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After these last couple of years, we're assuming it's been a long time since you've had the chance to wind down as a family. And winding down by the beach? Well, that probably feels like a past life right now.
This time last year, it was hard to imagine life pre-Covid with all the travel restrictions in place. But for summer 2022, the end is in sight, as the list of countries without travel rules grows. A number of countries have axed restrictions, and tourism and air travel companies are reportedly reopening in anticipation for the warmer months ahead.
With this in mind, and the fact you probably (most definitely) are in need of a holiday, there's no better place to start than with a week or two by the beach.
Things to consider when booking a family beach holiday
Just because when you arrive at the beach you want to relax doesn't mean you should relax entirely when booking – there are, understandably, some important things to consider when travelling with a family.
Depending on the age of your children, this might be the most crucial one. Whilst some travellers might be understanding, we can appreciate why the thought of your baby crying throughout a long haul flight might give you the fear. Flying is already stressful, and it's going to be way more stressful if you have small children at your feet the whole time, so we'd recommend at least thinking about this. If you're desperate for a long-haul trip, don't worry, it's definitely possible with small children. A great way to keep your little ones occupied, without disturbing your fellow passengers, is by investing in volume-limiting earphones like these Snug Play+ Kid's ones.
Extreme heat is pretty divisive – and small children don't always handle it well. Whilst the large majority of us definitely want some sun on our beach holiday, make sure to be prepared. Sunhats, SPF 50+ and water bottles are a necessity.
If your children don't cope particularly well in heat, but you're craving a bit, a good compromise is a beach holiday somewhere where the temperatures around 25 degrees or so – hot enough, but not hot enough to induce heatstroke.
It's all well and good escaping to the middle of nowhere until the kids are screaming with boredom, there's no public transport and you can't drive. When you have children to entertain, location is everything.
Make sure the beach holiday you choose has family-friendly activities, whether that's at the hotel, at the beach or both. Increase the excitement at the pool with an inflatable lounger, like this one by Bestway, and job's a good 'un!
How we chose our recommendations
To make sure we bring you the most up-to-date travel information that's suitable for you and your family, we first consult real parents and delve into what they recommend on our Mumsnet holidays board. With more than 7 million Mumsnet users a month, that's a lot of honest, impartial advice.
We then combine their real advice, experiences and recommendations with our own research into what destinations make the best family beach holidays, taking into consideration flight times, connection times and transport options, and family-friendly activities available in and around the location.
We feel there's something here for everyone, and it's a great guide to help you get started with booking the best family beach holiday for you and your loved ones to enjoy, near and afar.
Top 8 family-friendly beach holidays in a nutshell:
- Ibiza, Spain
- Corsica, France
- The Gower, Wales
- Majorca, Spain
- Shetlands, Scotland
- Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
- Cote D'Azur, France
- Santa Maria Beach, Cape Verde
1. Ibiza, Spain
Nightclubs? More like kid's clubs. The Balaerics aren't just for partygoers – there's plenty to do for those of us who spend more time at children's parties than those types of parties. For a small island, you can find a real variety of beaches, from rugged and rocky for the adventurous to pristine white sands for those who want nothing more than to chill. There are also rock pools, and plenty of snorkelling, pedaloes and inflatables available for family-friendly fun.
Popular areas for families include Cala Llonga, with a stunning horseshoe-shaped bay, and Portinatx, at the most northern tip of the island, which has lovely beaches which stay shallow for some distance.
What Mumsnetters say:
"Ibiza in April/May. No clubbing yet, [but] villas are a good price and the beaches are lovely."
"Loved Ibiza. Went to the old town and it was lovely. Hired a car and loved the little villages and beaches. Despite staying in a truly terrible hotel would def go back (just not to that hotel)."
2. Corsica, France
One of the 18 regions of France, Corsica is off the famously stunning south coast. If picturesque views are your thing, Corsica is literally a mountain in the sea. Its southern location means it stays relatively warm all year round, and it's a great place if you want to enjoy your holiday as a family, rather than put the children in kid's clubs for some respite.
It's a good shout if you're interested in culture too – while it has the typically French love of food and wine, Corsica has its own language, culture and spirit.
