Families

Crowd-pleasing villa rentals and wisdom for worry-free holidays with kids

Favourite Family Beaches on Sri Lanka’s South Coast

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Sri Lanka beach

Sri Lanka has a LOT of beaches. Almost its entire 1,300-kilometre coastline is sandy and palm-fringed, but not all beaches are swimmable.

Sri Lanka’s popularity as a surfing destination says a lot about the character of the sea. For the most part, gentle rollers wash its beaches, but there are offshore currents and some stretches of coastline are just plain wild, with foaming waves crashing onto the seashore. The Galle coast offers some of Sri Lanka’s best beaches and is a great destination for a family holiday. Read on to learn more about the most suitable (and safest) beaches in Galle for kids and families.  

Best for toddlers

If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, you’ll be after the calmest sea. A favourite beach with local expat families is Dalawella, around nine kilometres east of Galle. The sea here filters into a shallow lagoon, protected by offshore rocks, and washes onto a sandy beach.

Wijaya Beach Restaurant is a well-known spot for great food and drinks, though it’s neighbour, Beaches, which opened in late 2016, is a better option for families. Set in spacious grounds, there are a lawn and volleyball court, a selection of inflatables for using in the sea and a paddling pool for the tiniest family members.

They also have big daybeds for hire at a very competitive daily rate, which make the perfect rest-stop for exhausted babies and toddlers. Their café-style menu is kid friendly (as well as delicious Asian tapas, expect freshly made burgers, wraps and fish and chips), and from the sunbathing deck, you have a clear view of the beach and sea. There’s also a fun vintage truck converted to a bar.

Fun for kids

If learning to surf is on your kids’ holiday wish list, Dewata Beach, close to Galle, is a convenient spot. The surfing vibe here has really taken off in the last couple of years, and this narrow strip of sand is dotted with surfers’ haunts. At the unassuming Shack café, you’ll find great food and you can organise surf lessons.

But Weligama – a 40-minute drive from Galle – is the south coast’s best place for beginner surfers. Weligama, which means ‘sandy village’, is set on a stunning wide bay with a long strip of sand bordered by surf-orientated guesthouses and restaurants.

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Bali with Kids

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Not many work–weary mums and dads would dispute the attractions of spending a holiday in a luxury Bali villa where they can indulge in the pleasures afforded by a personal chef, private pool, in-villa massages or yoga sessions, sunset cocktails and stunning tropical surroundings.

But what about the rest of the family?  Keeping the kids as happily entertained as their parents is key to every holiday’s success. Ondy Sweeting finds that Bali is an epic destination for families, with a great choice of exciting attractions and fun surprises to engage kids of all ages.

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Mepantigan is a martial art that has a strong spiritual and emotional component and is performed in the luscious Bali mud.

Mud play is a time-honoured tradition where a person becomes one with the mud of the rice paddy and its eternal companion, the duck! Kids can join these amazing Mepantigan sessions that focus on fitness, agility and stress release while developing camaraderie and sportsmanship.

After a sip of some holy water from a bamboo cup, it’s off for warm-ups under the coconut trees then into the mud for training in balance and playing traditional mud games such a frog catching, eel trapping, body painting and having an all-around blast while rolling in the mud.

When you’re done, all the grime is washed away in the river or under a Balinese shower with a banana-leaf roof. The fun and games are followed by an organic lunch to the sounds of the gamelan.  Parents can join in too, or opt for some peaceful mud yoga followed by a massage in the river.

More information here.

Monkey around in Ubud

Ubud’s famous Monkey Forest is the perfect spot for some monkey madness. More than 600 Balinese long-tailed macaques star in this tropical forest that comes complete with ancient mossy temples dedicated to the revered monkey god, Hanuman.

These well-fed rascals have no fear and can be more than a little cheeky, so some safety tips are in order:

  • Don’t dangle anything! Little hands are quick to snatch sunglasses, spectacles, cameras, or anything else they can grab, and swing straight up into a tree with it.
  • If you buy monkey food from a local vendor – or have a snack in your bag – hand it over quickly as they will sniff it out and make demands that can be a little scary.

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Phuket for Families

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Tropical Phuket, with its miles of golden beaches, has obvious appeal as a family holiday escape. But Thailand’s largest island also holds plenty of charm beyond its sands, with many outdoor attractions and a rich cultural heritage that travellers of all ages will love to explore. 

First, those beaches. With more than 30 beaches around the island, you could spend weeks in Phuket simply relaxing on the sands, but those with kids in tow may want a beach with some fun activities and a bit of shaded comfort. Kamala Beach is one of the most family friendly with its shallow bay for swimming, beachfront eateries, shops, cafés and sea-view foot massages. Bang Tao Beach is an even longer length of sand, some 8km in all, with plenty to do beyond sunbathing with its surfboard rental shops and beach clubs. 

