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  • Writer's picturedianerhodes

Cruising St. Croix, USVI

Updated: Feb 12

Watch our quick little video about some of the wonders of St. Croix.

After spending 7 weeks in San Juan, Puerto Rico we sailed 22 hours straight to Frederiksted, St. Croix to meet two of my sons, Tommy and Danny!

While our anchorage near Frederiksted Pier may have been a tad rolly during our stay, we're still pretty happy we picked this spot for our adventure. Christiansted appeared even rollier, and we weren't about to test the shallows at the entrance to Salt River Bay—especially when we spied masts poking up from the briny deep!

Turtles, Stingrays, and Octupi, Oh my!

Our neighbors were green turtles

The highlight of our time at this anchorage was undoubtedly plunging off the boat into the crystal-clear waters, we could see straight to the sandy and grassy bottom below. We discovered our aquatic neighbors—a trio of magnificent green turtles lazily munching on the sea grass near Lagerhead. Their graceful movements a sight to behold.

We were greeted by stingrays gliding beneath us, their sleek forms accompanied by their entourage of remora fish. Meanwhile, a school of little blue runners darted around, nibbling at the barnacles clinging to our anchor chain and playfully trailing us as we snorkeled.

Tommy and Danny were over the moon spotting the vibrant wildlife thriving beneath our boat.

While the three of us were content to snorkel on top, Dave, the avid adventurer, plunged into the depths, free-diving an impressive 30 feet down.

What did he bring back as a trophy of his underwater expedition? Old Shiltz cans dating back to the 1960s! Little did he know, a tiny octopus had taken up residence in one of them.

As the tiny cephalopod emerged from its aluminum abode, we couldn't help but marvel at its unexpected appearance. With a gentle hand, we swiftly returned our tiny guest to its watery home, hoping the adventurous little creature would find its way back to safety.

Our Friend, Octopus!

Frederiksted Pier

When the pier had a break from the hustle of cruise ships and the watchful eye of the coast guard, Danny seized the opportunity for some adventure. He made his way over on a paddle board, relishing the rush of flipping off the pier and plunging into the sea below. Our boat just didn't offer quite the same adrenaline rush, and there was no way we were letting Danny attempt a mast climb for a dramatic dive!

Snorkeling and scuba diving beneath the pier proved to be just as thrilling. The underwater world is teeming with life—schools of fish, graceful seahorses, and more turtles making appearances.

One of the Many Cruise Ships in Town


Frederiksted Boardwalk

Cruise ships show up on a semi-regular basis. The schedule is posted here. When they do come, Frederiksted square becomes a hub of activity, adorned with colorful tents with trinkets for sale.

The beach transforms into a bustling oasis with rows of beach chairs, lively music, and fluttering umbrellas. Bars and restaurants buzz with energy as they welcome throngs of visitors.

On days without cruise ships, Frederiksted takes on a tranquil, laid-back vibe, enveloped in a peaceful quietude.

Explosion on Deck!

Danny out paddleboarding before it exploded.

Since the 2022 Annapolis Boat Show, we've been storing two top-of-the-line POP paddle boards on our boat. I was eagerly anticipating using mine in the warm Caribbean waters, and finally got the chance when Danny and Tommy came to visit.

For two blissful days, we had a blast paddle boarding around. However, on the third morning while Dave and I were relaxing in the cockpit, we were startled by a sudden "Hissssssss.... BOOOOM".

My initial panic subsided when I realized it wasn't the propane on the boat exploding, but rather my brand new paddleboard. It had expanded in the sun and burst at the seam. Despite not fully inflating it to the recommended 15 psi, it couldn't handle the pressure and exploded at just 12 psi.

After reaching out to the company, they admitted that their production quality had slipped during the pandemic rush for outdoor gear. They assured me they wanted to make things right and requested photos and receipts. Apparently pictures aren't enough. We'll need to make an unexpected trip to St. Thomas, USVI, to package the damaged paddleboard and ship it via UPS, as UPS services are only available on St. Thomas.

