The Largest U.S. Virgin Island Remains an Uncrowded Paradise
And it’s no big deal if you forget your American passport at home.
It’s a tale as old as time. A pristine, tropical paradise floods everyone’s FYPs and soon turns into an overcrowded tourist trap. The lesson here? To take the road less traveled, which means considering St. Croix.
One of the three US Virgin Islands—which includes St. John and St. Thomas—St. Croix is often overlooked for its more tourist- and cruise-centric siblings. But it’s precisely this lack of overt commercialism that should appeal to first timers and repeat visitors alike. It also doesn’t hurt that the tropical island abuts a turquoise stretch of the Caribbean Sea, or that its 84 square miles offer a mixture of both metropolitan perks and rural retreats. With temperatures that rarely dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit in any season, travelers can immerse themselves in idyllic warm weather pastimes like boat rides, snorkeling, food tours, nature conservation, small business shopping, walks along the beach, and much more.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your next tropical getaway to St. Croix.
Best places for first timers to visit in St. Croix
Nicknamed "Twin City" for its two towns, St. Croix’s main action can be found in either Christiansted on the northern coast or Frederiksted on the southwestern side of the island. If it’s your first time here, either hub is an ideal base camp.
First and foremost, get out on that water and bask in the sun. The quickest boat ride on the island is that from Christiansted Harbor to Protestant Cay. After a two-minute ride, you'll be let out onto a four-acre island, which is home to a sand beach, small shop, beach bar, and hotel. For a low price, your party can rent lounge chairs, umbrellas, and towels before setting up shop along the shoreline.
Rum production on the island traces all the way back to 1760, so it only seems right to sip like the locals do by visiting the Cruzan Rum distillery. Sign up for a 30-minute tour around the facilities followed by a sampling at the on-site tasting room.
After a few drams, take your explorations into town and open your wallet at a slew of handmade jewelry shops. St. Croix is renowned for jewelry created using pieces of fine china that have washed ashore. It's also famous for hook bracelets, which were invented at Sonya’s Fine Island Jewelry. Top shops to frequent for necklaces, bracelets, and charms also include ib designs, Joyia, and Lady C Designs.
Where to eat and drink like a local in St. Croix
Crucian cuisine pulls culinary influences from Denmark, Africa, and across the Caribbean for a fascinating array of specialty dishes. Among the can’t-miss foods to try, locals recommend everything from the fried bread treat called Johnny cakes—specifically those made by the crowd-favorite La Reine Chicken Shack—to the pâté handhelds stuffed with beef, conch, or veggies—which reign supreme at the more than 30-year-old Rosa’s Booth.
Famous guests like President Joe Biden and Martha Stewart already know that Savant is the perfect place for an unforgettable night out. The family-owned restaurant is known for eclectic and locally influenced cuisine, as well as its gorgeous back patio. If a spot that comes with stunning waterfront views is up your alley, there’s Polly’s at the Pier and Off the Wall, though AMA at Cane Bay undoubtedly features the most breathtaking setup. If you're looking for something more plant-forward, locally run restaurants like Cafe Roots-N-Kulchah—the Ginger Sop Juice and Black Bean Burger are can’t-misses—and the Caribbean-influenced Ital in Paradise might be up your alley.
Plus, a light dinner means you're primed for dancing at Levels. The recently renovated nightclub is the place to go on Friday nights for shows by local singers and bands. For a more sit-and-sip experience, the Sion Farm Distillery tasting room serves tropical iterations of Mutiny Island Vodka, which is crafted using breadfruit.
Museums, art, and culture in St. Croix
The heartbeat of St. Croix is kept alive by a diverse population of local Crucians. Immerse yourself in the creative scene on the island via Art Thursdays. Held every third Thursday of the month between November and May from 10 am to 8 pm, local Christenstead galleries and stores join in a communal uplifting of local artisans by displaying handmade jewelry, paintings, photography, woodworking, and ceramics.
“Hamilton” fans and more history-inclined travelers may be interested to know that Alexander Hamilton actually spent almost a decade of his early life living in St. Croix. Embark on a self-guided tour of the most influential and significant places of Hamilton’s life by sightseeing at places like Fort Christiansvaern and St. John’s Anglican Church.
