On St. Croix, it can be tempting to relax on the same gorgeous, aquamarine beach for your whole stay. With the sultry, tropical air and the promise of umbrella drinks, the inclination to stay put is strong. Still, no vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands is complete without adventure—so check out these ways to stay cool, stretch your swimming muscles and venture beyond that single blue-green beach. Suit up: We’re swimming St. Croix.
The Island Away from the Island: Buck Island Reef National Monument
The Kennedy family visited Buck Island—near St. Croix’s northeastern end—in the mid-20th century, and what they saw moved John F. Kennedy to later make it a National Monument in 1961. What knocks the breath out of you is not just the beach above water; it’s also what’s below it. Just 176 of Buck Island’s 19,000 acres are above the shoreline; the rest are comprised of dramatic Elkhorn coral reefs and underwater snorkeling and diving trails.
Getting there: Book a boat tour through one of six parks-approved concessionaires, most of which leave from Green Cay or Christiansted Harbor.
What to drink: Troll the abundant farm stands for some coquito, a local rum-based drink made with cream, cinnamon and vanilla. It’s kind of like the tropical version of Irish cream and is great iced.
The Locals’ Daycation: Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort
When a local Crucian sets out for a day of poolside relaxation, this well-appointed resort is often at the top of the list. Located on the northern side of St. Croix, the Renaissance Carambola’s oceanside pool area is surrounded by broad palms, protecting it from the sometimes-strong trade winds that skirt the island. This is the part of your swim journey meant for paddling around, sipping tropical drinks and grabbing a leisurely lunch.
Getting there: Rent a car or hire a taxi; with relatively few roads, St. Croix is easy to navigate. At the gate, tell the guards you’re there for lunch.
What to drink: Go on a Sunday and enjoy the Champagne Brunch and Bloody Mary bar.
A Hike and a Dip: Wills Bay Tide Pools
Not many St. Croix visitors get to enjoy the tidal pools at Wills Bay—and for good reason. From the Carambola Beach Resort, it’s a 45-minute hike through shaded rainforest to get there, but it’s well worth the effort. The hike takes you past the grand views of the Caribbean Sea from the hills along the trail and through a forest to a series of pristine tidal pools.
Getting there: Rent a car or hire a taxi to the Carambola Beach Resort and look for the signs for the trailhead, heading west from the resort.
What to drink: Coconut water, ideally fresh from a roadside stand along the way—gotta stay hydrated for that hike.