Columbus Landing Beach
Columbus Landing Beach is located on St. Croix’s north shore next to Salt River marina. Columbus Landing is a small, white sand bay with some spots of pebble. It’s good for looking for seashells, but remember you’re not allowed to take shells away from USVI beaches. Here the water deepens quickly and there are many areas with seagrass. Depending on the season, the seagrass may be a problem.
This is a fairly-secluded beach and you will often be the only ones there, except on weekends which sees more people. The water is good for swimming and there is reef just a short way out for snorkeling. The area is known for great scuba diving just offshore, especially “the Canyon”, and several local dive shops offer boat dives in the area.
If you get there early (6 am or so) you can often find local horse owners exercising their animals in the surf.
Columbus Landing St Croix is historically significant because this is the spot where Christopher Columbus landed during his second journey to the Americas in 1493. We’re pretty proud that Villa Margarita is located only a stone’s throw from this historic place! This beach was the site of a native village in the 1400’s. There is a visitors center on the hill (see picture) which you can reach by dirt road. There you’ll find the site of an earthen fort, as well as a great vantage point to see all of Salt River Bay (and Villa Margarita as well). This is a National Historic Landmark, so please treat it with respect.
There are no amenities here other than parking. So bring your beach towels, beach chairs and beach umbrellas. Plus lots of water or drinks & sunscreen as there is not a lot of shade. Columbus Landing beach is located right next to Salt River Bay Historical and Ecological Preserve. There are several St Croix kayak rental companies based at the Salt River marina there which offer kayak tours of Salt River Bay. The night kayak tour of the bioluminescent bay there is very popular.
Take Northside Road west out of Christiansted. Turn right onto Northshore Road (Salt River Road). Take this about 1.5 miles until you see the marina on the right. Turn right at the marina and drive about a half mile and you’ll hit the sea where the beach is located.
Historical significance of Columbus Landing St. Croix in 1493
Columbus landing St. Croix is the only know place where Christopher Columbus set foot on land which is currently part of the USA. On November 14, 1493, Columbus landed on St Croix seeking fresh water. He and his crew of 17 ships ventured onto the island and found a small village. There they found Taino Indians who said they’d been captured by the Carib people who were taking over the island.
Columbus and his crew took these villagers back to their ship, and along the way met a canoe with Carib men and women inside. A fight began and Columbus’ men fired upon the Indians, while Indians shot back with arrows. This happened just outside the bay to the east, and is known as “Cape of the Arrows” to this day. One person on each side was killed.
There were about 20 Indian villages on St Croix at this time with a population of 1,200 in total. Columbus claimed the island on behalf of Spain and named it Santa Cruz.
This is the first fight on record between Europeans and North American native inhabitants, which is historically very significant.
And it all happened a mere 500 yards from what is now Villa Margarita and you can see the actual spot from your balcony!
Over the subsequent 100 years, the Spanish fought local Taino and Carib Indians close to annihilation, and by early 1600, the island of Santa Cruz was deserted.
This event was best immortalized in this famous painting by John Vanderlyn. It hangs in the Rotunda of the US Capitol building in Washington DC.
Descriptions of the 1493 battle at Columbus Landing St. Croix USVI
People interested in learning more can read the first-hand accounts of men who were there. Such as Dr. Diego Alvarez Chanca, physician for Columbus’ second expedition, who later described in a letter what happened as the expedition approached St Croix and what is now called the Salt River:
“As [our] barge was about to return to the ships with the captures they had made, a canoe came along the coast containing [several Caribs]; and when they saw [our] fleet, they were so stupefied with amazement that for a good hour they remained motionless at a distance of nearly two cannon shots. . . “When the Caribbees saw that all attempt at flight was useless, they most courageously took to their bows, both men and women; I say courageously because they were only four men and two women [and two slaves, according to de Cuneo], and our men numbered twenty-five. Two of our men were wounded by the Indians, one with two arrows in his breast and another with an arrow in his side, and if it had not happened that [our men] carried shields and bucklers and that they soon got near [the Indians] with the barge and upset the canoe, most of them would have been killed [by] their arrows.”
You can read more about Columbus’ violent first contact on future US soil or download the PDF here.
Columbus Landing St. Croix today
Today Columbus Landing St. Croix is part of the Salt River US Virgin Islands National Park, and is a dynamic, tropical ecosystem home to some of the largest mangrove forests in the Virgin Islands, as well as coral reefs and an underwater canyon. Congress created Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve in 1992 to preserve and protect its contributions to the nation’s natural and cultural heritage.
Downoad the National Park Service docs on Salt River Park St. Croix – as pdf
Places to eat
- Off the Wall at Cane Bay (beach restaurant). — View menu
- The Landing Beach Bar at Cane Bay. Tel: 340-718-0362 — view menu (pdf)
- AMA at Cane Bay — download the menu (pdf)
Nearby things to do
- Horseback riding — try Equus Riding stables Tel: 340-201-1189 — print out prices (pdf)
- Kayaking — try Sea Thru Kayaks VI Tel: 340-244-8696 — view St. Croix bioluminescent kayak tours prices (pdf)
- Off-road ATV tours — Gecko’s Island Adventures – tours Tel: 340-713-8820 — download Gekko off-road ATV tour prices (pdf)
- Hiking — try Mount Eagle — print our St. Croix Mt. Eagle Hiking Guide (pdf)
- Zip lining — try Carambola Zip Line Tel: 340-244-1464 — download zipline St. Croix USVI prices (pdf)
- Golf — at Carambola Golf Club Tel: 340-778-5638
Videos of Columbus Landing Beach St. Croix USVI
That’s the scoop on the Beach at Columbus Landing St Croix!
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