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                                                  St. Croix

 

Most of St. Croix's coastline is undeveloped.

 

View from Sandcastle

Casual dining at Breezes seen above


Beach at Cormorant Resort

 

Bacchus Restaurant, Christiansted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The "Blue Moon" Restaurant in Frederksted

 


Lawaetz Estate: A former sugar plantation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winged friends join our outdoor table for breakfast on the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The horses are trained in the gentle waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jack’s Beach, St. Croix

U.S. Virgin Islands

As the coconut butter melts aromatically over my tingling
skin, the tranquil beauty of this timeless place hypnotizes me.  
Bubbling white waves wash onto miles of a pristine palm-lined beach. 
Only a shallow coral reef separates the turquoise sea from the
limitless, azure-blue sky.  I nestle down onto my comfy terrycloth
towel and surrender to the soothing embrace of the silky,
cream-colored sand.   The penetrating warmth of the tropical sun
is subdued by the welcomed trade wind that whispers over me.

 

The entirety of St. Croix’s breathtaking coastline and inland
mountains plays host to a myriad of exciting vacation pleasures. 
A 90-minute flight whisks you away from Miami to this tiny
Caribbean paradise.  With about 50,000 residents, St. Croix is a
territory of the United States with so many mainland conveniences
that visitors immediately feel very much at home.

There are a dozen resorts on either end of St. Croix.  The luxurious
“Cormorant Beach Club and Hotel” is situated just outside the
picturesque town of Christiansted on St. Croix’s affluent northeast
coast.   Designed on six acres at the edge of Pelican Bay,
the Cormorant is an upscale all-inclusive resort.  Here for your
enjoyment are an Olympic size swimming pool, tennis court,
full service bar, Nautilus equipped workout room, open-air
restaurant and an extremely attentive staff.  Each of the 34
rooms and 4 suites has a totally private lanai perfect for sunning
au naturel
.  The Cormorant has at least a quarter mile of
oceanfront property with truly excellent snorkeling just offshore.  
Sailing, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving,  horseback
riding and golf are readily available nearby.

On the southern coast the “Sandcastle on the Beach” is just
footsteps away from the quaint seaport of Fredricksted.  The
Sandcastle is an intimate 28-room motel with a small pool and
sunning area right on the beach.  There’s also a clothing-optional
pool in a secluded part of the complex.  The beachside deck of
the Sandcastle is a perfect place to cuddle as you experience
St. Croix’s fiery sunsets.  Many of the rooms have kitchenettes
and seating areas perfect for hosting intimate private parties. 
Both the Cormorant and Sandcastle are top-notch getaways.

(View from ocean side restaurant of the Cormorant Beach Resort)

Here on St. Croix the blazing colors of spectacular
sunsets herald the festivities of the night.   One of
the toughest decisions you’ll make is selecting one
of more than 100 great places for dinner every night.  
St. Croix has as countless world class restaurants as
well casual beachside cafes.   As the outside temperature
drops, the island’s pace heats up.   Overcrowded watering
holes in Christiansted include the Cormorant Club and
the ever-popular Breezes.  In Fredricksted you’ll want to
check out the disco Reflections and the romantic verandah
upstairs at The Saloon.  You’ll find both the island’s
guests and locals to be more than friendly.  Connecting
with people is easy here in this laid back, upbeat
atmosphere.

As you might expect, St. Croix offers every possible water
sport imaginable, from amateur snorkeling to serious scuba
diving.   For the underwater adventurer St. Croix’s crystal
clear waters are teaming with colorful and exotic sea creatures.
 

Charter boats and any rental equipment you might need can be easily
arranged all over the island.   Buck Island on St. Croix’s north side is
an American wildlife refuge, renown for its Elkhorn barrier reef, which
supports abundant schools of brilliant parrotfish, blue tang, angelfish
and yellowtail damselfish.   


Along the deceptively peaceful coast of southern St. Croix more
than 20 spooky shipwrecks attract avid scuba drivers from all over
the world. 

On the island’s southwestern most tip called “Sandy Point”
are the protected breeding grounds for giant sea turtles.
Of course, with the ocean’s temperature being 82 degrees all day,
all year-round, who could resist a romantic midnight swim beneath
the shimmering canopy of a star-filled sky?
 

(Divi Carina Bay Resort)

Aquatic activities are hardly the only recreation here on St. Croix. 
Allow yourself plenty of time for sightseeing.  The best way go
get around is to acquire an inexpensive car rental.   (Jeeps are
great for the open-air thrill, but totally unnecessary. The roads
on St. Croix ironically are in better condition than most in the States.)

