13 Best St Croix USVI Things to Do: Not Another Generic List!
I’ll be honest I really didn’t know a lot about St Croix before our recent vacation. Typically, when fellow travelers talk about the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is in reference to St John or St Thomas. St Croix was a pleasant surprise! Why did I not know about this island sooner? My husband and I quickly found there is a wealth of amazing St Croix USVI things to do that easily fill out a 1-week vacation. Here is the curated list of our 13 favorites.
In This Guide
- 01- Annaly Bay Tide Pools
- 02- Buck Island
- 03- Snorkel at Frederiksted Pier
- 04- Best BBQ chicken
- 05- Hike to Isaac & Jack Bay
- 06- Best gas station food at Ziggy’s
- 07- Lime in Da Coconut at Rhythms
- 08- Sandy Point Beach
- 09- Local sweets at Thomas Bakery
- 10- Beach time at Cane Bay
- 11- Hike to Mt. Eagle
- 12- Drive through the rainforest
- 13- Cruzan Rum Distillery
- Final thoughts
01- Discover the Very Unique Annaly Bay Tide Pools
Annaly Bay Tide Pools
The Annaly Bay Tide Pools are absolutely gorgeous and truly are one of St Croix’s little gems. I appreciate the fact it requires a little effort, a 1-hour hike, to be exact. That means it weeds out some of the crowds.
Once you complete the hike, you end at a pebbly rustic beach. A short walk on the left side of the beach and a little rock scramble later, and you are there!
The water at Annaly Bay Tide Pools is incredibly clear and turquoise. Every so often a rogue wave crashes over the rocks and creates a temporary cascading waterfall effect. The water is never stagnant as it continues to be replenished by the crashing waves around it.
Make sure to wear your bathing suit underneath your hiking clothes and enjoy a refreshing swim in these gorgeous calm waters.
Super clear water at Annaly Bay Tide Pools
PRO TIP: There is another tide pool called Monk’s Bath. It requires only a 5-minute walk on a dirt path from the road, but in my opinion, it was unimpressive compared to the beauty of Annaly Bay Tide Pools. Plus, the rocks were kinda sharp getting in.
I would advise skipping it.
Monk’s Bath Tide Pools in St Croix
02- Take a Sailboat to Buck Island
Hanging out at Turtle Beach at Buck Island: top St Croix USVI things to do!
Designated as a National Monument in 1961, Buck Island is gorgeous! It is known for 2 things: great snorkeling and the beautiful white sand Turtle Beach.
How to make this happen?
You need to book a boat, and there are only 5 operators that are approved by the National Park Service to take you to Buck Island. All the tour operators’ contact information can be found on the official National Park Service’s website.
We chose Llewellyn’s Charter and couldn’t be happier. They take only 6 passengers, and the trip is offered on a sailboat. No engine smells to make you sick … just clean fresh air.
A low number of passengers is so important because the last thing you want when you are trying to snorkel is a bunch of people smacking you in the face with their fins while you all are trying to see the same marine life at the same time.
We did this snorkeling excursion right before the Christmas winds picked up, which I would not recommend. I am still glad we went, but the snorkeling was challenging to say the least. A calm sunny day is obviously going to be the ideal condition for a Buck Island trip.
The coral is mostly dead, but there were still some beautiful sections. One of the highlights was seeing a massive school of Jacks!
Close up of school of Jacks at Buck Island in St Croix USVI
After the snorkeling, we relaxed on the super soft white sand of Turtle Beach surrounded by warm turquoise water.
03- Snorkel in between the pylons at Frederiksted Pier
Beautifully coral coated pylon at Frederiksted Pier St Croix USVI
Entry can be a little tricky, but once you are in the water the snorkeling is straightforward. Just follow the pier and weave in and out between the pylons. It was a little eery at first because it is dark underneath, but you get accustomed to it pretty quickly.
What is amazing is all the concrete pylons are coated with beautiful brightly-colored red, orange, and yellow coral and sponges. Look closely in between all the coral because you will likely find small sea creatures like decorator crabs, seahorses, and brittle stars. So cool!
We also swam along the rocks on the left side of the pier (as you face the water) and discovered more interesting finds like a family of squid, a school of blue tang, and a bait ball.
If you dive, even better! Divers will often spot octopi and eels, especially during the night dives.
Frederiksted Pier is a must-not-miss activity if you love to snorkel!
