Simply St. Croix

This island is the place for simplicity and the good life.

By: Eleanor M. Wilson

ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands Travel agents unfamiliar with the Caribbean can think of the U.S. Virgin Islands as the “Eastern Hawaii,” and St. Croix as “the Big Island.” At 84 square miles, it’s almost three times larger than St. Thomas.

Laid back but active, St. Croix has rolling hills, cattle farms, a rain forest, twin towns and white sandy beaches. This is the ideal place to send honeymooners, water sports and nature enthusiasts, history buffs, families and couples looking for relaxation.

The United States bought these islands from Denmark in 1917, and St. Croix still maintains its Danish influence.

At school functions and public events, adults and children in traditional costume often perform the Quadrille, a type of square dance that imitates plantation balls. Emancipation Day celebrates the date in 1848 when the Danish governor freed the slaves on the steps of Fort Frederik well before emancipation happened in the States.


To give tourists a closer look at what makes St. Croix so special, the public and private sector joined to form the “Heritage Trail.”

This island route with no beginning or end was designed to be traveled by foot, car or tour bus in sections according to theme. For instance, you can follow the route that points out historical markers, or the one that examines the island’s flora and fauna. A well-designed map leads visitors to interesting sites and highlights corresponding explanations and photos. The island’s trademark sugar mill symbol directs trail-goers to attractions such as the St. George Botanical Garden on a former Arawak Indian site, or to the Cruzan Rum Distillery for samples.

Other activities include a walking tour of Christiansted or Frederiksted, paddling a kayak through the Salt River National Park mangroves or taking an eco-themed bicycle ride along the west coast.

Visitors can also dive the many walls and drop-offs that surround the island. One popular activity is a sailboat cruise to Buck Island, which can be booked either through a hotel or from one of the companies represented near the wharf. Clients will never forget snorkeling the Underwater Trail National Monument, which has directional markers and signs marking points of interest along the sea floor. Most boats supply snorkel gear, and various day cruises are available.

Of course, because U.S. citizens are allowed $1,200 in duty-free merchandise, shopping can feel like the national pastime here. Island-made items fashions, perfume, preserves, jewelry, art are customs-exempt.


The absence of high-rise hotels contributes to St. Croix’s laid-back label. In fact, only three resorts have more than 100 rooms 150 at Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino, 144 at Carambola Beach Resort and 138 at The Buccaneer. But that’s about to change.

St. Croix has exclusive USVI rights to build casinos, but a hotel must have at least 250 rooms to qualify. Divi is expanding to 203, getting under the wire on an earlier minimum. Carambola will add 250, and two new resorts are seeking permits, both for South Shore locations. One plans an 18-hole golf course, the island’s third.

The Buccaneer hotel, a family-run landmark, overlooks Christiansted Harbor. Accommodations run from lavish beachfront suites to junior suites, tennis cottages and hillside rooms. There are three beaches, a spa, fitness center, golf, several dining and bar locations and stunning views in all directions.

Carambola Beach Resort, under new ownership, returns to a full-service hotel following Sunterra’s timeshare experiment. Secluded on the edge of the rainforest, it’s surrounded by the sea, a golf course and luxury villas. Rooms are furnished in local mahogany and have a private living-room porch.

Divi Carina Bay, on St. Croix’s remote east end, has rooms opening right onto the beach, great snorkeling offshore and the island’s only casino down the road. Villa rentals, a popular option, come in all sizes, prices and locations. Several companies handle arrangements prior to arrival and during your clients’ stay.

Cozy small inns, from five to 16 rooms, promote a more personalized vacation experience. They offer homemade breakfasts and dinner options, along with sightseeing suggestions. Special niches range from dive packages to customized weddings, plus an executive retreat.