While the Caribbean is generally thought of as being a tourist destination year round, there is certainly an off season, generally from July through late October. Travelling to St. Croix during off season offers both benefits and a few drawbacks for you to consider when planning your vacation. What does off season really mean? I get this question a lot. I think what it comes down to is that people want to know if they can get better travel deals. Here is what I found happens on St. Croix during off season:
Lower Rates or Freebies. I have noticed that rates may not go lower, but free things are offered. A free night or two at your hotel, a free extra days car rental, a free hour on your tour, or even a free bottle of locally made rum. This may not be true across the board, as I am aware of several accommodations that do offer a lower off season rate. Remember, they may not always advertise ‘Off Season Rates’, so just ask. The worst they can say is ‘no’, but chances are pretty good they’ll accommodate you or make it worth your while in a different aspect.
Less Crowds. This is SO true. Well, St. Croix does not have a lot of crowds to begin with (yay!), but it really slows down in the late summer and early fall, especially from August through October. Some people really like this since they have the tour guide all to themselves, no waiting in line in the stores, less crowds at the restaurants, etc.
Off Season Hours. For stores and boutiques, chances are the hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 10 until whenever the employee/owner simply can’t take it anymore, and it’s 4pm and they decide to close. If they stay open all day, closing time is usually 5pm. Restaurants pretty much keep the same hours as they do during season, if they are open. Some restaurants take advantage of slow season to close their establishment and take care of repairs, paint, remodel, or just take a vacation. It is important that you still call ahead to make sure the restaurant of choice is open and still make reservations.
‘There is Nothing To Do’. I beg to differ. Yes, there is not as much to do, but live music, dinner specials, crab races, West Indian BBQs, sailing, snorkeling lessons and lots of other tours, attractions, and entertainment still happen on a weekly basis – but with less crowds!
Threat of Hurricanes. Ugh. Well, yes, that is there. We can’t do anything about it. Some people will take the (low) risk of vacationing during this time because they feel the benefits out-weigh the actual chances of a hurricane happening. However, if a hurricane were to happen on St. Croix during your vacation, please rest assured that systems are in place to keep you safe. Your accommodations can fill you in on the details, their plan of action, and anything else you may need to know.
It’s HOT. Yep, it is H-O-T. What are you gonna do? You’re surrounded by the ocean and pools, so just get wet to cool down. In fact, visibility and conditions for snorkeling and diving are often better this time of year due to the still days. Plus, there is something to say about a steamy Caribbean evening on the beach, under the stars. Just roll with it, its the Caribbean.
I can’t classify any of these as negative or positive, you have to decide that for yourself. Today, in town for lunch, there were three large youth groups of about 20 each. I asked: ‘Why St. Croix now?’ One of the chaperones told me it was a last minute deal they found with terrific off season rates, and they needed a vacation before the kids started back at school. Terrific! Glad to see you here…and I’m sure the business owners appreciate the teens spending habits.
There you have it. I hope this helps in your decision making. What ever you decide, I will tell you this, whatever your preference is for traveling, on or off season, St. Croix can accommodate your needs and you’ll certainly relax and enjoy your Caribbean vacation.
– Anna Holley