Snorkeling with sergeant majors under Frederiksted Pier in St Croix USVI
04- Try the Best BBQ Chicken Ever!
La Reine Chicken Shack
If you are a foodie, then you have to try the spit-roasted, slow-cooked rotisserie BBQ chicken at La Reine Chicken Shack. I’ll have to tell Costco to take notes. You know you are at a good place when you show up and are surrounded by a line of locals. Even President Joe Biden, Martha Stewart, and Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern have been diners to this little gem of a place.
There are many different meat and fish offerings to choose from at this no-frills barn-like restaurant such as stew chicken and beef, meatballs, roast pork, BBQ ribs and chicken, conch, mahi-mahi, and tilapia. Sides include baked macaroni, coleslaw, cassava, plantains, and baked beans.
One dish you must order is the 1/2 roast chicken for $12.50 USD, which includes rice, beans, and salad. If they are running the special, get the 1/2 roast chicken + 2 Johnny Cakes for $7.75. Cash only. My husband and I enjoyed the perfectly crispy skin and juicy tender meat. Absolutely delicious! I can also personally vouch for the BBQ ribs and their baked macaroni as well.
Check out La Reine Chicken Shack Facebook page for current hours and specials.
La Reine Chicken Shack: 1/2 Chicken, baked macaroni, baked beans … should be on every foodie’s top St Croix USVI things to do
La Reine Chicken Shack Chicken: BBQ ribs
05- Work Off Those Cocktails and Hike to Isaac & Jack Bay
Isaac Bay Beach in St Croix USVI
Located on the secluded eastern end of the island right before you reach Point Udall, Isaac and Jack Bay offer beautiful clear waters, coral reefs, and soft white sand beaches. They are also home to nesting populations of green and hawksbill turtles.
After you reach the small parking lot, it takes about 20 minutes to reach Isaac Bay and an additional 20 minutes to reach Jack Bay. The hike is not too challenging, but it is HOT! There is no shade, so be prepared with plenty of water, a hat, and sun-protective clothing.
Isaac and Jack Bay hike in St Croix, another top St Croix USVI things to do!
We also brought our snorkeling gear and took a welcoming swim in Isaac Bay before finishing our hike out to Jack Bay. The winds and current made snorkeling a little challenging, but it was still fun to see a few tropical fish and even a lobster as we navigated our way around the water.
06- Tase Some of the Best Gas Station Food Ever at Ziggy’s!
Ziggy’s Island Market in St Croix USVI
Get some gas, and then grab some of the best local food at Ziggy’s Island Market. They have plenty of open-air seating in the back. Wash everything down with a cheap bar at their adjacent Libation Station.
What is Ziggy’s known for? Rotis and curries and their incredibly friendly service! Unfortunately, when we got there, they were just making a fresh batch of their curry which was going to take another few hours. We opted instead for their Ziggy’s Famous Cubano, which was good but I wish I had been able to try one of their Island Curry Dishes.
Ziggy’s Famous Cubano
07- Sip on the Original Lime in Da Coconut at Rhythms
Lime in Da Coconut at Rhythms in St Croix USVI
If you are on the western side of the island, you must stop by the beachside bar Rhythms at Rainbow Beach. They consider themselves as the “The Original Home of the Lime in Da Coconut.” They make this delicious Caribbean tropical drink with Coco Lopez, fresh lime juice, Key lime and coconut rum, vanilla, and citrus.
Since Rainbow Beach faces west, this location offers some great sunsets as you sip on that delicious cocktail.
We also ordered some delicious Mahi tacos with two different sauces: ginger citrus aioli and spicy aioli. So fresh and delicious!
Mahi tacos with ginger citrus aioli
Mahi tacos with spicy aioli
08- Visit One of the Most Pristine Beaches in the Caribbean
Sandy Point Beach in St Croix USVI
Sandy Point Beach is the beach when you think of that picture-perfect soft white sand and turquoise water. It is located at the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge and has very limited hours, so plan accordingly. Hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am – 4 pm. Due to turtle nesting season, the beach is closed from April 1 – September 1.
There are several parking lots, so you will not have any problem finding parking. Once we walked out on the beach, there was plenty of room to spread out since the beach is actually 2 miles long. There are no facilities and no shade. You will need sun-protective clothing, a hat, and plenty of water.
