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Affordable St. Croix

May 27, 2009 — Virgin Islands tourism got a high-profile boost this January with a New York Times travel article entitled "Affordable Caribbean: U.S. Virgin Islands," highlighting some of the best values and more modestly priced places to stay and eat in the Virgin Islands.
Yet something was missing, something kind of large. Here's author David G. Allan talking up the territory. Can you spot it?
"St. Thomas — and its less-developed sister, St. John — have all the trademarks of an exotic Caribbean getaway: beautiful white beaches, balmy weather, water sports galore, rum-spiked drinks and swaying palm trees," Allan wrote.
There you have it. The U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Thomas and St. John, a beautiful pair. Somehow the Gray Lady, the U.S. newspaper of record, has made St. Croix vanish from the Virgin Islands like some out-of-favor apparatchik in a Soviet Union history book, the vast bulk of the landmass and a majority of the territory's population gone with the tap of an editor's "enter" button somewhere inside the New York Times building. Go look. There is even a map showing St. Thomas and St. John; the "U.S. Virgin Islands" with St. Croix way off by itself, apparently a sovereign nation.
Oh the outrage. And the notion of looking at affordable getaways in the Virgin Islands without even mentioning St. Croix adds irony to injury. As the least-visited and largest of the three main islands, St. Croix has perhaps a better variety of more affordable options than the other two.
So, here are some St. Croix bargains for Allan and the New York Times to consider.
Where to Stay
St. Croix, the old Danish capital of the Virgin Islands, has two main towns; Christiansted on the northeastern shore, and the smaller Frederiksted in the west. Christiansted is larger, busier and more touristy, with lots of jewelry, art and souvenir shops, bars, restaurants and hotels, while smaller Frederiksted, where the island's cruise ship pier is located, usually has a slower pace and more of the feel of being in a real Caribbean town rather than a place made just for tourists.
Though it has far fewer hotel rooms than either St. Thomas or St. John, St. Croix has its posh and pricey resorts too. But there are cheaper digs to be found.
Sandcastles on the Beach, (800.524.2018) is a charming small hotel just south of Frederiksted, right on the beach.. The west end of St. Croix is leeward to the prevailing winds and currents, so the water is almost always clear and still, making for great swimming and snorkeling, and Sandcastles is right on one of the best, sandiest beaches on the island. They have two swimming pools, one of which (the one behind a wooden fence) is clothing-optional, too. Rooms go from as low as $109 in the slow summer season but most rooms are pricier, running in the $200 to $350 range.
Proprietors Simone Palmer and Sheryl Smith are very hands-on and attentive to their guests and their Beach Side Café, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is one of the best restaurants on the island, so you don't really need to leave the hotel except to swim.
For a longer stay, or for a more family-oriented vacation, right next door is Cottages By the Sea, (800-323-7252) with a selection of hotel rooms and beach cottages set up as little efficiencies. Prices range from $95 for a hotel room in the slow season to $220 for a large suite, essentially a small apartment, during the busy season. There are lots of options in the $125-$175 per-night range. With a small 'fridge and a kitchenette in most of the rooms room, you can save money too by buying a few groceries and feeding yourself some of the time. There are gas grills and a large shelter next to the beach where you can lounge and barbecue too. The place has been family-owned since the 1950s and you will undoubtedly meet the ever-helpful and friendly proprietors Paul Benedict, sister Ruth and parents Tom and Carol Benedict. There are bikes and kayaks to rent for very modest fees, free use of snorkeling gear, a broad, sandy beach with few rocks, frequent visits from sea turtles, sting rays and all manner of fish. And, as you are right next door to Sandcastles by the Sea, you can walk over to take advantage of their restaurant.
With nearly all their rooms running from $85 to $135, depending on size and season, the Frederiksted Hotel, right on the waterfront Strand Street, offers great rates, nice rooms and a good, moderate priced breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Tel: (340) 772-0500
Holger Danske Hotel in Christiansted has rooms that run from $115 to $165. Rather than a beach resort, Holger Danske offers value right on the town's boardwalk, running next to the island's tourism and shopping center. From your room, you are only a few steps away from high-end jewelry shopping, art galleries, restaurants, bars, tour guides, jet-ski rentals and more. You will need a car to get to most of the beaches from town, but you can walk down the boardwalk a short way and for a couple of dollars, pop over to Hotel on the Cay and lounge on their sandy island less than a hundred yards off the Christiansted coast.
