Have you ever just told yourself “I need to go to a beach and lay in some hot sand, dip my body in the cold ocean, and enjoy a fruity drink while I do it?”
Of course you have. I think we all do – there is something relaxing about doing nothing.
We were having the same craving – it’s been about 3 years since we’ve been to the beach – so we decided to take a trip. The beaches in North Carolina and South Carolina are already charging mid-summer prices (upwards of $200 a night, ouch!) We considered going to Aruba or the Bahamas or one of the other Caribbean Islands, but Little Bear doesn’t have his passport yet. So where in the US could we go for an affordable price and see some new stuff?
We decided on St. Croix because it is one of the US Virgin Islands, and the only USVI we hadn’t been too. It is the largest of the USVI, and mostly known for being the agricultral hub of the islands. It is also the easternmost part of the United States, and known for it’s culinary prowess. It’s covered in amazing beaches, a rainforest, and has some killer dive spots if you like to Scuba.
We used AmEx points to book our flights, and found an incredibly affordable place to stay. Overall, flights + lodging + food + activities for 5 days for 2 adults and 1 baby cost us less than $1000.
We spent 5 days exploring the island and most of what it has to offer. We did so much and explored all over, that there is no way I could fit it all in one post! Instead I’m going to try to break it down by the various parts of the island we explored: Frederikstad, Rain Forest/Central, Christiansted, and the East End. I’ll include activities in each region, as well as food favorites.
Before I do the breakdown, here’s some general knowledge:
- Rent a car. The island isn’t big (26 miles at it’s longest), but you’ll find yourself all over the place checking everything out. There are taxi services, but they’re pricy. We took a taxi from the airport to Frederikstad and it cost $30 one way – we then decided to rent a car and it was only $43/day. There is a taxi/shuttle service that goes from Frederikstad to Christianstad for only $2.50 a person, but it only goes along the main road (taking no detours) and goes very slow.
- Think about what you want to do to decide what time of the year to go. I really wanted to check out Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, but it is closed April – August for turle nesting season. St. Croix’s tourist season is end of October – April, so there are more crowds and cruise ships at that time offering more things to do, but at a potentially higher price. Hurricane season is June – November with September being the most active month. All things to keep in mind.
- Bring sunscreen. The sun is super hot (as my newly sunburnt shoulders will tell you), and sunscreen on the island is expensive. Make sure you bring reef safe sunscreen if you’re going to snorkel near Buck Island or any of the reefs. We don’t need to be assholes and kill the coral. If your sunscreen has oxybenzone in it, it isn’t reef safe.
- Be prepared for power outages. The power goes out across the island whenever there is rain, a strong wind, a car accident – you name it. Our first night there we woke up at 4am with no power until 7:30, and then it went out again at 10. The locals on the island just roll with it and turn on their generators if need be. It’s a perfect way to truly disconnect.
- Relax and have fun! Don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry – island time is definately a thing, and nothing seems to happen at the time it is supposed to. Embrace the slower pace and chat with the locals at the bar, the people at the table next to you, and the folks swimming beside you in the ocean. We met so many nice people just through casual conversation and left with some new friends.
Where to stay:
I’m a big fan of Airbnb for living like a local. [Side note: If you haven’t used Airbnb yet, use this link for $20 off your first booking.] We wanted a place with a full kitchen so I could store Little Bear’s milk in the fridge and freezer, so an apartment was perfect for us. We chose to stay in the Frederikstad neighborhood because the beaches were walking distance and were supposed to be calmer on the eastern side of the island.
If you want to be near the more upscale part of the island, look near Christianstad. The Hotel on the Cay looked awesome with it’s own private beach that looks out over the marina. Rates were reasonable when we looked it up online.
Some friends we made were staying at the Divi, which had all inclusive and a casino on site. It’s near the Eastern point of the island, offering easy access to Pt. Udall and it’s many trails; but a fairly expensive cab ride if you want to explore anywhere.
If you’re looking to use hotel points, there is a Renaissance Resort & Spa at Carambola Beach in the rainforest. Perfect for Marriott members, there is a beautiful beach and near a great hike I’ll be highlighting in a future post!
How do you decide where to go for vacations? We’re impromptu “hey look at the affordable airfare!” “Ohh, we haven’t been there before!” kind of people.