Thursday, May 27, 2010

Family Getaways for Winter

Adventure islands ... sailing in New Caledonia.
New Caledonia

Keep the kids amused and intrigued with some thrill-seeking fun in places you'll reach before you hear the first 'are we there yet?', writes Ute Junker for The Age Traveller.

Sometimes, a family getaway is about doing nothing more strenuous than relaxing by the beach or resort pool. However, if you're looking for something more from your winter escape; a chance to explore somewhere completely different, giving your children thrills and some learning, too, all within a few hours of Australia, we've found the perfect destinations for you.


Port Vila may be what passes for the big smoke but with jungles, waterfalls, jet-boat rides and traditional villages, Vanuatu is a family playground. Efficient local buses are an easy way to get around but it's more fun to join a buggy tour that takes you along tracks and black-sand beaches. A highlight is Mele Cascade; if your kids are older, they'll love abseiling the waterfall. The Roi Mata Cultural Tour combines cave visits and snorkelling with local history.


Denarau has plenty of lush resorts: the beauty of the Sheraton Fiji Resort is that guests can access all facilities at the adjacent Sheraton Denarau Villas and The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa. That includes six pools, restaurants (children 12 and under stay and dine free), kids' clubs and water sports. The island's interior options include Zip-Fiji's Canopy Tour , where children aged five and over can take a thrilling treetop trip along horizontal cables at speed. Let them get muddy at Sabeto hot water springs or take them on a jet-boat safari up the Sigato River.

Cook Islands

Exploring the hidden delights of Rarotonga is easy; the toughest part is deciding how. Children will love hopping behind you on distinctive yellow scooters; they cost $NZ25 ($20) a day and a local driver's licence is available for a few dollars at the police station. Walk to Papua Waterfall, Avana Valley or Raemaru Lookout through rainforest trails; if that sounds like too much time away from the water, take a day trip around the island.


Ubud may not have the beaches that lure families to the south coast but it does have Monkey Forest, one of Bali's best-known attractions. The animal fun doesn't stop there: try the Elephant Safari Park at Taro, Bali Bird Park and nearby Reptile Park. Older kids can white-water raft, or cycle through villages and past stunning temples. A great place to base yourself is Taman Harum Cottages. The free hotel shuttle will take you into town but most of the time, you'll find plenty to do on-site, including yoga lessons or aerobics.

New Caledonia

Got any Thomas the Tank Engine fans in your family? Once the littlies catch a glimpse of Le Petit Train, Noumea's most colourful transport, they'll want to ride around on it all day. Older children will love day trips to the islands not far from Noumea. Just offshore from Anse Vata is Ile aux Canards, which offers great snorkelling, including an underwater walkway where signs explain the local marine life. Slightly further afield (45 minutes by boat) is Ilot Amedee, another great spot for snorkelling and beachcombing. From here you can also take a trip to the reef for shark and turtle spotting.

Visit The Age Traveller to read the full article.

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