10 Best Islands for Raising a Family

It used to be that Mom and Dad would wait until the nest was empty to go build an island nest. Not anymore. With today’s homeschool support and digital connectivity to keep the grandparents updated, growing up on an island (together) is more conscionable than it used to be.

Sicily, Italy

Buy olives, cheese, ripe tomatoes and bread at Ballarò open-air market in Palermo. Tour the majestic Madonie mountains with the kids. Picnic on the beach below Cefalù – if no one invites you home. Call that a Friday. A night of babysitting: $40.Islands


It's near the top of the Global Peace Index. Expats in Japan say the key to family peace is to resist the 60-hour work weeks that are so prevalent in the population centers. www.islands.com/japanIslands

Culebra, Puerto Rico

A bold offering, but safe for kids. This tiny Puerto Rican isle boasts low crime, inexpensive property and public schools. Even better, it’s only a 30-minute flight from San Juan.Photo By Zach Stovall

Nassau, Bahamas

We are all about island immersion, but Nassau has some incredible gated communities for added security. Outside of them, kids grow up in a cultural melting pot, yet aren't on the other side of the earth. There's a waiting list for the best private schools. Find out what it's like to live here by signing up for the Bahamas' People to People experience, where your family explores, eats and basically lives with a local family for a few days. Check it out at www.bahamas.comPhoto By Zach Stovall

St. Croix

Not as developed as nearby St. Thomas, but just as easy a move. Public – and private – school options exist. Field trips visit sea turtle nests. There’s also a college.Islands

Abaco, Bahamas

This is the best of both worlds, the Bahamas' laidback beachcomber charm combined with "urban" conveniences. Marsh Harbour, the Bahamas' third-largest city, has a population of about 15,000, so urban is relative, but it offers convenient shopping (hardware, software, dry goods, wetsuits) and good schools. The surrounding cays are your playground. A short boat ride can make you feel like a castaway. Isn't that why you moved? http://www.theabaconian.com; http://www.bahamas.com/islands/abacoBronwyn Knight

Vanua Levu, Fiji

Overworked? Oppressed by sprawl? Here's the answer. Fiji's second-largest island is wilder than Viti Levu (just a short flight or boat ride away for shopping or nightlife). The road along the deep blue ocean is named the Hibiscus Highway without irony. Family is important in Fiji, so don't drop by if you don't want to hold a baby — or if you don't want a local lady holding your baby. By the way, "family" here seems to mean just whoever's around. In other words, you are welcome. http://www.fiji.travel; http://www.fijitimes.com; http://fromseattletosuva.comIslands


It sounds like the other side of the world, because it is. It also seems cosmopolitan, because it is. But that's why the Singapore could change kids' lives in good ways, from languages learned to lifelong worldwide friendships built. Top-quality child care (everyone has a nanny here, and they're professionals) and top-tier education (compensation packages for foreign workers often include tuition at the excellent international schools) bolster the family-friendly atmosphere. http://yoursingapore.comIslands

St. Thomas, USVI

Families need both adventure and a sense of the, well, familiar. That's the US Virgin Islands in a coconut shell. Here the island lifestyle is as American as key lime pie, with pizza delivery and Home Depot. Blackbeard's Castle overlooking the harbor is more or less city center. Secluded bays and beaches are short drives or water-taxi rides away. And it's a short flight Stateside to visit the grandparents — if they're not already visiting you. http://www.visitusvi.com; http://virginislandsdailynews.comIslands

Maui, Hawaii

Physical, mental, spiritual stimulation makes healthy, smart, happy kids. Maui has it all. The intersection of water sports, mountain sports, cultures ancient and modern, plus soul-refreshing beauty make it hard to argue with Maui for family life. That's not to mention the importance of family itself in all of Hawaii. American children can enroll in Hawaii schools without much hassle. Surfing world-famous breaks, climbing volcanoes and dancing hula are now after-school activities. Where do families who move to Maui go on vacation? Outside. http://www.mauinews.com; http://mauinow.comIslands