Want to be the first person in the US to see the sunrise? It’s easy – other than getting up early on a vacation day while on balmy, beautiful St. Croix. But if you do, you will not only own the bragging rights, but you will experience the visual splendor of Point Udall, the easternmost point in the US.
From the magnificent promontory located on The East End of St. Croix, you will see miles of ocean, the Atlantic Ocean meeting up with the Caribbean Sea. Some visitors say you can even see the curvature of the earth from up there.
Once you arrive within the national park, a paved road takes you to a large Stonehenge-like monument that is actually a sundial. Erected in 2000 and fittingly called the Millennial Monument, it marks the azimuth of the first US sunrise of the year. The monument’s design hasn’t earned any accolades from Cruzans or visitors alike, but it’s the panoramic view that impresses here. Point Udall is open every day and there is no admission charge.
An informal and moderately difficult trail leads hikers down to the pristine beach below. Take along a little snorkel gear and you will not be disappointed exploring the waters offshore. Among the regularly scheduled activities at Divi Carina Bay Resort is a supervised hike every Sunday morning, leaving from the hotel lobby at 9 AM. The trip includes time for a little snorkeling around the point or just reveling in the volcanic rock formations and secluded beach. The cost of the guided hike is $15 per person and last about three hours.
On your way back up the hill, look for Castle Aura, an enormous Moorish-style mansion. The distinctive structure is well known to guests of Divi Carina Bay, who can easily spy it from the pool deck. It belongs to a Romanian born countess, who has long called St. Croix home, and is the most talked-about villa on the island. The legend and rumors are many, but facts are relatively few about the castle’s very secretive resident.
Now, here is a real fact: There are actually two Point Udalls in the US; one marking the easternmost point, the other, the westernmost point, each one named for a different Udall. Point Udall in St. Croix is named for Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The other Point Udall in Guam is named for his brother, Morris, who served as a U.S. Representative from Arizona and ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1976.
When Guam’s Congressional delegation proposed naming a Point Udall there, it said that if the legislation were approved, “America’s day would begin and end at a Point Udall.” And, indeed now it does.
If you didn’t catch the sunrise this morning, unrise tomorrow in Christiansted will be around 6:07am. However, just a few seconds earlier, if you’re out at Point Udall, you can say you saw the sun before anyone else in the US. Afterwards, head back to Divi Carina Bay for a mid-morning snooze or contemplate what the countess is doing today.