Lush tropical greenery comes alive with bright blossoms on St Croix, scenting the sea-air with the fragrance of flowers. Long stretches of pale sand are the matting on an island framed by sparkling seas. The largest island in the US Virgin Islands, St Croix has much of the same amenities ? plenty of aquamarine water and powdery beaches ? as St Thomas and St John but with fewer visitors and more room to roam, the island may offer more solitude.
Ferries from St. John and St. Thomas dock in Christiansted, the island's busy city. For urban pleasures and a bit of island history, wander the historic district and shop an afternoon away before pursuing some of St. Croix's sub-surface attractions. Stop in at the Estate Whim Plantation Museum for a glimpse of colonial St. Croix, or wander the ground of St. George Village Botanical Garden for island foliage, the remains of a turn-of-the-century sugarcane village and ruins of adjacent rum factory. While no island brew comes out of St. George Village these days, a visit to Cruzan Rum Distillery can set you straight on the modern rum-making process and finished product.
Insert regulator and take to the depths off the north shore for some of the area's best diving sites. Don't miss the boat to Buck Island Reef National Monument, five miles offshore to the northeast of Christiansted. An underwater ?national park', Buck Island has a beach to kick back on with brown pelicans and hawksbill turtles after you've snorkeled along the marked aquatic trail leading through the reefs.
When you've exhausted a day's worth of diving, head to Point Udall in the east for windy panoramas out to sea and secluded beaches. Frederiksted, St. Croix's other town, is a cruise ship stop and midway down the west coast. If you have more than a few hours on St. Croix, rent a jeep and drive the St. Croix Heritage Trail that winds 72 miles around the island.
Explore the Salt River estuary, where Christopher Columbus landed, by kayak and give your feet a fin break. Then paddle along the coast in search of your own piece of private beach, kick back and enjoy the ease of modern travel. A long sail from the new world aboard the Nina, Pinta or Santa Maria, St. Croix these days is only a quick 40-mile ferry ride from St. Thomas.