Friday, January 15, 2010

Questions & Answers Christiansted St Croix USVI

[ Updated a bit on November 9 2011 ]

Here are some questions that I had concerning Christiansted, St Croix, US Virgin Islands. I hope it will help other cruisers who are arriving for the first time here.

You might want to read a previous post, and open the map in another window.... CLICK HERE FOR MAP and refer to map numbers below. I suggest that you download the map to your computer so you can view it full size or enlarge it.
Click image to enlarge
  • Which channel to take? Follow the channel that takes you to Gallows Bay. I would NOT recommend entering at night. Yes, there are lots of lighted buoys, but there are also lots of reefs. NOVEMBER 2011: Very few of the lighted buoys are working. (We arrived late and around midnight anchored by Buck Island in 12-18 ft of water.) We've been told that there are free moorings in Gallows Bay for transients. You can continue on and enter Christiansted Harbor but this is an area full of local boats on moorings. Perhaps you can find a spot around the edge but don't block the channel on the other side (fuel barges use it to go to WAPA) and also you don't want to get in the way of the seaplane.
  • Where to check in? Customs & Immigration (see #2 on map) is located in Gallows Bay, near the ferry terminal and cargo ship dock. Tie your dinghy up, but don't lock, at St Croix Marine (#1). With your back to the water, take a left and follow the driveway to the street. Turn right. It's not too far and it is on your right.  There's a little guardhouse at the gate and he'll point you to the door. Phone: 340-773-1011. According to the 2009 USVI Marine Guide publication: Hours of Operation: 7am-4:30pm, Monday through Friday. Saturday & Sunday arrivals must contact the airport office at 340-778-0216.
  • Where is the dinghy dock? For shopping in the Gallows Bay area, St Croix Marine (#1) offers the use of their dinghy dock but ask that you do not lock it in case they must move it. St Croix Marine has become very unfriendly folks. In September 2011 they will no longer allow you to tie up your dinghy to their dock to go shopping in the neighborhood... even if you buy something from them and want to continue on to do some grocery shopping, unless you want to pay $10 for the privilege. We no longer have anything to do with this business. We walk to the gas station and save over $1/gallon. The marine store says they have discount fuel but they don't, or at least the end user doesn't get the discount. The manager would not comment on this when asked. The common dinghy dock on the Christiansted Boardwalk is right in front of Styxx (#11). You may want to throw out an aft anchor to keep you from going under the dock. You can also tie up in front of the Brew Pub which to the left when faciing Styxx, near the Comanche Mill Yacht-Less Club.
  • Where to dump trash? Go to the dinghy dock in front of Styxx (#11). To your right there is a street and behind that low wall that which is probably to keep cars from driving on the boardwalk, you'll see 3 or 4 trash bins.
  • Where to get water & fuel? There is a fuel dock at St. Croix Marine (#1). They have water, gasoline, and diesel. Will fill your boat tanks or jerrycans. The water can be very brown. I heard a politician on the radio say that this is due to rust in the water pipes in many areas of St Croix. Think of it as an iron supplement... The water at St Croix Marine will quickly clog your water filter. We had a neighbor buy water filters at their store and then after filtering 10 or so gallons of their water the filters were completely clogged and useless. Get your water from the bar next to the Brew Pub (Bucaneer Yachtless Club???) for ten cents a gallon. Still has particles but not as bad.
  • Where to fill propane? It is somewhere on the other side of the island near Hovensa. We were told to go to Styxx (#11) and ask if anyone will be going there soon and catch a ride with them. A taxi would be very expensive. We bought our propane tanks at Cost-U-Less and they are the same type that you can swap out at Gallows Bay Ace Hardware (#4). There is another hardware store in Gallows Bay now... Gannet. Close to Schooner Bay Market, ask for directions. If you find someone who performs a service like Island Marine and Budget Marine offers in St Maarten (you leave your propane tank at the store, they take it to the filling station and you pick it up at the store later in the afternoon), please let us know!
  • Mail? St Croix is part of the US Postal System so it is possible to have things delivered by Priority or Express Mail at the same cost as anywhere else in the US. There is a Post Office in Gallows Bay (#3) but they don't do General Delivery. For general delivery (poste restante) you need to go to the main Post Office that is outside of Christiansted. You pass by it (on your right) on the way to Pueblo.  Warning: FedEx, UPS, etc treats the USVI as an international location so is expensive... Use US Mail. We get our mail at Surf The Net ($12/month). Pass through Styxx (#11) and follow that little street. Go up the steps and it is to your left.  Watch out that you don't step on Paula, the little Chihuahua. Sandy is a very interesting person and a good musician that performs at various venues around the island (Sunday brunch, Golden Rail at St Croix Marine). November 2011: Sandy is planning to completely shut down Surt the Net soon.
