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Top Long Haul Holiday Destinations For Families


Are you looking for a family holiday with a difference? Want a little adventure mixed with beach time? Check out my top long haul destinations for families and start planning your next big trip. 


Family holidays, like most travel trends, have changed dramatically in recent years. The two-week package deal to Spain is no longer the typical family holiday. Many families are taking a ‘big trip’ every few years and milestone birthdays usually involve a trip to a bucket-list destination with your family. Everyone is looking for more authentic experiences and parents want to educate their children to different cultures too. We think nothing of flying ten hours to Orlando for a family holiday in Florida, so why not fly the same distance to Thailand or Mexico? My children (ages 8 & 11) would tell you that one of their favourite holidays was when we spent two weeks travelling around South Africa last year. So why not push the boundaries and go long haul for your next family holiday? These top long haul destinations for families should give you some food for thought.

long haul destinations for families

I have teamed up with Tropical Sky, who offer many long haul destinations for families. They can advise you on the best hotel options to suit your requirements. If you are looking for hotels with family rooms and kids clubs, they will source them for you. If on the other hand you are looking to stay in an elephant camp in Thailand, they can arrange that too. Here are their top long haul destinations for families.



Thailand is a wonderful introduction to Asia for children. Most will be familiar with Thai curries or noodle dishes so there is no need to worry about local food. If you want to spend a few days in Bangkok, combine local culture with a family day out. Explore Asiatique, the family-friendly open air-mall with its ferris wheel and other fun things to do, and take ride on a tuk-tuk, Asia’s rickshaw.

long haul destinations for families

Stay at one of the many beach resorts, there will be plenty of activities to keep the children happy. Most family hotels will have entertainment laid on and the kids will enjoy snorkelling in the clear waters. Cha Am and Hua Hin are good choices if you don’t want to travel too far from Bangkok. However with Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific all flying from Dublin airport now, the islands of Phuket and Krabi and the Nothern city of Chang Mai are more easily accesible. If you really want to show the kids something unique, try an overnight stay in Elephant Hills Jungle Camp, suitable for children from 4 years.

longhaul holidays for families


See top 10 family hotels here See Thailand holiday offers here



Mexico is a great destination for families, with Cancun and its surrounding resorts being the most popular choices. Hotels are packed with kids clubs, entertainment and many have water slides at the pool. You can swim, snorkel, take boat trips and enjoy sunny days on Mexico’s white sandy beaches. Most resorts are all-inclusive with unlimited soft drinks and ice creams included for children. Tropical Sky have some super offers where you can save up to €600 per person on selected all-inclusive resorts, such as the Dreams Sands Cancun & Spa. However, you fancy dining out, you are bound to find a Hard Rock Café or Planet Hollywood nearby. For family fun days out take the kids to Xenses or XCaret theme parks or one of the many waterparks.

long haul destinations for families

See top 10 family hotels here

See Mexico holiday offers here


Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is very popular with families, thanks to the wide selection of family-friendly, all-inclusive resorts and it’s year round sunshine. There are tons of watersports available including snorkelling, kiteboarding and sailing. Although surrounded by white sandy beaches, it’s interior is pretty special too. Take the kids on a jungle trek and see waterfalls, natural swimming pools and even some monkeys swinging from the trees. 

Tropical Sky have super deals to family hotels in the Dominican Republic. The five-star Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana is priced from €1149 on an all-inclusive basis, including flights and transfers. This includes a saving of €150 per person if booked by the 30th of April. There are kids clubs from ages 3-12 and a teens club from ages 13-17, with campout adventures, big screen movies at the beach and a host of watersports available.

long haul destinations for families

See hotel offer here

See more holiday offers here

Like the Caribbean? Check out my top 5 All Inclusive Caribbean resorts for families:



Dubai is one of the best long haul destinations for families. With daily direct flights from Dublin, Dubai can be a great option to introduce your children to long haul travel. Dubai is a kids paradise, there is so much to do here. The world’s largest indoor theme park is in Dubai as well as Legoland. Sega Republic and some amazing waterparks. Make sure to visit Wild Wadi Waterpark, with 30 rides and attractions for all ages, it’s a great place to spend the afternoon. If you stay at Jumeirah Beach hotel you get free entry! You can also ski indoors, take a desert safari and go to the top of the world’s tallest building.  Another must-see is the Dubai Fountain, kids will be mesmerised by the incredible display as it lights up the night sky. 