Kata Beach is also a fine spot for families, its powder-soft sands ideal for idling away a day and excellent surfing conditions from May through October. If the sea is too smooth for surfing, then standup paddle boards could be hired, or you could stop at Surf House on the Kata beachfront with its continuous man-made wave offering fun flowboarding action. Villa Amanzi is a perfect holiday haven for friends and families looking to explore Kata Beach.

Nai Yang Beach on the quieter north end of the island is another decent surfing spot and a favourite place for kite boarders and windsurfers. A string of low-key Thai restaurants along the beachfront offer tasty Thai favourites and a tranquil setting where children can play safely on the sand while their parents relax and watch the sunset. Not far away near the airport is Splash Jungle Water Park, offering some wet and wild fun away from the beach with waterslides, a wave pool and a lazy river.phuket-for-families

Few things inspire the imagination more than the sea, and a day out on Phuket’s Andaman Sea is sure to stir the senses. Discover its colourful marine life on a snorkelling trip off the beach or to a nearby island such as Koh Khai or Raya, or families with older children could learn to dive or explore the depths on a scuba diving day trip.

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Learning and Leisure with Leap & Hop Kids Guides

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We reckon most parents will agree that keeping the kids happy on holiday is the Golden Ticket to making sure that EVERYONE has a good time. So here’s a great suggestion for how to keep your kids happily occupied while teaching them about Balinese history, geography and culture at the same time. The interactive kids’ guide, Leap & Hop Bali, is bound to be a winner.

About Leap & Hop guides

Part-French, part-American Isabelle is mum to three boys and the author of the Leap & Hop guides. Her first Leap & Hop guide started as a little surprise for her kids on their Christmas trip to Cambodia. Her plan was to prepare a journal for them to record their impressions of the Khmer temples which later became a 100-page book with games, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts and fun snippets of information about the country’s history, geography and religion. Isabelle also encourages drawing and scrapbooking through her books.

“For me,” says Isabelle, “a good kids’ guide is a book that covers adult topics in a way that kids can understand without ‘dumbing it down’. The idea is also for the kids to ‘own’ the trip; they can pick and choose to learn about the places that interest them and the activities they enjoy. The illustrations are essential. I’m very fortunate to work with an amazing illustrator, Emilie Sarnel. Kids really relate to her unique style, which is whimsical and colourful without being childish.”

Leap and hop Bali Cover web96

leap and hop Bali SPREAD kites WEB96

Isabelle’s top 5 things to do in Bali with kids

  1. Go on a nature walk to explore Bali’s picturesque rice paddies in Ubud or Canggu.
  2. Visit marvellous village temples. You might get lucky and see a traditional ceremony while you’re there.
  3. Make and fly your own kite on the beach. Sanur is famous for its kite festivals, but many other beaches in Bali are excellent for kite flying.
  4. Eat fresh seafood at a restaurant on the sand in Jimbaran. The tanks of live seafood will fascinate the kids, and the beach provides an excellent place to play.
  5. Explore Bali’s fascinating underwater world. Blue Lagoon and Padang Bay are great for snorkelling. If you are looking for something more adventurous head to Tulumben and explore the WWII wreck of the US Liberty.

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Pastry Classes at Monsieur Spoon

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If you are visiting Bali with kids and looking for unique things to do, go into any of the three branches of Monsieur Spoon and you are bound to see children staring at the pastries, biscuits and macaroons, their faces etched with wonder and delight. It’s not just the anticipation of something sweet, it’s the way the food looks, smells and is displayed and how it encourages their curiosity: “How do you make croissants?” “How do you colour macaroons?”. Book a pastry class with Greg and Rafi and your kids can find it out for themselves.

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It’s this curiosity that Monsieur Spoon co-founder Greg recognised in his own children and the children that come into his bakeries, and that led to the launch of baking classes at Monsieur Spoon.

“I want kids to come into the kitchen, meet the bakers, touch the dough and see the caramel being made. I want them to understand that baking and cooking are an art and that they can all be artists” says Greg.

Classes are scheduled every last weekend of the month.

For more information e-mail: office@monsieurspoon.com

Monsieur Spoon also hosts entertaining garden parties.

About Monsieur Spoon

Monsieur Spoon was founded in 2012 when Rafi Papazian and Gregory Guerguerian decided to leave Paris and set up on the Island of The Gods. Bali might seem as a strange place to be creating French pastries, but Rafi and Greg say that it was the creativity and passion they found in Bali that charmed them to stay and share their dream with the locals. Visit Monsieur Spoon at any of these locations:

Monsieur Spoon Umalas, Jln Umalas 2, n°43 Kerobokan, Bali.

Monsieur Spoon Canggu, Jln Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu, Bali.

Monsieur Spoon Oberoi, Jalan Kayu Cendana no. 2 Oberoi (next to Seminyak Square).

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