Columbus “discovered” the Virgin Islands in 1493– notwithstanding the fact that there had been indigenous people living there for 3000 years. Subsequently, the Spanish, British, French, and Dutch at various times laid claim to portions of the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands as a whole are a fairly sizable group of islands strung out like a string of pearls running roughly east from Puerto Rico.
The United States became interested in the Virgin Islands around World War I primarily because of the fear that the Germans might seize them as a naval base. The United States purchased from Spain Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgin Islands, immediately to the east of Puerto Rico. The United States purchased what is now known as the American Virgin Islands (immediately to the east of the Spanish Virgin Islands) from the Dutch. The next in geographic line is the British Virgin Islands immediately to the east of the US Virgin Islands. Basically speaking, all of these islands are within line of sight of one another as you sail to the East or West and are an easy sail (barring unfavorable trade winds).
Bareboat chartering is available among all of these islands but is most developed and most active in the British Virgin Islands. Because all of the islands are close, it is perfectly possible to charter a boat in the American Virgin Islands and visit the British Virgin Islands on the same trip. We’ve done that on several occasions. When we take that option, we enjoy spending few days sailing and exploring St. John in the USVI at the beginning or end of our trip. The only hassle is that you have to clear customs in each direction and pay some fees for sailing in the BVI.