St. Croix is the largest of the United States Virgin Islands – 28 miles long and seven miles at its widest point. The island lies entirely in the Caribbean Sea, with all the beauty and warmth of a tropical destination. However, it is this island’s distinct history and cultural heritage that set it apart from other Caribbean islands. St. Croix is rich in diverse history that remains alive in the architecture, national parks, historic landmarks, botanical attractions, food, music and traditions that are an integral part of island life.
Following are just a few of the island’s highlights and attractions:
Christopher Columbus’ Discovery
Explorer Christopher Columbus found the U.S. Virgin Islands during his second voyage to America in 1493, first landing on the northern shore of St. Croix, which he named Santa Cruz (Holy Cross).
St. Croix Heritage Trail
The unique influences of Danish, French, Spanish, West Indian, African and other cultures on the architecture and history of the island are evident during this self-guided driving tour. Visitors can follow the Heritage Trail map and visit 200 historic and cultural sights on St. Croix.
Estate Whim Plantation Museum
This beautifully restored, 18th-century plantation greathouse is a museum of Danish island history that also includes a sugar mill and gift shop. The museum features an immaculate collection of sturdy mahogany furniture and hand-carved mahogany artwork in traditional style that reflects the talent of St. Croix master craftsmen of yesteryear, and has since been reproduced for international trade.
Home to many talented local artists, St. Croix’s small art galleries and studios showcase beautiful paintings, period-influenced furniture, jewelry and arts and crafts. The famed Crucian hook bracelet and jewelry are designed with larimar, a rare Caribbean gem.
Once a working sugar mill when sugar plantations supplied molasses for the rum trade, the Cruzan Rum Distillery today produces a variety of delicious rum from sugarcane and only the purest, natural ingredients. Visitors to the distillery will discover the time-honored process of rum production and enjoy free samples of Cruzan’s distinctive line of flavored rums.
Quelbe & Quadrille
From the fusion of French and African cultural influences emerged the native folk music and dance of the U.S. Virgin Islands known as quelbe and quadrille. Quelbe (also called “scratch band music”) has a unique acoustic sound. Quadrille is a cultural dance still performed at traditional and cultural festivities on the island.
Visitors who are feeling lucky can head to the casino for gaming at the Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino.
Crucian Christmas Festival
Winter holidays are celebrated Crucian-style with a unique cultural experience of pageantry, music, food and dancing. St. Croix hosts this festival both in December and January of each year with much jubilation.
Buck Island National Monument
Located off the shores of St. Croix, Buck Island is one of only two underwater national monuments in the U.S., and the only one occurring naturally. Water enthusiasts can encounter tropical fish, coral reefs and exotic flora and fauna in a dramatic array of colors, during an unparalleled snorkeling experience through the monument’s 700 acres of protected national park.
Some of the best diving in the Caribbean can be found on St. Croix’s north side. Cane Bay Reef, Davis Bay and Salt River Bay are popular diving spots known for the 13,000-foot deep sub-sea canyon and steep diving walls. Divers off the coasts of St. Croix may also experience close encounters with rare species of sea turtles that nest seasonally on the island’s beaches.
The Buccaneer Resort features an 18-hole, par-70 golf course sprawling across much of the property’s 340 acres, and encompassing 5,810 yards of sloping fairways, deceptive bunkers and water hazards. St. Croix’s 18-hole, championship Carambola Golf Course designed by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones has served as the site of many LPGA tournaments.
During May, the annual St. Croix Half-Ironman International Triathlon attracts world-class athletes to compete in one of the qualifying races for the series of World Triathlon Corporation sporting events and the Ironman World Championship. Other sporting events like the St. Croix Coral Reef Swim also draw thousands of visitors each year.
Salt River, an ecological reserve protected by the National Park, is a natural wildlife refuge and a popular area for kayaking. Visitors can explore local plants and flowers at St. George Village Botanical Gardens. Guided hiking tours, bike excursions and water activities are organized experiences that are also sensitive to the environment.
The waters off St. Croix are renowned for world-class fishing.
St. Croix LEAP
The St. Croix Life and Environmental Arts Project (LEAP) recycles fallen mahogany trees into beautiful furniture and works of art.
St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport has a lengthy, 10,000-foot runway and recently opened an additional wing. The newest section of the east wing of the terminal houses a new baggage claim area and transportation facility, and serves as an air-conditioned lounge.
St. Croix’s Ann E. Abramson Pier
Located in Frederiksted, the Pier can now accommodate the cruise lines’ largest new megaships, including the 140,000-ton Eagle class cruise ships. The Pier’s recent $3.6 million enhancement allows two cruise ships to dock simultaneously.
For information about the United States Virgin Islands, call 800-372-USVI (8784) and visit http://www.usvitourism.vi. As a United States Territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require proof of citizenship from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.