Just east of Puerto Rico — and south of sister islands St. Thomas and St. John — rises the largest of the US Virgin Islands, the 84 pastoral square miles of St. Croix. If you feel St. Thomas is too busy and St. John too quiet, St. Croix may be just what you’re looking for: a great balance of culture, beaches, history and exciting outdoor — and underwater — activities.

Before You Go: Need-to-know info

Language: English
Flight time: 5 hours from New York City; 9 hours from Los Angeles; 8 hours from Chicago; 7 hours from Dallas
Getting around: Taxi, bus, rental car and ferry
Entry requirements: None, USVI is a US territory, but it’s still smart to carry a passport

When to Go: St. Croix at its best

Best weather: February to August. Year-round temperatures range from 69 (winter evenings) to 84 degrees. Rainy season runs from September to November.
Best prices: April to June

What to Do

Adrenalin: Outdoors is where it’s at on St. Croix. Canter through a rain forest on horseback, pedal the island’s western coast with a rented bike, or kayak the Salt River. While you’re at it, you can learn about the island’s history and fascinating fauna (including the Pain Killer, Monkey-No-Climb and Stinking Toe trees).

Sea creatures: Dive with seahorses at Frederiksted Pier (also a popular night-dive spot); explore one of four wrecks at Butler Bay; or visit the colorful five-mile-long Cane Bay Wall, the site of a sponge big enough to stand in (although doing so would kill it). Not a diver? Snorkelers will love Buck Island Reef National Monument, where you can swim with parrotfish and blue tangs among dramatic reef structures. There are many chartered boats that will take you out to sea during the day, night or — our favorite — sunset.

Architecture: In both the coastal towns of Christiansted and Victorian-inspired Frederiksted, tin-roof buildings draped in brilliant bougainvillea are painted in Easter-egg colors, including pale yellow, pink, sage and ochre. Arcaded sidewalks lead you past little shops, galleries and restaurants. Stop and skim the historical plaques you’ll see to get a glimpse into the island’s past.

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