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St. Croix is large and its sights are rather spread out, so if you are not taking an organized tour or shore excursion, it pays to rent a car or taxi for at least part of your stay. Bicycles are not a great idea, because the island is hilly and the roads have no shoulders. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are better for visiting the out-of-the-way scenic regions, since many are reached only by dirt roads. A word of caution: not all roads are clearly marked, particularly at the intersections. Though the American system of numbered route signs is used, the signs appear with less frequency than drivers are used to in the U.S. And there are fewer signs showing the names of the places you've either reached or are heading toward than you would expect.

The island's most prominent landmarks are the sugar-mill ruins, reminding visitors of the time when sugar cane was "king" and the island was divided into hundreds of plantations. Homes, resort swimming pools and hotels have been built around many of these ruins, which are valued symbols of St. Croix's rich history. Other reminders of the island's past are the fanciful names used to identify St. Croix locations. Jealousy, Wheel of Fortune and Lower Love are all plantation names dating from the 1760s, when land was divided into low-priced 150-acre tracts used by the Danes to attract settlers.

St. Croix has been ruled by seven nations, all of which left their marks on the island. Though it is currently an American territory seemingly reminiscent of the United States with its shopping centers and fast-food restaurants, St. Croix has preserved its West Indian cultural heritage, attitudes and identity. Families who have resided here for 10 generations are still influential, their roots stretching back to the colonial era. It is worth your while to make an effort to meet some Crucians because their stories and family histories will immeasurably enrich your stay on the island.

 

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