Are you looking for a Caribbean family vacation destination where no passports are required for U.S. citizens? Well, U.S. citizens do not have to have a passport to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands. (You should still travel with your birth certificate with a raised seal and photo I.D.) I just got back from an amazing trip to St. Croix, the biggest of the US Virgin Islands. A big thanks to the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism for hosting me. I spent 5 days in St. Croix and I found that there are tons of things to do in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands whether you want to sit back and relax on beautiful beaches, explore the coral reefs, or immerse yourself in the culture and colonial history.
10 Things To Do in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
There are two things you should know before you go to the St. Croix to avoid faux pas or confusion- always greet the locals with a friendly salutation and drive on the left hand side of the road! Armed with that knowledge, go forth and enjoy your island time! St. Croix is a friendly destination for families and couples- plenty of attractions, not too crowded, easy to navigate, and full of romantic settings. The things to do St. Croix that I mention start on the west end of the island and work their way east so you can arrange to do things within close proximity to each other (although everything on the island is within 1 hours drive.)
1. Visit Frederiksted
Frederiksted is one of two main towns on the island of St. Croix. Besides having a beautiful harbor and beaches, you can get a glimpse of the island’s incredible history in Frederiksted. You can visit the red and white Fort Frederiksted, which was built in the 1750s. From this fort, Danish Governor Peter Von Scholten, emancipated the slaves on July 3rd, 1848 and right outside in Emancipation Park, you can see a statue of the slave revolt leader General Buddhoe. It is a peaceful park with a gazebo, benches, large Mahogany trees, beautiful flowers, and lots of birds. Some of the islanders refer to Frederikstead as Freedom City. We stopped for a bite to eat at Polly’s at the Pier and throughly enjoyed it.
2. Rainbow Beach
This is a small but very pretty beach. There are lots of water spots available- snorkeling, paddle boarding, and jet ski rentals. There was also a volleyball net set up and there is a happening beach bar and restaurant there called Rhythms at Rainbow Beach.
3. ATV Tour
We took an ATV tour with Gecko’s Island Adventures out of Frederiksted. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but they had 2 seater ATVs and we took a trip through some terrain that would have been too rugged to get to otherwise. The two guides led us on a path that started at Rainbow Beach and went up into the hills for fantastic ocean views of the island’s north shore. We also stopped at an old sugar mill ruin from the 1800s and rode down through the west end’s rainforest where we spotted some wild horses.
4. Mt. Pellier Domino Club- Beer Drinking Pigs
In the West End Rainforest you will find a hut where they serve up beer, and a special drink called “MammaWanna”- a liquor mixed with various herbs some of which are supposed to be aphrodisiacs.
You will also find that it is home of the (non-alcoholic) beer drinking pigs. I really didn’t know what to expect but these pigs blew my mind. It turns out you just hand them an unopened O’Douls and they take the can, crush it in their mouth, chug the beer, and spit out the can! You can see my video on instagram here. It really is a once in a lifetime sight!
5. Cane Bay Beach
On St. Croix’s northwestern side, Cane Bay Beach is known for beautiful white sand, palm trees, and crystal-clear water. This is the big beach for those interested in scuba diving. Cane Bay’s “wall” drops off from 40 to over 3,200 ft. This is a unique chance for scuba divers to explore coral gardens and large deep water sea life. We had dinner at Eat @ Cane Bay which overlooks Cane Bay Beach and it was both a yummy meal and a beautiful view. We took a walk on the beach after dinner and saw locals fishing.
6. Columbus Landing
The Columbus Landing Site at Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve is the only known place where members of Columbus’s expedition set foot on what is now U.S. territory. I felt like that was pretty cool and I imagined what that must have been like for both the Europeans and the natives as I walked on the very same beach myself. The Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve Visitor Center had artifact displays so you can get a peek into the life and times of the various Indian tribe that lived in St. Croix. You can also get a kayak tour through the bioluminescent bays (living organisms light up the water- like lots of tiny stars) which is amazing experience (though I didn’t get to do it in St. Croix, I had the pleasure in Puerto Rico).
