Are We There Yet? Seven Luxury Kid-Friendly Vacations For Adventurous Families
The Salamander sailing in the Bardakci Bay, Turkey. Photograph courtesy of Salamander Voyages
Are we there yet? Whether you’re a grown-up who still dreams in widescreen, always looking for the next big challenge, or a six-year-old cooped up in a car seat, it’s something that you’ve probably asked (some more frequently than others). And as parents of the latter have found, it’s also not a question that is answered easily, or at least not to anyone’s satisfaction. Perhaps we should also be asking for more from our family vacation. Or at least for a getaway that’s a bit more, you know, child-friendly. Here, we’ve scoured the globe to sniff out holidays that work on numerous levels and for all ages. From shared adventures at the far reaches of the Earth to kids’ clubs that go further than most. Yes, we are there yet.
Go fruit (and dinner) picking in the US
Beach Plum Farm, West Cape May. Photograph courtesy of Cape Resorts
Beach Plum Farm, New Jersey
As well as a vacation destination for US Presidents Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Ulysses S Grant, the fertile lands of West Cape May earned it the title of the Lima Bean Capital of the World back in the day. These days, more than 100 varieties of fruit and vegetables are grown across the 62 acres of Beach Plum Farm, a working enterprise with a focus on farm-to-table produce. But with plush accommodation that includes a range of cottages and barns, it is diversifying in other ways, too. Activities are aligned to the season – right now, kids can expect to get stuck into planting (adults might prefer to get stuck into the mixology class) – but nature hikes and bird-watching are always on the menu. Speaking of which, what about dinner under the stars? It all amounts to more than a hill of beans.
What to pack
Charter a gulet in Turkey
The Salamander, Bardakci Bay, Turkey. Photograph courtesy of Salamander Voyages
Salamander Voyages, Bodrum
What if the ultimate summer villa rental wasn’t a villa at all? What if it was a ship? After all, the average holiday home is unlikely to come equipped with a 1,000km pool. That’s the USP of a gulet, a traditional wooden yacht, and the best way to experience the Turkish Riviera. Set sail with up to 11 other guests – so perfect for families, or two sharing – and saunter along the coastline, taking in the rich history of the region, along with its more secluded beaches. A weeklong charter includes knowledgeable staff and private chef, to take all of the admin out of your adventure. And amid the inventory, “toys” such as water skis, paddle boards, canoes and fishing and snorkelling equipment. What’s the catch? That would be the fresh fish, straight from the Aegean and served for dinner.
What to pack
Go hot-air ballooning in Kenya
Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Photograph courtesy of Black Tomato
Angama Mara, Maasai Mara
If you came to East Africa hoping to get a different perspective, may we suggest straight up. Visitors usually arrive at the Maasai Mara National Reserve with the hope of spotting its well-stocked wildlife, which includes elephants, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, leopards, wildebeests and zebras – the likes of which your kids might have only seen in Sir David Attenborough documentaries. A dawn hot-air balloon ride really is the best seat in the house. In keeping with the theme, Angama Mara itself is named for the Kiswahili word for “suspended in mid-air”, with the five-star lodge perched 300m above the valley floor. Itineraries can be built around your family, with the option to round off your trip with a few days on your own palm-fringed desert island in the Indian Ocean.
What to pack
Stay active (or not) in Portugal
Five bedroom cabana villa at Sublime Comporta, Portugal. Photograph by Nelson Garrido, courtesy of Sublime Hotels
Sublime Comporta, Grândola
The best kids club in Europe? Sublime Comporta takes some beating. Surfing, horse riding, dolphin spotting, tennis and padel classes, yoga, a nearby safari park? Just getting through the list of activities is exhausting enough. Then there’s the 17-acre estate to explore, including an organic garden, forest garden and orchard, hemmed in with umbrella pines, cork trees and wild sand dunes. See also the 60km stretch of beach. In all, if your bairns don’t trot back bone-tired, well, they’ve got stamina. Villas include private pools, alongside the four main pools on site. So, you can keep busy even as you unwind.
What to pack
Go surfing in the UK
Gwithian Beach, Cornwall. Photograph courtesy of Three Mile Beach
Three Mile Beach, Cornwall
Who’s a good boy? Sure, as the name suggests, Three Mile Beach has a lot to offer the whole family, with surf conditions for a range of abilities around St Ives Bay. Local instructors provide tuition for anyone over five, and, if the waves are flat, or the opposite, there’s the Tate gallery and the same air and light that inspired Mr JMW Turner, Dame Barbara Hepworth and Ms Virginia Woolf. But what of old Woof? That’s right, all 15 of the luxury beach houses on site are completely dog friendly. With no shortage of things to sniff out, the log burners make for a nice touch – somewhere for pooped pooches to curl up after a long day.
What to pack
Have the most fun in the Maldives
The Den at Soneva Jani, Maldives. Photograph courtesy of Soneva
Soneva Jani, Noonu
Good news: the “largest kids’ zone in the Maldives” (“the funderdome”, we’re inclined to call it) comes with a resort, also for adults, attached to it. So, while it’s worth taking in the two wellness complexes, numerous restaurants, water sports and marine life, open-air cinema and tennis court, much of the focus is around the younger members of your party. The clue is there in the accommodation, gob-smacking overwater villas, most with their own waterslide. Whether your lasting memory is being pampered as you do very little or gliding on the zipline through the cascading waterfall, we guess that’s just where your priorities lie.
What to pack
Sail the Arctic Ocean in Svalbard
Guests on ice flows in the Fjords of Svalbard. Photograph by Florian Ledoux, courtesy of Secret Atlas
Secret Atlas, Longyearbyen
If anything above the Harlem River/Watford Junction is beyond your comfort zone, Longyearbyen, the world’s most northern town, might not be for you. However, for daring-doers and their dependents, an expedition up near the top-most point on the planet is one for serious bragging rights. And while average air temperatures not far off those of your domestic fridge aren’t what you came here for, you’re unlikely to encounter a walrus colony on most summer vacations. A weeklong cruise for up to 12 will take you up close to the ponderous tusked mammals, as well as glaciers, whales and, if you’re lucky, polar bears. The trip also includes two expert guides with a wealth of knowledge on this ecologically sensitive region. The on-deck hot tub and sauna will probably come in handy, too.