The Hotel on the Cay (800-524-2035) is itself a good moderate-priced option, with rooms running from $103 to $140 a night. You get your own private island beach, an amazing view of Christiansted, its harbor and the sea, and on weekends, calypso and the local "quelbe" music for entertainment.
Staying at one of St. Croix's "eco-resorts" can save you money too. Camp Mt. Victory has quaint, screened in cabanas up in St. Croix's forested western hills.
Where to eat
You can spend a pretty penny on elegant fine dining on St. Croix if you're so inclined, but there are lots of great moderate priced options too.
In Christiansted, the larger, more touristy of St. Croix's two towns, Angry Nate's on the Christiansted Boardwalk has good seafood and better than average prices. Most main courses are less than $20 and a serious smoked beef brisket sandwich platter — the "Telly" — goes for about $10. They take credit cards — which many smaller restaurants on the island do not. The ambience is pleasant and family friendly, with local artwork on the walls and a view of sailboats in the harbor. And they're open breakfast, lunch and dinner. No reservations needed. Tel: (340) 692 6283. Paradise Café is also open all day, air conditioned and moderate priced, with grilled sandwiches, daily dinner specials and typical café fare. Tel: (340)-773-2985. They do not take credit cards. If you're willing to splurge a little on dinner, Dashi offers up creatively presented and artfully crafted and creatively presented sushi along with original fusion cuisine creations from chef Mike McKenna. Tel: (340) 773-6911. Harvey's has local Caribbean food, from curry goat and Johnny cakes to stew fish and saltfish pates, at very moderate prices. Tel: 340-773-3433.
For lunch, the La Reine Chicken Shack in the middle of the island offers an authentic Caribbean experience, with salmon balls, roast pork, rice and peas and other St. Croix favorites, along with the best lunch deal on the island: An enormous half a tender, smoky, roast chicken with two piping hot fried johnny cakes and a little homemade barbecue sauce; a huge and delicious meal for a mere $5. Eat lunch in the shade, with a little salsa in the background, while retirees "lime" (local slang for hang
in' out) and play dominos. Call ahead and avoid the line. Tel: (340) 778-5717.
In Frederiksted, Rhythms at Rainbow Beach offers burgers, salads, grilled fish and other beach-bar fare. Most menu items are in the $8 to $10 range and almost nothing is more than $20, making it one of the best bargains on the island. Right on one of the best beaches on the island, Rhythms is open from lunchtime through shortly after sunset most nights- about 7:30 p.m. Every Sunday there is a band, often something bluesy. Thursday evenings they stay open a little later for Trivial Pursuit night, where teams of regulars and visitors vie for the prized Conch Shell. Tel: (340) 772-0002.
For something a little more upscale there isBlue Moon facing the waterfront in a charming colonial-era building right in the middle of Frederiksted's Strand Street. Local musicians play jazz Wednesday and Friday nights to a wonderfully mixed crowd of diners and drinkers from all over. Warm and inviting, their wine list is extensive and they have a great brunch. Entrees are primarily in the $20 to $30 range. For a fantastic value, chef and proprietor Allan Cotter has a scrumptious pan-seared tuna salad, with a peppercorn and sesame crust on a bed of greens with onions, cucumber, black olives, tomatoes and capers for $16 that is a meal by itself. Tel: (340) 772-2222.
For lunch, Turtle's Deli at the south end of Strand Street is always a good idea, with great New York delicatessen style sandwiches on homemade bread, served up on a peaceful seaside patio framed and shaded by verdant sea grape trees. Tel: (340)-772-3676. For something different, UCA's, at the north end of King Street, serves up vegetarian, Rastafarian Caribbean fare. This downbeat, uniquely Crucian establishment offers two or three selections a day, rotating the menu through the week. Grilled tofu kebabs, pumpkin and spinach fritters, curried okra, soups, stews and local drinks made from exotic tropical fruits like soursop and sapotay are typical offerings. You can get a "small" plate for $8.50 that will fill a large man, or a "large" for $14 that most people will likely take home to finish later. Everything they serve is delicious, whether you're a vegetarian or not. Hours are a little unpredictable, but they are open every afternoon except Sunday. Don't call. Just go by.
These are only a few of St. Croix's offerings, selected for their blend of affordability and value. Several websites, including Your St. Croix, Go To St. Croix and St. Croix Tourism offer lots of information on St. Croix's many other fine restaurants, resorts, shopping options, and things to do.
Look for information on fun, affordable things to do, places to party and things to do in the next segment of Affordable St. Croix.

