Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, and by mil-
lions of North Americans in the last 60 years, the USVI,
St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, are the premier tourist
destinations in the Caribbean. They are visited by over 1½
million people each year. Many return again and again. In
fact, hundreds of continentals (the name West Indians give
to mainlanders) have fallen in love with the islands and
moved here to open small hotels, award-winning restau-
rants, and shops. Others have purchased condos and spend
part of the year or retire here.
After a totally unscientific survey conducted at poolsides, on
ferries and over piña coladas, I've come up with some rea-
sons to explain the islands' wide appeal.
The weather in this part of the Caribbean is
near-perfect year-round, with daytime temper-
atures in the 70s and 80s. There is no rainy sea-
son and it is a rare day when the sun doesn't
shine a bit. Because the islands are located in
the path of the cooling trade winds, there is al-
ways a breeze for windsurfers and sailing boats.
While many Caribbean islands advertise white
sandy beaches, the USVI actually have them.
Magens Bay, consistently voted one of the 10
loveliest beaches in the world, is just one of a
score of fine beaches on St. Thomas, while St.
John's beautiful Trunk Bay even has a marked
underwater trail for snorkelers.
Unlike many resorts where accommodations
are lined up along a beach strip, hotels here are
scattered throughout the islands and each has a
distinct personality. The variety extends to