When you cruise to St. Croix, you’ll get a truly mellow island experience and a nice break from bigger, more crowded beach destinations. You would think everyone would know about St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Island’s biggest island, but it remains a little under the radar. Tourists tend to flock to the more famous St. Thomas, but there’s plenty to see and do in St. Croix for all types of travelers on a Caribbean cruise.
Beaches are abundant across the island; Butler Bay, Dorsch Beach, and Frederiksted Beach are perfect for relaxed sunbathing and family fun. For a more active time on the beach, head to Coakley Bay Beach or Cane Bay Beach, where you’ll find abundant diving and snorkeling. Buck Island Reef National Monument and Sandy Point Wildlife Refuge aren’t far from the port at Frederiksted and make a great day trip for nature lovers. Foodies will enjoy the mix of Cajun and Caribbean cuisines and find delicious combinations in St. Croix. Tour a tasty rum distillery or take a day trip across the island to Point Udell, the easternmost point of the United States.
On your cruise to St. Croix, it’s likely you’ll dock in Frederiksted, which is on the west side of the island. While in Frederiksted, check out the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, or the historic Fort Frederik, built in the 18th century to protect the area’s exports from pirates. Walk along Frederiksted Beach or explore the historic district to spot Danish-influenced architecture.
On the north shore of St. Croix is the town of Christiansted, where Danish-colonial sites and romantic waterfront restaurants are just a normal part of daily life. Christiansted is only a half hour drive or taxi ride from Frederiksted. Take a tour of Fort Christiansvaern, an 18th century historic landmark used to ward off pirate attacks on the town. Then, go shopping along Gallows Bay, a commercial district with plenty of small boutiques.
See endangered species up close at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, just 15 or so minutes away from Frederiksted by car. The leatherback sea turtle is one of the species the refuge protects, as these turtles nest in the Virgin Islands year after year. Many visitors call this refuge a must-see while they were in St. Croix.
The underwater trail at Buck Island Reef is practically famous among divers, who scuba the clear waters for stunning views of the coral reefs below. Visitors can also walk the nature trails and take in what it’s like to visit this uninhabited island. If you’re coming from Frederiksted, Buck Island is less than an hour’s drive, but access to the island is only available through boat or tour.
On your cruise to St. Croix, enjoy one of the restaurants or bars along Rainbow Beach north of Frederiksted for a lively afternoon. Swimming and snorkeling are two big activities here, and families come to Rainbow Beach on Sundays for family fun and watersports. The small size of the beach makes it cozy, and yet it still attracts plenty of activity whether you’re paddleboarding on the water or ordering a drink from Rhythms, the go-to bar on the beach.
A St. Croix cruise wouldn’t be complete without touring the Cruzan Rum Distillery just outside of Frederiksted. You’ll learn how rum is made and its history in St. Croix. For just $8, you’ll get a twenty minute tour that’ll take you through the facilities. Plenty of tastings included.
From Frederiksted, Point Udall is an hour’s drive, but it’s well worth it. This historic site includes a monument called the Millennium Monument, which is a giant sundial. Point Udall is the easternmost point of the United States. Take photos here and hike to the top of Goat Hill for views of the ocean outstretched as far as the eye can see.
Frederiksted Beach makes a perfect day-long excursion for those who want to stay closer to the cruise port. The beach features crystal waters and exactly the beach vibe you’d expect from the Virgin Islands. Enjoy drinks on the beach and rent an umbrella for a much-needed chance to do absolutely nothing.
Divers and water lovers will find plenty to do at Cane Bay Beach, which even has a full-service dive shop for anything you might need to rent. Diving and snorkeling are big here, and the beach is lined with shady palms.
Blue Moon - Frederiksted
Address: 7 Strand St., Frederiksted, Saint Croix 00820, U.S. Virgin Islands
Come here for jazz on Wednesday and Friday evenings. Blue Moon specializes in bistro foods and have a special brunch menu on Sundays. The menu is Cajun and Caribbean, serving jambalaya and gumbo as well as classic chicken and steak dishes.
Rum Runners - Christiansted
Address: 1044 Queen Cross St, Christiansted, St Croix 00820, U.S. Virgin Islands
In Christiansted you’ll find waterfront seating and boardwalk views at Rum Runners. Stop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Sit at the deck bar for cocktails and small plates. There’s a little bit of everything here, including sirloins and seafood dishes, plus American style hamburgers to pub foods like fish and chips.
Polly’s at the Pier - Frederiksted
Address: 3 Strand Street, Frederiksted 00840, St. Croix
Head to breakfast or lunch in downtown Frederiksted after your St. Croix cruise ship docks. Polly’s keeps it simple in a casual atmosphere. Breakfast eats like bagels, eggs rancheros, and all of the fixings are available, while lunch focuses on sandwiches like grilled cheeses, wraps, and salads.
Cafe Fresco - Christiansted
Address: 1138 King St, Christiansted 00820-4943, St. Croix
If you’re looking for breakfast or lunch in Christiansted, Cafe Fresco offers a lot of delicious options. From customizable eggs and omelettes with yuca home fries to big burritos and mahi-mahi sandwiches, Cafe Fresco puts a new spin on classics.
A cruise to St. Croix will immerse you in the history of this underrated island. The natives to this area were the Arawak, then the area changed hands to the Carib tribes, The island was visited by Christopher Columbus in 1493, and later, the French occupied the island from 1650 to 1733. Shortly after, the French sold the island to the Danish West Indies Company. Period this period, the sugar and rum trades boomed as a result of slave labor, and cotton and molasses were major exports of the island as well. Danish influence is obvious in St. Croix, and a huge part of their history. In 1917, the Danish West Indies Company sold St. Croix and St. Thomas to the United States.
Today, St. Croix is not only a haven for adventure seekers and ecotourism, but a place with abundant natural beauty, protected wildlife preserves, and is known for plentiful opportunities for diving and snorkeling. In December, the Crucian Christmas Festival is celebrated in Frederiksted and Christiansted, a month-long tradition complete with costumes, food, and parades for both children and adults.
St. Croix’s cruise port is unique because it isn’t as built up as St. Thomas or other parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are a few shops and even fewer distractions at the cruise port, meaning you have to use your stop on a St. Croix cruise wisely and head into parts of Frederiksted right away. Your ship will either dock on the west side of the island at Frederiksted, or further east at Christiansted, a little over 30 minutes away by car.
Bus, bicycle, motorbike, and walking are all options for getting around St. Croix. Taking a bus is trickier than getting around in other ways, as the Vitran Public Bus system can run erratically sometimes. There is no bus service on Sundays. You can also rent a car and drive yourself, or take a taxi from the cruise port in Frederiksted to various destinations around the island. Taxi tours are also popular in this area, but you won’t find ride-sharing services on the island. You’ll be able to hail a taxi from the cruise port, where drivers frequently wait.
Shopping in St. Croix is a little simpler than the bigger name shops on St. Thomas. There are duty-free stores selling local rum and souvenirs in Frederiksted by the cruise port, and more shopping—like boutiques, clothing, and local markets—in the town center. Many shops are closed on Sundays for religious observation.
The official currency of the U.S. Virgin Islands is the U.S. dollar (USD). Tipping is much like traveling in other parts of the U.S—leave 15-20% for restaurants and bars, 10-15% for taxis, and leave a dollar or two per bag for bellhops. Don’t forget to tip your tour operators at least 15% of their fee. If you head to one of the flea or farmer’s markets, haggling with vendors is pretty common. Credit cards are commonly accepted, and ATMs are scattered throughout the city too.