We enjoyed jumping in for a very relaxing swim but didn’t stay too long since there was no shade (no chair or umbrella rentals). There is no fringe reef, so no snorkeling here.
Of interest, the last scene of the 1994 film Shawshank Redemption was filmed at this beach.
Sandy Point Beach
09- Try Some Local Coconut Sweets at Thomas Bakery
Coconut roll at Thomas Bakery
Coconut drop at Thomas Bakery
I love to try the local food when we go to a new place. I found out about Thomas Bakery after reading that one of the local food tours takes their customers there. They have three locations throughout St. Croix. The downtown Christiansted location seems to the most popular.
This local bakery offers a lot of great options including raisin buns, pineapple, guava, and coconut tarts and turnovers, coconut drops and rolls, and butter bread.
When I went, most of the bakery items were already gone, but I was able to try a coconut drop and a coconut roll. I was expecting more of a coconut flavor from the coconut drop, so that was not my favorite. However, the coconut roll hit the spot. It had much more coconut flavor and a nice flaky crust. We got these two pastries to-go. They would have been perfect with a cup of tea.
10- Relax & Snorkel at Cane Bay
Cane Bay beach: one of the top St Croix USVI things to do!
Snorkeling with a baby turtle at Cane Bay, St Croix USVI
11- Hike to Mt. Eagle for Some Great Panoramic Views
On the rocky outcropping at Mt Eagle in St Croix
The highest mountain on St. Croix is Mt. Eagle and it offers some great panoramic views. Hiking to the viewpoint was fairly easy and took us about 40 minutes to get there and less than 30 minutes to get back.
The trail was pretty easy and offered a great amount of shade. The only hard part was finding the trailhead.
Panoramic views from Mt Eagle in St Croix
12- Drive Through the Rainforest and See the Beer-drinking Pigs
Driving through the St Croix rainforest
Driving on Mahogany Road through St. Croix’s rainforest was a fun adventure! I highly advise renting a SUV. We used the local company Centerline Car Rentals and had a great experience. They are highly recommended on the TripAdvisor forum.
Along the way, check out the famous unusual attraction … the beer-drinking pigs at Mt. Pellier Domino Club!
Buy a (nonalcoholic) beer, the pigs will jump in anticipation, toss the can their way, and they will happily drink up, and spit out the can when done. Afterward, enjoy a beer yourself or a special shot called a Mama-Wanna (homemade infused rum).
Unfortunately, when we drove by, Mt. Pellier Domino Club was closed. Next time. I did include a photo from Getty Images that gives you a sense of what this experience is like.
Courtesy of Getty Images: Beer-drinking pig at Mt. Pellier Domino Club
Another must-stop on your rainforest adventure is a little stationary food truck called Nidulari. Operated by one lady, Merryn MacDonald offers quite a variety of homemade options including Indian curries, Southern comfort food, and sweets such as cookies, pies, and cakes. She is especially known for her bakery goods and artisanal bread particularly sourdough.
Nidulari food truck in St Croix
Where does all this cooking take place in a rainforest? In a 40’ steel shipping container right on the property. She did some of the work herself and hired out when needed. Most items were collected secondhand. Merryn is quite a lady.
Opened only on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. See Nidulari’s Facebook page for current hours and specials. Cash only. My husband and I went to St Croix during Christmas, and unfortunately this adorable little food truck was also closed when we drove by.
Travel does not always work out as planned, but if you miss something, it saves something to explore for the next time!
13- Visit Cruzan Rum Distillery
Cruzan rums at Plaza West grocery store in St Croix
St Croix is known for two local rum distilleries: Cruzan Rum and Captain Morgan.
The Cruzan Rum Distillery is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but once everything begins to open again a tour and tasting of the distillery should resume. Captain Morgan is offering rum tastings but only on a limited basis and by reservation only.
Until all the tours are back in operation, you can do what we did and buy a few bottles of Cruzan Rum at the local grocery store to do your own tastings and mixed drinks.
We had just gotten back from an amazing trip to St John USVI, and I was skeptical if St Croix would meet our expectations. Although different than St John, we truly enjoyed St Croix. It has a distinct island and food culture and offers plenty of outdoor adventure. Unlike St John, it also offers the opportunity to stay in rentals right on the ocean. We loved it and would go back. If you want to see how to incorporate all these highlights into your holiday, check out my St Croix itinerary below.
Any other must-do things in St Croix you would recommend?
Let me know in the comments below!