Messing about on the water – in it, under it, on top of it, riding rapids, catching waves, cutting through it or gently bobbing along under peaceful azure blue skies… No matter what your age, there is something about the call of the sea when it comes to summer holidays. Here are just a few of the best places in the world for family water sports holidays, for water babes and those just wishing to dip a toe…
Nihiwatu’s Boathouse is the hub of the ocean sports scene on the incredible island of Sumba in Indonesia. Guest can choose from snorkelling, SCUBA diving, stand up paddle, spear fishing and kayaking, but it is surfing for which the island is best known. Claude and Petra Graves visited the island in 1988 seeking the ultimate wave. They found it in Occy's Left, a left-hand break which attracts surfing pilgrims from all over the world. They established Nihiwatu and the rest, as they say, is history. Occy's Left’s cult status is enhanced by a limit on the number of surfers allowed each day, and the resort’s small scale development – just 32 eco-luxury villas – ensures the island’s preservation. When you’re not hanging five, explore the island, go riding or visit Nihiwatu’s brilliant Sumba Foundation which funds local village-based projects to alleviate poverty and disease on this beautiful island.
White water rafting
Pacuare River, Costa Rica
For adrenalin junkies, white water rafting is the ultimate water sport and few places deliver such high powered rapids in such incredible wilderness as Costa Rica. The pristine Pacuare River transports white water adventurers on Class III-IV rapids through tropical Atlantic rainforest and spectacular gorges on a four to five hour ride of a lifetime. An overnight stay in a rainforest casita, where guests sleep accompanied by the nocturnal sounds of abundant wildlife, furthers the sense of adventure.
Whale sharks migrate annually along the southern tip of the South Ari atoll, making the LUX* Maldives resort on Dhidhoofinolhu a prime spot for snorkeling and diving to watch these gentle giants. No fewer than 37 dive sites, including two wrecks and night dives alive with parrotfish, manta rays and butterfly fish, also add to its credentials as a top diving destination. The dive centre has five star PADI accreditation and offers courses from Discover Scuba Diving to an Open Water Dive Course leading to internationally recognised PADI certification. LUX* Maldives is perfect for families and there are plenty of activities beyond diving – on water there is reef snorkeling, kayaking, pedal boats on a complimentary basis whilst chargeable activities include windsurfing, wake boarding, jet skiing and fly boarding to name just a few. Land lubbers can be kept occupied with everything from tennis and volleyball to yoga and an indulgent spa.
Vancouver Island, Canada
Clayoquot Sound on Canada’s Vancouver Island is a natural adventure playground for children and adults alike with opportunities for ocean and river kayaking in and out of the Bedwell River Estuary. Bears, otters, seals, porpoise and even whales make occasional appearances to fascinate and delight. You can mix kayaking with hiking over trails varying in length from 5km to 12 km accompanied by experienced guides before returning each evening to ultra-comfortable tented camp at Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat. Other water bound thrills on the island include white water rafting along the Class 2 Bedwell River and, for those who prefer their waters a little less rapid, the river and ocean fishing are outstanding.
Zanzibar & Mauritius
The owners of Zanzibar White Sand travelled the world seeking the best kite surfing spot before settling on Paje in Zanzibar. Calm waters, a gently shelving beach and year-round winds have created one of the world’s top spot for serious kite surfers though beginners are equally welcome. The resort’s Zanzibar Kite Paradise club offers kite surfing lessons and equipment rental as well as alternative activities such as Stand-Up Paddles and kayaks.
Further south, Mauritius’s Le Morne Peninsula similarly attracts kite surfing enthusiasts of mixed abilities from intermediate to advanced. Experts aim for the famous One Eye, whilst the small reefs of Manawa and Chameaux are favoured by intermediates. The St Regis Mauritius Resort is the best place to stay close by and its kite surfing club, Club Mistral Prestige, offers expert tuition and equipment hire as well as other water sports such as Stand Up Paddling and surfing.
Turkish gulet, Aegean Sea> One of life’s greatest pleasures is simply diving in and swimming to one’s heart content in crystal clear waters under a cobalt sky. Many people ask us where to find the clearest waters in the Med, and the answer is the Turkish Aegean. And by chartering your own gulet, you can sail through these limpid waters to find the remotest and least visited islands and coves for swimming. Dive into the deep glassy waters from the deck or anchor off a deserted beach, inaccessible by road and completely free from suntan lotion slicks and discarded picnic detritus. The waters are warm from May to October, and at night the phosphorescence sparkles like a thousand fireflies dashing through a moonlit, star-studded millpond. You will probably spend more time in the water than out of it…
The Maldives & Greece
A favourite with families, Anantara Dhigu in the Maldives has some of the best and most varied water sports anywhere. Located on the South Malé Atoll, Dhigu has its own PADI dive centre, though snorkeling on the house reef is equally fun and the Aquafanatics Water Sports Centre has an extensive menu: Choose from windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing or kayaking across the lagoon, catching some waves on a surf board or simply watching the kaleidoscopic marine life snorkeling over the reefs.
Closer to home, the Greek islands have some of the best resorts with water sports facilities on the Mediterranean. Halkidiki’s Eagles Palace, for example, offers water skiing, SCUBA diving, canoeing, wind surfing, sea bicycles, motor boats, water toys and wake boarding on gin clear waters from its well-equipped water sports centre. The coastline of Ouranoupoli is truly beautiful and best explored from the water – you can paddle to the Drenia Islands and Tigani with a guide to explore tiny coves and secluded beaches inaccessible by any other means, stopping from time to time to enjoy a local restaurant or beach bar.
D-Maris Bay, Turkey
In a stunning private bay on the Datça Peninsula, ringed by 5 blue-flag beaches and sheltered from the wind by a rust-red peninsula, conditions for water-skiing are absolutely perfect. These flat sea conditions are home to the fantastic water-sports centre at D-Maris, where superb water-ski coaches – national and international competitors themselves – manage an international standard slalom course for skiers and wakeboarders of all ages and skills. Driving two Ski Nautiques 200 team editions, fully equipped with Zero Off, 409 hp and many more features, the instructors here will improve your skills extremely quickly, until you might feel confident to join the weekly slalom competition yourself…
For further summer family holiday inspiration, contact our specialist team on +44 (0)1242 787800.