When Magellan reached Guam in the spring of 1521, he discovered an island of tropical breezes, white sand beaches and the kind of bright blue ocean views that are only found close to the equator. Many people dream of living out their years in a place like this.   Some actually do it.  

The residents of the Island of Guam in the Marianas island chain enjoy all the amenities of the tropical dream along with the benefits of a thriving cosmopolitan community and all of the rights that come through Guam's status as a U.S. territory. For those of us who yearn for the island life, it's hard to find a downside.

Aside from the bounty of all things picturesque, the unique blend of people and cultures found on Guam means no lack of variety. The traditions, food, language and myths of the island are a mesh of cultures including Chamorro (the native people), Spanish, Fillipino, American, Japanese and several other Asian cultures.

The population of the island is under 180,000 people--but the island is considered a hub of the western Pacific Ocean in addition to its significance as a key U.S. military base. During the last 300 years, Spain, the U.S. and Japan have claimed Guam through various battles. The U.S. retook Guam in 1944 after a 31-month occupation by the Japanese, an event now commemorated by the War in the Pacific National Historic Park.

Since that time, Guam has found relative peace as a U.S. territory, and its economy has grown through tourism and military spending--which means Guam is now home to 20 skyscrapers, plus countless resort hotels and wonderful restaurants to go with the beaches and island views.

Sure, it could be difficult to uproot to a tropical island, where you spend your days with that beautiful white sand and vivid blue ocean. But hey, it's something to dream about, and maybe a desktop getaway will help you plan your next sabbatical.