June 06, 2008 | Comments 0

St. Croix Makes The List

stcroixThe lifeblood of any tourist destination is good publicity. When travelers choose an unknown vacation spot, they rely on brochures, guidance by experienced travel agents, word of mouth from others who have been there, and reputable publications that describe the destination. St. Croix, one of the US Virgin Islands, received the distinction of being one of National Geographic’s Top Beaches. Travelers who are earnest in their quest to find the perfect beach hideaway are thus drawn to the allure of this exquisite island.

The US Virgin islands consist of three islands and fifty islets located in the Lesser Antilles chain of the West Indies. East of Puerto Rico, the islands lie between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Only the three islands are inhabited; St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix comprise the “feature attractions” of the chain. St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands, at 80 square miles. It’s home to two modern towns, Christiansted and Frederiksted. Many cruise ships dock at its busy port to allow travelers to explore the shopping areas and see for themselves the renowned beaches that earned their way into National Geographic stardom. More than a million tourists arrive via tour ship each year. Since the cruise ships spend limited time at each port of call, many visitors prefer to travel directly to St. Croix and spend their entire vacation there; this is the only way to fully experience the stunning beauty of the island’s beaches.

St. Croix’s climate and terrain are especially suited to beach-lovers. The tropical temperature averages 80 degrees Fahrenheit with cooling trade winds. The island is rockier, with a more rugged coastline in places than St. Thomas and St. John. It is also the only one of the US Virgin Islands that is actively engaged in agriculture; its principal export products are sugarcane, run, and tropical fruits. Beachcombers can easily wander into the surrounding palm and fern forests and pick fruit straight from the tree! St. Croix is mostly flat but well-irrigated and the soil if fertile. Walking the beach, visitors observe the peaceful scene of grazing cattle amidst the lush vegetation.

And, Oh! Those beaches! So pearly-white, they look like confectioner’s sugar and it’s hard to resist the impulse to taste the sand to make sure it IS sand! So soft under your bare feet, and the gentle caress of the lapping waves feel very much like you’re getting a pedicure in a fine spa. The clear aqua water reflects the blue of the sky overhead. The beaches descend gradually, with plenty of space for wading, shell-hunting and observing the little crabs that scuttle back and forth between their hiding places. In 1989 St. Croix and the other two islands were devastated by Hurricane Hugo, causing $500 million dollars in damage. The US government and the islanders worked continuously to clear the beaches and return the ecosystem to normal.

The white sand, the gentle waves, the crystal aqua water – it’s no wonder that St. Croix made National Geographic’s short list of the world’s best beaches. But remember the old saying, “Don’t believe everything you read?” Come to St. Croix and find out for yourself.

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