Reach out and touch Buck Island Reef National Monument—that’s how close the national park seems from your pool deck perched hillside on St. Croix’s peaceful east end. You’re in Cotton Valley, where planters once grew their crops—look carefully and you may still see wild cotton clusters on the breezy, arid slopes. When you arrive at Reef Watch, you’ll feel as though you’ve moved into the welcoming home of island friends. Pristine, cool, white tile floors are accented by classic wicker furnishings and sisal rugs. Charming custom fabrics, carefully-selected works by St. Croix’s best artists, and locally-crafted Taylor Tile on the deck are combined into Caribbean style at its very best. A family or three couples can spread out in three air-conditioned bedrooms, each with a private bath. Two are in the main house separated by the great room while a third is in the pool house—a roomy efficiency cottage also facing Buck Island. Dine outside on the spacious deck or indoors—the views are magnificent either way. After watching sailboats come and go from Buck Island’s West Beach, you’ll want to arrange a day of snorkeling there yourself. It’s the home of endangered sea turtles, threatened bird species, and an array of colorful tropical fish. Then, pop on a straw hat from the Reef Watch collection and explore St. Croix. Sandy beaches, kayaking, golf, and tennis are all just moments away by car, along with open air dining at fine restaurants, many perched by the sea. Or drive west to see how our island’s pride, Cruzan Rum, is still made by time-honored methods—and be sure to sample it while you are there. Most days, though, you’ll want to simply relax and let Reef Watch work its magic. Float around the roomy pool, catch up on your reading in the hammock, and get to know loved ones again. Give into the temptation to simply gaze for hours at the color variations of aqua water trimmed by white foam that pours over your reef—it’s mesmerizing.