As a Travel Agent I am often asked what the best destination is for a family holiday is - here are my top 5 choices.
I love Bali and over the years have seen Bali evolve into a sophisticated holiday destination with a lot to offer for families. Bali has something for every family- families with young kids love the big resorts with Kids Club, babysitters and waterslides such as InterContinental Resort in Jimbaran Bay or Padma Resort in Legian. Families with young kids also love Australian owned company- Bali Baby Hire www.balibabyhire.com No longer do you have to lug your car seat and pram to Bali-you can just hire one when you’re there.
Families with older kids can enjoy all the water sports and adventure activities on offer throughout Bali, such as surfing lessons on Legian Beach https://ripcurlschoolofsurf.com/ and water sports in Benoa http://watersport-tanjungbenoa-bali.com/ There are also some great inland options such as bike riding through the villages around Ubud www.baliecocycling.com or white water rafting down the Ayung River. www.masonadventures.com
As my kids get older I have found it has been much better to stay in a villa so we have more space, kitchen facilities and our own pool. Bali’s pool villas traditionally don’t have pool fences so are better suited to older kids although we have hired portable pool fences and most villas can organise this for you (warning- they’re not the most robust fences I’ve ever seen).
Try some of the stunning villas represented by Elite Havens www.elitehavens.com or some of the more reasonably priced through www.villa-bali.com
It really is true when you hear it said that Fijians are the friendliest people on Earth. They love kids and have some of the most family friendly resorts in the world.
The most amazing Kids Club I’ve ever seen is at Jean Michel Cousteau Resort. This resort is not cheap but prices includes the Kids Club AND a personal nanny for any child under 6 years old. The Kids Club has a treehouse, 2 pools with waterslides, jungle gym, zip-line, trampoline and more. If the price tag is too high then you could stay on the mainland -somewhere like The Radisson Resort on Denarau -this resort has a Kids Club, whitewater slide, is close to Nadi if you feel like exploring or shopping and is the jump off point for day tours to the Islands.
Many of the Fiji Island resorts are now offering all inclusive meal options and this is usually good value as food can be expensive in Fiji. If they have the option I recommend doing a package with breakfast and dinner as many people find they are out and about at lunch time and don’t need another sit down meal.
3. Hamilton Island
I stayed here for the first time this Christmas holidays. I’d always thought Hamilton Island was too big and busy and so had just passed through here on my way to other islands. I was wrong-Hamilton Island is really fantastic for families and its size meant that was plenty to do for the entire week. We stayed in the Reef View Hotel and the views over Catseye Beach from the rooms were amazing. Rooms are slightly dated but this fact was outweighed by the fact that the rooms and balconies are huge. If you stay at one of the places represented by Hamilton Island Resort, then your kids can eat free at 5 of Hamilton Island restaurants. This was great value and we were surprised by how good some of these restaurants were. If you need more space, then the holiday homes are a great option and come with a golf cart so you can get around the island. We hired a golf cart for most of our stay and loved the freedom it gave us to explore the island. Hamilton Island has Kids Club, bowling, mini-golf, quad bikes, water sports and a Wild Life Centre. There is also a myriad of daily kid-friendly activities and day tours on offer- We did a half day tour to Whitehaven beach (that was long enough for our kids) and hired our own dingy and explored surrounding islands.
The flight times are getting longer once you start looking at Hawaii- 9.5 hours from Sydney or Brisbane and 10.5 hours from Melbourne so this is probably only a good option with slightly older kids.
We booked a stretch limo from Honolulu Airport with Dang’s Limos (it was the same price as a car transfer) and driving to Waikiki with music playing and lights flashing was one of our kids’ favourite things about the entire holiday!
I recommend staying at one of the beachfront Waikiki Hotels such as Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, Moana Surfrider or Sheraton Waikiki Hotel as this puts you right in the centre of all the action.
Take an outrigger canoe or catamaran ride straight from Waikiki Beach- the view looking back to Waikiki is gorgeous and we also had the chance to snorkel from the catamaran. Hiring a long board or taking a surfing lesson is also a must do when in Waikiki.
I suggest hiring a car to explore the island-we hired a Mustang convertible and this was probably the kids 2nd favourite thing about the holiday! You can drive to Hanauma Bay to snorkel but do need to get there early as the car park closes once full. Follow the Kalanianaole Hwy further and you get to Sea Life Park where you can choose to swim with dolphins or scuba with sharks.
Another great day trip is the drive across the island to the laidback town of Haleiwa on the North Shore. This is a great spot for lunch and a wander around the shops before driving along the North Shore and famous surf spots such as Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach. Waimea Bay Beach is the best spot to stop for a swim.
Thredbo is the easiest option in terms of skiing with kids in Australia. The village is small and you can walk from your accommodation to the lifts as well as to restaurants and shops.
Thredbo Alpine Hotel or Thredbo Alpine Apartments are great accommodation options right in the centre of the village. If you stay at the Apartments you can still use facilities such as pool, spa and sauna at the Alpine Hotel.
The resort caters to all levels with a good beginners area, Friday Flat, as well as a Snow Play area where you can play in the snow for free.
Thredboland is the ski program for kids aged 3 to 6 years and also includes meals and fun activities both on snow and indoors. Freeriders is the ski program for 7 to 14 year olds. If you have younger kids then you can place them in Thredbo Childcare Centre so you are free to hit the slopes.
Thredbo Leisure Centre has a pool with slide and this is a great option when kids need a break from skiing.
The Kosciuszko Express is a 15 min scenic chairlift ride that gives you great views of the village and mountains and is perfect for non-skiers. The restaurant at the top, The Eagles Nest, is a fantastic lunch option but if too expensive then there is the cheaper, Bulwheel Bar & Bistro option underneath.
Every Saturday night is fireworks night and a flare run of skiers come down the mountain.
On Thursday nights they have family fun night where they do a Kids flare run as well as other fun games and activities for kids.
Aleks Brook is a self employed travel agent who resides on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and two sons.