Why not combine Dubai with another destination like the Maldives. I have chosen to do that for our family holiday this year. After an action packed few days in Dubai, I can think of nothing better than flaking out on a beach in the Maldives. The Centara Grand Island Resort caters extremely well for children, with kids clubs, boat trips and even Playstations in some of the rooms. 

long haul destinations for families

See top family attractions here See Dubai holiday offers here



Orlando needs no introduction and is widely accepted as the top family destination in the world. Thankfully direct flights with Aer Lingus to Orlando and Miami have made it much more accesible. With twelve theme parks, four waterparks and a host of other activities on International Drive, you will be spoilt for choice for things to do in Orlando. Take the kids to the Magic Kingdom, enjoy the parades, the fireworks and let them meet their favourite characters. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge that is opening later this year.


Tropical Sky are offering up to four nights FREE at selected Disney hotels if you book by the 1st of April and a FREE I-Ride Trolley pass for 5-days, if you stay seven nights or more on International Drive.

See Disney hotel offers here See all Florida holiday offers here


South Africa

South Africa was one of our favourite family holidays. There is very little time difference so you will be surprised at how easy the flight is. Cape Town is such a vibrant city with so much to see and do. We loved taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and driving the Cape Peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope. Stopping at Boulders Beach was one of the highlights, where we were able to swim with penguins in the sea! We then took a car and drove along the Garden Route, stopping in some great beach resorts, before finishing off our trip at a Game Reserve. Seeing lions walk towards you and sleeping out in the African bush are memories that will last a lifetime. I would highly recommend a family holiday to South Africa and Tropical Sky will tailor make the right itinerary to suit your requirements. 



See South Africa holiday offers here


So now that you have seen my top long haul destinations for families, the only decision is where will you choose? Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own.


Like family holidays? See more destination reviews and the best travel deals here.




The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

DestinationsRest of the World

Our Family Stay at Cape St Francis Resort, South Africa

Our own beach house with breakfast cooked for us each day and a magnificent sandy beach that stretched for miles, Cape St Francis Resort is a little piece of heaven.


After a quick two night stay in Plettenberg Bay, our Garden Route adventure led us to Cape St Francis. I assumed, like many, that Plettenberg Bay was the ‘best’ beach resort on the Garden Route. I was wrong. Located only sixty miles from Port Elizabeth, Cape St Francis boasts the mildest temperatures and the longest hours of sunshine on the coast. It’s unique location as the most south easterly point in South Africa allows you to see sunrise and sunset from the same vantage point – something I found astonishing! With a host of water-sports on the beach, as well as a top rated golf course close by and the chance to see dolphins and even whales (from August to December) – I am still lost as to why Cape St Francis is not more widely known.

When we arrived at Cape St Francis resort, I knew immediately we were going to love it here. Our beach house was amazing! A massive thatched house, just 100 meters from the beach with a BBQ, sun loungers and our own swimming pool, we were all blown away. There was even a rooftop with a table for sundowners! We were literally a minute walk from six miles of magnificent beach and so few people on it. The only problem was two days wasn’t going to be enough!



We spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool and decided to have a ‘braai’ (South African barbeque) that night. After two weeks of dining out for lunch and dinner, it was great to be able to sit in, relax and cook. The small shop on site had a selection of meat and salads and we had a nice bottle of wine from our recent stay in Val du Charron wine estate. It was perfect. The next morning, we were greeted by two ladies who said they had come to cook our breakfast. I had noticed that breakfast was included, but I had no idea it was going to be cooked and served up to us in our own house! What followed can only be described as a decadent display of fruits, granolas and yogurts. It was incredible, but it didn’t end there. We were then offered a hot food menu. We had choices of fried, poached, boiled or scrambled eggs, omelettes or a full breakfast with sausages, bacon, mushrooms, beans, tomato etc. I wasn’t sure whether to be embarrassed or grateful. Maybe I felt a bit of both, but it was an experience I will never forget.