You’ll probably want to start your island adventure in Christiansted
on Gallows Bay.  The main historic district of this Danish built hamlet
is only eight blocks long and five blocks wide.  The two and three
story brightly painted buildings with their distinctive shuttered windows
have stood defiantly since the late 1700’s.  The city’s centerpiece is
the regal Caravelle Hotel along a boardwalk that gently skirts the
harbor’s edge.  Boutiques and sophisticated shops abound, where
you can marvel over golden, jewel-encrusted masterpieces as well
as unique handicrafts created by local artisans.  The West Indies has
always been known for the 18K gold “Bangle” bracelet, worn here as
much by men as by women.  Most venders give hefty tax-free discounts.

Along the waterfront guys and gals hang out at Stixx, where icy
afternoon libations are laced with the infamous, over proof Cruzan
Gold Rum.  The faces in this lively establishment reflect the island’s
tremendous ethnic diversity of the people who settled here from East
India, Africa, Latin America, Puerto Rico, France, Denmark and the
United States.   As an energizing mix of rock, Caribbean soul and
Latin salsa plays on, friends, new and old, mingle freely at this funky
seaside Mecca. 

The Visitor Center on the King’s Alley has easy-to-read walking
maps that guide you through rustic back streets, through hidden
courtyards and along shaded pathways to majestic structures like
the Government House with its handsome staircase and portico. 
Not to be missed is the colorful outdoor market, where island farmers
offer their mangos, papayas and other tasty tropical fruits fresh every day. 
Overlooking all this activity, the formidable Fort Christiansvaern
with its impressive iron cannons seems to still stand guard,
denying it’s present status as St. Croix’s most comprehensive
maritime museum. 

Whether by bike or car, you’ll want to follow Route 82, which meanders
eastward along a breathtakingly rugged coast.  It’s fun to poke around
the grounds of the exclusive resorts, such as the Buccaneer, the
Tamarind Reef and Chenay Bay Hotel that lie perched above this
immaculate shoreline. 

(Sunterra Resort offers timeshares and condominiums of the lei side of the island)

As if hiding like the pirate ships of long ago, luxury sailboats
 lay anchored in secluded bays.  The point at which Route 82
becomes East End Road is marked by meticulously manicured
park and eighteenth-century windmill, one of more than one
hundred scattered throughout the island.   It’s along this narrow,
winding road that you’ll make the bewildering discovery of a
surreal giant dish antenna- some 82 feet in diameter.  Snuggled
at its base is an extraterrestrial listening station of the National
Science Foundation.  Knowledgeable docents happily provide
tours of this mysterious place, one of ten such installations in
the United States which interconnect to search for signals from
life in outer space.

Nearby is one of St. Croix’s architectural treasures, the
prestigious Villa Madeleine.  On a hillside with unsurpassed
panoramic view of the island’s north and south sides the Villa
Madeleine was a plantation estate great house. From the windows
and precarious balconies of this hilltop palace are sweeping,
unobstructed vistas of the turquoise Caribbean Sea. 

Today the Villa’s sumptuously appointed rooms are the cozy
dining areas of this gourmet restaurant that has received countless
international awards.   Featured here are fresh Wahoo, yellow tail
snapper, takati tuna, mahi-mahi and lobster.  The side dishes like
the chilled mango-papaya soup and broiled mushroom caps stuffed
with conch are simply unforgettable.

At the eastern tip of St. Croix are Sugar Loaf Hill and Point Udahl. 
Yet another surprise awaits here: the intriguing Millennium Monument. 
This open stone structure, which purposely echoes the enigmatic
feeling of Stonehenge, was constructed as a commemorative.  It
remembers  the first sighting of the rising sun in a United States territory
in the Western Hemisphere on the morning of January 1, 2000. 
If you take some time, you can actually figure out how the quirky
columns somehow function as a giant sundial.  

As I  turn around and head back westward, I soon to approach
the colossal Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino.  Newly opened,
this resort complex caters unabashedly to the genuinely rich and
famous.  Room rates at the hotel start at four hundred dollars a night! 
High rollers from around the world gravitate to this extravagantly
opulent center for gaming.

