Trip report--just back from STX
My wife and I just returned from 10 amazing days on STX and thought I’d share some of our thoughts and insights. For background, this is our fourth trip to the island in the past five years. After our second visit, we were enchanted enough to buy some land on the North Shore (in Clairmont). We feel a truly special, deep connection with STX, unlike any we have with other Caribbean islands (and we’ve visited many). We plan to live there someday, either full time or at least one-third of the year. In fact, we spent part of trip looking at apartments for possible snowbirding next winter. But in the meantime, we continue to visit and keep abreast of daily life on this intriguing island.
Now for the highlights of our trip:
The people: The friendliest of any island we’ve visited, and certainly far friendlier than those on STT or STJ. The simple waves while passing on the road, friendly smiles, and willingness to help mean a lot to us. We opened a checking account at FirstBank in Christiansted, and the representative—Maria Towers—could not have been friendlier or more helpful.
The North Shore: Amazing views, great vibe, fun joints. The vista west, from Will’s Bay to Hamm’s Bluff, is unmatched—not a house or building in sight. (We only hope that it stays that way, although certain developments threaten.)
Buck Island day sail with Mile Mark: Despite the strong winds and cool water, it was just as neat as ever. Captain JP made the day even more enjoyable with his low-key, understated style.
Sandcastles on the Beach: Really nice boutique hotel with a great location and friendly, helpful service. Stayed there for four nights and found the location impossible to beat.
2Dive4: Our villa in La Vallee, where we stayed seven nights. Attention to detail, amenities, and location make this place a must for anyone wanting a luxurious getaway. The property manager, Reynold Phillip, made our stay even more enjoyable. He’s a gem.
St. Croix Hiking Association: We joined this diverse, friendly group for a morning hike of Blue Mountain. What a welcoming crew! The leader, Olassie Davis, passed on some great background and tidbits on flora and fauna along the way, and related a lot of historical facts that were new to us (especially disappointing was our discovery that Hovensa replaced an amazing mangrove swamp). Any visitors into hiking should definitely try to hook up with this group while you’re on island.
Hike to Anally (Will’s) Bay from Carambola: If you like hiking, don’t miss this trek. It’s strenuous enough to be exercise for the fit, but not too tough for the near-couch potato to complete. And the payoff—the tidal pools—is worth it.
La Reine Chicken Shack: We had never stopped here before, but got a tip from a local that they have the best johnnycakes on the island. She wasn’t wrong—they were delicious—but the roast chicken and conch salad were among the best I’ve had as well.
Tropical Java: If you’re staying out west and have a jonesing for java, stop at this cool coffee house in downtown F’sted. Nothing fancy, but the coffee is as good as I’ve had anywhere (and they’ll make all those fancy drinks you get at that place with the mermaid, too!).
Judi of Croix: If you’re renting a car, Judi’s is tough to beat. Great service and competitive rates. And Christie was a pleasure to deal with.
Snorkeling: Besides Buck Island, we managed to snorkel at a number of different locales, including Sandcastle Beach and Rainbow Beach on the West End, and Cane Bay Beach and Davis Bay (Carambola Beach) on the North Shore. Of these four, the latter two were really good. Definitely try Davis Bay if you’re into snorkeling.
Fort Christian Brew Pub: If you’re into hand-crafted beers like me, then you’ll dig the brew pub. Blackbeard’s Ale and Hammerhead Ale are very good, as is the stout. Go on Tuesdays—it’s two for one!
Plaza Extra: Like their commercial says, they’ve “got all that you need.” Their selection was as good as any stateside grocery store. Prices on some things were comparable to back home, while other goods were understandably more expensive. Great selection of liquor and beers, too!
Turtles Deli: Next to Aqua West near F’sted, this cool little open-air deli has a great location right on a shady beach and, according to my wife, one of the best turkey rueben sandwiches she’s ever had.
Andrea, the bartender at the Golden Rail: We had an interminable wait for a simple plate of nachos, but Andrea kept our mind off of it with her great service and gentle prodding of the staff. If I owned a bar, she’d be my first hire.
Sonya’s in C’sted: Classic, simple and elegant jewelry. I bought my first hook bracelet there on this trip, and love it. If you want a truly unique gift or keepsake that says “St. Croix,” the hook is it.
Lobster Reef Café: Great Caribbean lobster dinners in a cool, funky spot on a cliff overlooking the North Shore. Hard to beat the food and the view.
That pretty much sums it up. Counting the days and months until we return.
Great trip report. Glad you had such a great time. Good luck on your future relocation to St. Croix.
Loved the trip report. My husband and I feel the same way about St. Croix. Can't wait to get back.
Bernie - it was nice meeting you while you were here. I'll look forward to seeing you both back on STX next winter... if not before!
Thanks, Alexandra. And thanks for taking the time to show us around. It was a huge help!
We are looking to do the same thing you are regarding becoming possible snowbirds for the majority of the year and are looking to perhaps get a yearly rental and return to FL for just a few months. We also love St. Croix and are returning May 17th for 10 days. I am really glad to see some good suggestions for places to go to eat/hang out. We did not get to as many places as we would have liked since we found Lobster Reef and ended up there most of the time. Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. We did not even make it to the "West side" last trip so we are planning on making that area a "must see" this time.
Thanks again and we are hoping we are able to meet up with some of the forum people this next trip to put a face with the name 🙂
One thing I forgot to add: If you like wood carvings, you definitely should take a trip to LEAP on Mahogany Road in the Rainforest. They've got some amazing things produced from local hardwoods--cutting boards, tables, clocks, etc. It's really impressive.
Wonderful trip report! Thanks for sharing it!
Andrea is the Best Bartender on STX she keeps the drinks coming....
Andrea is the Best Bartender on STX she keeps the drinks coming....And Sean also at Savant
Andrea was awesome. If it hadn't been for her, we would have left the Rail with a very different impression of the place, and would likely not plan to go back. I am quite familiar with "island time," but an hour and a half for a plate of quesadillas? No way.