With the weather warming up, only a week’s holiday available and exam season kicking into full season, May Half Term can be a hard one to get right. This is, though, a fantastic time to be in the Mediterranean, it is quiet and the weather is barmy. For something further afield, Kenya and Tanzania can offer some superb value green season safari options at the tail end of the long rains.
The Adriatic is warming up nicely, the hordes haven’t arrived and temperatures are effortlessly civilised. This is one of our favourite times to be in Dubrovnik. A week’s break at the gorgeous Hotel Bozica or superbly equipped Sun Gardens is the perfect way to start the summer. Our family kayaking week is a fantastic option for more active families.
For similar reasons to Croatia, May is a fantastic time to visit Turkey. It isn’t quite as hot as it gets in the summer and there are less crowds. Cappadocia is a beautiful region of Turkey famous for its incredible landscapes and heritage with some fantastic walking and ancient cave monasteries to explore. Cappadocia combines perfectly with a couple of nights in Istanbul.
From May to September, temperatures in Morocco tend to be around 30 Celsius inland and closer to 20-25 Celsius in the Mountains and on the Atlantic Coast. May tends to be a lot quieter than Easter, so is a nice time to experience the Atlas Mountains and to hit the beaches. For luxury lovers, Kasbah Tamadot is hard to beat, with a stunning Mountain location, swimming pools and tennis courts, whilst at the other end of the spectrum, the new Ouirgane EcoLodge is a fantastic find, with gorgeous views, a lovely pool area and a genuinely local feel. On the Coast, you’ll need to get in early for Rebali Riads, a lovely small collection of villas near the wild beach at Sidi Kaouki, whilst Paradis Plage is a great option for a more traditional beach resort.
May Half Term usually coincides with tail end of the long rains in Kenya and Tanzania, and on the face of it, this isn’t a place we would usually recommend you visit at this time of the year. However, if you are on the lookout for a deal, we have managed to source some incredible value safaris for families in Kenya and Tanzania during the May Half Term, and the rains, although daily, tend to be short and clear up for some sunshine each day.
Easter Holidays are a great time of year to get away and with two weeks to play with, the sky is the limit. What’s more there are public holidays a plenty to save on precious days off work. Our favourite picks for Easter include South Africa, Yosemite, Morocco, Peru and Namibia.
Easter is one of our favourite times to visit South Africa. You catch the lovely early Autumn season in the Cape, and can take plenty of time to explore this magnificent country. The Kruger and KwazuluNatal are also good at this time of year with temperatures more manageable than over their summer. If you are thinking of doing Cape Town and the Garden Route, then this is the time.
Yosemite is simply out of this world, but during summer it is fair to say the Park can be a little over-run. Easter is a great time to visit, with those magnificent waterfalls thundering away with meltwater and the pick of the accommodation in the Valley usually still available. The Pacific Coast Highway comes into its element with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the high teens and early 20s Celsius, perfect weather for exploring. International flights are usually cheaper than the summer too.
Easter is peak season in Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. Balmy sunny weather is the norm, the Mountains are green and snow-capped and temperatures are warm enough to laze by the pool. Book early as flight prices for the Easter Holidays often double if you leave it too late.
With the hot season over, Easter is a great time to be in Namibia with less chance of rain and more benign temperatures. Two weeks is really a necessity for Namibia making this a perfect window to visit this magnificent country.
Another country demanding a two week trip, Peru is really only an option for families in the Summer and Easter holidays. The big advantage of Easter is that flights tend to be cheaper than August.
With Christmas past, it can be a fair old slog through January and February, so getting away somewhere warm and sunny for February Half Term is a very pleasant way to go about things. Most of us have only a week's holiday to play with, but with inset days and weekends, you can squeeze a 9 or 10 day holiday into February Half Term.
One of our favourite spots in February is Morocco (budget £500 - £1000 per family member including flights for one week) - a fantastic choice for families. Flight prices are very reasonable (usually in the £150 - £250 per person mark) and the weather is usually sunny and warm with temperatures around 20 Celsius in Marrakech and the Sahara and 15-18 Celsius in the Mountains (albeit with chilly nights). For relaxed winter sun Paradis Plage, Rebali Riads, Les Deux Tours and The Fellah Hotel all work wonderfully for families. One of our favourite holidays at this time of year is a fantastic but simple week combining a lovely atmospheric riad in Marrakech (think breakfast on the roof terrace with distant views of snow-capped mountains) with a mule supported trek in the Atlas Mountains amidst snow-capped peaks and traditional mud built Berber Villages (Family Atlas Mountain Trek & Marrakech Holiday). And of course the Sahara comes into its own with manageable temperatures, historic crumbling Kasbahs, camel rides into the sunset and camping under the stars (Luxury Family Desert Holiday).
