Since the arrival of the first Europeans, led by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the Virgin Islands have had a varied and colorful history. The English, Dutch, Spanish, French and Danish have all had their influence on the development of the islands into a trading crossroads of the Atlantic. Charlotte Amalie is the hillside port town of St. Thomas and is famous for its shopping attractions. Many of the boutiques were once pirate strongholds or thick-walled arched-ceiling warehouses. Today, restored, they spill over with tempting imports. Non-shoppers will find beautiful beaches and water sport facilities to while away some sun filled hours.