cape st francis resort

Cape St Francis Resort has a real family holiday atmosphere. It reminded me of a Mediterranean holiday resort, and was completely different to any of the other places we had stayed in South Africa. It was founded by a back-packer in the early 70’s who initially built a hostel. While he still owns it he continues to travel the world, albeit on a luxury yacht! The food, the service and the accommodation is superb. There is a wide selection of accommodation options to choose from. There are self catering apartments, three and four bedroom cottages, four star beach villas, like the one we stayed in, and five star beach villas. This means that although you might be staying in a five star beach villa, the resort does not feel five star. The atmosphere is so relaxed, almost like a home from home.

cape st francis resort

We enjoyed lunch at the pool bar, Joe Fish.  All of the food was excellent and far superior to your average pool bar restaurant. I tried the healthy burger and it was was delicious, it was served without a bun but with salad and sweet potato fries. The kids were able to play happily in the pool while we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and soaked up the sun.

cape st francis resort

In fact it was so good we decided to dine in the restaurant for dinner on our second night. The restaurant didn’t have bright white walls and modern furniture, it was a mismatch of chairs and tables, in a room that looked homely, if even a little tired. It didn’t matter. We stayed in an expensive, modern beach club in Plettenberg Bay, a few days before, but ask me which I preferred? I would say Cape St Francis every time. There was no need to dress up, shorts and flip flops were perfect dinner attire and when dinner was over, I relived my youth as the live band rocked Sweet Child of Mine from the bar!

cape st francis resort


Things to do:

We decided to take a long walk the beach. We were told it was about 5km to the port but it took a lot longer and was more arduous than expected. We had a few brief scary moments when the weather closed in and we had to cross difficult dunes, we actually thought we were lost! However it was a great family achievement and one we will remember favourably. A  few hours later we arrived in the port, albeit with help from Tyler, a friendly guide who works in the resort.

cape st francis resort

Cape St Francis port is the only privately owned working harbour in South Africa and their calamari is exported all over the world. The place to go for food is the Chokka Block. This is renowned for calamari tasting, but it was fully booked while we were there, so make sure you book in advance.

cape st francis resort

When we initially drove into Cape St Francis we passed a small street with a sprinkling of shops and a bar. We naively thought this was the town. It was only when we decided to take a boat trip that afternoon, that we found the ‘real’ Cape St Francis. This pretty town has a selection of shops, bars and restaurants and is located beside upmarket canals. Many people stop here for a few days while driving the Garden Route, but don’t bother to venture outside the resort. This is a mistake. There is so much to do in the surrounding area. We took a cruise along the canals which took about an hour. We got terrific insight into the local area as we ogled at the multimillion euro thatched homes with speed boats parked outside! Built in 1967 by a local who came back from the Everglades, Cape St Francis Bay is world’s apart from the beach resort. We sat back and enjoyed some sundowners, it was so relaxing. This leisurely canal cruise can be booked at reception.

cape st francis resort

Cape St Francis is home to five nature reserves which have numerous walks and hiking trails. Seal Point and the Cape St Francis Lighthouse are next to the penguin rehabilitation centre, where African Penguins are rehabilitated before being released back into the wild. The penguin release rate is as high as 96% and with penguin releases every 10 days, you may even be lucky to witness one! If you want to travel further afield you can visit Baviaanskloof, the world’s largest nature reserve, about an hours drive from the resort. Expect to see deep gorges, mountain cliffs and stunning views as well as an abundance of wildlife. Ado Elephant Park boasts the largest concentration of elephants in the world where visitors can see over 100 elephants on one game drive. It is also home to lions, buffalo and various antelope. If you still feel the need for adventure, the world’s highest bridge bungee jump is located in Tsitsikamma National Park, as well as a host of other activities. Both Ado and Tsitsikamma are located just 90 minutes drive from Cape St Francis Resort.

cape st francis resort


Driving the Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth is a superb family holiday, I would go so far as to say, one of our best. But sometimes you need to just relax, stay in a holiday resort rather than a hotel. Cape St Francis Resort is that type of place – we were on our holidays after all! Plettenberg Bay, Jeffries Bay and Kynsna are all renowned as being the best places to stay on the Garden Route – but take the road less travelled and stop in Cape St Francis.  You won’t regret it.


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Planning a trip to South Africa? Read all my posts from my South African adventures here.

Top Tips For Visiting South Africa

Cape Town – What to Do, Where to Stay, Where to Eat & Safety

Val du Charron Wine Estate – The Best Place to Stay in South Africa’s Winelands

A Luxury Safari at Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa – The Ultimate Travel Experience


The Travel Expert

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