Saint Croix is the largest island of the U.S. Virgin Islands (82 square miles), and a territory of the United States of America. This island of rolling hills, rainforest, and picturesque towns is the home of approximately 60,000 people.
There are two towns on the island:
The towns have narrow roads and closely spaced historic buildings showcasing historic colonial Dutch architecture. Many buildings have no windows, but only the traditional wooden shutters which completely cover the opening when closed. Window shopping on St. Croix is thus generally not possible; it is necessary to visit shops when they are open. Given its small population, most shops in Frederiksted have short hours and many only seem to open when a cruise ship is docked. However, there are stretches of gorgeous public beach very close to the town center. Christiansted is slightly more lively; it has no beachfront but does have an active boardwalk and marina area.
English is the official language, although a local dialect "Crucian" is spoken. Spanish and French creoles are spoken as well, given St. Croix's history of migration.
Also, an occasional cruise ship docks at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted.
Despite being part of the United States, traffic in the U.S. Virigin Islands drives on the left. Roads are generally in poor condition, with frequent potholes - similar to the end of a bad New England winter. Drivers often either slow to around 5mph or swing into oncoming traffic when encountering the larger holes. Extreme caution is required to avoid collisions on hairpin turns in the mountainous areas. Some unpaved mountain roads require four-wheel drive, and some drainage ditches wash across the paved roads in the rain forest. There are generally no sidewalks outside of the two towns, so pedestrians and bicycles frequently travel along the side of the main road.
The fastest way to get between Frederiksted and Christiansted is usually to use the Melvin H. Evans Highway (USVI Route 66), which is a limited-access divided highway. Small and tourist-oriented retail shops are found in the two towns. Major retail and local versions of "big box" stores are concentrated on the slower Route 70 which connects the two. Signage is poor, and roads can have multiple names. For example, the main length of Route 70 is signed as both Centerline Road and Queen Mary Highway.
Both Christiansted and Frederiksted have merchants offering jewelry, liquor and souvenirs, but with atmospheres more genteel than in large cruise ports. For any items that benefit from duty-free importation, prices generally rival those in Saint Thomas. (See this same topic for Saint Thomas; most advice applies, though St Croix is seldom overrun by cruise passengers.)
St. Croix is rich with artists. Christiansted is home to many galleries including WATCH YOUR STEP owned by artist Diane Given Hayes, D&D STUDIO featuring works by Ted Davis and other notable artists, ISLAND BOY DESIGNS owned by jewelry designer Whealan Massciott (Kenny Chesney is a fan), the MARIA HENLE GALLERY and many more. A stroll around town will reveal these and many more treasures.
Local Flavors - The Cruicians pride themselves on their culinary flare. Local fish, goat, and pork are amongst their most varied dishes. Try the salted fish, stew goat, and pig "soup." Fresh seasonal vegetables are always available at road side stands throughout the year. The mango reigns over St. Croix's summer season, and is described as "the Queen of Tropical Fruit." In fact, an entire festival is dedicated to it-- Mango Melee.
Although Crucians still cook many traditional foods, St. Croix is rich in culinary variations stemming from the island's history and the influence of the United States and neighboring Caribbean islands, especially Puerto Rico. There is food for all tastes and occasions while local specialties are still held long in tradition.
St. Croix is home to a celebrated week-long culinary festival held each April called the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience which includes wine seminars, dinners with celebrity chefs (Kevin Rathbun, Rocco DiSpirito, Robbin Haas, Gerry Klaskala, Richard Reddington are just a few who joined the fun) and the main event, A Taste of St. Croix, showcases foods from more than 50 of the islands restaurants.
For a listing of restaurants on the island see . Great local food can be found at Harvey's(stew goat), Singh's (roti) and Norma at the Domino Club in the rain forest always has something cooking.
For fine dining, try Tutto Bene, Case Place, Bacchus, Savant and The Galleon. Rumrunners, located on the waterfront at Hotel Caravelle is perfect for casual, fun dining. They do a great blend of local and traditional American dishes and flavors.
If you want to catch what you eat, go fishing with Carl Holley. His boat, Mokojumbie, ties up on the docks near Rumrunners. he, in fact, supplies many restaurants with fresh fish daily.
Tutu Bene in in the Gallows Bay area of Christiansted is a local favorite for Italian cuisine. Also in the area is Case Place, with an ecclectic menu and nice atmosphere. Try Le St. Tropez in Frederiksted for authentic French fare, Villa Morales or Paquito's for Puerto RIcan food and Brady's in Christiansted for native fare.
On St. Croix, Cruzan Rum is made at a distillery that you can tour. Be sure to do the tour and participate in the tasting after! Cruzan Rum is available just about everywhere, but there are certain flavors (ie Clipper) that are not sold in the USA, so take a bottle back with you. In the seaside town of Christiansted is the Brew Pub which makes several good beers. And, when at local places or events, always ask if there is a local drink. Be wary of the home recipes (ie Mama Wanna) - they are STRONG!
As a vacation destination, St. Croix has a lodging industry that offers dozens of resorts and hotels, covering a range of service from economy through luxury 5-star. Resorts located along the shore and away from the metro areas almost always have private beaches. Hotels located in the two cities are likely to be limited to lodging and dining. Privately owned homes, ranging from condos to villas, are available for rent directly from owners on various websites, and may be a bargain especially if traveling with four or more people. One would want to exercise reasonable caution when renting in this way.
Almost all of St Croix major tourist resorts and hotels have packages which offer sailing, fishing, snorkeling, sightseeing, historical tours, and daytrips to Buck island National Park.
Two resorts offer golf packages on their own private courses:
Many of the major resorts offer wedding packages, honeymoon and family vacations, and various corporate meeting services.
It has similar risks to any large western city. Most of the crime in the "city" is occasional break-ins to cars, businesses, and homes, but hotels are typically quite safe and hoteliers are safety conscious.
When leaving St. Croix, be sure to carefully pack your rum in your luggage because you can't carry it on the plane with you. (See "Buy" under Saint Thomas for details.)
Also know that the islands are protective of the sea and wildlife. If you are taking shells or other natural things from the island, always ensure that you are following local laws and guidelines (e.g., you can take conch shells, but they have to be a minimum size), as well as national regulations for taking them back home.
Even better, take only photos of the nature and wildlife and leave the shells for the crabs and sea critters to inhabit.