If St. Thomas is the seasoned older sibling and St. John the dewy beauty, St. Croix is the region’s cultural heart. It’s an old soul with a lilting bohemian spirit. It also has a population so diverse and multicultural it’s been called a “cultural callaloo.”
At 84 square miles, St. Croix is certainly the largest U.S. Virgin Island, but it has a small-town feel. That may be because the “plantation island” is a place of bucolic delights, with acres of rural farmland and roads draped in a canopy of mahogany trees. The island’s agricultural heritage is undergoing a renaissance: Organic farms in the northwest highlands are flourishing, and a celebrated Agricultural Fair draws thousands of visitors annually. Tied in with this trend is the island’s growing reputation as a health-and-wellness destination: St. Croix has more vegan cafes, juice bars, and organic farms than all the other Virgins combined.
But perhaps more than anything, St. Croix is a living museum of the region’s tangled past. Much of the architecture from the 18th-century Danish occupancy remains enshrined in picturesque Christiansted, on the island’s west end. The colorful Victorian buildings facing the scenic waterfront of the island’s second-largest town, Frederiksted, have been revitalized—a fetching welcome mat for the cruise-ship crowds that arrive weekly at the Frederiksted dock.
St. Croix is the most remote and least-visited of the Virgin Islands, separated from St. Thomas and St. John by one of the deepest ocean trenches in the Atlantic. But the island itself is protected by a natural necklace of coral reef, encircling gentle bays and powdery white-sand beaches. If R&R is at the top of your vacation criteria, this may be the spot for you; just ask U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, who often spends his Christmas holidays in restorative serenity on the island of St. Croix.