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May 27, 2009 -- Virgin Islands tourism got a high-profile boost this January with a New York Times travel article entitled "Affordable Caribbean: U.S. Virgin Islands," highlighting some of the best values and more modestly priced places to stay and eat in the Virgin Islands.
Yet something was missing, something kind of large. Here's author David G. Allan talking up the territory. Can you spot it?
"St. Thomas -- and its less-developed sister, St. John -- have all the trademarks of an exotic Caribbean getaway: beautiful white beaches, balmy weather, water sports galore, rum-spiked drinks and swaying palm trees," Allan wrote.
There you have it. The U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Thomas and St. John, a beautiful pair. Somehow the Gray Lady, the U.S. newspaper of record, has made St. Croix vanish from the Virgin Islands like some out-of-favor apparatchik in a Soviet Union history book, the vast bulk of the landmass and a majority of the territory's population gone with the tap of an editor's "enter" button somewhere inside the New York Times building. Go look. There is even a map showing St. Thomas and St. John; the "U.S. Virgin Islands" with St. Croix way off by itself, apparently a sovereign nation.
Oh the outrage. And the notion of looking at affordable getaways in the Virgin Islands without even mentioning St. Croix adds irony to injury. As the least-visited and largest of the three main islands, St. Croix has perhaps a better variety of more affordable options than the other two.
So, here are some St. Croix bargains for Allan and the New York Times to consider.
Where to Stay
St. Croix, the old Danish capital of the Virgin Islands, has two main towns; Christiansted on the northeastern shore, and the smaller Frederiksted in the west. Christiansted is larger, busier and more touristy, with lots of jewelry, art and souvenir shops, bars, restaurants and hotels, while smaller Frederiksted, where the island's cruise ship pier is located, usually has a slower pace and more of the feel of being in a real Caribbean town rather than a place made just for tourists.
Though it has far fewer hotel rooms than either St. Thomas or St. John, St. Croix has its posh and pricey resorts too. But there are cheaper digs to be found.
Sandcastles on the Beach, (800.524.2018) is a charming small hotel just south of Frederiksted, right on the beach.. The west end of St. Croix is leeward to the prevailing winds and currents, so the water is almost always clear and still, making for great swimming and snorkeling, and Sandcastles is right on one of the best, sandiest beaches on the island. They have two swimming pools, one of which (the one behind a wooden fence) is clothing-optional, too. Rooms go from as low as $109 in the slow summer season but most rooms are pricier, running in the $200 to $350 range.
Proprietors Simone Palmer and Sheryl Smith are very hands-on and attentive to their guests and their Beach Side Café, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is one of the best restaurants on the island, so you don't really need to leave the hotel except to swim.
For a longer stay, or for a more family-oriented vacation, right next door is Cottages By the Sea, (800-323-7252) with a selection of hotel rooms and beach cottages set up as little efficiencies. Prices range from $95 for a hotel room in the slow season to $220 for a large suite, essentially a small apartment, during the busy season. There are lots of options in the $125-$175 per-night range. With a small 'fridge and a kitchenette in most of the rooms room, you can save money too by buying a few groceries and feeding yourself some of the time. There are gas grills and a large shelter next to the beach where you can lounge and barbecue too. The place has been family-owned since the 1950s and you will undoubtedly meet the ever-helpful and friendly proprietors Paul Benedict, sister Ruth and parents Tom and Carol Benedict. There are bikes and kayaks to rent for very modest fees, free use of snorkeling gear, a broad, sandy beach with few rocks, frequent visits from sea turtles, sting rays and all manner of fish. And, as you are right next door to Sandcastles by the Sea, you can walk over to take advantage of their restaurant.
With nearly all their rooms running from $85 to $135, depending on size and season, the Frederiksted Hotel, right on the waterfront Strand Street, offers great rates, nice rooms and a good, moderate priced breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Tel: (340) 772-0500
Holger Danske Hotel in Christiansted has rooms that run from $115 to $165. Rather than a beach resort, Holger Danske offers value right on the town's boardwalk, running next to the island's tourism and shopping center. From your room, you are only a few steps away from high-end jewelry shopping, art galleries, restaurants, bars, tour guides, jet-ski rentals and more. You will need a car to get to most of the beaches from town, but you can walk down the boardwalk a short way and for a couple of dollars, pop over to Hotel on the Cay and lounge on their sandy island less than a hundred yards off the Christiansted coast.