Rental Car

The locals have a sense of humor!

St. Croix may be a hefty slice of Caribbean paradise, but when it comes to public transportation, let's just say it's more of a "good luck, you're on your own" situation. It's only a dollar to hop on a bus and explore, but if you're in Frederiksted waiting for one to actually show up, you might as well bring a book and a hammock for the wait!

We decided to take matters into our own hands and rent a car for $75 a day.

In St. Croix, navigating the roads is like playing a game of pothole roulette. Most of the streets are smooth sailing, but once you hit the rain forest mountain roads, it's like entering a minefield! It's less of a scenic drive and more of a "dodge the abyss" adventure. There may have been yelling and crying down some of those roads when I was the driver and Dave was the navigator.

Beer Drinking Pigs

They get a bit foamy at the mouth from drinking!

The payoff for the hazardous driving was a visit with the famous Beer Drinking Pigs. Located on Rt. 76 (Mahogany Rd.) in the heart of the rain forest, the Mt. Pellier Hut Domino Club is one of the most unique places we've seen.

We stopped in for a cold drink, some really delicious food, conversation with some interesting folk, and, absolutely, to feed the pigs a beer...non-alcoholic of course! (The original pig in the 1960s drank Old Millwakee but PETA didn't take too kindly to getting pigs drunk.)

You pay $2 to watch the pigs drink and $4 more to buy them a drink. Cheap entertainment on St. Croix. My favorite pig is Kevin Bacon. He slurped down his beer in no time.

We really enjoyed talking with Nico, the owner of the place, and the locals who hang out there.

Nico, the owner, getting a delivery of non-alcoholic beer for the pigs!

I snagged the swankiest coozie in town and even had a great chat with the lovely lady who embroidered it!

The food at Mt. Pellier Hut Domino Club is nothing short of sensational. We sunk our teeth into a Conch Roti, and let me tell you, it was a flavor explosion of epic proportions!

Dave went home with a bottle of Mamma Wanna, a spiced beverage made by infusing a mixture of honey, tree bark and herbs into Cruzan rum.

Remember to bring cash for your visit. Nico doesn't take cards and there is no ATM nearby.

Kayak Bio Bay at Sunset

A highlight of the trip for all four of us was kayaking the Biolumenscent Bay at Salt River Bay National Historical Park!

We went on the Seathru Kayaks IV tour. Craig and his wife, who run the place, greeted us warmly. The guides Brett and Jake are incredible. We used tandem sea kayaks. Tom and Dan in one and Dave and me in the other.

As we dipped our paddles into the dark waters, little did we know we were about to embark on an aquatic adventure like no other. With each stroke, the water came alive, lighting up in a dazzling display of blues and greens, as if the stars themselves had taken a midnight swim.

The air was alive with our laughter and the gentle splash of water against our kayaks. Gliding through the liquid magic, we felt like explorers in a mystical realm, surrounded by nature's own light show.

Our paddles stirred up a trail of glowing sparks, like fireflies dancing on the surface of the water. We couldn't help but reach out to touch the glowing water, watching in amazement as our fingertips left trails of light in their wake.

Time seemed to stand still in that bioluminescent wonderland, and for a while, we were lost in the beauty of the moment. Eventually, reluctantly, we turned our kayaks back toward shore, our hearts full of memories that would last a lifetime.

If ever you find yourself in the vicinity of a bioluminescent bay, do not hesitate to grab a paddle and embark on your own luminous adventure!

Hike to the Annaly Bay Tide Pools

If you google the Annaly Bay Tide Pools, you see pictures of people hanging out in serene pools of water. This is not what we experienced!

The view from the trail.

The hike to the tide pools is about a 2.5-mile trek through lush rainforest terrain. Kicking off from the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort. The gatekeeper at the resort's entry pointed us in the direction of parking (straight uphill) and to the trailhead.

