Irresistible trade winds of St. Croix captivate visitors
From the pages of AAA Horizons, a publication of the American Automobile Association

Photo by Joe O'Shea

By Joe O'Shea

While the winds of chance may carry visitors to the shores of St. Croix, it's the trade winds that keep many there.

While the breeze is captivating, the island's laid-back lifestyle, blinding-white beaches, and forty shades of ocean blue also enchant guests. Even St. Croix's commercial centers – twin towns Frederiksted and Christiansted – possess a singular somnolent quality.

The charming waterfront areas of both towns offer a plethora of shops, fine restaurants, gin joints, hotels and resorts. Tutto Bene in Christiansted falls into the fine restaurant category, while Frederiksted's popular Lost Dog tavern – which claims the island's best pizza – tumbles into the fun, earthy gin joint division. (Be careful of some shady neighborhoods that lurk beyond the downtown waterfronts.)

Photo by Joe O'Shea
On a snorkeling trip, visitors can experience 40 shades of ocean blue.

But to savor some Crucian flavor, it's best to spend time at one of the island's small inns.

From the North Shore to the lush hills overlooking Christiansted Harbor, these small inns provide visitors with a personal touch that they may not experience at a large hotel. Although many of the inns are owned by “Continentals” (US mainlanders), they know St. Croix well and can help guide guests to the best restaurants, nightspots and activities.

While the inns all provide a healthy dose of hospitality – and often breakfast – what each inn offers varies by degrees.

Photo by Joe O'Shea
The Pink Fancy Inn provides a colorful backdrop for visitors.

Adorned with West Indian and Victorian antique furniture, the aptly named Pink Fancy is located in downtown Christiansted, just a short stroll from plenty of duty-free shops on the boardwalk. Another historic gem is Hilty House, a quaint villa erected on the ruins of an 18 th -century rum distillery located in the hills of Christiansted.

A stone's throw from Hilty House sits Carringtons' Inn, which boasts one of the best views and breezes on the island. While lounging on the patio and craning his or her neck a wee bit, a guest can gaze upon both Christiansted Harbor and the grand hills that surround the town.

Sweeping views of the harbor serve as a backdrop for the Inn at Pelican Heights and Innparadise, where owners Paula and Tommie Broadnax cook up a hot Southern breakfast that complements their warm manner.

Photo by Joe O'Shea
A view of St. Croix's rainforest from inside the Orange Mill.

Finally, lovers of sand and surf can enjoy beachfront inns such as the Waves at Cane Bay and Villa Margarita. While the villa offers a more secluded experience, the Waves at Cane Bay is just down the street from a busy beach and Off the Wall, a funky open-air bar and grill.

If one somehow manages to escape the strong gravitational pull of the Lost Dog or Off the Wall, St. Croix offers a tremendous amount of sporting activities: Snorkeling in the salty turquoise sea surrounding Buck Island; pedaling under palm trees on a bike tour; hiking through a rain forest, pausing to visit one of the sugar mill ruins that pepper the St. Croix landscape like salt shakers; or enjoying Sweeny Toussaint's safari tours.

Then again, there's always the horizontal tour of the beach hammock.

Call 1-800-372-8784 or visit www.usvitourism.vi

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