Hurry on parents…book up! Little Steps has the run down on 10 trips to do before the kids grow up!
Welcome to an archipelago where families can explore private white sand beaches, learn to snorkel in crystal-clear blue waters and spot cinnamon trees all over the islands. A place where you can stop by the side of the road and get up close to giant tortoises roaming at will. The Seychelles are often compared to the Maldives, but they are hugely different in both geography and general atmosphere. The islands are mountainous with national parks to explore; there is a huge amount of wildlife including diverse bird life. Despite an amazing selection of stunning resorts (with exceptional children’s facilities), there is none of that stuck-on-an-island feel.
The Galapagos Islands are one of the ultimate wildlife destinations, ideal for adventurous families seeking a unique experience in comfort. Snorkel with baby sea lions that whizz around you and get up close to wildlife including the Blue-Footed Boobies, Waved Albatross, three species of iguana, Galapagos Penguins and Giant Tortoises, who due to a lack of natural predators are fearless of humans. Check out some of the boutique cruise ships ideally suited to children aged six and above, some of which feature interconnecting cabins alongside special activities and meals for the kids.
The entire city of Dubai is an absolute theme park for kids with the aquarium, water parks galore, swimming with dolphins at The Atlantis and ascending to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Learn to ride a camel on one of the many beaches, take a dhow boat cruise to see “Old Dubai”, and cap off your day with a stroll to sample delicious Lebanese street food. The hotels themselves feature amazing Kid’s Clubs, and the golf courses and spas are world-famous for when parents need a bit of time to themselves!
Private villas are the accommodation of choice for families when visiting the likes of Bali, Thailand and Sri Lanka. There are more options when it comes to room arrangements, greater flexibility for dining styles and times, and more room for kids to run around and be kids without worrying about disturbing other guests. If we had to pick our favorite family friendly villa, it would have to be Ban Sairee in Koh Samui, Thailand which comfortably sleeps eight adults and four children in six bedrooms -perfect for several families travelling together or a large multi-generational family. There is a kid-friendly swimming pool with toys and a shallow end, an outdoor trampoline and tennis courts, and the villa is set on a calm stretch of beach. What takes the cake though is the Kid’s Barn out back. Featuring four bunk beds, a TV and plenty of games, the barn is elevated on stilts behind the main house and is an absolute dream for children looking for a bit of adventure!
In terms of family-friendly safaris, Kenya goes all out with several lodges accepting children of all ages on game drives (quite rare), and providing special guides and activities for them out in the bush. Enjoy breakfast with the giraffes at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi before heading to the Laikipia Plateau for some horse riding out on the plains. Then venture to the Masai Mara for a classic big game safari. The kids will also enjoy the community activities with the Masai themselves, learning more about their fascinating culture and lifestyle.
Peru is always an assault on the senses, but Amazon adventures in particular will really blow their minds. Piranha fishing sounds like just about the most exciting thing on earth; get up close to wildlife such as giant otters, jaguar, giant anteaters and monkeys. At night, embark on a caiman crocodile spotting adventure! Walk through the jungle and hear about how native tribes use insects and plants in their daily lives, and learn to make bows and arrows with your guide. Next on your journey, the Sacred Valley is activity central with rafting, paddle boarding, biking, market and village visits, llama and alpaca farms and visits to remote ruins. Cap off your Peruvian holiday with a trek to Machu Picchu, trekking difficulty can be adapted to suit each family.
Though its a fantastic year-round destination, the French Alps is the perfect spot for wobbly little skiers to learn the basics during the winter months. The resort of Courchevel in particular is large, yet very family friendly with plenty of ski schools as well as great slopes for sledding and other snow activities. Kids will love riding the high-speed train from Paris, and learning to eat fondue and raclette for dinner – who doesn’t love cheese and bread? During the summer, the Alps provide fresh air relief for Hong Kong city dwellers, offering hiking, cycling, horse riding, rock climbing, archery and kayaking – virtually every outdoor activity under the sun!
Our next door neighbor is often overlooked for more exciting destinations, but as a kid, Singapore packs a big punch in terms of excitement! Visit the amazing Singapore Zoo and spend the day exploring, then come back the next night for the Night Safari next door. Spend an afternoon cruising the sights aboard a Duck Boat tour, and then end the day with a swim and sundowners atop the Marina Bay Sands in its rooftop pool. Explore the famous food halls and introduce the kids to delicacies such as roti prata, satays, chicken rice and ice kachang, a colourful Malaysian desert with shaved ice, red bean and fruit. Kids of all ages will love a trip to Universal Studios, and teens will be thrilled to attend the annual Formula 1 Race.
Just a 1.5-hour direct flight away, Hoi An is exceptionally convenient for families looking for short getaways from Hong Kong. The beach that runs the length of Da Nang is calm and perfect for splashing around in, and there are some great family hotels along the coast. Countryside tours can be arranged that take families through local villages where they can plant rice and ride alongside buffalo, and there are also some fantastic cooking classes that older kids and parents can take part in together.
Orlando is a family holiday that must be done! Spend five days visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Parks and the new Legoland. Have tea with Cinderella at the Grand Floridian Resort and introduce the kids to new countries of the world at Epcot Centre. Smaller delights at Disney, though no less exciting for the little ones, include the monorail, trains, boat transfers and all the various vehicles you can ride around the park.