Christiansted is a beautiful town on the water with many beautiful old buildings. Christiansted, once the capital of the Danish West Indies, has many buildings that were built with bricks brought from Denmark as ballast weights- the result is a very European feel set in a tropical paradise of sparkling blue ocean and and gorgeous red honeysuckles. While you could just wonder around at your leisure and read Christiansted National Historic Site signs, we enjoyed a detailed tour from Frandelle Gerard of Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT).
Our walking tour encompassed the grand neoclassic historic buildings in the town of Christiansted beginning at the waterfront with the Fort Christiansvaern and ending with the majestic present day Government House.
We learned about the rich history of St. Croix from the earliest inhabitants to the 7 European countries that flew their flags over the island. (Interesting fact- Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of the United States, was actually raised in St. Croix.)
Christiansted also has a lively art community with many famous jewelry shops, a glass shop, and art galleries. I stopped at Sonya Ltd. to check out her iconic Cruzan Hook Bracelets, IB Designs to see the beautiful Chaney Jewelry (jewelry made from unique pieces of china that have been found on the island dating from 1750-1900), and Joyia to see their inspirational jewelry. I also enjoyed wondering under the covered walkways and checking out the many boutique gift shops in Christiansted. You can also find some good food in Christiansted. One of my two favorite meals that I had in St. Croix was at the Modern Zion Kitchen in Christiansted- just delicious and with farm to table food.
8. Buck Island Reef National Monument
We took a full day sail on Big Beard’s Adventure Tours 42 foot Catamaran RENEGADE out of Christainsted over to Buck Island. I have to say that it was an absolutely amazing day- beautiful, relaxing, thrilling, and romantic. There is nothing quite as peaceful as gently drifting over the waves with the ocean air brushing against you with all around blue and turquoise waters. Then, snorkeling over the Buck Island’s barrier reef is full of excitement as you see huge schools of fish swimming right under you.
Buck Island Reef National Monument was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The Caribbean park is one of only a few fully marine protected areas in the National Park System! Though there was a lot of damage done to the massive Elkhorn and Brain coral in hurricane Hugo, the park is still home to 9 species of endangered coral. As our captain told us, do not step on or touch anything- there are no “rocks” out there- they are all living corals. I was so happy to hear him give this clear instruction because as someone who loves corals, I hate it when I see people degrade the natural habitat. So well done, Big Beard! I also thought it was pretty cool that the National Park System had put informational signs of fish to look for along the snorkeling trail.
We saw tons of tropical fish and though I didn’t happen to see a sea turtle at Buck Island, I know others have. We did spot all sorts of angelfish, grunts, smooth trunkfish, butterfly fish, squirrelfish, blue tang, parrotfish, yellow snapper, reef squid, a barracuda, a ray, and even a lemon shark!
9. Cramer Park
We drove by this beautiful beach on the way to Point Udall and saw tents up. Our driver told us that Cramer Park has all the amenities for campers including bathrooms, showers, and covered picnic tables. This beautiful beach for camping doesn’t even require a reservation and I was surprised how free from crowds this beach was.
10. Point Udall
Point Udall is on the most eastern tip of St. Croix which makes sense when you find out that it marks the easternmost point in the United States. There is a Millennium Monument which marks the first U.S. sunrise for the year 2000. You can get beautiful views every which way of beaches, hills, and even cactus.
I visited St. Croix in June and I was amazed that it was the low season because it is so picturesque year round. I hear if you go in January, you must catch the Carnival. Here is a link to an events calendar to help you see what is happening year round in St. Croix.
Besides the 10 things to do in St. Croix that I mentioned, there are many more that were suggested to me by locals and other island visitors. I was told about the amazing golfing at the Buccaneer, 2 rum distilleries to visit, Casino Divi, and the music scene. The island also has 235 sugar mills and 115 wind mills from the 1700-1800s. I got to see about 7 sugar mills while I was in St. Croix- my favorite was at the Buccaneer Resort.
I loved St. Croix- beautiful beaches, so much to do, and so much good food to eat! For more information on the United States Virgin Islands, visit www.visitusvi.com
Have you ever been to the US Virgin Islands? Ever been to St. Croix? If so, I’d love to hear about which St. Croix attractions you think are the best things to do in St. Croix.