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St. Croix's deluxe resorts lie along the North Shore; its charming old waterfront inns are mostly in Christiansted. You may also choose to stay at a former plantation or in a condo complex, which offers privacy and the chance to save money by preparing your own meals. The choice is yours: a location in Christiansted or Frederiksted close to shops and nightlife, but away from the beach; or an isolated resort where, chances are, your accommodations will be either on the beach or a short walk from it. From such resorts, you'll have to drive into town for a shopping binge or for restaurants and clubs.

In general, rates are steep, but in summer, hotels slash prices by about 25% to 50%. All rooms are subject to an 8% hotel tax, not included in the rates given in this guide.

Note: If you need a hair dryer, pack your own. Apparently, a lot of visitors have packed up hotel hair dryers upon departure, and some innkeepers are reluctant to provide them.

A Condo Of One's Own -- Aside from staying at the hotels and big resorts, you can also easily rent a condo on St. Croix. While initially it may seem pricey, a condo is an excellent option for small vacationing groups and families on longer trips.

The major companies renting villas include Island Hideaways (tel. 800/832-2302; www.islandhideaways.com), Caribbean Days (tel. 908/832-6655; www.caribbeandays.com), Villa Madeleine Vacation Villas (tel. 800/533-6863 or 340/690-3465), Caribbean Property Management (tel. 800/496-7379 or 340/778-8782; www.enjoystcroix.com), and Teague Bay Properties (tel. 800/964-9755 or 340/773-4665; www.teaguebayproperties.com).

Self-Sufficient Units Around the Island -- If you're interested in a villa or condo rental, contact the places reviewed in this guide or Vacation St. Croix, 4000 La Grande Princesse, Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S.V.I. 00820 (tel. 877/788-0361 or 340/718-0361; fax 340/718-5491; www.vacationstcroix.com), which offers some of the best accommodations on the island. Some are private residences with pools; many are on the beach. Rentals range from one-bedroom units to seven-bedroom villas. In winter, prices per week range from $1,050 to $15,000, reduced in summer to $750 to $12,500. A 7-night minimum is usually imposed.

Christiansted

Only one hotel in Christiansted is located on a good swimming beach: Hotel on the Cay. As luck would have it, this beach is easily reached by a 4-minute, $3 ferry ride from the main harbor in town.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.