Your Complete Guide to St. Croix, USVI
By Rachel George
The Virgin Islands is a great destination for a quick getaway for two reasons: you don’t need your passport and the weather is beautiful year-round. It’s one of those places you have to experience, especially St. Croix, the largest island in the Virgin Islands.
Upon celebrating the 100th year since its purchase by the United States, St. Croix experienced one of the deadliest hurricanes to rip through the Caribbean. Despite leftover damage, residents have rebuilt local businesses and farms known for their fresh locally grown produce, meats, and seafood.
You can’t fully enjoy the U.S. Virgin Islands without first understanding its history. Located at the top of a hill is a breathtaking estate property that served as a Danish cotton plantation in the 1700s. It was later converted to a sugar plantation.
Although currently for sale, the property is a national monument open to the public for viewing, which includes a garden-style labyrinth offering prayer and meditation. Embark on a journey of self-reflection on a walking path created by the owner from local stones and coral, representing wholeness and unity. There’s only one way in and out of this sacred space of peace and tranquility.
The labyrinth was intended to heal “the wounds etched deeply into the human psyche under slavery,” according to a book by the owner Nancy Ayer. “We could not forget the fact that slavery prevailed here for generations—reminded especially by physical relics and iron shackles still fastened to the walls of the chamber with barred windows in the rum factory complex, the room we called ‘the Dungeon.’”
This three-story cosmopolitan building is an elegant boutique hotel in St. Croix’s historic Christiansted town full of modern amenities. The hotel re-opened last month after recovering from the hurricane. Learn about the history of the property, the island and those that lived nearby, such as Alexander Hamilton, in a daily historical newsletter.
The lobby’s mahogany essence is present in its furniture and brass bar railing, inviting guests to lounge outside of their rooms. Each room is decorated in a West Indies colonial style, with modern improvements, featuring a Jan Mitchell glass mural including Buck Island, Christiansted, and our Caribbean sea life.
Music, food, culture are all bottled in one at the family-friendly Agrifest. Enjoy local fresh grown produce, pet livestock, and enjoy the arts and crafts. Move to the sights and sounds of live entertainment and a variety of Caribbean music. Come indulge in the island jewelry, clothing, and food from vendors such as Isha ice cream and juices and Cultured Natural Body Care Products.
There’s no way you can come to St. Croix and not tour the only Rum distillery in Frederiksted. The name itself is reflective of the people of St. Croix – Crucians. Learn how to make signature cocktails the island way on a guided, interactive tour of the factory’s windmill. You can even taste the molasses used to make Cruzan Rum. To cool down, finish off with a complimentary mixed drink, “Don’t Hurry,” in their seated tasting area. You didn’t hear this from me, but you get two FREE additional drinks of your choice afterward. I personally recommend calling ahead to schedule a tour or visit. The distillery is still recovering from Hurricane Maria and currently operates on modified hours.
Go Snorkeling with Big Beard’s Adventure Tours
Ever dreamed of swimming with turtles or Finding Nemo yourself? Take a half-day sail to Buck Island Reef, another national monument, for a snorkeling experience to tell your friends about forever. There are trained lifeguards on the beach to assist with any swimming or snorkeling inquests. I wasn’t down there too long, but just enough to find Dory.
End the night with some 00’s music and good vibes at the newest dining spot in St. Croix, owned by master mixologist Chef Robinson. He puts a creative twist on locally sourced tapas, homemade liquors, beer, and wine. Each drink is handcrafted from the local farm fresh ingredients. The bartenders are friendly and welcoming and know exactly what you need, even if you don’t. Some call it the “best bar ever.”
Special thanks to the U.S. Virgin Islands for an amazing stay!