May 22, 2017

Ultimate Guide to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

Ultimate Guide St. Croix US Virgin Islands





When I was little, I had an odd fascination with the Virgin Islands and tropical destinations in general.  It may or may not have had to do with the song Kokomo.  Cheesy, yes.  But you can't deny that those are some seriously evocative lyrics.  Tropical drinks melting in your hand?  Two for me, please.

St. Croix wasn't specifically on my radar, but Matt was researching the US Virgin Islands because of a budding interest in scuba diving.  It fit the bill because it's a little less touristy than some of the other islands (no cruise ship docks, etc.)  Then we heard about the deal where you get $300 in credits towards "cultural activities" when you stay with certain hotels (more on this later.)

So we booked our hotel, plane tickets, and off we went!


St. Croix US Virgin Islands


QUICK BASICS


+ A car rental is a must!  There's lots to explore here, and no way to get to all that good stuff without one.

+ Driving is on the left side of the road.  This freaked me out at first and I thought it would be much harder than it was.  Honestly, you get over it in a day or so.

+ No passport required if you are from the US!

+ You need bug spray.  There are flea-like bugs that like to hang out on the beach at night.  My feet and legs got absolutely thrashed by these guys, and I itched my way through the entire trip.

+ The tropical drinks are magic.  It doesn't even matter which one you choose.  Wherever you go, whatever you order, they will be good.  I went for Painkillers most of the time, which involve nutmeg and a float of Bacardi 151.

+ The Department of Tourism in USVI is offering a $300 credit towards activities if you book stays at certain hotels in Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, and Saint John.  I'll do another post on our experience with this in the future!


BEST BEACHES


+ Cane Bay- My favorite strip of beach!  There wasn't an abundance of crowds, nor was it deserted.  Everyone is just relaxing, doing their thing, and adding to the great vibe.  There are several restaurants close by and a dive shop right across the street.  Park off the road and bring an umbrella!

+ Jack's Bay and Isaac's Bay- These are the beaches you'll get to by hiking from Point Udall, the easternmost part of the island.  It's secluded and beautiful- you'll feel like you've got the place to yourself!  There are virtually no trees or shade, and the sun can be intense.  I'd recommend bringing an umbrella or beach shelter.  Also, be prepared for a small (but gorgeous) hike there and back.

+ Chenay Bay- Also the namesake of our hotel, it has a beach that's open to the public.  Come for a sunset stroll and dinner (the sunsets are out of this world!)   Their bar and restaurant has great food and the friendliest staff.  Ask for the "Bob Marley" if Kadeem is bartending that night :)

+ Rainbow Beach- Located on the west side of the island in Fredricksted, it's a bit of a hike from most hotels, which are in Christiansted on the east side.  It'll be about an hour drive there and back, but still definitely worth the trip, and you'll get to see a less touristy part of St. Croix.

St. Croix Beaches
US Virgin Islands Beaches


EAT AND DRINK


+ Cane Bay Eats- We couldn't get enough of this place.  The fresh tacos, delectable drinks, and stellar view kept us coming back for mere.  It's right across from Cane Bay beach, and this is definitely the place to go when you're feeling peckish from your day in the sun.

+ Avocado Pitt- Cute little diner in Christiansted to get your egg fix.  It's got exposed brick and lots of charm.  It's only open till 3 though, so plan for a leisurely brunch or breakfast.

+ Saman at the Renaissance Hotel- For the continental breakfast!  I came here by accident while Matt was scuba diving nearby.  Then came back twice more.  It's pricey, and resort-y.  But the food was fresh, the coffee was strong, and you can chill poolside after your meal.

Saint Croix Food
Virgin Islands Drinks

FUN ACTIVITIES


Hike Udall Point

Please do this!  It was one of the high points of our trip.  Green landscape, sudden clouds of butterflies, and the sound of breaking waves in the distance... this could be actual paradise.

The hike is easy, and comes with an amazing payoff... it leads down to gorgeous secluded beaches.  But you don't even have to stop off there if you don't want to.  Continue through the maze of tall grass to find other beaches and trails.

On the serious side, I'd recommend a hat and maybe even long sleeves.  The sun was brutal, and I ended up getting burned even though I was slathered in sunscreen!

Udall Point Saint Croix
Udall Point US Virgin Islands
Point Udall St. Croix
Udall Point Jack Bay



Hike to Annaly Bay Tide Pools

Lots of people do this hike by themselves, but I don't recommend it.  We got a guide through the tour company Bush Tribe.  I'm so glad we did!  If we didn't have someone to help us I would have turned right around, thinking it was impossible.

The hike itself isn't so bad.  But to get to the tide pools, you must climb around some treacherous and wet rocks.  Once you prove your amateur rock-climbing abilities, you come to a tiny "beach" area covered in very sharp rocks. (Bring water shoes. We didn't.)  The pools are enclosed by tall jagged rock, and the water is clear and aquamarine. You see fish swimming right up to examine your toes, and there are the tiniest little snails everywhere if you look close!!

Annaly Bay St. Croix



Christiansted National Historic Site

We spent a day exploring the historical area of Christiansted, where there are endless colorful buildings with Danish architecture.  It's both beautiful and sobering, as you realize the entire district is a relic from the 1700's and 1800's...  When sugar cane was the main export, and slavery was used to power the industry.

We were particularly interested in Fort Christiansvaern, which protected the island from intruders and pirates.  It's worth the $3 to gain access to the grounds, both for the architecture and the history lesson.

Saint Croix Historic Site
Saint Croix Custom House
Christiansted Saint Croix


Cruzan Rum Tour

We really wanted to do this tour, but it got squeezed out of our schedule.  Evidently we made a big mistake, because everyone couldn't stop talking about how awesome it is.  For $5, you get a tour of the distillery, a cocktail, and a rum tasting.  No reservations required... you just show up between 1-4pm!



Scuba Diving at Sweet Bottom Divers

This is basically the reason why we came to St. Croix.  Matt has been getting into scuba diving, and he got certified here.  We spent a lot of time here, and I spent a few days just lazing around on this beautiful beach while he dived.


Annaly Bay Saint Croix
Chenay Bay Saint Croix Virgin Islands
Saint Croix US Virgin Islands


Ultimate Guide to St. Croix Virgin Islands


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