America and the small screen have fallen in love with the island of St. Croix. With wide open spaces, picturesque Caribbean beaches, and the laid-back lifestyle of a tropical island, it’s easy to understand why St. Croix has been featured on several commercial and cable television programs. The spotlight shown on St. Croix by these networks is helping to boost real estate sales here on the island, as well as increasing the island’s exposure as a travel destination.
HGTV has been responsible for bringing the most attention to St. Croix by featuring the island on multiple episodes of several different shows including: House Hunters International, Beachfront Bargain Hunt, and Caribbean Life. In addition to giving viewers a taste of some of the natural beauty and local lifestyle that makes St. Croix such a wonderful place to live, these shows have also promoted local realtors and businesses, boosted home sales, and helped to stimulate the economy. Why the interest in purchasing a house on St. Croix? First, it’s an English-speaking U.S. territory, which means none of the immigration, work permit, or property rights issues you would run into when purchasing property on other Caribbean islands. Second, it is much more affordable to buy property on St. Croix than most other Caribbean islands, and there is a lot of inventory right now from which buyers can choose. As an added bonus, many of the residential properties on St. Croix are designed with efficiency apartments attached to the main house, or detached cottages, offering an additional income source for potential buyers. St. Croix also has tracts of land available for those wishing to build their own home.
I had a front row seat for the filming and production of a segment for Caribbean Life when the house my husband and I were renting was filmed for the West Virginia to St. Croix episode. Let me just say it really is quite a production, but they are fast and efficient. The production crew comes in like a whirlwind and cleans and stages the whole house, films the segment, and then puts everything back in order within a matter of hours! They also film parts of the island and the buyers participating in local pastimes such as playing at the beach, scuba diving, or adventuring through the rainforest. It really is amazing how HGTV can take so much footage, edit it down to a 21 minute episode, and still manage to capture the buyers story, three different houses, and the feel of St. Croix!
While it is a huge draw, the housing market on St. Croix is not the only asset to the television stations. The island itself is picturesque and much less touristy than many Caribbean Destinations, making it a perfect backdrop for some of the romantic reality shows. ABC filmed The Bachelor on St. Croix, featuring The Buccaneer and it’s beautiful Mermaid Beach, as well as downtown Christiansted and the many boutiques and artisan jewelry stores housed in it’s historic buildings. A&E has also been filming on the island and will be using the destination of St. Croix for their upcoming season of Married at First Sight.
St. Croix also offers a diverse history and culture that captures the hearts of many. The mix of ethnic backgrounds found on the island (including African, European, West Indian, Latin American, Indian, and many more) combined with the abundance of local agriculture and fresh seafood makes for a delicious variety of cuisines. In fact, the Travel Channel filmed an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern here on St. Croix which featured Zimmern catching and grilling reef fish with some local fisherman, sampling local favorite kallaloo in Gallows Bay, herding Senepol cattle, and trying conch roti. The Travel Channel came back to St. Croix recently to film an episode of REAL. REAL: St. Croix will showcase locals and the local lifestyle of the island. Producer Shane Reynolds told the Virgin Islands Daily News: ‘We want to tell the comprehensive story of the real island; the local perspectives to include both sides of the story. I’m a journalist and want to present the history, the culture, the frustrations and what keeps people here.’
National Geographic TV’s Diggers delved into the history of the Knights of Malta on St. Croix, and went in search of (and found) some artifacts at Annaly Mills. If Annaly Mills seems familiar, you may recognize it from an HGTV show called You Live in What?, which was filmed there in 2013.
St. Croix offers a piece of Caribbean paradise, but with many of the modern comforts of Stateside living. The island offers screensaver worthy beaches, historical ruins, a cultural melting pot of food and festivals, beautiful homes, renowned golf courses, boutique shopping, and the laid-back island lifestyle. St. Croix is the hidden gem of vacation destinations, and a great place to consider if you are looking to move to the Caribbean. In the meantime, stay tuned! You never know when you will see St. Croix broadcast into your home.
– Jennie Ogden, Editor