renting a villa on St. Croix

An insider's view of the island and how a villa-based vacation there might just become one of your best vacation experiences.

Over the 28 years our family has been traveling to St. Croix, we have met many unforgettable people on the island, some of whom have lived, traveled, or sailed extensively, all over the world. And remarkably, of all of their potential choices across the planet for these seasoned travelers to permanently reside, many have chosen St. Croix as the place to put down their roots. Why is this?

Some reasons are obvious. The tropical weather is glorious, especially in winter. There are many beautiful and unspoiled beaches to explore. As a U.S. territory, local government is stable and friendly. As a culture, everyday practice and infrastructure on the island are familiar - from money (dollars) to language (English), to even the retail chain stores and vehicles. For the tourist, there are a wide array of vacation-worthy activities to choose from. But there are also less obvious qualities at work, and these are the ones that not only make St. Croix a unique and worthy destination to visit on vacation, but for some, the place to ultimately reside.

Here are 10 hidden gems worth discovering about the island of St. Croix:

1. The Scenery

If you remember the movie The Shawshank Redemption, the main character, Andy Dufresne, in his ultimate statement of freedom, can be seen driving his top-down red convertible along a beautiful sunny stretch of curving, deserted, ocean-side road. The roadway in that movie scene is the North Shore Road, along St. Croix's beautiful and rugged northern coast. The last scene of the same movie, showing the beached boat, was filmed on St. Croix's unspoiled Sandy Point.

From ocean panoramas to lush valleys to mountainous landscapes, there are many beautiful, unspoiled vistas to be discovered across the island. One also needs to be prepared for breathtaking sunrises, glorious sunsets, frequent rainbows, and unusually clear, star-filled night skies.

2. The Ecology

St. Croix boasts a remarkable diversity of preserved eco-systems across the island that are worth exploring.

An active rainforest at its center. An arid cactus-filled, ocean-side, hilled landscape at its far east-end. A globally unique bioluminescent bay on its north shore surrounded by salt-water mangroves dotted with avian rookeries. Large, naturally rock-carved, wave-drenched, cloistered "baths" also on its north shore. A National Park coral snorkel trail at nearby Buck Island. Some of the best scuba diving in the world along "The Wall", which drops 3,200 feet vertically in some spots. A botanical garden boasting some of the best living examples of native and regional plant species in the entire Caribbean. Or an unspoiled beach to watch sea turtle hatchlings pop out of the warm sand at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge.

3. The History and Culture

Throughout its history, the 7 different nations that have controlled St. Croix have all left their respective marks on the island, both physically and culturally, both subtly and not so subtly.

One can still envision a young Alexander Hamilton walking through the historic Danish-bricked arcades and sidewalks of current day Christiansted. Or visit Fort Christiansvaern and the cell where Hamilton's mother, Rachel, was imprisoned in 1750. See the remains of the many Danish-estate sugar mills that dot the St. Croix landscape. Visit the unspoiled beach where Christopher Columbus' men landed on his second voyage to the New World in November 1493. Walk with the Moko-Jumbies at Jump-Up. Learn about some of the island's struggles towards freedom, motivating Buddhoe and later, the Fireburn in Frederiksted.

There are many other unique historic sites and places of interest waiting to be discovered and experienced across the island.

4. The Food

St. Croix has enjoyed a recent, quiet, but steady evolution to become a foodie's paradise. There are many choices of thriving restaurants - some five-star and upscale, some local and down-home. Many endeavor to use local fresh produce, farm to table, or ocean to table. Others serve unique, local favorite dishes. (Upon visiting the island, Martha Stewart was smitten by the food at the La Reine Chicken Shack - known to all across the island. But beware the five o'clock traffic jam).

The common denominator is that the food you will find is good. Really good. And worthy for a group of friends to gather, sit, enjoy, and have a memorable meal together.

5. The People

How often do other drivers in the opposing lane stop and let you make your turn across their lane of traffic? It's a quiet common courtesy on St. Croix and a small indicator of the true nature of the good people to be found on St. Croix. The true Cruzan spirit is of a gentle, upbeat, easy, welcoming, friendly nature, with a subtle mix of enough humor to know not to take the world too seriously all of the time.

Virgin Islanders are proud of their islands and heritage and will go out their way to help each other as well as strangers. They are bonded by the unique (and sometimes bemusing) ups and downs of trying to make a life on a small tropical island in the middle of a very large ocean. And if you have the opportunity to ask a stateside expatriate how they came to be living on St. Croix, you might just find yourself hearing an almost unbelievable story.

6. The Freedom

Your schedule and activities are your own to create. If you want to lounge in the sunshine around the pool for the entire day (or days) and eat late dinners, there is nothing to prevent you from doing so. If you want to go on many local excursions, the house is there to serve as your home base. If you want to take a warm midnight swim, the pool is open.

At our villa, Blue Vista Villa, many guests have confessed that they never left the pool deck or the house for the bulk of their vacation, and were more than happy about it; the entire point of their vacation of relaxing and "doing nothing" was achieved.

7. The Peace and Privacy

The premises of a villa is at-hand for you and your family's privacy, not just your bedroom. Your own use of the pool and deck. Your own quiet spot in the sun to simply read a book, watch the sunrise or the sunset. Sit in solitude during the night to watch the stars, and if lucky, catch a meteor or two go by. Compare that with the effort needed to find a place of peace and privacy on say, a cruise ship.

8. The Beauty

Many villas on St. Croix have spectacular views of the ocean and other natural features. Blue Vista Villa sports wide views of the Caribbean Sea and Salt River Bay. One can enjoy sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, occasional rainbows, and the distant lights of St. Thomas and passing cruise ships all without moving from one's seat at its pavilion. The lush tropical landscape offers the bright colors and smells of Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Frangipani, Flamboyant, and Ginger Thomas, to name a few. Hummingbirds can be seen busily flitting from blossom to blossom amongst Firecracker plants.

9. The Amenities

Beyond meeting basic expectations, many villas will come with impressive and inclusive features that other places may not have or only be offered as an additional upgrade. These features could include exercise and game rooms, large and well-appointed kitchens, spa, heated pool, young children's accommodations, bar, grill, beach chairs and toys, private office workspace, and more.

For those who can pay an added premium, one can have provisioning services, a private chef, masseuse, and more, provided right on the premises. In short, your villa stay can be set within a luxurious environment without incurring the added premiums that other venues might demand for a comparable stay.

10. The Affordability

Most villas will be able to accommodate a large family or up to 3 to 4 couples for a given stay. With accommodations and expenses for a week calculated amongst family members or couples, costs will most likely be lower for the group than a week's stay at a comparable level hotel or resort. The villa, however, will come with the aforementioned advantages of freedom, peace, privacy, and amenities.

There are many fine villas to choose from on St. Croix. Blue Vista Villa is located hillside, on the island's north shore, with sweeping views overlooking the Caribbean Sea and Salt River Bay. Clear evenings bring views of the distant lights of St. Thomas and the occasional passing cruise ship. The well-appointed house provides many of the amenities previously mentioned, in a private, peaceful, and beautiful setting.

With easy access from the airport and to the downtown Christiansted area, Blue Vista Villa is well known for the hospitality, graciousness, and support accorded all of its guests. Contact us today to learn more about its hidden gems. And by the way, Andy Dufresne's ultimate top-down freedom road and drive can be experienced five minutes from Blue Vista Villa. Come experience your own sense of freedom.

Blue Vista Villa sits atop a hill on St. Croix's north shore, offering breathtaking 270° views of the Caribbean Sea and Salt River National Park, with clear evening views of the distant lights of St. Thomas.