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St. Croix

St. Croix

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St. Croix is the ultimate destination for those seeking a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. Being the largest of the US Virgin Islands, St. Croix offers 23 pristine beaches with crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling, diving, and other water sports. The island’s 84 square miles can be driven in a day, allowing you to explore the two twin cities, Christiansted and Frederiksted, and pass by over 100 sugar cane mill ruins. Beyond that, the island has a rich history that dates back centuries, making it a perfect spot for history buffs. If you’re craving sun, fun, and adventure, St. Croix is the place to be.

St. Croix’s rich history has enriched its cultural diversity with a blend of Christianity and Rastafarianism. The island’s 18th-century Danish colonial architecture stands in remembrance of the time when Christiansted was the capital of the Danish West Indies. It is said that St. Croix is the only place where Christopher Columbus set foot on U.S. territory. If you visit Point Udall, marked by a huge sundial called the Millennium Monument, you will find yourself standing on the easternmost point of the U.S.

Iguanas are plentiful in St. Croix, and you can see them sunning themselves just about everywhere. I had never seen one close up in the wild before my trip to St. Croix. The males can grow to 6 feet long. I saw a young, brightly colored one on a tree at the entrance to the Botanical Garden.

At one time, the 16-acre St. George Village Botanical Garden property was operated as a sugar cane plantation. The museum was initially built to house slaves, like many of the repurposed buildings on the grounds. The exhibit reveals the 2000-year history of the St. George estate, from its first occupants to the current public garden where 1000 Caribbean plants and trees are growing.

I spent a day in Christiansted overlooking Gallows Bay, so named because this is where enslaved Africans were hung. I walked through the well-preserved yellow-walled Fort Christiansvaern, climbed to the gun deck, and took a panoramic view of the grounds and the Caribbean Sea. I strolled along the boardwalk, going in and out of stores. I took pictures of the Customs House and the bust of David Hamilton Jackson, considered to be a Black Moses who helped liberate his people from a life of slavery. I was surprised to find an exhibit detailing the life of Alexander Hamilton, who worked as a clerk on the island. He referred to that job as “the most useful part of his education.” In addition, I found that his mother had been imprisoned at the Fort before he was born.

I visited the island about a year after it had been devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Clean-up efforts were still underway. Street signs were missing, and some buildings were in need of significant repair. But the spirit of St. Croix was alive and well. All that made it culturally unique was intact. The food, roadside stands, open-air restaurants, and pristine beaches make it a great vacation spot.

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