If you’re in need of a tropical island escape, look no further than St. Croix, the largest and perhaps most undiscovered of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Made up of two main towns on opposite sides of the island (Christiansted on the eastern side and Frederiksted on the western side), its long history of immigration makes St. Croix a destination teeming with diversity.
From the world’s most beautiful beaches to a blossoming multicultural food scene, here are seven reasons to drop what you’re doing and go to St. Croix right now.
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1. There really isn’t a bad time to go.
The U.S. Virgin Islands enjoy warm weather all year, averaging 77°F during winter and 82°F in the summer — and U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to go. “We encourage travelers to visit any time to enjoy our enjoyable, tropical weather,” says tourism commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty. “December through April is traditionally the busiest period of the year, but the months between May and November provide travelers with the best value for accommodations.”
2. The beaches are prettier than a postcard.
You won’t need any Instagram filters when capturing the beauty of St. Croix’s many beaches. With their soft, white sand leading into clear, turquoise waters, it’s the tropical beach paradise of your dreams (or your desktop image) come to life. While simply relaxing on the beaches is a fine way to seize the day, dive a little deeper with the island’s many snorkeling and scuba tours to see all the colorful fish and coral below the surface.
3. The locals make you feel welcome.
If you live on the East Coast, you tend to keep to yourself when walking down the street. In St. Croix, however, everyone says hello to everyone in passing — including strangers. Striking up conversations with locals is so easy and they’re genuinely glad to chat and share a piece of their world with you. One morning, my tour group got invited to a family reunion on the beach, complete with a pig roast, huge fruit spread and, of course, plenty of rum. Speaking of which...
4. If you love piña coladas, you’ve come to the right place.
The piña colada may not have been invented in St. Croix, but they taste really good here and it’s probably due to all the delicious rum being made on the island. The famous Cruzan Rum Distillery is located on its western end and going on a tour is a must as it takes you through each step of the rum-making process with a little history thrown into the mix. To top it off, you get a piña colada at the end. The hardest part is taking that last sip.
5. St. Croix has an incredible food scene.
While lounging on the beach with a piña colada sounds like enough of a good time for most of us, St. Croix has quite the food scene as well. Want to eat like a local? Grab some roasted chicken and johnnycakes (fried doughy goodness) at La Reine Chicken Shack. Need some healthier fare? Head over to Ital in Paradise for grilled fish, lentil balls, colorful salads and local fruit juices. Go on the Taste of Twin City food tour for a truly immersive experience.
6. The shopping is hip and local.
St. Croix is chock full of privately owned boutiques, so when you make a purchase, you know you’re getting something unique. If your wardrobe could use a splash of color (especially in the island sun), check out Asha for its beautiful silk sundresses and bohemian-inspired accessories. Looking for something you can only find in St. Croix? Go to Sonya ltd. — the home of the original Crucian-hook bracelet. In business for over 40 years, all of the bracelets are custom made in sterling silver, 14 karat gold or 18 karat gold. Position the open end of the hook outward if you’re single and towards you if you’re in a relationship.
7. The Centennial Promotion!
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Transfer Day, when the Danish West Indies became the U.S. Virgin Islands. To celebrate, the Centennial Promotion was launched to bring even more visitors to the islands. Book a minimum three-night stay through Oct. 1, 2017, and you get $300 in credit to spend on anything from historic tours to souvenirs at select retailers and more within the U.S. Virgin Islands. Apply it toward a few rounds of golf at the popular Buccaneer Golf Course, a decadent Italian meal at Un Amore or a day of relaxation at the Hideaway Spa. The options are endless.