  • Laundry? We have found two laundromats. One in Gallows Bay (#8) and the other (#13) which is by the Seaplane (#12). Both provide drop off and do-it-yourself service. They have front loaders and have $3.50 & $5.50 machines. The most direct route for the one in Gallows Bay is to tie up at St Croix Marine (#1) and walk down towards the Gallows Bay Marketplace but stay on the road and pass by the VI Trading Lumberyard (#5). Continue to the main road (East End Road) and turn left. The laundry (#8) is a little bit up this road on your left (across from the Canegata Ballpark). While waiting for your wash (cold=25 minutes), you can check out the little bakery a bit farther along the street or grab a Coke at Schooner Bay Market (#9) which is a bit farther still. For the other laundry (Prince's Street?), tie up at Styxx (#11) and take a right. Follow the boardwalk to where it ends at the Seaplane (#12). Turn left to get onto their driveway and then take a right on the main road. The laundry is on the next street to the left and the laundry (#13) is not too far on the left side of this street.
  • Vet? This is one of the first things we try to "suss out" is where to find a veterinarian within walking distance (if possible). Fortunately, we haven't had to go there, but there is a vet (#7) at the Gallows Bay Marketplace. Progressive Veterinary Hospital, Kasey Canton, DVM 340-719-7387. November 2011: This office has closed.
  • Buses? See our previous post about buses and bus schedule HERE. Vitran buses are $1 each way across the whole island, and there are also $2.50 taxivans which pretty much take the same route. They come in handy when the Vitran bus has broken down or when you just don't want to wait for the next bus. The Christiansted bus stop (map #10) which corresponds to the time in the bus schedule is outside of the yellow National Park Service building at the end of King Street. We've noticed that the buses aren't very reliable as quite often one bus will be broken down leaving only one bus running which cuts the service way down.  It might be a good idea to ask the bus driver if both buses are running so you know what to expect. I must remember to do this. Even Mr & Mrs Cheapseats have given up and paid $3 more for our trip back to the boat.
    • ATM? There is an ATM machine at First Bank. It is just a few steps away from this bus stop (map #10). With your back to the water and yellow Park Service building on your left, look to the right and you will see it on the front of the building under the covered sidewalk. The Bank of St Croix over by the post office  (map #3) at Gallows Bay Marketplace wouldn't accept my bank's debit card.  They only accept cards on the Star network. First Bank charges $2 per transaction. NOVEMBER 2011: This ATM is closed. Walk up the street (past the library) and there will be two banks across the street from each other. We use First Bank because in the past, Scotia Bank does not accept our debit card.
    • Marine Store? St Croix Marine (#1). Marine store, marina, travelift, boatyard, and the dinghy dock. There is now also a Budget Marine which is not within walking distance, even if you take the east end bus part of the way there. Prices are 15% higher than list price at Budget Marine St Maarten where you would get at least 10% off list... The owners are very nice though. You can order something on the phone and they will deliver it to you in Christiansted. No plywood in stock (neither at Budget Marine in St Thomas). We go to the hardware stores or order online (Defender will ship USPS) because we do not like the marine stores here.
      • Where to shop: Food? We do most of our food shopping at two places. Schooner Bay Market & Pueblo 
        • Schooner Bay Market (#9) at Gallows Bay Marketplace (we usually wind our way through this shopping center to get there). Smaller and a bit more expensive than Pueblo, but it is close and you don't have to pay and wait for a bus. They have a small produce section, bakery, deli, fresh meat, and all the normal stuff.  They have a website.
        • Pueblo Supermarket (#14) up at Golden Rock Shopping Center to the west of Christiansted. Pueblo is cheaper, is a bit of hilly hike but the walk is good for us. We always walk both ways now. For Pueblo, tie up at Styxx (#11) and walk through until you come to King Street. Take a right and continue on this road until you reach Golden Rock at the second traffic light (the lights are very far apart!). We take the bus (map #15) back which is a 10-minute, $1 ride. When looking at the bus schedule, figure that Golden Rock is half way (10 minutes) between Sunny Isle and Christiansted, being sure that you are looking at the correct direction. Of course, you can always take the bus from Christiansted (map #10) if you don't feel up to the walk.
        • On the way to Pueblo, just near the top of the hill before getting to the main Post Office, there is a street to the right and at the end of it you'll see the St Croix Animal Shelter Flea Market. They have lots of stuff (used clothing) and this is where we have bought quite a few paperback books.