This hike isn't for the faint of heart. With steep inclines, uneven paths, and the occasional ant nest, it's a wild ride. We meandered through the rainforest, keeping our peepers peeled for critters like millipedes, butterflies, and lizards, We were careful to mind our step, for tree roots and rocky terrain lie in wait. We enjoyed spectacular views of the ocean from outlooks along the way.

The rainforest gradually gave way to open grasslands, leading us down to the rocky shores below.

We could see the tide pools but to get to them you have to Spiderman your way around big rocks.

Unfortunately for us, we were coming off of a week of huge wind and waves (hence the rolly anchorage). The sea state was angry and the waves here on the north side were crashing violently into the rocks leading to the tide pools. We talked Danny out of trying to cross to the pools because it looked very dangerous and there were Deadly Rip Tide Warnings for the day.

In the end, we glumly turned around and headed back up without the reward of bathing in the tide pools. Our plan was to go back on a calmer day but that will have to wait until another visit.

Buck Island

Buck Island, St. Croix

On a much calmer day, we opted for an excursion to Buck Island, eager to explore the protected reef as part of the National Park. We initially attempted to secure a permit for anchoring there but, alas, received no response (and neither did our pals). Word on the street was to swing by the fort in Christensted and apply in person.

However, given time constraints for my sons (they had one day left before flying home), we ditched the sailing idea and instead embarked on Caribbean Sea Adventures tour, which turned out to be an absolute blast! The crew and our fellow boat mates were lots of fun!

Tommy enjoying the view.

We started the tour by relaxing on the pristine white sand beaches of Buck Island. Tom and Dan opted to entertain themselves by taking turns diving and flipping off the tour boat.

Snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters around Buck Island, St. Croix is an unforgettable experience that immersed us in the vibrant marine life of the Caribbean. We glided over the shallow coral reefs, and were greeted by a kaleidoscope of colors as tropical fish darted in and out of coral formations.

Underwater markers guide you on the tour.

One of the highlights of snorkeling around Buck Island is the underwater trail. This marked trail guides snorkelers through a stunning underwater landscape, featuring coral gardens teeming with life. We spoted lots of the iconic elkhorn and staghorn corals, which provide habitat for a diverse array of marine creatures. A lot of the coral is beat up from past hurricanes but you can see the new coral taking hold.

We followed large schools of shimmering blue tangs weaving between the coral branches. We watched brightly colored parrotfish munch on algae, while curious sergeant majors guarded their territory among the coral heads.

School of Parrotfish

The warm, clear waters of Buck Island offer excellent visibility, allowing Dave and me to peer into crevices and caves where Dave spotted two gigantic lobsters hiding out. Dave and I were the last ones back to the boat, we love to snorkel!

Catching Up with Cruising Friends

In addition to spending time with my sons, we also met up with Cory and Chris from SV Starlight. They were our anchor neighbors during our stay in Annapolis, and they welcomed us again when we arrived in Frederiksted! We finally got to tour their incredible boat! So jealous. You can tour it too on this youtube video.

We had the pleasure of connecting with Erica and Steve from SV Dalliance. We met them in Bermuda where they kindly hosted us for Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a delightful evening of drinks and dinner together on the East Side, which was a fantastic experience! I also met a fellow SUNY Potsdammer, the bartender of Cheeseburger in Paradise (yes, they have permission from Jimmy Buffet's estate to use that name). We stopped in for drinks. We had some good laughs over Backstreets, Josie pizza rolls, and Potsdam winters!

I could endlessly rave about the stunning beaches, delectable cuisine, lively beach bars, and the wonderful locals we encountered. By the way, the vegan pizza and Singo (Bingo with Songs) at the Lost Dog Pub & Pizza were absolute highlights of our trip. We loved our table mates there!

Despite being the least visited US Virgin Island due to its slightly off-the-beaten-path location, St. Croix is undoubtedly worth exploring. Our experience there was simply fantastic and made all the better by sharing it with Dan and Tom!

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