KidTripster Teen: 5 Must-dos for teens visiting this Caribbean retreat
This past summer, I took a relaxing vacation to the small island of St. Croix. St. Croix is located in the United States Virgin Islands, off the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico. Given that it’s not as crowded as some Caribbean destinations, I - as an introvert - really enjoy this island. You don’t have to deal with crowds or lines, and there’s plenty of family-friendly activities to keep busy.
1/Go to the races
Traveling all around the island, Tito and Sue “and their nifty kazoo” bring an exciting and heart-pumping atmosphere to - you never would’ve guessed it - racing hermit crabs! Seriously, it’s one of the most enjoyable things to do while visiting St. Croix. For a small fee, kids and adults can write their names on tape and stick the tape onto shells of hermit crabs. If your hermit crab finishes the race quickly enough, you win a prize! Prizes range from free scuba lessons to free ice cream. Tito and Sue generally base their operation in different hotels, so just ask the concierge where you’re staying for their whereabouts on any particular day.
2/Snorkel along Buck Island
Another great thing to do when visiting St. Croix is to catch a ride over to Buck Island Reef National Monument with Big Beard’s Adventure Tours. A coral reef surrounds the eastern two-thirds of the island, creating a calm lagoon for snorkeling; the maximum depth in the grottoes is 12 feet. Because coral is alive, you must not touch it; simply touching it could cause death to the colony. Guides take six visitors at a time on an underwater trail, where signs tell you want you’re seeing. The waters are warm and brilliantly blue. Many different species of sea life reside here like sea turtles and sting rays. Don’t worry about having to purchase snorkeling gear, because Big Beard’s provides everything that you’ll need. Half-day cost: Youth (5 & under) $22; Youth (6-12) $60; Adult $75.
KidTripster Tip: Buck Island Reef National Monument is protected. Visitors aren’t allowed to remove anything, including shells.
3/Engage in retail therapy
Back on the island, head to Christiansted for some retail therapy, whether you plan to buy or not. Small jewelry shops and glass art stores pique the interest of anyone who enjoys small trinkets. Located across the road from Big Beard’s shop and near the edge of the bay, you’ll find Christiansted’s largest store, Purple Papaya. It’s my go-to spot for t-shirts, general clothing, and island souvenirs.
4/Dine with a view
Don’t leave St. Croix without having dinner at The Buccaneer, a resort and golf course near Shoys, a peninsula east of Christiansted. Although expensive, both the food and the view are priceless. I especially like the fresh swordfish and scallops. Also, I’m a photography buff, and the photos that I took off the ledge of The Buccaneer were the best ones of my whole trip.
5/Kayak through the Bioluminescent Bay
Think of it as glow-in-the-dark kayaking! In the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, Sea Thru Kayaks VI will take you out in clear kayaks to see glowing sea creatures. There are three types of bioluminescence (which means living light): Dinoflagellates, Ctenophora (or comb jellies), and glow worms. Because of weather and the moon cycle, you can’t see them every night, so I’d recommend booking early in your trip, in case you need to reschedule. The tour lasts two hours, and you paddle for one mile. Kayakers must be at least 8 years old; kayakers under 13 need to have an adult in the boat. Cost: $60.
Clara King is a high school junior from Portland, Oregon. When she’s not wrangling her three younger sisters, Clara can be found acting in numerous theater productions.