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St. Croix Crushes - Our Top 7 Must Do's

St. Croix is a gritty beauty of an island sitting at the easternmost point of the USA.  One of three US Virgin Islands, the US acquired the gem in 1917 as part of a defense plan to protect its south eastern flank.  Prior to that no fewer than 7 countries flew their flags above the port of Christiansted.  It’s always fun to try and name the 7 - kind of like the Snow White and Seven Dwarfs quiz!  The one country most forgotten is the Knights of Malta.  The most influential was Denmark.  It was she who brought much of the culture, architecture, government and military schemes that formed the basis of what is contemporary St. Croix.  Still others, like Britain, left their imprint as well.  Crucians (pronounced CROOZjans) still drive on the left in cars designed for driving on the right!  Clearly a gift from the British!


Today, St. Croix celebrates the melange that makes the place so special.  Its spirit gets under your skin. Here are 7 reasons I can’t stop coming back.

 

Sailing to Buck Island

President Kennedy visited Buck Island in 1962 and declared the place a national treasure.  Now a national park, the island is accessible only by boat and offers a sweet snorkeling trail, lovely hill hike and pristine beach for swimming.  From Mauritius to Bali there really is nothing quite like this pearl.  Be sure to sail with Captain Heinz or his son Karl on one of their two catamaran’s.  They are the real deal.  No touristy stuff for those two.  Heinz has had his charter for over 55 years.  Departs out of Green Quay on the mid eastern, north side of the island.

 

Shop at Sonya’s 

Sonya Ltd.founded in 1964, was started by Sonya Hough and her husband David.  Sonya was a good friend of June Qualls, mother to Scott Qualls and one of the women who inspired Drinking Dresses.  Sonya is the creator of the original St. Croix Hook Bracelet, and as the shop tagline says they are “often imitated but never duplicated.” Sonya Ltd. has expanded their collection to include many unusual and original pieces.  Like Tiffany’s they will gladly repair and clean any of their jewelry - no matter how old.  They also create custom items. You will find the shop in Christiansted, at 1 Company Street, across from the old Steeple Building.

 

Eat at Cane Bay, North Shore

There are lots of super eating spots on St. Croix.  The Ridge to Reef Farm is providing more and more locally grown and raised ingredients to many restaurants (SALT).

Local and transplanted islanders are getting creative making vodka out of breadfruit (Mutiny Vodkaand cooking up dishes that use more native veggies, fruits, fish and fowl. They’re digging out regional West Indian recipes too, bringing them forward with new twists.  On the North Shore you’ll find a string of dining options ranging from fancy to fundamental.  Our favs include Spratnet Beach Bar, run by Calvin and his family. They serve the best conch fritters on the island. 

For the outstanding Painkillers check out Off the Wall  just down the road from Spratnet. 

On the fancy and special side, walk 10 paces from Off the Wall to AMA at Cane Bay. Here you dine in a grotto where the sea splashes just below your feet and the menu blends local goodies with the finesse of a French kitchen. 

Drive a Jeep and Visit a Pig

This island, while not volcanic, sports some pretty fun drives.  Steep terrain on the North Shore and western part of Scenic Road offer some fun excursions. Do be sure you have the right vehicle.  We’ve skirted the washboards and run off lanes in everything from vans to low riders.  We’d recommend a Jeep!  Be sure to cruise through the Rain Forest on Creque Dam Road (pronounced CREEKy).  You’ll see a sign that reminds “no internet, no cell phones, no road”.  It’s true!  At the western most end be sure you take a left and head a mile or so to Norma’s Mt. Pellier Domino Club.  Feast on a Roti of roasted goat and have a beer with her pigs.  Check out her Mama Wanna - a very special homemade Rum concoction that is sure to cure all!

 

Sunrise at Point Udall

Experience a sunrise at the easternmost point in the US - Point Udall. It’s a haul if you’re staying west of Christiansted, so give yourself plenty of time.  President Biden, who periodically visits friends on island, has been known to have a jog here to scope the sunrise.  There are fabulous beaches as well but they require a bit of a hike down and then, of course back up. Bring a picnic as there are no amenities on the Point.

 

Arts, Gardens and Parties in Frederiksted

On the westernmost tip of St Croix is Frederiksted.  One of my favs for beaches, relaxed fun and frankly, to meet characters.  The arts scene is super alive here with the Carribean Center for the Arts and the St. George Botanical Gardens at the area’s cultural core. Rainbow Beach  and Sandy Point as well as diving and/or snorkeling at The Pier attract a wide array of fascinating and interesting people from everywhere.  A friend once said “this town could be really ritzy if someone just gave it a coat of paint!” Not a chance. This was the locale of one of Grandma June’s best buds - Barbara McConnell who was famous for her in-home restaurant (we’re still not sure it was entirely legal), her singing dog and her tales of a missing husband who was apparently a merchant marine captain.  This 1977 New York Times story sums up why she was loved by June Qualls (aka Grandma June) and what makes Frederiksted Frederiksted 

Stay at Estate Belvedere

Once June Qualls decided to leave the island (1962-1988), we needed to sort another housing option.  We stayed with the Armstrong’s at the Buccaneer a few times and it was lovely but as our family grew and friends were interested in joining us in exploring the St Croix experience, we looked for a spot that could accommodate larger numbers.

Enter Estate Belvedere. This very special spot has become our home on island.  The new property manager, Somer and her growing family of island pups are on their game, taking care of nits, nats and guests with grace. It’s the perfect option for groups of up to 18 with a gorgeous gourmet kitchen equipped with excellent cooking amenities, 5 bedrooms with private en suite baths and kitchenettes as well as a little guest cottage with sitting room, bedroom, bath and kitchen.  All built on a former sugar plantation, the Sugar Mill and other buildings have been thoughtfully integrated into the whole experience.  Very special indeed.

So there you have it.  Our fave seven. Of course there are many, many more unique spots on this magical island.  This is just a taste.  Grab a Drinking Dress, a bathing suit, flip flops and a sunhat and you’re set.  Just go

1 comment

  • Oh, I loved reading this, Sherry. We have so many good St. Croix memories going back 50 plus years from when Tim’s parents were on the island.

    Lynn Peters

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