U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS  |  St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands Travel Guide
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St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Danish Customs House in Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (cc)
Photo: Aquaimages
 

St. Croix

St. Croix (Croy) offers a more traditional Caribbean vacation than does St. Thomas. It’s a place to unwind, relax and recharge your batteries. Where the pace in Charlotte Amalie is bustling and frenetic, that of St. Croix’s capital, Christiansted, is leisurely and laid back, and that of Frederiksted (the island’s second town) is almost somnolent.

Although St. Croix’s beaches aren’t as beautiful as those of St. Thomas or St. John, the island itself is physically beautiful. Its 84 square miles are green and fertile, with rolling hills rather than mountains, and the island is dotted with picturesque sugar mills – both in ruins and restored – as well as elegant Great Houses. In the early 19th century, half the island was covered by sugar cane plantations and over 30,000 slaves worked here. St. Croix is almost three times the size of St. Thomas, yet it has only a few thousand more residents.

As you drive around St. Croix (roads are paved and well maintained), you will be struck by the variety of foliage. While the island gets little rainfall, it has over 40 varieties of orchids and morning glories in addition to the tropical frangipani and bougainvillea. The eastern tip, which is the easternmost point of the US, is a virtual desert, with several types of cactus. In the northwest section you’ll drive through a rainforest, where the road is shaded by towering mahogany trees and vines. You can feel the temperature drop.

Christiansted, which was laid out in 1734, retains its Danish character and architecture, although part of the town was destroyed by fire in 1866. Small hotels and restaurants are abundant in the town and others are scattered throughout the island. They too reflect the unhurried pace and relaxed style of the Crucians (Croo-shuns). The island has a few gourmet restaurants and boasts an unusual number of interesting eateries run by an eccentric and fascinating lot. Al fresco dining and eclectic menus are the norm.

Beaches are only a short drive from either Frederiksted or Christiansted, while many of the resort hotels front their own beach strips. All the beaches are on the Caribbean Sea, perfect for sailing, windsurfing and snorkeling. No visit to St. Croix would be complete without a trip to nearby Buck Island, with its fabulous marked underwater trails for snorklers and reefs for divers. Reached by sloops, schooners, catamarans and even by glass-bottom boats, the island is only 5½ miles off the northeast shore.

Carambola Golf Course, set mid-island in a palm-lined valley with lakes and ravines, is tough. For a change of pace, play the course at the Buccaneer Hotel.

The topography of the island makes it ideal for horseback riding and for hiking.We recommend some excellent stables and hiking trails in the pages that follow.

Each town has a picturesque colonial area to explore and their waterfronts, which are beehives of activity, are integral parts of the town. A sightseeing highlight, Whim Great House, a museum set in a restored Danish plantation, is not far from Frederiksted.

St. Croix has a lot to offer, but it’s too low key to boast.

Last updated November 15, 2011
Posted in   U.S. Virgin Islands  |  St. Croix
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