Whilst South Africa (budget £1500 - £3000 per family member including flights for one to two weeks) easily demands 2 or more weeks of your time, Cape Town is an easy overnight flight from London if you are just looking to splurge on a wonderful February Half Term week. In addition to the cosmopolitan City there are gorgeous winelands and beaches nearby and some superb family friendly accommodation such as Hog Hollow and Grootbos.
February is peak season for safari in Kenya and Tanzania with fantastic weather and excellent wildlife (budget £1700-£3000 per family member including flights for one week). A week is more than ample for a first time or repeat safari. In Kenya, our Maasai Family Adventure fits perfectly into one week or you can combine 3 nights safari at the wonderful Laikipia Wilderness Camp with some beach & pool time on the Indian Ocean (Laikipia Wilderness Safari and Beach Holiday). On the Tanzanian Coast, spend a week at Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge which offers safari and snorkelling from an idyllic beach location.
KwaZuluNatal is rare in South Africa for offering high quality safari with a tropical coastline nearby so is perfect for safari and beach holidays with minimal transfers between. The Coast stretches North from Durban towards the Mozambique border and gets wilder the further North you head. Along the whole Coast there is strong surf, sheltered beaches are few and far between, only the resort towns such as Ballito and Umhlanga have life guards on duty in designated areas.
Heading North out of Durban, The Canelands beach hotel in Ballito is an excellent small boutique guesthouse where you can relax around the pool, enjoy tidal pools and surf on the beach, and explore the local shops and restaurants. If you are feeling active there is a good surf school nearby and in season it is possible to organise seafari boat tours out into the bay to see Humpback Whales. Ballito is also a good base for a day tip into Durban where you can explore the bustling Indian Market or head to the uShaka Marine World Ocean theme park, which boasts the highest water slide in the Southern hemisphere. This property has an excellent location and for children they will add a good quality inflatable mattresses with proper bedding in the evenings for the children. For older children, it may be worth taking two rooms which are in close proximity but they do not have inter-connecting rooms.
Still in Ballito is the prestigious golfing complex of Fairmont Zimbali which has an 18-hole golf course, separate upmarket homes and two properties on site. Zimbali Lodge is set back and has 76 rooms, one swimming pool and 3 dining options but you will have full access to the resort facilities. Zimbali Resort has 154 rooms, 2 swimming pools, access to the non-swimming beach and weekend children’s club. The Ballito beaches are a few minutes away, there is tennis and squash on site and full concierge facilities. This is a good choice for those who want more of a resort set up.
Umhlanga Rocks is another favoured South African holiday town which is closer to Durban and has a great beach. The Oyster Box is a five star hotel with 86 rooms with some lovely touches.The hotel offers beach service, a holiday children’s club, cinema and fitness centre. For children they offer a welcome backpack, child-friendly turn-downs, essential popcorn, sweets, soft drinks and the DVD library for in-room viewing, child-friendly menus and a baby-sitting service.
Heading further North, The Elephant Coast and Kosi Bay area has some superb beach and forest lodges, with the more remote location, options here tend towards the eco lodge principals rather than big resorts with lots of facilities. At the top end of the scale, Thonga Beach Lodge is one of favourite beach recommendations in South Africa, Rocktail Bay offers a great range of guided activities, whilst Amangwane is a fabulous rustic option with simple accommodation, community involvement, kayaking and excellent snorkelling.
July and August brings the school summer holidays, peak prices and crowds, but there are ways to beat the system. Flight prices tend to be cheaper for the last two weeks of August and it always pays to book early, with cheaper air fares and better availability if you book as early as December, January or February.
One of the greatest challenges facing families is the search for a holiday that makes mum and dad happy as well as the children. In any given family, somebody will want to be out surfing, another exploring cultural sites and the kids would be happy hanging by the pool all day, and of course you’ll want something that you can all do happily together.
In Croatia, the Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel offers superb sporting facilities, pools and activities for the kids, a 10 minute boat transfer into beautiful Dubrovnik old town and the opportunity to explore the nearby Elaphiti Islands by Sea Kayak and snorkel. In Morocco, Rebali Riads offers the privacy of a villa, with on-site spa, a wild Atlantic beach, surfing lessons for the more active members of the family and one of Morocco’s most beautiful, charismatic and relaxed Cities, Essaouira, just 20 minutes’ drive away. Also in Morocco, Paradis Plage offers a more traditional beach resort but with a modern twist, with a superb surf school and yoga studio on site, beach cinema and atmospheric fire-pit.
Summer is the perfect time tackle a family adventure, with two or three weeks away, you can easily fit in two or three different sections, with time for adventure, relaxing and exploring.
Get a ring side seat for the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Masai Mara
Discover your inner bushman on an Out Of Africa adventure
Walk the Inca Trail and explore the Amazon Jungle
Paddle the crystal clear waters of the sparkling Adriatic Sea
Raft the Colorado River, clamber through slot canyons and witness some epic landscapes on a Grand American Adventure