St. Croix – Live from the US Virgin Island
Where to Stay, What to Eat/Drink, Things to Do
This February/March I am “live” from the USVI – St. Croix. The goal? Let’s find the coolest drinks, best restaurants for “crucian cuisine,” and the most unusual island activities. Let’s enjoy a glimpse of St. Croix’s history and culture that features influences from Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, the Knights of Malta, Denmark, and the United States. St. Croix is the largest of the USVI islands, and its nickname is “Twin City” for its two towns, Frederiksted on the western end and Christiansted on the northeast part of the island. St. Croix/Santa Cruz translates to “Holy Cross.” Fortunately, just 20 cruise ship passenger days per year currently, so the St. Croix is less crowded than some. Thankfully, a St. Croix trip just required Covid testing to St. Croix, and not a test for returning to the US. Be sure to check the St. Croix Travel Screening Portal for the current requirements.
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Win a Jeopardy Round with This Trivia Answer about St. Croix
St. Croix hosts the easternmost point (by travel, not longitude) of the United States. Point Udall at the far east side of the island lies in a National Park. It is named for Stewart Udall, United States Secretary of the Interior under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. The granite sundial Millennium Monument marked that New Year’s celebration in 2000. Notably, the westernmost point of the United States (by travel, not longitude) is Guam and is also named Point Udall in honor of Stewart’s brother, Morris Udall. Mo Udall was a U.S. Representative from Arizona and Chairman of the House Interior committee from 1977 to 1991. He was a leading contender for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination. Your answer is: What is the easternmost point for travel in the US?
Fun and Sports in St. Croix
Immediately upon arriving in St. Croix, most vacationers are admiring the the beautiful Caribbean Sea and snorkeling comes to mind. I suggest booking a sailboat charter or tour to nearby Buck Island. Turtle Beach on Buck Island is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, and that beach was declared a national monument by President John Kennedy. Most of the island resorts have snorkeling and scuba gear dive shops. It’s not unusual to see scuba divers just walk off the beach into the ocean rather than jumping off a boat. Frommer’s features a guide to “Beaches in St. Croix, USVI.” Several golf courses are available on the island, too. Shopping is plentiful, though less intense than the sister island of St. Thomas. Some unusual bracelets like the Dutch china-bearing sterling silver “Chaney” bracelet are beautiful. The Dutch china had been dumped in the sea ages ago to lighten the weight on the arriving ships.
Many visitors will also want to spend a day on St. Thomas or St. Johns. Transfers over to those USVIs are available. The central wharf locations at Frederiksted and Christiansted offer these excursions.
For a more adventurous outing, consider the off-road experience on an ATV to Gecko’s Island Rainforest. ATV driving and crazy maneuvering is exciting while exploring the subtropical rain forest. The distant view of St. Thomas and St. John’s Islands at the top of the island is breathtaking.
Of course, it’s always great fun to have a casino nearby, so be sure to check out the Divi Carina Bay Casino. I left that casino with enough Blackjack winnings for a “chicken dinner.” The origins of the expression: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner? It is credited to an unnamed Chinese blackjack dealer at Binion’s Horseshoe casino in Las Vegas in 1990, with the expression spoken by the Ben Campbell character in a 2008 movie favorite, 21.
Where to Dine/Drink
AMA at Cane Bay, North Shore- Cane Bay beach, St. Croix. (OpenTable reservations available) 340-227-3432
This was by far the favorite restaurant of the trip. AMA at Cane Bay works with local farmers, environmentally responsible fisherman and divers. Try the Lobster Pappardelle, a butter poached lobster tail, English peas, roasted red pepper, tarragon cream sauce. Don’t miss the Sunset Bar atop. See drink recipes below. Reservations are needed most evenings. Spectacular sunset views.
Beachside Café, Frederiksted, 340-772-1205
Great lunch and dinner fare in a casual, beachside setting. Reservations requested
Polly’s at the Pier – Frederiksted, St. Croix 340-719-9434
Fresh ingredients, gourmet grilled cheese – 3 cheeses, choose your ingredients like pears, avocados, bacon, tomato, black olives. Specialty salads are made with local Bibb lettuce. This was a great choice prior to the Gecko Island ATV adventure. Breakfast is terrific.
Casual picnic table restaurant and bar right over the ocean. They offer live music and barbeque many evenings. Off the Wall is well known for the gourmet pizza, pulled pork, burgers, and sandwiches.
The Terrace Restaurant at Buccaneer Hotel, Christiansted, St. Croix, 340-712-2100
Great for sunsets or breakfast. Beautiful resort. See below.
Where to Stay:
There are three large-scale resorts on the island (Carambola Beach Resort- Marriott property, The Buccaneer Hotel and Golf Resort- a lovely Wyndham property, and Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort and Casino. I was more attracted to the boutique hotels…more intimate and still right on the beach.
Waves at Cane Bay, (North Shore area), St. Croix, 340-718-1815 - This 11-room, 3.5 star site which hosts AMA at Cane Bay, the favorite restaurant choice for dinner on the trip.
Dolphin Villa at Sand Castle on the Beach Hotel, Frederiksted, St. Croix, 340-772-1202 - Located near Frederiksted. Hosts a south island view and Beachside café. Hotel rooms as well as villa available.
What is an “Old Cuban?” What are the Best St. Croix Cocktails?
Mixologist Shaun Meglen told me I could not leave St. Croix without trying an Old Cuban. Basically, the Old Cuban is a marriage of a Mojito and a French 75 cocktail made with mint leaves, aged rum, lime, and Champagne. It was invented by Audrey Saunders of the Pegu Club in New York City but is now a Caribbean and USA staple. Try an Old Cuban on St. Croix at the Sunset Bar where the talented mixologist will make you these cocktails. My cocktail favorites on this trip are the “Old Cuban,” a “Creamy Coconut Margarita”, and especially a frozen “Sunset at the Sunset”. See Recipes below.Cocktails and Recipes
Sunset – from the Sunset Cafe – See photo above.
Combier L’Original Liqueur D’Orange
Combier Liqueur De Banane
Cream of Coconut liqueur – like Bacardi Coquito
Directions: Combine equal parts of the spirits, liqueur, and lime juice in a blender with ice. Make a Sunset garnish for this frozen drink with a half orange and dark cherry.
Creamy Coconut Margarita, Sunset Cafe
2 oz. blanco tequila
.5 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz Cointreau liqueur
1 oz. coconut cream liqueur
Toasted sweetened coconut rim
Directions: Combine tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, and coconut cream liqueur in a cocktail shaker. For the rim: rim the glass in the coconut cream liqueur then dip in toasted sweetened coconut.
Old Cuban, Liquor.com Recipe
6 Whole mint leaves
1 oz. simple syrup
.75 oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed
1.5 oz. aged rum
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz. Champagne, chilled
Garnish: mint sprig
Directions: Muddle the mint leaves with the simple syrup and lime juice in a shaker. Add the rum and bitters and ice. Shake until well-chilled. Double-strain into a coupe glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with mint sprig.
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