The Hotel on the Cay (800-524-2035) is itself a good moderate-priced option, with rooms running from $103 to $140 a night. You get your own private island beach, an amazing view of Christiansted, its harbor and the sea, and on weekends, calypso and the local "quelbe" music for entertainment.
Staying at one of St. Croix's "eco-resorts" can save you money too. Camp Mt. Victory has quaint, screened in cabanas up in St. Croix's forested western hills.
Where to eat
You can spend a pretty penny on elegant fine dining on St. Croix if you're so inclined, but there are lots of great moderate priced options too.
In Christiansted, the larger, more touristy of St. Croix's two towns, Angry Nate's on the Christiansted Boardwalk has good seafood and better than average prices. Most main courses are less than $20 and a serious smoked beef brisket sandwich platter -- the "Telly" -- goes for about $10. They take credit cards -- which many smaller restaurants on the island do not. The ambience is pleasant and family friendly, with local artwork on the walls and a view of sailboats in the harbor. And they're open breakfast, lunch and dinner. No reservations needed. Tel: (340) 692 6283. Paradise Café is also open all day, air conditioned and moderate priced, with grilled sandwiches, daily dinner specials and typical café fare. Tel: (340)-773-2985. They do not take credit cards. If you're willing to splurge a little on dinner, Dashi offers up creatively presented and artfully crafted and creatively presented sushi along with original fusion cuisine creations from chef Mike McKenna. Tel: (340) 773-6911. Harvey's has local Caribbean food, from curry goat and Johnny cakes to stew fish and saltfish pates, at very moderate prices. Tel: 340-773-3433.
For lunch, the La Reine Chicken Shack in the middle of the island offers an authentic Caribbean experience, with salmon balls, roast pork, rice and peas and other St. Croix favorites, along with the best lunch deal on the island: An enormous half a tender, smoky, roast chicken with two piping hot fried johnny cakes and a little homemade barbecue sauce; a huge and delicious meal for a mere $5. Eat lunch in the shade, with a little salsa in the background, while retirees "lime" (local slang for hang in' out) and play dominos. Call ahead and avoid the line. Tel: (340) 778-5717.
In Frederiksted, Rhythms at Rainbow Beach offers burgers, salads, grilled fish and other beach-bar fare. Most menu items are in the $8 to $10 range and almost nothing is more than $20, making it one of the best bargains on the island. Right on one of the best beaches on the island, Rhythms is open from lunchtime through shortly after sunset most nights- about 7:30 p.m. Every Sunday there is a band, often something bluesy. Thursday evenings they stay open a little later for Trivial Pursuit night, where teams of regulars and visitors vie for the prized Conch Shell. Tel: (340) 772-0002.
For something a little more upscale there isBlue Moon facing the waterfront in a charming colonial-era building right in the middle of Frederiksted's Strand Street. Local musicians play jazz Wednesday and Friday nights to a wonderfully mixed crowd of diners and drinkers from all over. Warm and inviting, their wine list is extensive and they have a great brunch. Entrees are primarily in the $20 to $30 range. For a fantastic value, chef and proprietor Allan Cotter has a scrumptious pan-seared tuna salad, with a peppercorn and sesame crust on a bed of greens with onions, cucumber, black olives, tomatoes and capers for $16 that is a meal by itself. Tel: (340) 772-2222.
For lunch, Turtle's Deli at the south end of Strand Street is always a good idea, with great New York delicatessen style sandwiches on homemade bread, served up on a peaceful seaside patio framed and shaded by verdant sea grape trees. Tel: (340)-772-3676. For something different, UCA's, at the north end of King Street, serves up vegetarian, Rastafarian Caribbean fare. This downbeat, uniquely Crucian establishment offers two or three selections a day, rotating the menu through the week. Grilled tofu kebabs, pumpkin and spinach fritters, curried okra, soups, stews and local drinks made from exotic tropical fruits like soursop and sapotay are typical offerings. You can get a "small" plate for $8.50 that will fill a large man, or a "large" for $14 that most people will likely take home to finish later. Everything they serve is delicious, whether you're a vegetarian or not. Hours are a little unpredictable, but they are open every afternoon except Sunday. Don't call. Just go by.
These are only a few of St. Croix's offerings, selected for their blend of affordability and value. Several websites, including Your St. Croix, Go To St. Croix and St. Croix Tourism offer lots of information on St. Croix's many other fine restaurants, resorts, shopping options, and things to do.
Look for information on fun, affordable things to do, places to party and things to do in the next segment of Affordable St. Croix.

Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.