The family that plays together, stays together. In the Lowcountry, it’s easy to find plenty of ways to do just that.
Hilton Head Island has been a favorite family vacation destination for generations. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last year alone, Hilton Head was named among one of the “30 Best Beaches for Families” by TravelChannel.com and “Best Family Vacation Spots” by U.S. News & World Report, and was featured as a family-friendly destination in Carolina Parent, Traveling Mom and NY Metro Parent, among others. This doesn’t include the dozens of other “best of” lists that Hilton Head Island was named to, or the awards garnered in respecting publications like Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.
Hilton Head Island is not only a favorite getaway for families, it is a one-of-a-kind place to raise them as well. With innovative schools, a tight-knit network of neighborhoods, and many ways to have fun together, it shouldn’t be a surprise that so many found the power of family right here on Hilton Head.
“One of the best things about rearing a family on Hilton Head is the people,” said Cecile Bibaud, mother of three and director of the Providence Early Learning Center. She’s lived on the island since 1982. “Hilton Head’s wealth of volunteers is unsurpassed. The kids have coaches, music teachers, mentors and many other people who understood that it indeed ‘takes a village.’ It is that community support that makes a difference in a child’s life.”
Growing up in a place where the beach is your backyard, you can play outside until sundown and ride your bike to see your friends is not an experience many people have.
“The island is still a place where kids can roam, which is rare in today's world. My boys grew up riding their bikes to the swimming pool and the nearest fishing lagoon. They could take the paths to a friend’s house and ride home before dark. I'm so glad they've had that experience,” said Charlie Clark, a 16-year resident of Hilton Head and vice president of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. “In high school, my boys and their friends would play beach volleyball or head to the beach on the weekends. It was pretty idyllic and they so appreciate it now that they're in college, finding out it’s a pretty rare and amazing way to grow up.”
Bibaud and her husband, Steve, married in 1984 and had their first child, Laura, in 1987. Their son, Andrew, was born 22 months after Laura, and Cassidy was adopted years later. All three graduated from Hilton Head Island High School. As the director of a day care center, she gets to see the next generation of families raise their children in a similar fashion as she did.
“Many people think of Hilton Head as just being golf and tennis but it is also a great place to have a family. There are always family-friendly festivals and events. We have the beach and bike trails. We went on ‘mystery rides’ to obscure places on Sunday afternoons,” she said. “My children have great memories of growing up here.”