        • When you get to the stop light at Pueblo, if you continue on the road to the right, there are two banks with ATMs, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, and MacDonalds. Sometimes you just need a fix...
        • Cost-U-Less and Plaza Extra are located farther from town near Sunny Isle Shopping Center (just before at Sion Farm) which you will need to take a bus. This Cost-U-Less is again different, yet similar, from the one in St. Thomas, which is different from the one in St Maarten. Different products, and of course the thing that you want that you can find in SXM is not available at the store here... So It Goes :) Plaza Extra is a large supermarket but we didn't really find any advantage in going to either of these stores, unless you want to do other things at the shopping center (Wendy's Chili for lunch?). We buy Crystal Light at Cost-U-Less.
      • Where to shop for other stuff? So far, we've only been to Golden Rock and Sunny Isle shopping centers. Looking forward to taking the bus to Frederiksted at the west end of the island. [We went to Frederiksted and we were very disappointed that there wasn't really anything there of practical interest. Maybe for historical and that sort of interesting stuff, plus that is where the cruiseship dock is. There is another K-Mart beyond the University of the VI in a pretty deserted shopping mall. Check it out as they do have a bit more stuff, but nothing for us to make the longer trip].
        • Gallows Bay Marketplace: Gallows Bay (Ace) Hardware (#4), US Post Office (#3), small bookstore (#6), veterinarian / animal hospital (#7), lumberyard VI Trading (#5) probably an ATM... ask!
        • Golden Rock: Pueblo Supermarket (#14), Blockbuster, Sterling Optical, Dominos Pizza, and a few other little shops.
        • Sunny Isle: Much larger. On the bus ride TO Sunny Isle, you'll see Cost-U-Less and Plaza Extra on your right at Sion Farm. Go shopping at Sunny Isle, then walk back to these stores if you want to shop there. There is a bus stop back to Christiansted at Plaza Extra. St Croix has two K-Marts. The smaller one is at Sunny Isle. Other stores: Radio Shack, Office Max, movie theater, AT&T, Footlocker, small clothing stores, other shops. Food: IHop, MacDonalds, Wendy's for your "fast" food fix. There is a large hardware store with lumberyard across the street from Wendy's. You'll see it on the left side of the road before the bus turns in to the shopping center. [There is also a Sears/Kmart annex nearby. When you get off the bus, walk a few yards forward and take a left on that driveway (if you go to the right it takes you to KMart, but don't do that now). So, take the left and walk straight. Cross the road and behind the WAPA (Water and Power Authority) building, you'll see a little strip of buildings with the Sears/Kmart where they have tools and things that the main Kmart store does not have.]
      • Where to get a cell phone? We got our AT&T "Go Phone" at Radio Shack in St Thomas, which, of course, is good for St Croix too. I bought the cheapest phone thinking that I'd put the chip into my triband phone but it didn't work because they use the 850 band here. The phones you buy here are dual band 850 & 900 which work in US, USVI, and Puerto Rico. They sell them at Radio Shack & the AT&T store at Sunny Isle. Don't know anything about other carriers, sorry! I have the $60/month plan which has unlimited, nationwide long distance & texting. I pay using my AT&T internet account. I went to AT&T here in STX because I was having problems with voicemail. Turns out the plan doesn't include voicemail but it is only $0.99/month. $60/month is quite an outlay but it is so nice not to worry about the minutes ticking by when someone place you on hold, etc. [They now have a $2/day plan. If you use the phone you are charged $2 for that day, if you don't use it you pay zero. So,  if you used it everyday, it would be the same as the $60/month plan... save a bit of money and plan your calls.] NOVEMBER 2011: AT&T now has a $50/month plan that we use instead of the $2/day.
      • Dive Shop? We know of SCUBA (St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures). Tie up at Styxx (#11) take a right on the boardwalk to first street (where you dump your trash) which is Caravelle Arcade and it is on the other side of the street (to your right if back facing the water). They made excellent eggnog at Christmas!
        • WiFi / Internet access? We have internet access on the boat.  You can try various hotspots and see if you can get free wifi, or you can pay (hotspots starting with "BroadbandVI"). I think it's $60/month.  As a comparison, we paid $100/month in St Maarten for Scarlet service. You can also get fee wifi at a few of the boardwalk bars, and there are a couple of internet cafes. Prices: $59.95 for 30 days, $39.95 for 7 days, $30.95 for 3 days, $9.95 for 1 day, $4.95 for one hour. If you prefer an internet cafe, check out the previously-mentioned Surf-The-Net. You can use her computers or use her wifi.
          Well, that's enough to get started...

          You can check our other posts with the label of St Croix. CLICK HERE