How We Took An Epic Family Vacation To St. Croix with Spirit Airlines
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Last week we had a family first…actually a few of them. We have had the US Virgin Islands on our family travel wish list for a long time, and looking back, I'm not sure why we didn't visit sooner. We finally did make it down there. It all started about a month ago with an email from Spirit Airlines inviting us to travel with them to St. Croix and sponsoring this post. Having never traveled on an ultra-low-cost carrier, I didn't immediately accept. We almost always fly in premium cabins so I wasn't sure if this would be a good fit for us, and to share with you all.
I'm happy to say that I did some research first before deciding either way and what I learned made the decision easy. We said yes and were on our way to the island shortly after. If you haven't flown with Spirit before or at least not recently, here is what I learned and why we said yes.
Spirit has a Big Front Seat® that is comparable to most of the domestic first class seats we normally sit in. The big difference is that the price is hugely less and doesn't come with any benefits other than a bigger seat and more leg room. You can also purchase Shortcut Boarding to board early if that is important to you like it is to us.
Spirit is known for their “A La Smarte” pricing so you only pay for the extras you need. Since we travel with a lot of equipment and kids (ha!), we made sure we also had purchased checked bags and a carry on bag each too. Purchasing them when you book your ticket saves money as well. After our trip, I looked back on the experience and I wouldn't hesitate to fly with Spirit again in those Big Front Seats. They are a bargain and really comfy!
For our actual trip, we flew non-stop from LAX-FLL. Spent the night in Ft. Lauderdale and enjoyed the Florida beaches for the day. We love Florida, so any chance we can spend some time there is a bonus!
The next day we were back at Ft. Lauderdale airport for the pretty quick flight (about 2+ hours) to St. Croix!
The weather was perfect the whole time we were on the island. It was overcast with the sun peeking through and warm, but not super hot.
Our hotel for our stay was The Buccaneer. We had an ocean view two-bedroom massive suite called the Ficus Suite. It was situated right on top of the pool with an oversized balcony. There were high ceilings in both of the master suites, a kitchen, dining area, sitting room, three bathrooms and a washer/dryer. We always make sure there are at least two bathrooms (4 girls) wherever we stay so that our mornings aren't delayed waiting for showers. This set up was luxurious and absolutely perfect for us. The views alone made us all swoon!
Our friends at Spirit and Visit US Virgin Islands surprised us with some great goodies, all of which were very practical for our vacation too. When you are packing, be sure to bring reef-friendly sunblock, oversized beach towels for lounging and drying off alike, sunglasses and a water bottle. We filled up with water at the hotel and sipped it as we explored the island.
We used to just be resort dwellers and we still love downtime to relax and just take in the views as Emmy swims, but we are loving our time exploring even more than we used to. St. Croix isn't a huge island and it is very driveable, so it was a great choice for a 4-day getaway. With Spirit's new flights to St. Croix, this makes a super easy getaway too. Plus with the money you save on flights, you will have more money to spend once you land. I have quite a few ideas for you to use that money below!
I just asked Emmy what her favorite thing was on the trip, and she thought the yellow plane was awesome… but her absolute favorite thing was swimming. That included in the reef right off the hotel, on our snorkeling adventure and also in the pool with Pete.
Maddie and Ash picked the historic exploring we did and the food on the island. Everything was so fresh and the restaurants all seemed to have daily specials that once they ran out, that was it. That is always a sign to us that they really are using great ingredients.
We had fantastic meals on the island, like this for dinner at Zion Modern Kitchen.
Of course, this isn't only a first-hand experience, but we have heard multiple accounts that St. Croix has a lively nighttime scene too. Not spring break crazy, but if you are traveling as a couple, you will have plenty of places to go to for music and drinks at night. As for us, it was dinner, swimming and relaxing before bed. Just how we like it!
This was the view from our resort!
If old buildings are your jam…you will never want to leave! The Dutch influence from years past is still present along with some British flare even though this is a US Territory. So, you don't even need a passport to visit! You just need your ID. Having said that, we still always travel with a passport so just grab it if you have it. If you don't, I would also bring your raised-seal birth certificate. You can find more info on all this here.
If you are wondering about how the islands are doing after last year's storms, the recovery has been very strong and they are open for business and tourists again.
With the extra money to spend on experiences after flying Spirit, the first thing to do with it is a snorkeling adventure.
We went on a Buck Island snorkel excursion with Big Beard's Adventure Tours right from the beach at our hotel.
Although we have snorkeled quite a few times before, we really liked that the first stop was to Buck Island for some practice snorkeling. The island is gorgeous and snorkeling right from the beach is a great way for new snorkelers to learn and for those that would prefer to only snorkel there to see some bright fish.
