St. Croix: Tropical Radiance
St. Croix combines the best of two worlds: the exotic appeal and tropical radiance of a Caribbean island with the comforting familiarities and conveniences of an American destination.
On the US Virgin Island of St. Croix, Victorian-style shops and cafés shaded by arched colonnades set the backdrop for a charming waterfront promenade that runs the length of Frederiksted. St. Croix’s main town, Christiansted, is about a half-hour drive east. The streets are lined with quaint shops tucked into old buildings made out of cut coral, molasses-hued mortar, and ballast bricks. The main shopping streets—Strand and King—are lined with duty-free shops selling jewelry, electronics, and liquor. On Kings Alley, right by Christiansted Harbor, artisans sell handmade crafts such as mahogany furniture, instruments made out of a plant gourd called calabash, and popular Crucian hook bracelets.
Many of St. Croix’s attractions can be traced back to the time when sugarcane ruled in the Caribbean region. Estate Whim, the Cruzan Rum Distillery, and the St. George Village Botanical Gardens are all former sugar plantations where visitors can explore exquisite gardens and great houses.
The 72-mile-long St. Croix Heritage Trail runs between Frederiksted and Christiansted, connecting the most important historic sites. Well-marked signs guide visitors along the route and provide insight to the biking and driving tours.
The Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge stretches over 360 acres just south of Frederiksted. It hosts the largest nesting population of endangered leatherback sea turtles, the world’s largest sea turtle. The refuge is also a top spot for bird-watching; more than 100 species have been recorded on the refuge including the black-necked stilt and the yellow warbler.
Within the Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecologic Preserve, explore 2,000 years of history. The preserve documents the human and natural Caribbean world from the time of the earliest indigenous settlements to their clash with seven colonial European powers to the present day. The 1,015-acre park is a blend of sea and land, holding some of the largest remaining mangrove forests in the US Virgin Islands, as well as coral reefs and a submarine canyon.
St. Croix is a premier diving destination. The waters surrounding the island are swarming with more than 500 species of tropical fish, coral, and invertebrates. Visibility can reach up to 100 feet at various dive sites, which include colorful reefs, walls, and shipwrecks. The US Coast Guard certifies all dive-ship captains and inspects all dive boats.
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