Meanwhile, if the high seas are calling, an exploration on the Roseway might just do the trick. Climb aboard the century-old, 137-foot schooner (which splits its time docked between Boston and St. Croix) for a tour or sunset cruise led by the World Ocean School. The interactive journeys include opportunities for passengers to help the crew hoist the massive sails and see St. Croix from a different perspective.
Nature and outdoor experiences in St. Croix
Charters from Caribbean Sea Adventures are sure to create core memories. And of the guided tours, private charters, sport fishing, and sunset sails offered by the company, the Buck Island Snorkeling Tour is a can’t-miss. During the half-day expedition: Sun bathe on the boat deck, stroll the postcard-worthy shores of Turtle Beach, and snorkel at Buck Island Reef National Monument. And if you’re looking to give back, help to conserve the beauty and wildlife of Buck Island by volunteering or donating to the National Park Service, which is behind a major effort to jumpstart healthy coral growth and reduce surrounding pollution.
For an extra-aesthetic cocktail hour, board a pink 1974 Boston Whaler for a cruise around St. Croix with Cabana Cruises. Featuring everything from a pastel-hued exterior, Bluetooth stereo, and phone charging stations, the boat tours range from early morning rides (made complete with mimosas) to longer adventures where picnic spreads are enjoyed on secluded beaches.
To further take advantage of the gorgeous temps, avail yourself of three golf courses primed for a quick nine or an all-day 36. Choose between The Buccaneer Golf Course, Carambola Golf Club, and The Reef Golf Course.
St. Croix hotels
Downtown Christiansted’s historic King Christian Hotel recently debuted its grand revival, which is definitely something to write home about. A mainstay of the Christiansted waterfront since 1743, the newly minted King Christian Hotel makes a strong case for an ideal home base with stylish interiors, spacious balconies, stunning coastal views, and knowledgeable staff. You also benefit from on-site cushy comforts like breathtaking ocean views while brunching at Caroline’s, caffeine boosts from Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters, and poolside bites plus happy hour cocktails courtesy of the Oaxacan-influenced restaurant El Leon.
For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, The Waves Cane Bay on the north shore of Cane Bay is home to the cliffside digs of your dreams. With just 11 rooms on property, your secluded getaway experience includes a stunning waterside restaurant (that comes with complimentary crashing waves and hanging fairy lights for a dreamy ambiance), idyllic golden hour cocktail bar, and on-site natural grotto. If you're looking into an extended remote-working experience, one of the Superior Rooms will level up your island time with a full kitchenette, WiFi, an Apple TV, and an expansive balcony space.
What to know before you go to St. Croix
Best times of the year to visit
To successfully avoid peak tourism season—which falls between December and March—you'll want to visit St. Croix from April to June. Earlier in the year will result in cooler weather, while the closer to summer you get, the more balmy your vacation will be.
St. Croix time zone
Upon landing at the island’s quaint Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, you’ll also notice your phone automatically has shifted to Atlantic Standard Time (AST). That's one hour ahead from Eastern Standard Time, two hours ahead on Central Time, and three hours ahead on Pacific Standard Time.
The weather and climate
The US Virgin Islands are classified as having a tropical climate. With easterly trade winds and mostly low humidity, temperatures on average in St. Croix usually rest between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures are cooler from winter to spring, with average highs around 84 degrees Fahrenheit and lows around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. From summer to fall, temperatures can spike to 90 degrees Fahrenheit with lows of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainy seasons run from May to December, as well as September to November.
The official language of St. Croix is currently English. The local dialect, spoken by the island’s native community, is Crucian. Less common languages spoken around the island include French, Spanish, and Arabic.
How to get around
High on the priority list for most travelers to St. Croix should be a car rental. On-island escapades can be hard to navigate if you’re relying on calling a taxi, and ride-shares are not readily available. For those who are ready to take the adventure into their own hands, there are several car rental agencies like Centerline Car Rentals, which has a convenient outpost at the STX Airport, and John Hope Automotive for luxury wheels. Just keep in mind, things move a little differently here: All motorists in St. Croix drive on the left side of the road!
Yet another plus for American travelers is that since St. Croix is a US territory, the currency here is the US dollar.
International adapters you’ll need
St. Croix uses power outlets type A and B (the same as the US).