This year’s Saint Somewhere was St. Croix, the only U.S. Virgin Island that my wife and I had not explored at length before this year. For the last few years, we’ve found a Caribbean island to hang out on near the end of the winter, and St. Croix was a worthy addition to this tradition.
The big surprise was the completely uncrowded vibe. That might be in part because we choose to stay in a villa at Cane Bay, away from the island’s two major towns. There were only a few other villas around and we could walk down a hill to the beach and a trio of beach bars/restaurants. These included the fabulous Off the Wall and Spratnet — two immediate nominees for our list of Great Dive Bars of the Caribbean. We liked the area so much that we stayed close a lot of days, and didn’t explore the rest of the island as much as we could/should have.
From a tourism standpoint, St. Croix is pretty obviously still recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria, the twin-headed monsters that struck in 2017. Irma just swung a glancing blow (unlike the other Virgin Islands to the north) but Maria dug right in, causing truly massive damage and stripping the vegetation. Since then, the island has greened back up but there still is rubble in places, the locals are great/friendly/approachable, the roads are a bit of an adventure but not as much as in St. John, and the place is ready to support tourists again. If you’re looking for a chill Caribbean island with lots of roaming opportunities. St. Croix definitely fits the bill.
It should be obvious to anyone who’s read my past posts that I’m a fan of structurally questionable Caribbean beach bars. They are really more about the hangout than anything else, although most of them will be happy to get you hammered if you’re after that, but I’m just looking for a relaxed vibe and a bit of rum. Here’s how I’d rank my favorites in the Virgin Islands. The ones with an ‘X’ next to them still have a chunk of rebuilding to do after the 2017 hurricanes, but they’re more or less open:
1. Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar, Jost Van Dyke X
2. Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant, Jost Van Dyke X
3. Rhythms at Rainbow Beach, St. Croix
4. The Beach Bar, St. John X
5. Seddy’s One Love Bar & Grill, Jost Van Dyke X
6. Off the Wall, St. Croix
7. The Soggy Dollar, Jost Van Dyke
8. Spratnet, St. Croix X
9. Skinny Legs, St. John
10. Island Time Pub, St. Thomas