Editor’s Note: Some of the information below may be out-of-date. The U.S. Virgin Islands were heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Please visit caribbeantravelupdate.com for more info.
Good schools, good friends and good waves: these are the best islands to live on for families.
St. Croix, USVI
People here will ask how your family is doing because they actually want to know. Return the favor, and you’re on your way — probably to the beach with friends. Like St. Thomas, this larger Virgin Island has English as the common language and easy immigration thanks to being a U.S. territory. But it lacks St. Thomas’ greater tourist frenzy. Farms and rainforests make up much of the island, giving it a relaxed day-to-day feel, like a small town with seascapes.
The Balinese love kids. The attitude is infectious. Child care is low-cost. The art and music, long history and varied geography, languages and foods of an international cross- roads stimulate kids (and parents). You won’t see anything back home like the stunning cliffside Uluwatu temple. Indonesia can be a challenging place. Living here as a family can actually make that less, rather than more, stressful.
North Island, New Zealand
Beautiful and stable, clean and safe, welcoming and friendly — it’s easy to make a list of this country’s advantages for families. Natural and cultural wonders like the geothermal activity of Rotorua and the ongoing history of the Maori offer near-endless possibilities for weekend exploration. Immigration to New Zealand is restricted but not impossible. Public services and health care are straightforward and of high quality. The education system is also world-class — New Zealand has its family values in order.
To say Hawaiians value family is an understatement. Family life is the center of everything here, and that attitude spills out into the community, manifesting in good schools and social services. The island also provides endless kid-friendly extracurriculars — hula and ukulele lessons, archaeology, Hawaiian language. Outdoor options include trails through the green Pali mountains to the big waves of the North Shore. The conveniences of Honolulu for shopping and travel add another family-friendly layer. And no visa required.
Viti Levu, Fiji
The Fijian version of Polynesian culture, like the Hawaiian version, centers on family. Generations gather for any reason here — a kid’s swimming race, say, or just because it’s a beautiful day outside. And the atmosphere is inclusive — a friend of the family is part of the family. This most-populated Fijian island has the shopping and services and international airport, with access to wilder Vanua Levu and the other islands. International schools in the capital, Suva, cater to expats with children without shutting them of from local culture.