Families looking for a relaxing beach getaway with a hint of adventure should look no further than Saint Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands tucked away in the sunny Caribbean. While the laid-back island appeals to visitors all ages, kids love Saint Croix for its exciting snorkeling opportunities amid colorful reefs, as well as the wildlife refuges, where sea turtles reside. There are also plenty of old forts and plantation ruins to explore. Book a stay at a breezy Saint Croix vacation rental today. Here are a few must-see attractions and favorite island activities for families with kids.
1. Hit the Beach
The white-sand beaches and warm, blue Caribbean waters make visiting the beach a hallmark activity for any Saint Croix vacation. Rainbow Beach, Protestant Cay, and Cane Bay are just a few options. Kick back on a few beach recliners under an umbrella from your vacation rental, and bring some float toys and sand toys for your little ones to enjoy. Older kids are sure to love renting a stand-up paddle board or a kayak to take out on the water.
2. Explore Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge
Make the hike to the secluded beach at Sandy Point to see giant leatherback sea turtles crawling ashore to nest, and go for a swim in the shallow water before laying out your beach towels. Be sure to check out the Westend Salt Pond on your way back to spot some flamingos. Keep in mind that the hike to Sandy Point is a little strenuous and best suited for older kids and teens.
3. Take a Charter to Buck Island Reef
Hop on a charter to visit the 176-acre island just off the coast of Saint Croix, featuring a trove of beaches, island wilderness, and coral reefs ripe for snorkeling. Kids can even follow the underwater trail weaving through the reef to spot fish and sea turtles. Once you leave the water, walk the 45-minute trail to the highest point for fantastic views of Buck Island.
4. Check Out the Old Forts
Kids of all ages love exploring the historic halls of the old Fort Frederik, originally built to fend off pirates. Walk through the museum inside to learn about the rich history of the structure, such as the march of 8,000 slaves demanding freedom in the 1800s. Next, check out Fort Christiansvaern, a sprawling stronghold where kids can touch old cannons. The area also hosts other historic buildings such as the Danish West India & Guinea Company Warehouse.
5. Visit the Estate Whim Plantation Museum
The well-preserved sugar plantation offers an educational experience as kids learn about life and the sugar cane industry during the 1700s. A guided tour takes you past a beautiful sugar mill, the great house, and a bathhouse as well as old plantation equipment. If you’re visiting during the winter, don’t miss the Candlelight Concert Series held at the plantation.
6. Join a Turtle Watch
Saint Croix is a hot spot for turtle sightings, so check with the St. Croix Environmental Association and other eco groups to see if there are any turtle-watching tours to join. Kids can learn about the importance of conservation while getting the chance to see endangered seas turtle species such as the hawksbill and the leatherback sea turtle.
7. Walk Through St. George Village Botanical Garden
Stop by this 16-acre garden to see more than 1,500 local and exotic plants as well as the ruins of a Danish sugar cane plantation and an ancient native settlement. Kids young and old are sure to enjoy walking through the rain forest trail, exploring the cactus garden, marveling at the blooms of the orchid house, and checking out the fruit orchard.
8. Hike Through the Rain Forest
The lush rain forest on Saint Croix features hiking trails and other possibilities for adults and their adventurous little ones. Book a hiking tour with a local guide to see ruins, waterfalls, tide pools, and other remote treasures, or hit the trails on your own. You can also see the rain forest from a Jeep or ATV tour.
9. Kayak Through Salt River Bay
Head to the Salt Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Reserve to kayak through a coastal estuary featuring a lush mangrove forest. Kids can keep an eye out for hawksbill sea turtles, roseate terns, and other unique wildlife as they paddle, and you can explore historic sites such as an old ball court before leaving the park. Book your guided kayak tour with companies such as Caribbean Adventure Tours and Virgin Kayak Tours.
10. Snorkel at Cane Bay
Leave your beach-front vacation rental to reach this secluded beach area on the north shore. Here, you can rent snorkel equipment so kids can venture through stands of brain coral and elk horn coral teeming with colorful tropical fish. Keep an eye out for the elusive and beautiful lionfish during your snorkeling adventure. After getting out of the water, grab a bite to eat at one of the shorefront restaurants.
11. See the Carambola Tidepools
If you’re traveling with older kids, make the two-mile hike to this secluded trove of tide-pools where you can spot sea anemones, tropical fish, and other sea life. You can take a dip in the larger pool area to enjoy the calm waters while listening to the waves crash on the rocks. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks as there are no facilities around the remote tide-pools.
12. Explore the Estate Mount Washington Plantation Ruins
Unlike the Estate Whim Plantation Museum, this old plantation is only open for self-guided tours. Kids of all ages love meandering through the arches, columns, and crumbling buildings of the old plantation that has become somewhat overgrown by the surrounding rain forest. Be sure to get a few family pictures in front of the towering structures.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Saint Croix vacation rentals on Tripping.com.