St. Croix packs an abundance of attractions in its 84 square miles — in fact, acre for acre I’d put this U.S. Virgin Island up against any Caribbean destination for its diverse, interesting, and quirky activities. Here are 10 of the best things to do in St. Croix (including many that are inherently socially distanced for COVID-19 safety).
Bar Hop on the Christiansted Boardwalk
The broad boardwalk running along the edge of Christiansted Harbor is lined with some of St. Croix’s best watering holes, and nearly all of them boast outdoor seating. Create your own pub crawl by bouncing from Nate’s Boathouse to Rum Runners to Shupe’s and the Brew STX microbrewery. Any are good for a good rum drink or beer and some friendly conversation, but when you want a cocktail with a bit more craft, don’t overlook the classic tiki concoctions at Breaker’s Roar in the King Christian Hotel.
Sun on the Cay
Christiansted is the rare capital city with a fine beach right downtown. Well, just across a narrow channel from downtown, anyway. A $5 ferry departing from the Christiansted Boardwalk delivers sun-lovers to the beach on Protestant Cay, which has a broad swath of sand, shallow waters for wading, snorkeling, and chasing sea turtles, plus a convenient beach bar for snacks and drinks.
Storm the Forts
Both Christiansted and its sister city, Frederiksted, have historic Danish forts guarding their harbors — one yellow, one red — and both are worth a visit for their history as well as magnificent views of city and sea. Fort Christiansvaern, built in 1749, is part of a complex of 18th-century buildings that comprise the Christiansted National Historical Park, and stands pretty much as it did nearly 275 years ago. Like Fort Christiansvaern, Fort Frederik remains a formidable site in the heart of the city it was raised to defend in 1760, its cannon still pointing menacingly towards the Caribbean Sea.
Drink with the Pigs
The giant hogs inhabiting the Mt. Pellier Domino Club in the hills above Frederiksted aren’t lushes, but they will crush and drink a can of (non-alcoholic) beer on demand for visitors. It’s a spectacle that’s worth investing a few bucks in a can of O’Doul’s for, if only for the photo op and a chance to admire the impressive tusks and jaw power of these big pigs. When you get to the bar, however, give the NA beer a pass in favor of a shot of mamajuana, the house-made bush rum.
Day Trip to Buck Island
Buck Island Reef National Monument is a quick tour-boat ride from the Christiansted boardwalk to an island of tranquility. The 176-acre island is fringed by a protecting (and protected) reef with colorful live corals and even more photogenic tropical fish. An underwater trail guides snorkelers. Visiting catamarans practically glide right onshore at Turtle Beach for half- and full-day visits, often including lunch on the beach and plenty of time to catch some rays or swim. Hiking trails lead to Diedrichs Point and West Beach, both of which have picnic areas and more privacy.
Scramble to the Tide Pools
The Annaly Bay tide pools come with an advisory warning: when the tide is up on the northwest coast of St. Croix, what’s normally a fairly simple scramble along the shore to reach can get a little hairy, even dangerous. So wait for calm weather but don’t miss the chance to take a dip in these natural pools, protected from the crashing waves by a tall wall of volcanic rock. The pools are deep and warm, and there’s even a sliver of beach to relax on, but be sure to wear some water shoes (not flip flops) to protect your feet from the sharp rocks. The tide pools are included on Bush Tribe jeep tours of St. Croix, or you can try driving your own four-wheel drive vehicle; the cheaper option is to park your car near the Carambola Beach Resort and follow the moderately difficult 2.7-mile Trumbull Trail to the pools.
Greet the Day at Point Udall
Point Udall is the easternmost point in the United States, making it a pilgrimage site for those looking to catch the first sunrise of each new year (a giant sundial helps mark the spot). But you can catch a spectacular fireball rising over the horizon nearly any day of the year at Point Udall as long as you’re willing to set your wakeup call early enough to drive out to the eastern tip of St. Croix. If you want to linger a while, follow a steep path down from the promontory to Jacks Bay and quiet Isaacs Bay Beach.
Take a Tiki Tour of the Harbor
If you see a tiki bar floating by as you walk the Christiansted boardwalk, it doesn’t mean you need a sobriety check. The owners of Tropical Tiki Tours have converted a pontoon boat into a floating tiki bar — bamboo, thatched roof, and all — that can be booked for daytime excursions and sunset cruises around Christiansted Harbor. It’s BYOB, so pack onboard some Cruzan rum and your other favorite drinks and snacks and set course for a booze cruise that will be the eye-catching envy of everyone left back onshore.
Dive the Cane Bay Wall
You don’t need to book a charter boat to SCUBA dive over one of the most spectacular sites in the Caribbean. Just don your gear and wade into the water from Cane Bay Beach to the famous Cane Bay Wall, just 200 yards offshore. Here, the Puerto Rico Trench drops 3,200 feet, and the wall is home to tropical fish, corals, sharks, the occasional passing humpback whale … and whatever else decides to venture up from the depths. Celebrate your dive afterwards at one of Cane Bay’s fun beach bars, including the aptly named Off the Wall and Leatherback Landing, where you can score some locally brewed beers straight from the tap.
Glow with the Flow at Salt River Bay
There are only a handful of bioluminescent bays in the world, and two of the best are in St. Croix. Wait for a moonless night to book a kayak tour of theSalt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, more popular than the other biobay due to its darker and more remote location. After dark the bay lights up with the movements of tiny, glowing sea creatures known as dinoflagellates and ctenophora, which each use biochemical light as a defense mechanism when disturbed — such as by a kayak paddle passing through the water. It’s a hauntingly beautiful experience enhanced by tour operators’ use of translucent kayaks so you’ll never miss a moment of this great natural light show.