St. Croix was settled by the Carib native Indians, following other Indian tribes, in the 1400s. On his second voyage to America in 1493, Christopher Columbus and his men landed in what is now known as Salt River and encountered the Carib Indians, who used arrows to send the armed explorers back to their boats. Columbus named the island Santa Cruz. The Salt River site on St. Croix is the only known site in a U.S. territory that was explored by Columbus.
Although Columbus landed for Spain, the island was first established by the Dutch and English, followed through the years with many changes of control between Denmark, England, France, and Puerto Rico/Spain. (Because of this diversity, St. Croix is often called the "Island of 7 Flags.") In 1747, the Danish West Indies Company bought St. Croix from the French. St. Croix was the capital of the Virgin Islands until 1871, when it moved to Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.
St. Croix was a very wealthy island, due to sugar, rum, and slave labor. In 1848, following several slave revolts, the governor abolished slavery in the Danish colonies.
In 1917, the United States purchased St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John from the Danish government for military reasons. Tourism is now the main industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Climate: St. Croix has a tropical savanna climate with dry winters.
Heat: Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from 73°F to 88°F and is rarely below 69°F or above 91°F.
Sun: The length of the day doesn't vary nearly as much as it does in the northern states. The shortest day is December 21 with 11 hours of daylight and the longest day is June 20 with 13 hours of daylight.
Wind: Over the course of the year typical wind speeds vary from 3 mph to 19 mph, rarely exceeding 23 mph. The tradewinds are most often out of the east.
Rain: Like most tropical islands, it can rain unpredictably in St. Croix. (This is why when you look at the St. Croix weather forecast it will invariably predict a chance of showers.) When it does rain, it will usually be a light rain, and will pass through the area quickly. It rains less on the east side of the island (where Eden by the Sea is located) and more on the west side of the island, where the rainforest is.
Humidity: The relative humidity typically ranges from 58% to 90% over the course of the year. The air is driest in the winter and most humid in the late fall. Because of the breeze, the humidity is not nearly as uncomfortable as you might expect. Besides, you can always find a nice spot of shade or a big body of water!
Hurricanes: Hurricane season is considered to be June through October, though hurricanes are fairly rare and should not be a concern for your vacation. If you're worried, you can always take out travel insurance.
Snow: (not likely!!!)
Located approximately 1000 miles from Miami, 40 miles from St. Thomas, and 35 miles from Puerto Rico, St. Croix is an island of about 50,000 residents. It is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, at 84 square miles (28 miles long and 7 miles wide at its widest point).
The terrain on the east end of the island is rocky and arid with short grassy hillsides and many cactus clusters. The west end of the island is lush with large fruit trees and ferns gracing the mountains. St. Croix's highest peak, Mount Eagle, rises 1,088 feet high in the heart of the rainforest. The middle of the island is mostly rolling pasturelands with grazing animals like sheep, goats, and cows. The land slopes to flatlands on the southern side of the island.
There are two main towns, Frederiksted and Christiansted.
Frederiksted is on the west side of the island and has the biggest concentration of beaches, from Cane Bay to Sandy Point Reserve. It is also home to the cruise ship pier and Fort Frederik.
Christiansted is on the northeast side of the island, and is nestled inside a natural bay. Christiansted is home to Fort Christianvaern and other historic structures that give visitors a look into the Danish colonial way of life. Christiansted harbor boasts some nice waterfront restaurants and a beautiful boardwalk. Protestant Cay, in the bay across from Christiansted, can be reached by a short water taxi ride. Beautiful Buck Island is the best geographical landmark to be seen from the balconies at Eden by the Sea.
Residential areas on St. Croix are fairly spread out around the island with a concentration of homes, schools, grocery stores, and so on in the center of the island. Our home church while we are on-island, St. Croix Christian, is located in this area.
St. Croix is home to three National Parks: Salt River, which protects a diverse ecosystem in addition to pre-historic ruins; Buck Island, an underwater park, with stunning marine gardens; Sandy Point, notable for its beauty and for its protected sea turtles, Additional preserves and parks are scattered around the island. On the east side, just before Point Udall are picturesque Jack and Isaac Bays.
St. Croix is ethnically diverse. English is the primary language used, though you will also hear some Spanish and the local "patois."
The currency used is the U.S. dollar.
St. Croix is in the Atlantic Time Zone (One hour ahead of Eastern Time) and does not observe daylight savings time in the summer.
St. Croix is reached easily from the mainland and Puerto Rico. American Airlines flies through Miami twice a day. Southwest Airlines and United fly to Puerto Rico and there are several daily flights from Puerto Rico to St. Croix.
There is one airport on St. Croix, Henry Rohlsen International, which is located on the south side of the island about 45 minutes drive from Eden by the Sea.
No passports are required for travel by U.S. citizens to the U.S. Virgin Islands, though it's always a good idea to carry your passport, if you have one.
Though the cars are set up the same as on the mainland, driving is on the LEFT in the Virgin Islands. (Don't ask us why!) Don't worry, you will quickly become acclimated to the difference in driving, especially since the average speed is around 35 mph.
St. Croix is home to the University of the Virgin Islands, which has a beautiful campus on the south side of the island near the Whim Plantation.
You will find many familiar places on St. Croix, like K-Mart, Home Depot, McDonald's, Wendy's and other mainland fast food places. The grocery stores are independently owned and are scattered around the island. A small grocery near Eden by the Sea has convenient free delivery for all orders over $50.00.
We highly suggest our guests rent a car as there is so much to see around the island. A four-wheel drive vehicle will come in handy if you want to go off-roading in the rainforest or to a secluded beach. We recommend a local company, Centerline Car Rentals, which offers a 10% discount to our guests. The friendly and helpful staff have a rental counter right at the airport.
AT&T is the only cellular phone service in St. Croix; all other phone services will be "roaming." Texting with the other services isn't too expensive, but check with your carrier. If you don't have AT&T cell phone service, you may want to pick up an AT&T go-phone for your time there. It's an inexpensive option to use a cell phone while you're on vacation.
If you're thinking of a vacation home in the Virgin Islands, we can highly recommend our realtor and friend, Kim Lucas. See her website at www.retireinthevi.com for other ideas and helpful information while you are visiting.