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St. Croix: Simply Sweet

Culture and local color reign supreme on the untouched island

Kindly pardon me for sounding a bit cliché.

But it’s happening. In fact, it’s hard not to speak in phrases or use metaphors or even drum up played-out pop cultural similes when talking about an island as untouched as St. Croix.

Apologies to Madonna, but now I get it. St. Croix is called a Virgin Island with good reason.

Naturally, the island is chock-full with brown people; the same people who were enslaved on other islands or captured in Africa all those years ago still inhabit the place. But in the last 40 years—and in some cases, longer—White Americans and ethnic others from the mainland have migrated there.

I get it. It’s gorgeous. And it gives off the type of vibe that keeps the psychiatrists —and their meds—far away. It’s a stress-free kind of place that boasts gorgeous, lush water and is the antithesis of what you might find in its sister island, St. Thomas.

Like St. Thomas, it’s U.S.-owned—which coincidentally, makes the move to the island as easy as a move from Detroit to Chicago. (Well, almost as easy.) But unlike the other island, there’s almost nothing North American there to remind you that you’re on a U.S. domain.

St. Thomas, by contrast, looks much more like South Beach, with its luxurious four-star shopping, familiar fine-dining restaurants and the same sprawling hotel resorts that you’d find on the West Coast (or heck, even the Midwest, for that matter).

But in St. Croix, the culture and local color reign supreme.

Walking about the streets will be the colorfully dressed Moko Jumbies, who stand on stilts and are as tall as eight-feet in the air, and dance about in carnival-inspired garb. The West Indian and African tradition is as stunning as it is inviting.

Before the United States got hold of the island – it’s surrounded by the Caribbean Sea – the Danish owned it, and their influence is strong here as well.
It’s the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands – but considering it’s only 28 by 7 miles, you’ll surely run into people you meet twice and then some – and like most of the Caribbean islands, rum rules everything around.

Here, it’s the Cruzan rum, which comes in flavors as diverse as mango and guava, and the locals use it to marinate and baste poultry and seafood.

It’s the kind of place that begs of you to turn off your cell phone and stow it away in your luggage. Instead, you’ll want to hit the sea, snorkel for coral or take a horseback ride along the coast.
Many of the more lush resorts here feel like home. I stayed at the Buccaneer resort, which has been around since the 17th century, and has a modern-day Victorian spin to it.

It’s the perfect place to unwind, and on an island where unwinding is the only way to relax, hang back and leave your worries behind.  And come back speaking only in clichés.

Five Must Dos in St. Croix

Head to Buck Island

It’s a national monument and it boasts more than 176 acres of land which is enveloped by more than 704 acres of water. You get there by taking a boat – I suggest a catamaran – and it’s one of the best places on the island to snorkel.

Paul and Jill’s Equestrian Stables

It’s a scene ripped right out of a postcard, so why not go and create it yourself? Hop on a horse – novices, don’t be scared – and take a guided, scenic tour through the rain forest.

St. Croix Villa Tour: 10 Green Cay and Mango Hill Greathouse

See how the rich folks live–and see just how far $3.5 million will go on the island. Here, you can take some of the most gorgeous pictures your camera will ever see.

Dessert at Café Christine

It’s only open during the spring, because the Parisian-born owner shuts down in the summer and fall to travel, and comes back in time for the holidays to take on pie orders. One bite and you’ll see why they’re a holiday hit. She does flavors as unique as peach and almond and chocolate and pear, and you’ll risk missing out if you don’t get there early.

Shops in Christiansted

Skip the postcards and silk-screened t-shirts, and instead walk the crooked streets (the character is amazing) and buy custom-made jewelry, unique photos of the Moko Jumbies or hand-painted dishes for gifts. The folks back home benefitting will be glad you did.

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