Sometimes referred to as the “Big Island”, St Croix is the largest territory in the U.S Virgin Islands. Covering an area of 22.7 miles with scenic nature reserves it is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and has a population of 55,000 residents.
Known for being a ‘tropical paradise’, St. Croix offers dozens of pristine beaches and is located around 35 nautical miles south of St. Thomas, and 95 nautical miles from St. Martin.
Anchoring at St. Croix
The island is ideal for sailors as there are multiple marinas to choose from, and 50 free moorings that don’t require a permit; however, they are for daytime use only and no vessels over 60ft are allowed.
The designated Mooring and Anchoring Areas for St. Croix are:
- Christiansted Harbor
- Schooner Channel
- St. Croix Marina and Boatyard
- Protestant Cay
- Frederiksted Harbor
- Buck Island
- Salt River
- Teague Bay
Restrictions on anchoring are common when sailing to St. Croix. It is important to note, there is a 3 hour limit for the use of the free moorings, and overnight use is NOT permitted in order to protect the fragile coral reefs that surround St. Croix.
Visitors must do their research on the restrictions and permits when planning a yacht trip to the island. The mooring permit applications and fees can be submitted to DPNR, Division of Environmental Enforcement. However, sailors are advised to have accurate and up-to-date charts so that safe navigation is ensured around the fragile reefs.
Due to the long detour that is involved, St. Croix is one of the least visited destinations in the U.S Virgin Islands for yachtsmen and yacht charters. However, the trip is very much worth it for those willing to explore St Croix’s rich culture and numerous coves.
Reasons to Visit St. Croix
With its welcoming and friendly residents and cultural activities, the ‘Big Island’ offers a great atmosphere for all visitors. Sailors will particularly enjoy its numerous, uncrowded anchorages and free moorings.
Surrounded by scenic coral reefs that are best explored by boat and beautiful natural reserves as well as the three dozen beaches on offer such as Cane Bay Beach, Buccaneer Beach, and Carambola Beach Resort – St. Croix provides for a beach lovers paradise. Yacht charters will love discovering the ‘hidden gems’ around the coastline for private moments of leisure and relaxation.
A tropical paradise, the intense heat is balanced by the cooling tradewinds which create a perfect destination for yacht charter holidays and beach lovers.
One of the most popular beaches on the island due to the charming ‘Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort‘, visitors that arrive here, will find themselves surrounded by a picturesque landscape. Three stunning beaches are located within the premises ideal for sunbathing, snorkelling and diving. It can be easily reached from Christiansted as it is just a short 10 min drive away from the town.
Commonly known as the hang-out location for locals and families with children, island travellers will experience a true sense of Caribbean hospitality here. Cane Bay also offers plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars to discover. If you are looking for a top location for diving and snorkelling, you will not be disappointed!
The beach is located on the northern shore of St. Croix and is around 5 miles west of Salt River, which is a significant ecological reserve.
The old Danish capital and largest city on the island is located on the northern shore of St. Croix. Christiansted is known for its beautiful architecture and historical structures, untouched since the 18th century during the Danish colonial era. Take a step back in time and explore the Old Danish Customs House at the West end of the seafront, Steeple Building, which dates back to 1753 and the Danish West Indie & Guinea Company Warehouse.
Here, you will find charming and interesting shops and restaurants to explore.
One of the most important centres in St Croix, Frederiksted is perfect for travellers that seek to discover the vibrant architecture, local arts and crafts and flavorful cuisine of the island. The town and buildings suffered great damage after the revolt of 1878 and has subsequently kept the Victorian-era style that came after. Amongst the historical buildings that survive and can be seen to this day, don’t miss the old brick buildings that were built by the Danish like the Customs House, Victoria House, and Fort Frederik.
This town is located on the west end of the island and is the only port on the island accessible for cruise liners due to its naturally deep waters.
