Balmy breezes, turquoise waters and lush green mountains await you at one of Holland America Line’s lesser-visited Caribbean ports — the stunning island of St. Croix. Measuring 86 square miles, St. Croix is the largest of the three isles that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands. Much of the island has been set aside as parkland, which means fewer tourist hubs and more space dedicated its natural wonders like pristine beaches and prime locations for snorkeling and diving.
St. Croix also is also home to many fascinating historical sites. At various times throughout its history it was controlled by Spain, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Denmark; the latter’s influence is the most visible in the architecture of St. Croix’s charming capital city of Christiansted, located on the northern coast. On the western point of the island lies Frederiksted — a busy port surrounded by significant colonial attractions including a restored sugar estate and an 18th-century fort. This port also features a family-run rum distillery and offers fantastic restaurants and shops.
Continue reading below for some of the highlights you can find on this magnificent island!
Sure, it’s the largest town on St. Croix, but it’s the charming Danish-influenced architecture that makes it most noteworthy. The city center is a protected national park lined with candy-colored buildings and historic churches, while the streets are made of cobblestones and punctuated by stone archways. At the waterfront, which was a focal point of the island’s sugar trade, a wharf is populated with restaurants, bars, water sports shops and an 18th-century fort.
FREDERIKSTED HISTORIC DISTRICT
This city is laid out in a grid system: seven streets by seven streets. Although established in 1751, Frederiksted was rebuilt in 1878 in a Victorian gingerbread style following a great fire due to a labor revolt. St. Patrick’s church, which was constructed in the 1840s, is an impressive sight. Other buildings of note include the Customs House and the eponymous fort. Steps from the pier, Frederiksted Beach has chair, umbrella and paddleboard rentals.
BUCK ISLAND REEF NATIONAL MONUMENT
Pristine, untouched and unforgettable — there’s no other way to describe this natural park just off the northeast coast of St. Croix. Walking trails crisscross the expanse through frangipani and tamarind trees and cacti to beautiful beaches. Turtle Bay, on the western side, wows with its magnificent snorkeling; the protected waters and massive coral reef are home to more than 250 kinds of fish. Admission numbers are limited each day; advance booking is required.
CRUZAN RUM DISTILLERY
Sugar never tastes so good as when it’s distilled into rum. And a visit to the Cruzan distillery, founded in 1760, is not only a treat, it’s an island classic. The same family has been producing this rum for eight generations. Guided visits weave through the factory’s operations, past bubbling liquids and wooden casks, with guides explaining the spirit-making process from distilling to bottling. Tours conclude with sample cocktails, and purchased bottles can be packed for travel.
If you’re not sure what do to ashore, check out our EXC Port Planner for St. Croix and tailor your time ashore:
Whether you choose to explore on your own, or take part in one of our amazing EXC tours, you’re guaranteed to love this beautiful tropical island.
What would you most like to see while at St. Croix? Tell us in the comments below!