St. Croix, located in the U.S. Virgin Islands alongside St. John and St. Thomas, was hit hard by hurricanes Irma and Maria. But it's slowly bouncing back, and the island is as beautiful as ever. It also needs tourists. As of now, the territory’s airports and seaports have reopened, and with support from federal partners as well as mainland power authorities, daily progress is being made to fully restore the islands’ power infrastructure. The Department of Tourism has been working on recovery efforts, including the return of cruise ships, the restoration of iconic Magens Bay, and in November a number of hotel properties began accepting visitors. Here are four reasons to head to St. Croix for your next beach vacation.
There are lovely hotels (that are doing good)
The Buccaneer hotel, a family-owned property since 1947 is not only open for business, but thriving. The hotel has played host to many of the relief workers who are helping to bring the island back post-hurricane, and everything from the 18-hole golf course (a favorite to Joe Biden) to tennis club to the hotel's private beaches are ready for guests. Also open is the Caravelle Hotel & Casino and Club Comanche Hotel St. Croix.
The ocean is incredibly beautiful (as always)
The beaches are open, with the exception of Cramer's Park. Right now, they're being are tested weekly by the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources to ensure they meet water quality standards and are safe for swimming or fishing--and the best part: the crystal clear waters are as gorgeous as ever. The perfect way to spend the day is a trip to Buck Island National Monument. Big Beard's Adventure Tours is open and offering half- and full-day sails that include snorkeling and picnics on the beach.
Restaurants are (slowly) opening
A handful of restaurants on the island are still closed, but favorites among locals and visitors are opening each day. On our visit, we had an incredible dinner in the courtyard at Savant, which was recently opened and serving straight-out-of-the-water wahoo fish. In addition, Zion Modern Kitchen is open (even on Sunday evening), and waterfront bars like Shupe's on the Boardwalk and Angry Nate's are serving drinks.
You can still party
Festivals are the best (and free!) ways to celebrate in St. Croix, and the island hasn't stopped partying. Jump Up, located in downtown Christiansted, is a favorite among locals and visitors. The quarterly festival takes place in February, April/May, July, and November on a Friday night, and is a fantastic time to sample local (and very inexpensive) street foods and listen to live music. The streets, boardwalk, and the restaurants of Christiansted are filled with people and retail stores stay open late, and street vendors sell local art and wares--often at a discount. It's a great chance for visitors to see the famous Mocko Jumbies, a cultural tradition brought over from Africa, in which stilt dancers mock the evil spirits, also known as ‘jumbies,’ to scare them away.
Another fun festival is The Crucian Christmas Festival, which is celebrated during the winter holidays each year on St. Croix. This festival features music, food, and dancing with beauty pageants, a food, arts and crafts fair, and the festival village, with performances from local and regional artists. A highlight of the event is the colorful costume parades through the streets. The festivities take place from December 10, 2017 through January 6, 2018.