St. Croix - An American Virgin
My first view of this island paradise is from a bright blue sky as we make our approach to land. The mountains loll like prehistoric dinosaurs. A dark green emerald set in a turquoise stone with streaks of brown. Reefs, appearing as tiny cigars lying in a crystalline-aqua bowl which are then surrounded by an abyss of a deeper hue of purple-blue. These waters are a diver’s paradise and many come to explore the many secrets that she enfolds. I am anxious to see it up close and personal. Just offshore lies Buck Island, a National Park whose surrounding reefs are world-class.
St. Croix is the largest of the American Virgin Islands and yet it is only 28 miles long by 7 miles wide.
It has narrow, winding roads that climb up into the mountains and just as quickly descend down into small valleys before rising again. The views of the azure blue waters meeting the land are fantastic and each twist and turn of the road brings a new view. The west end of the island contains a rain forest where the usual flora and fauna changes into a mahogany forest that smells damp and sweet. As you wind along the narrow roads you can hear the rattling chatter from the pods that hang from the mother-in-law trees. You can hear doves cooing, as well as the most unusual call of the sugar bird sounding off from within these dense woods. The east end of the island boasts the recognition of being the Easternmost point of the United States and the views from this high pinnacle are fantastic. The flora and fauna is quite different as it is more arid, thereby large cactus rise up to meet the sun on hillsides of golden grasses and sweet Acacia trees with tiny aromatic yellow blossoms. You will see the elusive mongoose scurry across the roadways as you adventure around the island. The sea breezes keep the temperature comfortable so exploring this tropical paradise is always a treat.
The island’s pace is slow, as if there’s no tomorrow, but only one more reggae song to denote in the journals of yesterday. So I wish to write of the peace that comes when you finally sit down on the shore under the shade of the many palm or sea grape trees. Watch as frigates soar overhead, their forked tails spread wide to the sea breeze. Relax as your eyes scan the waves off-shore, frothy white from nipping at the crowns of reefs. As they settle back down, on their way inland, they approach with a calming island beat, as if to offer their condolences to the sandy shore. The just-off-shore reefs are like tiny cities of activity where the silence remains vigilant to your breath, as you drift over them with snorkel and mask. Flashes of color dart about these watery streets that are steeped in mystery; graced in the style of age old, coral homes amid rolling hills of sea grasses. The cool, clear waters are sure to soothe away all aches and pains and renew your spirit.
When you come to visit St. Croix you must change your lenses and the way you view the world. Catch the Crucian flavor and savor the taste of this tropical paradise.
To honor the respect that the Crucians seek, it is an “island thing” to, “always greet them first before you speak“. By doing this, it serves as a unspoken acknowledgement that this was their homeland first. With their initial poverty came the wealth of island art and a cultural tale that longs to be told.
The two small cities, Christiansted and Fredericksted, are slowly being rehabilitated to attract the tourists but for the time being the island remains off the beaten path and a joy to explore!