Great places to stay include Porto-Vecchio on the south coast, with amazing beaches and mountainous views, and Calvi in the north, with a stunning crescent-shaped bay and medieval architecture. Public transport in Corsica isn't great, so if you want to explore we'd recommend renting a car if possible.
3. The Gower, Wales
Contrary to popular belief, British beaches are not to be sniffed at. The Gower was the first area in the UK to be given the title of Area of Outstanding natural beauty – and it seems Mumsnet users agree.
Near to Swansea, this stunning stretch of coast is home to 1200 archaeological sites such as Arthur's Stone – great news if your children are history buffs in the making. There are winding country roads just about everywhere, with no shortage of beauty spots. If you're more of the active types, it's a great area for surfing – although it goes without saying that the sea will be a bit nippy.
What Mumsnetters say:
"Gower – just got back from a week there. Stunning beaches. Rhossili Bay, Oxwich Bay, random ones accessed by foot. Rockpools, cafes, surfing and other water sports. Will go back one summer when it's warm enough."
4. Majorca, Spain
Another Balaeric option, this time with over 260 beaches and over 50km of sandy coastline, it's easy to see why Majorca has become a hit with families – excluding party town Magaluf of course. Easy to fly to, with daily flights from most airports in the UK, it's a perfect option if you have younger children.
There are theme parks and water parks on the island if you love adrenaline. And if you're more into city breaks, Palma has great markets, museums and more.
What Mumsnetters say:
"I loved Majorca last year and am going again in a few weeks. DS and I don't get out much but we went to Alcudia market, beach and port and found it clean and the locals friendly."
5. Shetlands, Scotland
We know it seems odd to purposely choose a cold country for a beach holiday but bear with us… You'd be wrong to think Scotland's beaches are anything less than fantastic, and the Shetlands have the best of them. They're perfect if you hate the noise and crowds of the popular European destinations.
The landscape is complex, rugged and beautiful. A walk on St Ninians Isle will have you walking onto a golden sandy strait that goes out into the sea. West Voe has stunning white sands and turquoise coastline, and Meal is the perfect family beach – slightly busy, compared to other Shetland beaches, but still extremely quiet.
6. Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a dream if you have outdoorsy or environmentally-conscious older children. It's become a leading destination for eco-tourism, and for good reason. Costa Rica holds more than 5% of the world's biodiversity (with only 0.03% of the world's surface), and a quarter of the landscape consists of protected rainforests and forests.
Manuel Antonio is one of these protected locations, combining white sands with green rainforest. If you're more interested in staying active than reading on the beach, you can choose from horseback riding, white-water rafting, surfing lessons, a catamaran cruise or visiting mangroves on a boat trip.
What Mumsnetters say:
"Costa Rica was amazing: lovely beaches, volcanoes and rainforests to hike up/through, huge zip wires above the forest, great snorkelling. All done in an eco-friendly way."
7. Cote D'Azur, France
Cote D'Azur is a lot more than a playground for the rich and famous. Only about two hours away from the UK by plane, it's a great spot to visit with young children in tow.
Heads up there won't be any opportunity for sandcastles, as the beaches are pebble. But there is a myriad of family-friendly resorts offering diving and other water activities. As well as all that, there are offerings such as the Promenade du Paillon, a stunning park which stretches up 1.2km from the coast into the city of Nice, and the Matisse Museum for a dose of high culture.
8. Santa Maria Beach, Cape Verde
These islands off the coast of Senegal still seem to be under the radar of many British holidaymakers. Similarly to the Canary Islands, there's a wonderful volcanic landscape, and the temperature rarely drops below 24 degrees – perfect for any winter sun cravings. There are 10 islands in the archipelago, so there's the chance to do some island hopping – with day trips and cruises available.
There are direct flights but they're about five to six hours from the UK, so it might be tough if your children are very young. It's more popular with British tourists than any other country, so if you your children can't live without home comforts, you should be OK.
What Mumsnetters say:
"Cape Verde has a fascinating history as an ex-Portuguese colony, and it's a great place to go if you have curious, slightly older children. They can learn about the culture and try new foods and experiences."