St. Croix’s western side equally matches the excitement of its
eastern end.  Rustic Fredericksted with its Victorian gingerbread
buildings is the area’s commercial hub and the island's only
deep-water seaport for holiday cruise ships.  The tourist area
along the waterfront, some seven blocks long and four blocks wide,
is generally quiet during the day with bargain hunters leisurely
shopping amongst its nooks and crannies. At nighttime, however,
this honky-tonk place springs alive.  Musicians tumble into the
streets and six or seven different combos break out into their
intoxicating Caribbean rhythms.  Street vendors with their outrageously
colorful carts and brightly hanging lanterns emerge from seemingly
everywhere.  Bar B Q’s are fired up and the smoky aroma of
garlic-roasted chicken drifts through the boisterous crowd. 
Every other Wednesday, the streets are off limits to vehicular
traffic for Harbor Night.  That’s when you’re most likely to see
the capricious giant “Moko Jumbies” saunter about on stilts high
above the revelers. 

(The favorite eatery on the island is "Le St. Tropez," where its colorful owners pamper their guests.)

Daytime activities near Frederiksted include bike riding along the gentle
coastal road that twists it way from one unspoiled beach after another. 
Route 63 eventually ends at the Estate Mount Washington. An expansive
sugar plantation in the 1850’s, today the buildings and grounds are
completely restored.   The stately, two-story great house of the plantation
is considered to be the most beautiful example of Danish architecture in
the Virgin Islands.  Being here, it’s easy to imagine how life was a 150
years ago when sugar was king.

Nearby, you’ll find Paul & Jill’s Equestrian Stables.  Their horses are available
for riding along the numerous paths that follow creeks and streams up into
the peaks of the tropic rain forest that dominates this side of the island. 
There are similar opportunities for day trekking as well along separate trails. 
A good starting point is at the Lawaetz Family Museum. You’ll first want to a
few moments and step inside the great house.  It’s a grand 18th century
home, crammed with heirlooms, furniture and pictures which provide yet
another glimpse into the Danish West Indian lifestyle of the early nineteen
century.  From the surrounding gardens, pathways invite you into the
mountainsides.  The trails are easy and safe, with the exception of the
heart stopping moments when giant iguanas scurry unexpectedly in
front of you! 

The Mahogany Road switchbacks through the low coastal hills and it’s
here that you’ll discover the St. Croix Leap, a woodworking and crafts center. 
Skilled local artisans create furniture and art works that accentuate the
rich grains and colors of indigenous woods.

The central part of St. Croix has its share of attractions.  The deadly
brew that they offer back at Stixx is actually manufactured here in the
Cruzan Rum Distillery that’s open daily for tour. You start by walking
through a sea of enormous fragrant kegs, then up onto creaky open-mesh
ramps to observe the complicated distilling process below.  After viewing the
contorted system of bottling and labeling, you find yourself in a convenient
tasting room with a cool fruit-flavored drink in your hand.  Amazingly, in the
absence of a liquor tax on the island, you’re likely to pay more for the mixer
than you are for the rum!

Only a few miles from the brewery lies the St. George Botanical Garden. 
You enter via the impressive new Visitor/Education Center, where hi-tech
displays present a scientific data on the agriculture and plant cultivation
of St. Croix.  Outside are expansive, landscaped gardens with lush green
lawns and a proliferation of vibrant azaleas, camellias, bougainvillea
and pyracanthas.  The grounds cover over16 acres of the ruins of a 19th
century sugarcane village and rum factory.

St. Croix’s heritage from the sugar industry in eighteenth century is
encapsulated in the awesome Whim Plantation Museum.  Visitors here
are guided through the estate, which includes sugar cane fields, a working
antique processing factory and a workers’ village.

The owner’s original mansion, which was constructed of coral, sand,
molasses and lime in 1762, stands proudly today in an exquisitely
refurbished condition.   Elegantly appointed with Danish antique furniture
and paintings, the interior of this magnificent home catapults you back in time.

Whether you’re basking on the beach, frolicking in the ocean or sightseeing
around the island, you just can’t help but fall in love with St. Croix.

Recommended Restaurants:

Bacchus 52 Queens Cross, Christiansted (seafood)

Breezes Pelican Beach, Christiansted (seafood, pasta)

Cormorant Club Pelican Beach, Christiansted (Caribbean, continental)

Indies 55 Company Street, Christiansted (Caribbean)

 

Blue Moon Strand Street Frederiksted (Caribbean, seafood)

Change in Lattitude Pierside Frederiksted (lite faire)

Frederiksted Hotel King’s Cross Street (poolside breakfasts)

Le St. Tropez Queen’s Street Frederiksted (French Caribbean)