This Caribbean island has beautiful beaches, boutique hotels and amazing scuba diving

Point Udall in St. Croix US Virgin Islands

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At just 84 square miles, you’d think St. Croix would fly under the radar. But in the US Virgin Islands, those miles add up to make it the largest island in the archipelago. And every square inch is brimming with something special for visitors. So bookmark this page for your next trip to Sainte-Croix to remember all you should see, do and explore on the island paradise.

Getting to Sainte-Croix

Sainte-Croix is ​​relatively accessible to US-based travelers. Several leading airlines (American, JetBlue, Spirit, and Delta) operate nonstop flights from major gateways like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, and Atlanta. Perhaps most convenient for this group of travelers is the fact that Americans do not need passports to enter, as the island is unincorporated US territory.

However, Americans will notice one major difference upon landing: locals drive on the left. But the transition is easy, thanks to “Keep Left” road signs and stickers prominently displayed in rental cars and road signs providing helpful reminders along the way.

History and culture of Sainte-Croix

While on the island, visitors may spot several different flags swaying in the breeze, including the Dannebrog, the national flag of Denmark. It is a remnant of the island’s colonial past, before the purchase by the United States and its transition to power in 1917.

The culture of the island is a deep combination of African, European, Caribbean, Native Caribbean and Taino and American heritages. It’s a place where storytelling and music can be found around every corner and square in the city, and it’s a good idea to stop, learn and appreciate what makes this destination and its special inhabitants.

Sainte-Croix’s Best Beaches, Hikes, Shops, Restaurants, and More

Frederiksted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

Frederiksted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

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Sainte-Croix attracts a wide range of adventurous and culturally curious travelers. The island’s twin towns, Christiansted to the east and Frederiksted to the west, offer a wealth of shopping, fine dining, art and historical attractions.

Fort Frederik in Frederiksted is historically significant from an Afro-conscious perspective. It was here, in 1848, that the proclamation freeing all enslaved Africans in the Danish West Indies was made. A bust commemorating General Buddhoe, a former slave who led the insurgency that proved crucial to winning emancipation, stands just outside the fort’s weathered red walls. Other historic Frederiksted attractions include the Estate Whim Great House and Museum (the only sugar plantation museum in the Virgin Islands) and the Lawaetz Museum.

Danish Customs House in Fort Christiansvaern Park in downtown Christiansted, VI

Danish Customs House in Fort Christiansvaern Park in downtown Christiansted, VI

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Christiansted is also home to several centuries-old attractions. Fort Christiansvaern is the centerpiece of Christiansted National Historic Site, a collection of carefully restored Danish colonial structures dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

However, Christiansted’s greatest draws are arguably the shops and restaurants. Here, exciting foodie adventures and once-in-a-lifetime shopping await at cafes, restaurants and shops housed in distinctive structures drawn from the past.

Top restaurants in the area include Savant, Café Christine, Galangal and Rum and Wine Bar Restaurant. Meanwhile, savvy shoppers eager to collect one-of-a-kind keepsakes won’t want to miss Sonya’s, home of St. Croix’s original crochet bracelet. Crucian Gold and ib Designs are also great at producing fine handmade jewelry born and bred on the island.

Far from the Twin Cities, St. Croix’s beaches, hiking, championship golf courses, snorkeling, and scuba diving options fill days with thrills that keep travelers coming back for more.

View from Goat Hill hike with lush native vegetation in the rolling landscape and seascape of the Caribbean Sea in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

View from Goat Hill hike with lush native vegetation in the rolling landscape and seascape of the Caribbean Sea in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

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For stunning views, get to work with a hike up Goat Hill, where you’ll appreciate the full expanse of the island stretching westward and the most easterly point in the United States, Point Udall to the east.

The Jack and Isaac’s Bay Preserve under Goat Hill allows travelers to combine hiking and beach walks into one rewarding adventure. Low-impact trails lead to secluded, unspoiled beaches lined with sugar-white sand, lush trees, and, thankfully, little else.

Additional hiking trails are also available at Buck Island, a small uninhabited island just off the northeast coast of St. Croix. Buck Island and its surrounding reef and waters are within Buck Island Reef National Monument, a protected natural environment managed by the US National Park Service. Hiking adventures here are a boon for birdwatchers or anyone looking to commune with nature in peace and quiet. A scuba diving trail along Buck Island Reef makes it easy for visitors to learn about the corals and sea creatures that inhabit these protected waters.

Several tour operators offer half-day or full-day trips to Buck Island. Chief among them is Captain Carl of Buck Island Charters. The family charter business offers a non-motorized full sail experience of Buck Island aboard trimaran sailboats.

Peacock flounder at Cane Bay in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

Peacock flounder at Cane Bay in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

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For divers, nothing beats the fun at The Wall at Cane Bay. One of the world famous dive sites, The Wall descends to depths of over 13,000 feet. The deep waters here are teeming with unusual wildlife and coral formations.

The best resorts in Sainte-Croix

The main hotels and resorts on St. Croix are a bit different from those found on other Caribbean islands. Instead of large all-inclusive properties and familiar international brands, hotels in St. Croix are generally smaller and more intimate. Often they echo the rich history of the island. And many of the newer hotels are actually updated, reimagined versions of older, historic properties.

The Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort

Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort really has it all: a superb 18-hole championship golf course, modern tennis facilities, a full-service spa, multiple dining options, three beaches and a range of sports facilities nautical. The estate was founded in 1653, when the Knights of Malta controlled Sainte-Croix. Historic remnants of the old plantation, like the sugar mill that straddles the hotel’s main lobby entrance, remain on the grounds. The property was converted into a hotel in 1947, earning the Buccaneer the distinction of being the oldest family-run property in the Caribbean.

Society House Hotel

The exterior of the Company House hotel at night

The exterior of the Company House hotel at night

Courtesy of Company House Hotel

Nestled in the heart of downtown Christiansted, the historic Company House Hotel is a comfortable, freshly renovated oasis of sophistication based on simplicity. A somewhat secretive grotto pool and sleek mahogany lobby bar serve as two main gathering points. There is no restaurant, although this encourages guests to seek out the many fantastic eateries that have recently elevated Christiansted to a culinary mecca in the area.

The Fred

The most stylish hotel to open on St. Croix in a generation, The Fred sits on the waterfront of its namesake town, Frederiksted, on the west coast of the island. A former private residence, the structure of the property dates back to the 18th century. The chic pool, elevated deck, party-sized Jacuzzi, half-moon bar, and boardwalk above the beach are all new additions to the building.

Feather Leaf Inn

Exterior view of the Feather Leaf Inn

Exterior view of the Feather Leaf Inn

Blake Floyd Gardner / Feather Leaf Inn

What’s old is new again (and much improved) at the Feather Leaf Inn. Formerly known as Estate Butler’s Bay, the property is an 18th century Danish sugar cane plantation. Rather than glorify its dark colonial past, Feather Leaf draws on its agrarian roots, emphasizing healthy plant-based food and sustainable tourism. Much of the land is given over to the development of a seaside botanical forest filled with tropical fruits and herbs. As for accommodation, nine rooms are spread over three separate buildings. Each is 100% solar powered, distinctively styled and boasts stunning sunset views over a quiet, secluded bay.

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