, Queen Cross Street, Christiansted is open from 7am to 6pm Monday through Saturday and 8am to 3pm on Sunday
Documents: Passports required for Canadian citizens only.
Store hours: Stores are typically open from 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday.
Tipping: As a part of the United States, most service sectors (taxi drivers, waiters, etc.) expect a 10% to 15% gratuity for good service.
Dress code: Please respect local customs and do not wear swimwear anywhere besides the beach or poolside.
Safety: If you want to use a rental car to go around the island, make sure you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle to cope with the gravel roads.
Have you been to St. Croix? Please share a story, tip or discovery. What was the highlight?
ShoreFox contributed to this guide.
“People here will ask how your family is doing because they actually want to know. Return the favor and you're on your way — probably to the beach with friends. Like St. Thomas, this larger Virgin Island has English as the common language and easy immigration thanks to being a U.S. territory. But it lacks St. Thomas' greater tourist frenzy. Farms and rainforests make up much of the island, giving it a relaxed day-to-day feel, like a small town with seascapes.”
“While St. Thomas and St. John are clustered tightly with the British Virgin Islands, St. Croix sits alone, 40 miles south of its siblings. It’s a place apart, less touristy, more relaxed and quite a bit bigger than those two islands combined. Best of all, St. Croix still has a variety of large, diverse natural areas to explore.”
“On St. Croix I realized why locals urged me to rent a car to reach the National Wildlife Refuge on the western tip. With 2 miles of sugar-white sand, Sandy Point is one of the Caribbean's most unspoiled beaches. Sunset calls for drinks and inevitable tales of spotting the green flash at Rhythms at Rainbow beach, and dinner is pizza and cheap beer at the Lost Dog.“
“Do take an excursion to Buck Island Reef National Monument from St. Croix on a weekday. West Beach will be all yours.”