This blog post explores the West End of St. Croix. There is a lot to do on St. Croix so spending a week here will not be boring.
Arriving on St. Croix
After a short time home, it was time to head to the island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands and is about a 3.5 hour flight from the Atlanta airport on Delta Airlines. During peak season, Delta offers a direct flight both ways on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The airport is closest to Frederiksted and has an airport code of STX. I opted for the Saturday to Saturday stay and was lucky enough to stay at my sister and brother in law’s waterfront condo near Christiansted. Their property is named Bella Breeze and is available to be rented for your St. Croix vacation… just click here.
If you plan to explore the island, I would recommend renting a car. I rented from Hertz and the line was very short and the weekly cost was about $350 for an economy level car (think Yaris). Be aware that the car set up is the same as the USA but instead of driving on the right, you drive on the left (ditch is closest to the driver). Seems odd but that’s the way they drive there. Also be aware that the road conditions can be a bit bumpy and there are many potholes and uneven road conditions throughout the island. Some say it keeps drivers from going too fast… from what my sister said, the roads have improved greatly since the recent hurricane rebuilding.
After a short drive from the airport to Bella Breeze, we had arrived. Bella Breeze was beautifully decorated and had all of the amenities you’d need for the week including washer/dryer, kitchen, spacious bathrooms, and an outdoor area to enjoy the waterfront view. I took the pictures below from the patio and it was my favorite place to be… hearing the crashing waves and feeling the Caribbean breeze is all I need when I go to the islands.
Quick Facts about St. Croix
- Originally named Santa Cruz which is why the people are called Cruzans
- Cruzan Rum distillery can be found here and is still run by the 7th generation of the founding Danish family
- Nicknamed Twin City due to its two main cities, Frederiksted (West End) and Christiansted (East End)
- Population of about 50,000
- Land of 150 churches… there are churches everywhere
- Used to have more than 100 operating sugar and cotton mills… due to a recent two-year drought, the sugar cane and cotton plants completely died and there has been no resurgence of new growth. Sugar cane is now imported from other countries to make rum.
- Drive on the left side of the road
- Official language is English.
- Recovery continues from Hurricanes Irma and Maria from 2017
- Certain food items can be quite pricey in the grocery store… highly recommend bringing any dry goods you’ll need with you to save some money should you have extra space in your luggage.
- West End receives the most rainfall and has a rainforest.
- East End is dry and arrid with cactus plants plentiful.
- Point Udall is the easternmost point of the United States.
Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge
On the flight to St. Croix, a fellow passenger let us know about Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge on the westernmost end of the island. This was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been. The water was warm and pristine and conch shells could be found along the beach. There’s a catch with this beach though… because it is a national wildlife refuge for three species of endangered sea turtles, the beach is only open on weekends during non-nesting periods. Be sure to check if it’s open before you head here. I was told snorkeling is quite good here and it’s possible to see sea turtles.
Sleepy Town of Frederiksted
The town of Frederiksted is the largest town on the west end of the island and is also where the cruise ships dock. St. Thomas gets much more activity than St. Croix does when it comes to cruise ships. What makes St. Croix special is the opportunity to experience real island life and not be overwhelmed with the commercialization of more popular ports. Frederiksted still has a small straw market for cruisers to shop but there’s so much to see and experience when you get off the boat and explore. Aside from some shopping and limited restaurants, there’s not a whole lot to do in Frederiksted even when a cruise ship docks. The town itself is beautiful with multi-colored buildings along the strand overlooking the beautiful turquoise waters. There is an old fort that can be explored here (see red/salmon colored building in the pictures). A lot of cruisers head straight for Rainbow beach due to its beautiful calm waters and great restaurant on the beach. There’s more to do than just the beach… read on.
Tasting Cruzan Rum
Many people who had been to St. Croix before had said not to miss out on the Cruzan Rum tour… I would agree. For $8.00, you get a 30 minute tour of the distillery, a history lesson, and two free samples of rum… well worth it. The history lesson tells the story of the Danish family that started the rum factory and it continues to be operated by descendants (7th generation). Cruzan Rum was actually sold to Jim Beam and then to Fortune Brands in 2008. The production of rum has been ongoing for 250 years in St. Croix.
I wouldn’t say I was a rum drinker prior to coming to St. Croix but I thoroughly enjoyed those cold refreshing rum drinks during my week vacation there. There are so many flavors to choose from and you can have a sweet drink or something closer to straight whiskey.
Travel tip: If you want to do the tour, plan to arrive before 10:30 to beat the cruise ship excursions.
West End Dining
No vacation is complete without experiencing the many dining options available to you. Because Frederiksted is a bit sleepy, we really only stumbled on one restaurant that had a great view and good food… Louie & Nacho’s. This restaurant offers a good mix of sandwiches, wraps, and wings with a spectacular view of the Caribbean sea. I’d highly recommend it when visiting Frederiksted.
A little farther out from Frederiksted (it’s all relative so not really too far), you’ll find Off the Wall which is an eclectic beachside restaurant serving made from scratch pizza, sandwiches, desserts. Absolutely delicious and the husband/wife owners from Wisconsin have been going strong for many years on St. Croix. It’s definitely worth the drive to relax, have a drink at the bar and see what dessert has been recently baked. Please note the restaurant is closed on Fridays.
The next place is not exactly what you’d expect to see in St. Croix but it’s pretty famous for its (non-alcoholic) beer drinking pigs. The place is called Montpellier Domino Club and is located in the rainforest on the West End. Come here for a drink at a very simple hut kind of drinking hole but the real attraction is watching the pigs crush an O’Doul’s can of beer and drinking it before spitting out the can. For this entertainment, you’ll be charged $3 and $1 for a can of O’Doul’s. It’s an interesting experience to say the least.
Another “go to” dining option in the West End on the north shore is Eat @ Cane Bay known for its live music, beach views and delicious food. Probably a good idea to have dinner reservations when planning to dine here. The hamburger with fried egg was quite tasty.
Many adventures await you on the West End of St. Croix and should not be missed. From spectacular beaches to delicious dining options, take the time to explore the West End.