United States Virgin Islands > Saint Croix > Frederiksted

Frederiksted, U.S. Virgin Islands

Frederiksted is both the town and one of the two administrative districts of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. It is a grid-planned city, designed by surveyor Jens Beckfor, originally to 14x14 blocks but built 7x7 to enhance the island commerce in the 1700s. Frederiksted has fewer than 1,000 people in the town proper, but nearly 10,000 in the greater western side of the island. Christiansted is about 30 years older but commerce was limited by its natural, shallow protective reef. Frederiksted was built in the leeward side of the island for calm seas and a naturally deep port. It is home to Fort Frederik, constructed to protect the town from pirate raids and attacks from rival imperialist nations and named after Frederick V of Denmark, who purchased the Danish West Indies in 1754.

Frederiksted is often referred to as "Freedom City" by locals. This nickname has to do with the fact that the town was the site of the emancipation of slaves in the then-Danish West Indies. On July 3, 1848, freed slave and skilled craftsman Moses Gottlieb, who also was known as "General Buddhoe," led the uprising, organized slaves on St. Croix's West End plantations, and marched on the town of Frederiksted. The emancipation of slaves was proclaimed on July 3, 1848, at Fort Frederik on the waterfront at the northern edge of Frederiksted by Governor-General Peter von Scholten.

Frederiksted is home to one of two deep water ports on St. Croix and is the sole port for cruise ships visiting the island. Passengers disembark at the Frederiksted Pier, where they may explore the town, enjoy the beaches, rent a car, or catch a waiting taxi that will take them to other points of interest across St. Croix. The other deep water port is located at the South Port which includes the tank farm of the former Hovensa oil refinery as well as Renaissance Industrial Park.

The territory's legislature is also located in Frederiksted. There are also several government offices that occupy historic buildings.

Briefly in the early 2000s, Frederiksted was a port for Seaborne Airlines seaplanes, which are based in the town of Christiansted. Seaplane service ended after less than one year of service due to a tropical storm.

Today, Frederiksted is mostly a sleepy town. In its peak month, Frederiksted receives about 15 cruise ships, and it receives 0-2 ships over the summer months compared to St. Thomas' 3-8 ships per day in January. Frederiksted has little in the way of retail shopping. The Frederiksted Pier and the west end reefs offer tropical scuba diving in with the calm waters and many expansive beaches. Adjacent to the pier are several restaurants and beach bars, a few water sports companies, and one cafe. Retail is limited but opens and livens up when a ship comes to port.


The town was destroyed by a labor revolt (known as "The Fireburn" because arson was utilized as a means of revolt) in October 1878, which was led by four Crucian female laborers. Frederiksted was later restored during the Victorian era, as reflected in the town's architecture.

Modern Frederiksted operates at a slower pace than Christiansted, except for carnival in January and whenever cruise ships dock in Frederiksted's deepwater port. In recent years successful redevelopment efforts have begun to restore and revitalize this National Historic Site. The 2000 census population of the town was 732, and that of the larger sub-district was 3,767.

Things to do

Frederiksted is rated one of the best scuba diving sites in the Virgin Islands. Frederiksted has more dive sites than most of the island combined, featuring the Frederiksted Pier, wrecks, reef, seahorses, and underwater archaeology. The Pier in Frederiksted has been called the best night dive in the Caribbean. Scuba on the Frederiksted Pier is a shallow dive, ideal for trying scuba the first time course PADI Discover Scuba Diving (aka: Resort Diving), for extended shore diving, night diving, and especially for underwater photography—rated one of the best dives in the territory. The only dive shop in Frederiksted is N2theBlue Scuba Diving.

Jazz in the Park is featured every third Friday of the month from 5:30-7:30pm. Admission is free as this is a community sponsored event featuring food and drinks.

Carnival is the biggest event of the year starting in late December and ending the first weekend of the New Year. The event starts with the construction of Carnival Village, which is the traditional county fair. The last weekend hosts the largest parties with J'ouvert at the crack of dawn, followed the next day with the Food Fair. The first Friday is the Children's Parade and the main event is the Adult Parade with its full festival status.

Paddleboarding is very popular with the calm waters on the Frederiksted side of the island. Weekly events for night boarding and general competitions are hosted by Freedom City Surf Shop, as well as the internationally recognized Coconut Cup.

Both personal water craft and flyboard activities are one mile north of Frederiksted town (about 15-20 minute walk) at Rainbow Beach. A local bar (Rhythms at Rainbow Beach) is host to Reef Jam, an event encouraging marine conservation and stewardship through community education and outreach.

Wilderness tours are available by bicycle, horseback, and ATV.

Calendars of events are accessible from a locally printed magazine and a variety of online resources:

Points of interest

Frederiksted maintains its original seven street by seven street city design and is host to several historic structures. Among them are St. Patrick's Catholic Church built in the 1840s and its primary school, the Customs House, the 19th Century Apothecary, and many other buildings; some which due to hurricanes past have fallen into ruins.

In Media


Tourism promotion video:


Renovation and Revitalisation

Several companies have participated in drafting plans to refurbish and enhance the greater Frederiksted area. Coastal Systems was retained by the Public Finance Authority to develop concepts for a waterfront park, beach, cruise pier, and other site improvements. Teams of land planners, engineers, and landscape architects met with local interest groups to develop conceptual plans for the redevelopment of the area. Environmental regulatory surveys and permits were managed by the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Agency of the USVI. Phase I of the project was completed, which consisted of the reconstruction of the waterfront park while maintaining the historical facade representative of St. Croix's heritage. Natural stonework was used throughout the project site in accordance with the local architectural style, enhancing the authenticity of the arrival experience.

Phase II of the project, contemplated for the future, will involve the reconstruction of the community waterfront north of the fort and include the recreation of breakwaters, the reconstruction of Paul E. Joseph Stadium, and the restoration of the beach, restroom facilities, retaining pond, utilities, parking areas, and soccer fields.

Volunteers, Community, and Art

Volunteer-ism is a big part of Frederiksted. Clean Sweep Frederiksted meets every Saturday morning to sweep, shovel, and pull weeds. They also worked with the Artists Guild of St. Croix to install dozens of painted rum barrels as community trash bins. The Artists Guild of St. Croix has installed several murals, paintings, and sponsors scholarships. Delta Dorsch who was born in Frederiksted, wrote two books The Role of the Storyteller in the Preservation of Virgin Islands Culture (1999) and contributed to The Glory Days of Frederiksted (2004) about cultural aspects of the community.


Frederiksted has a tropical climate with warm weather year-round.

Water temperatures of 78-79'F in winter and ~85'F in September. The waters are typically very calm as Frederiksted is in the leeward side (shadow of the island's wind) with ~12 inch tide.

The sunrise varies from 5:30 a.m. in summer and 7:00 a.m. in winter. Sunset varies between 5:40 p.m. in winter and 7:10 p.m. in summer. St. Croix does not use the daylight saving time. The ultraviolet index or UV index varies from 10+ UV index in the summer and a maximum of 7 UV index in winter.

Persistent 19-knot (35 km/h; 22 mph) Easterly trade winds, moving from east to west across the island year round create a cool breeze.

Rainforests are located on this western side of St. Croix due to the topography and 1,400 foot peaks and the tradewinds. This rainforest climate is unique to the Frederiksted side of St. Croix.


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