About St. Croix
Imagine snorkeling in pristine bays of turquoise waters, relaxing on white sand beaches with the sound of palm fronds rustling overhead. Welcome to life on St. Croix! Just 82 square miles, St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, lying forty miles south of her sister islands of St. Thomas and St. John in the western Caribbean. St. Croix is located 1100 miles southeast of Miami and 1650 miles southeast of New York. Many flights arrive conveniently through Puerto Rico, our American neighbor just 90 miles to the west. The Virgin Islands are in the Atlantic Standard time zone which is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard time, but only for the winter months, as the Virgin Islands do not participate in daylight savings.
St. Croix is home to approximately 55,000 residents representing a vast array of cultural backgrounds. St. Croix has been blending backgrounds since olden times from the native Caribs who greeted Columbus, to African slaves under Danish rule, to today’s tourists greeted with a local smile.
Living up to its name as America’s Paradise, St. Croix’s weather is enviable no matter where you’re coming from. Tropical trade winds keep the island cool year-round with average temperatures ranging from 77 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 82 degrees in the summer. The average rainfall is 40 inches per year, with moderate 70-80% humidity year-round.
Christopher Columbus arrived in St. Croix November 14, 1493, his first stop on his second voyage to the New World. He sent a crew ashore in search of fresh water and a skirmish ensued as a canoe of Caribs came out to meet the newcomers. There were deaths on both sides, though no one knows for sure what really happened. Columbus claimed the island for Spain, calling it Santa Cruz or “Holy Cross.” (The French would later name the island St. Croix.) Continuing north, awed by the number of green hills rising out of the water, Columbus named the entire group of islands the Virgin Islands in honor of St. Ursula and her martyred virgins.
The Spanish didn’t concern themselves right away with the settlement of the Lesser Antilles, concentrating more on the larger islands to the west. However, the two centuries that followed were full of battles between the Spanish, English, Dutch, and French all for control of St. Croix.
Seven flags have flown over St. Croix: those of Spain, England, Holland, France, the Knights of Malta, Denmark, and finally, the United States. The influence of the long Danish rule in St. Croix is very evident on the island including the forts in both Christiansted and Frederiksted, the town names themselves, and the elegant and sturdy architectural styles. St. Croix enjoyed a time of prosperity under the Danes in the 18th century as a result of the successful exporting of sugar, molasses, rum, and cotton.
Concerned about protecting the Panama Canal in World War I, the U.S. bought St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas from Denmark on March 31, 1917 for $25 million in gold. Eventually granted territorial status, the Virgin Islands saw a shift in the economic focus as tourists began discovering the islands in the 1950s. In the 1960s major industries were established on St. Croix, including the Hess Oil Company, today known as Hovensa