St Croix may be a little island only 26 miles long and at it’s widest about 6 miles across, but we are blessed with THREE National Parks ensuring that we preserve and protect our beautiful environment while enjoying the great outdoors and learning about the island’s history.
Whether you’ve got a National Parks Pass or not – be sure to make each of these a stop on your next visit to St Croix!
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Located just about 2 miles off of St Croix’s North East Shore lies the uninhabited marine playground known as Buck Island Reef National Monument. The protected marine park lies mainly underwater with less than a third of it being the land known as Buck Island. The West end Reef contains a guided trail through one of the most beautiful coral gardens home to a wide variety of colorful marine life. The West end beach known as “Turtle Beach” is nesting ground to hawks-bill turtles and a popular spot for local boaters on the weekend. To get here you’ll have to hitch a ride with one of the NPSs approved Buck Island Tour Operators who will provide you with the boat ride, snorkel gear, expert guides and guaranteed entertainment!
Christiansted National Historic Site
Not only is the entire downtown area of Christiansted listed as a National Historic Site, but it includes the National Park System’s 7-Acre Christiansted National Historic Site. This beautiful urban park is the anchor of the downtown area and is comprised of a large historic complex that includes the iconic yellow Danish built Fort Christianvaern, a gorgeous waterfront sweeping lawn that hosts community, family-friendly events like the monthly Movies at the Fort, the historic Danish Count House and the oldest Church on the island now known as the Steeple Building. Explore the park and learn about the history of the island through displays in Fort Christianvaern from pre-history through the Danish colonies to today. You’ll find books and other gifts at the Count house and monthly talks in the park by NPS educators and other scholars on topics like history, ecology, historic preservation and more!
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve
Salt River Bay is a unique and amazing living history museum! Learn about pre-Columbian indigenous peoples who inhabited the island prior to Columbus’ Second Voyage to the “New World”in 1493. He stopped right here at Salt River and the first fight of sadly too many broke out between Columbus’ men and the local inhabitants of the Americas. Nowadays in season you can pop into the Visitor’s Center on the hill above the bay to enjoy rotating exhibits and learn more about the area. Year-round I highly recommend going out onto Salt River Bay on a kayak tour – and for those who want something really spectacular head out during the darker nights of the month to experience the BioBay! At the back of the bay is a tiny inlet that is filled with millions of little creatures who glow- or bioluminesce – in the water when you move your hand or your kayak. It’s an incredible natural phenomena that you won’t want to miss. Or if you just want to relax and take a swim, head over to Columbus Cove Beach.
One little island – three spectacular National Parks. Have you been to St Croix’s National Parks? Let us know in the comments below!