After that, we rode over to the reefs off the island for more snorkeling. Emmy loved the Parrot Fish there, even though she called them rainbow unicorn fish because of all the colors.
The water was crystal clear, a great temperature and calm, which all made for a great day on the water! At the end of the adventure, there was a punch and rum punch for all!
You can see more of our underwater fun in our video above!
That night, we had dinner at The Buccaneer. There are two great restaurants in the lobby that have views of the ocean and mountains and tasty food options. As vegetarians and vegans, we had no problem finding tons of options on the island. This was the special for the night, bruschetta! We also all had non-alcoholic pina coladas!
We really enjoyed our balcony. This was Emmy's favorite spot.
There are two beaches at the hotel too. One with a reef for snorkeling and one that is a traditional beach great for running out into the waves and swimming.
On another day, we had lunch at Beach Side Cafe. They also have an onsite hotel with adorable boutique style hotel rooms that are currently going through a room by room updating. The picture above is the view from the little cottage rooms. They look so lovely!
After lunch, we headed to Fort Frederik, a U.S. National Historic Landmark in Frederiksted for a private tour with CHANT.
This was a huge highlight for us! We love learning about the history of the places we visit and we love seeing old buildings. I shared this on our Instagram videos:
“Superficially, this is a really cool building and I couldn't get enough of the color in the walls and the rough, hurricane beaten down walls. But that was just the beginning. You can feel the deep history here without words even being said. It was built to protect the island. More importantly, it is the site where almost exactly 170 years ago, on July 3rd, emancipation happened freeing those enslaved. Of course, there is a whole lot more to it than that. The details are fascinating and inspiring. So much planning and the execution of that planning successfully happened. What amazes me the most, is the bravery that it took to actually go through with it all. Thank God that they did! The girls really enjoyed seeing it. Not like in an amusement park way, but they felt like they were paying respect to those that sacrificed so much to better the world.”
So much contemplation took place here for us. There is also a room at the top with period authentic pieces and artwork that we enjoyed. The cannons above were never used except for once, ceremonially when St. Croix became a US Territory.
Behind Ash is where the cruise ships dock.
Outside the Fort is the shopping zone where we strolled. We were lucky to also get to see an art exhibit and some very pretty coastal areas there.
Back in the car to the resort, we made a quick stop for Johnny cakes at La Reine Chicken Shack! These are pieces of fried dough with just a very slight sweetness to them. More savory than sweet.
These four days on the island flew by. Here are more pictures from our time on St. Croix.
And more info for you to help plan your own family vacation to St. Croix and with flying on Spirit.
Spirit Airlines Review and Insider Information:
We had great flights with Spirit. The flight crew was all very friendly and accommodating. The passengers were a mix of well traveled and first time travelers and I loved how the flight attendants helped those that needed more assistance as they learned the ins and outs of air travel. Spirit's customer service commitment to “invest in the guest” was very apparent throughout our trip. I also dug deep into their performance promise and was really impressed with the commitment to get us all there on time. Their record just keeps getting better. They also have one of the youngest fleet of planes with they call their “Fit Fleet®”. You can feel how new and modern they are when you board the plane.
What also impressed us all was The Big Front seat. I love those seats and I can't get over how budget friendly they are. If you haven't researched them, do so right now. Pick a dream trip or a route you fly on regularly and see how inexpensive those seats are. With over 500 flights to 67 destinations in the U.S., Caribbean, Central and South America there are destinations for everyone. They are adding more flights too!
We made sure to pick up bottles of water at the airport, like we always do and snacks too. Those are all an additional cost on Spirit and there are no entertainment options so you will want to download entertainment onto your personal devices. But… starting this year they will be installing state-of-the-art satellite-based Wi-Fi on all of their aircraft so that you will be able to watch, stream (YES!), surf and text from 30,000 feet. This is HUGE and the prices will be in line with how they make everything affordable. I'm really excited about this! They will also be announcing a new loyalty program. I am big into points and loyalty programs so this will be something that I am following closely.
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands:
The island was beautiful. The people kind, helpful and inviting. This is a great location for all families with children of all ages and young adults. It would be great for multi-generational travelers too. Bring the grandparents here, and everyone else. Since it is considered still in the US, this is perfect for people who want that international feel, but don't want to leave the country. There were food options for everyone and plenty to do or great for those that want a really relaxing environment. You can certainly rent a car or arrange for rides on the island although they drive on the left side of the road. They even have their own food delivery service so you can enjoy the culinary treats without stepping foot outside your resort. I would be sure to see some of the historical spots and go snorkeling. Jet skiing and sailing are also great ideas. We really loved our time on the island and wank to go back again!