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The islanders adore infants and young children, but childhood does not last as long in the South Pacific as it does in Western societies. As soon as they are capable, children are put to work, first caring for their younger siblings and cousins and helping out with household chores, later tending the village gardens. It's only as teenagers, and then only if they leave their villages for town, that they know unemployment in the Western sense. Accordingly, few towns and villages have children's facilities, such as playgrounds, outside school property.

On the other hand, the islanders invariably love children and are very good at babysitting. Just make sure you get one who speaks English. The hotels can take care of this for you.

The larger hotels in Fiji and the Cook Islands cater to Australian and New Zealander families with ample activities for all ages. Even some smaller resorts, such as Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort in northern Fiji, welcome families. Although most are oriented for couples, many French Polynesian resorts also welcome children. Best is the Le Meridien Bora Bora.

Some resorts do not accept children at all; I point those out in the establishment listings, but you should ask to make sure. Even if they do, check whether the hotel can provide cribs and other needs, and if they have children's menus.

Disposable diapers, cotton swabs (known as Buds, not Q-Tips), and baby food are sold in many main-town stores, but you should take along a supply of such items as children's aspirin, a thermometer, adhesive bandages, and special medications. Make sure your children's vaccinations are up-to-date. If your children are very small, perhaps you should discuss your travel plans with your family doctor.

Remember to protect youngsters with ample sunscreen.

Other tips: Some tropical plants and animals may resemble rocks or vegetation, so teach your youngsters to avoid touching or brushing up against rocks, seaweed, and other objects. If your children are prone to swimmer's ear, use vinegar or preventive drops before they go swimming in freshwater streams or lakes. Have them shower soon after swimming or suffering cuts or abrasions.

Rascals in Paradise, One Daniel Burnham Court, Suite 105-C, San Francisco, CA 94107 (tel. 415/921-7000; fax 415/921-7050; www.rascalsinparadise.com), specializes in organizing South Pacific tours for families with kids, including visits with local families and children.

Adventures Abroad (tel. 800/665-3998; www.adventures-abroad.com) organizes 1-week family sightseeing tours around Viti Levu in Fiji, including village and market village visits.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.