One of the must things to do while staying at Arawak Bay Inn is to explore the Salt River Bay. This is the only site in the Virgin Islands where Christopher Columbus actually came ashore, which he did on his second voyage in 1493. Salt River bay remains an ecological preserve, providing a sanctuary and protected breeding ground for a wide variety of birds, fish and sea turtles. It is also the largest remaining area for red, white, black and buttonwood mangrove forests whose survival have been threatened in recent years by the various hurricanes to make landfall on St. Croix, the most recent of which was Hurricane Omar in October 2008.
Salt River Bay is a dynamic ecosystem, a living museum with prehistoric and colonial-era archaeological sites and ruins. In 1999, Congress created the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve as part of the National Park System. Arawak Bay Inn overlooks the Visitor Center for the Salt River Bay National Park and Ecological System
More information on the Salt River Bay National Park and Ecological Preserve visit Salt River Bay National Historical Park
Divers, traveling from around the world, consistently choose St Croix as their travel destination for scuba diving. The North Coast of St Croix provides numerous wall dives, not only advanced divers, but beginning divers can take advantage of also. Some walls, such as the East and West Wall at Salt River, start in only twenty feet of water. Perfect sea conditions for even the beginning diver. For the more advanced scuba diver, St Croix offers deep dives, and many dive shops, such as Anchor Dive located at Salt River, provided Nitrox diving as well.
There are numerous wrecks scattered around the Island of St Croix. From the scuttled freighter Rosaomaira, located off of Frederiksted, to three hundred year anchors left by the Danish ships during those days of Danish occupation.
The pier at Frederiksted, makes for a great night dive. Damaged by Hurricane Hugo back in 1989, the remains are almost guaranteed you sighting of moray eels and seahorses.
For the more adventure some divers, Cane Bay Divers have discovered a way to call sharks. About a hundred yards off the beach in Cane Bay, the world famous Cane Bay Wall starts at 30 feet and plummets to over three thousand feet! Diving with one of Cane Bay’s experienced Dive Masters, you’ll get the chance to call sharks. And if you’re lucky, dive with reef sharks. You may even get to see a manta ray while there too.
Just a five minute walk or a two minute drive from Arawak Bay Inn, you’ll find nearby dive shops. They provide some of the best diving within the Salt River National Park, including Wall Diving at the East and West Wall at Salt River Canyon.
Further West, about a seven minute drive, you’ll find Cane Bay Divers. Dive the famous Cane Bay Wall, only 100 feet from shore, or dive off of one of their state of the art inflatable dive boats, designed for Navy Seals, to reach the best dives sites on St. Croix including Northstar and Davis Bay.
On the northeast side of St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, lies one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea, Buck Island. Just five miles from Christiansted, Buck Island Reef National Monument is one of the few fully protected marine areas in the National Park System. Buck Island is surrounded by an Elkhorn coral barrier reef and is home to many endangered and threatened species that live and nest here.
Green sea turtles, Leatherbacks, and Hawksbill, all endangered, are protected by law. Every two to three years they migrate here in the Summer to nest in the shoreline and on the beaches. Nesting Hawksbills may spend up to an hour on shore, selecting a nest site, and laying up to 140 eggs, before returning to the sea. Two months later, hatchlings emerge and crawl from their nest to the sea.
Buck Islands Reef ranks among the best in the Caribbean. Elkhorn corals push their sheer mass to 30 foot heights, and like fortress walls, corals rise off the sea floor and dominate the underwater world. In the calm waters of the lagoon, large brain corals grow, nearly reaching the surface. In other areas, Elkhorn and Star coral parch reefs surround the island providing a perfect playground for blue tangs, flamingo tongue sea snails, and sea fans.
Snorkel Buck Islands underwater trail, which has underwater signs that tell what you are seeing. View parrot fish and french angelfish in the grottoes where the maximum water depth is only 12 feet. Scuba diving is allowed in the monument at designated scuba moorings. A 30 and 40 foot shallow dive, take you through haystack formations of Elkhorn coral.
Tour information is available at the National Park visitors center in downtown Christiansted. And you can get full day or half day trips from St Croix to Buck Island. To learn more you can visit the Buck Island Reef National Monument National Park web site, or Buck Island St Croix.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, St Croix grew rich during the sugar trade, and it’s appealing by product, rum. Despite the demise of the sugar cane industry, the Cruzan Rum Distillery survived. Today, tours are available during the week, and a gift shop and tasting bar are sure to add to the Cruzan Islands experience.
Cruzan Single Barrel was the unanimous choice as World’s Best Rum, and the only Double Gold winner in the rum category at the World Spirits Competition. Crafted from a blend of rums aged up to 12 years. This 80 proof, full bodied and extremely mellow rum can be sipped in a snifter, on the rocks, or with a splash off soda or orange twist. Cruzan Rum produces delicious flavored rums also. Including Coconut, Orange, Pineapple, Banana, Vanilla, Mango, and more.
Classic Cruzan Rum begins with Cruzan Estate 2 year old. It’s available in dark and light and is fine for mixing with soft drinks and fruit juices. It makes the perfect Pina Colada or Banana Daiquiri.
After your tour of the Cruzan Rum Distillery, the gift shop will provide you with sturdy packing so that you may take home your own bottles of Cruzan Rum. Remember, adults are allowed six bottles of rum each.
Located in Frederiksted St Croix, Fort Frederik was built in 1760 and named in honor of the Danish monarch, Frederik V. Although Fort Frederik is mall in size and garrison, Fort Frederik has played a huge role in influencing some pivotal events in Virgin Island history.
Despite the official neutrality during the American Revolution, the residents of the Danish Islands favored their support of American Independence. Fort Frederik’s cannon fired the first salute to the new flag of the United States on October 25, 1776.
It was also here at Fort Frederik on July 3, 1848, that 8,000 slaves surrounded the Fort and demanded their freedom or they would lay waste to St Croix. Bowing to their demands, the governor announced that “all unfree in the Danish West Indies are free”. However, thirty years later a bloody labor rebellion was to devastate the greater part of St Croix. Fort Frederik was unsuccessfully assaulted but many plantations were destroyed.
Over the years, Fort Frederik has been used for almost every conceivable government function; a military garrison, police station, jail, court, fire department, public library, and telephone exchange, to name a few. Today, Fort Frederick is one of the most handsome fort in the West Indies and serves as a museum on St Croix.