About St. Croix
At 84 square miles, St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it's a truly spectacular Caribbean destination.
By Paul Mermelstein
The pristine beaches are known for their white, soft sands and the sparkling aquamarine waters provide some of the best conditions for snorkeling and diving to be found anywhere. The island's hillsides are covered in lush, green foliage, perfect for hiking and day trips. U.S. citizens don't need a passport to visit, and the island offers wonderful dining, duty-free shopping, perfect beaches, the best golf courses in the Caribbean and warm, friendly locals.
If you enjoy history, you'll love touring the fascinating remnants of St. Croix's history which are visible all over the island, including the fifty-four sugar mills. Sugar and rum became the island's main exports shortly after it began to be populated by Europeans over 500 years ago, and visitors can tour the mills as well as several beautifully preserved plantation homes, including Whim Plantation. As the sugar industry declined, tourism slowly took over, and it is now the island's largest industry. A visit to the island is not complete without day trips to both Christiansted and Frederiksted, St. Croix's two main towns. At one time or another, the flags of seven different countries flew over the island, and as you wander around the quaint streets, you'll be able to see tangible evidence of the towns' history in the beautiful architecture but the Dutch influence is by far the strongest. There's something about strolling among the pastel colored buildings, arches and cobblestone streets, the colors, the palm trees and the warm humid air all say "you are definitely in the Caribbean." It's lovely.
As tourism is now St. Croix's largest industry, it should be no surprise that the island boasts some fantastic resorts. The Buccaneer is one of the finest family owned hotels in all of the Caribbean. Though it's an absolutely modern property, The Buccaneer dates back to the 17th century. Only three miles away from Christiansted, this resort routinely wins awards for outstanding service and hospitality, and the surroundings are beyond breathtaking. You will delight in the sugary soft sands, crystal clear waters and lush green foliage. There's a beautiful golf course, a great tennis facility and several top-notch restaurants on site. The Buccaneer has three pristine beaches to choose from, and you don't have to go far for great snorkeling â€" simply walk into the bathtub-warm water and take a look around you! I greatly enjoyed dining outdoors while listening to the live music and admiring the sparkling lights of Christiansted in the distance.
Another great option is The Carambola Beach Resort, located on St. Croix's North Shore. Currently in the middle of $20 million renovations, Carambola is adding new luxury suites which are going to be outfitted with granite and marble. Each of the suites is just over 560 square feet and they can accommodate up to four people. Golfers will love the outstanding and well kept golf course, and if you're into diving, you'll be please to know that the resort is only 10 minutes away from where the dive boars depart from every day. The resort offers a great 8 day, 7 night diving package that is well worth the money.
If you're looking for a smaller property - that would be absolutely perfect for intimate weddings - I'd recommend the Clairmont Mill. It's a private villa rental, with beautiful, authentic Caribbean style. Also located on the North Shore, the villa was built around what used to be an old stone windmill on a sugar plantation â€" it was recently featured in an issue of Architectural Digest. There are only five, beautifully appointed bedrooms in the villa, and you will be treated to friendly, professional service during your stay. The feedback that I have received from wedding parties booked into this villa has been extraordinary.
While in St. Croix, definitely take the time to leave your resort to sample what Christiansted and Fredricksburg have to offer. Kendricks is a well known restaurant in the heart of downtown Christiansted, located in the historic Danish Quin House complex. The cuisine could be described as French, but it's fairly international as well. Try the Alaskan King Crab cakes for an appetizer and any of the local fish offerings for an entrÃ©e. When making a reservation, request a table in the courtyard, it's such a beautiful setting.
If you're looking for a quick bite to eat at a casual place, you have to make your way to Cheeseburgers in Paradise. This place is a virtual institution in St. Croix and it's a must for visitors to the island. Reservations are not necessary here. You'll sit outdoors underneath large tarps. The huge burgers are frankly a taste of paradise themselves, but the chicken and fish sandwiches are great too. It's only about ten minutes from Christiansted, and well worth the trip.
Another great place for a fun night out on the town in Christiansted is Salud Bistro, which just won the 2008 Wine Spectator Award. Very few Caribbean restaurants have been honored with this award, so Salud Bistro is a must-visit for wine lovers! The wine list features old and new selections from all over the world. The Mediterranean food is wonderful here as well. It's great fun to sample a variety of dishes from the appetizer menu such as the escargot and the tapas platter, and the drinks here liven up any evening. Definitely try to stop by on a Friday night â€" there are live flamenco guitar performances!
There are so many things to see and do during your stay on St. Croix â€" but if you have to choose only one, sign up a tour of Buck Island National Park. It's St. Croix's most popular tour, and once you've been, you'll see why. Buck Island is a 176-acre island with protected coral reefs. The sea life and plant life just under the water's surface is absolutely spectacular. Both snorkelers and divers can easily view the yellow, purple and green corals as well as beautiful parrotfish and angelfish and the waters are incredibly clear. There's an underwater snorkeling trail which shows you where various coral formation are. Half-day and full-day tours are offered, but the full-day tours really give you a feel for the astonishing amount of biodiversity which exists in this fragile area. Plus, you'll have more time to relax on the powdery beach in between snorkel outings and scuba dives!
Of course, there's plenty of above-water action to explore as well, and if you're up for some fun nightlife, tickle your gambling itch at St. Croix's lively Divi Carina Bay Casino, which is active with locals year round. During the high season, you'll be able to enjoy live music nightly.
St. Croix is a great choice for every type of vacation, whether you're visiting for a honeymoon or wedding, with the family or just because. The island's remarkable beauty and relaxed pace ensure that first-time visitors soon become regulars.