Salt River Bay St Croix and the Battle Over Public Beach Access
Looks inviting, right? Salt River Bay St Croix, though, has a long history of inhospitality.
Columbus sent a small expedition ashore here during his second voyage in 1493. They, of course, were famously rebuffed along the shores just across the Bay from those pictured here.
That prescient clash is noted as the first encounter between Europeans and the indigenous Amerindian people that had long called the Caribbean home.
Today, folks residing in the east side of Salt River Bay St Croix carry on the area’s unwelcoming tradition. Their neighborhood, Judith’s Fancy, is one of St Croix’s most exclusive residential areas. Naturally, there’s a guard gate at the entrance limiting access to the area.
Actually, access to Judith’s Fancy and the incredible seaside surrounds pictured here is prohibited. Entirely. Exceptions, though, are afforded to residents, of course, and their guests.
I came to discover this on a summer 2022 visit back home to St Croix. I hadn’t tried to visit the Judith’s Fancy side of Salt River Bay since I was in high school. Back then, access to the beach wasn’t a problem. Sometimes we’d have to park at the guard gate and walk, but I can’t recall ever being out-and-out denied.
That, however, is exactly what happened to me on my last visit.
So yeah, all of the beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands are open and available to the public by law. Only here, it seems, you better know someone “Fancy,” or have access to a boat in order to enjoy them…
*Photo credit: Patrick Bennett