History of St. Croix
St Croix’s extensive and deep history is one of the many reasons that visitors chose to visit this beautiful island. The Carib were the last of the Native Indians to inhabit the island and are mentioned in reports by Christopher Columbus when he visited the island in 1493. A fierce warrior tribe, the Caribs would continue to cohabitate the island after the arrival of colonizers until they were destroyed by the Spanish. Colombus initially named the island “Santa Cruz” which translates to “Holy Cross” – St. Croix also shares the same definition. For those who are interested in the history of St. Croix, the Columbus Landing Site can be visited at Salt River Bay.
The island is the only territory in the New World to have been colonized by 7 nations: Spain, The Netherlands, England, France, Malta, Denmark, and the United States.
After being colonized by both the English and Dutch in 1643, sugar became the driving economic force within St. Croix until the abolishment of slavery.
Territorial disputes are a common theme within St. Croix’s history. The Dutch were driven out, then Spain drove the English out, later the French had a successful conquest over the Spaniards, and then the Knights of Malta acquired the island in 1651. It was later resold back to the French West India Company in 1665 and the King of Denmark bought – what was at the time – the uninhabited island in 1733.
Visitors can witness first hand the well-preserved history of St. Croix at Christiansted National Historical Site and Fort Christiansvaern which highlight the colonial presence and throughout the island.
Things to Do
Visitors and yacht charters will find plenty of things to do in St Croix. While undoubtedly tourist-friendly, the influx of visitors has not affected the unspoilt and relaxed vibe of this island and you will find plenty of hidden and remote spots to relax without the crowds.
Don’t miss a visit to the natural reserves: Buck Island Reef National Monument and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Reserve. Here you will also find two bioluminescent bays located at Salt River Bay and Altona Lagoon, one of the rarest and most magical sights on earth!
When it comes to water activities like scuba diving and snorkelling, visitors will be spoilt for choice with numerous sights for underwater explorations, stunning coral reefs, and rich marine life.
St. Croix is also well-known for its rum distilleries and has played an important in the history and development of the island. You simply can’t tell the history of St. Croix without rum so make sure to visit the Cruzan Rum and Captain Morgan Distilleries to learn more about the history of the products. They are both located close to the airport and not far from Frederiksted.
For those wanting to practice their swing after being out on the water, St Croix offers two lush 18 hole golf courses at the world class The Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort and the Carambola Golf Club.
Where to Stay at St. Croix
Whether you prefer indulgent island resorts or intimate inns there are multiple places you can stay in at St. Croix to suit different needs and travel styles. Among the most popular options, The Tamarind Reef Resort, The Buccaneer, and Chenay Bay Beach Resort offer the best beach getaways, warm hospitality and world-class services.
If you are looking for something a bit more intimate, The Carringtons Inn is one of the best hotels the island has to offer for travelers located in Christiansted. Also, the Sandcastle on the Beach in Frederiksted has great views, excellent food, and tailors to different needs with its 5 room types.
What to Eat
A rich culture tends to offer rich food, and St. Croix definitely does that. Here, local and international chefs take advantage of the vast options of fresh seafood including pot fish, conch, wahoo, kingfish, lobster, and mahi-mahi – all locally sourced ingredients that you won’t find anywhere else.
There are also amazing food festivals throughout the year where you can get a better taste of the local cuisine such as the ‘Taste of St. Croix’, The ‘Agriculture and Food Fair’, and the ‘St. Croix Food and Wine Experience’.
Don’t forget to extend your mooring permit on the island if you want to explore all of its food offerings and diverse range of cuisines from Caribbean to West Indian street food, and exquisite fine dining at its country clubs and resorts.
Known as the best breakfast in St. Croix – here is where you’ll find a great brunch spot with fresh homemade food that includes, salads, breakfast foods, and sandwiches. Great coffee and friendly staff complete this wonderful setting.
Cafe Fresco is the number one restaurant located in Christiansted that only uses local ingredients and provides a friendly and casual meeting spot for the locals to get together.