Independent Families: 'Where can we snorkel with our young sons?'


Q. We are looking for a holiday destination where there is snorkelling for our seven- and nine-year-old sons. We were recommended the Maldives, but our budget won't stretch that far. Also, my husband travels for work and prefers not to spend his holidays in hotels. Fiona Imber, via email

A. The Maldives is indeed a first-class snorkelling destination, but there's absolutely no need to travel that far afield. Closer to home are the Red Sea resorts of Egypt's Sinai coast. These provide access to some of the finest snorkelling and sub-aqua in the world – though they are popular and built-up.

Your travel-sick husband will probably be delighted to hear that there's an abundance of colourful marine life – including octopi and anemones – no further away than Cornwall. The rockier coasts of the Mediterranean, meanwhile, are perfect for younger snorkellers.

The key word here is "rocky". Choosing a snorkelling destination means looking for a sea bed that can support plant life, and hence fish. Sterile, sandy bottoms do not fit the bill, although even the softest beach may well have rocky edges or a headland where sea life congregates.

If you're happy to stay in the UK, Porthcurno Bay – near Land's End and overlooked by the amphitheatre of the Minack Theatre – is ideal, a curve of sandy beaches interspersed with rocky coves. Porthcurno Beach is the main kicking-off point, patrolled by lifeguards in summer, and with a car park 200m away. Nearby Ardensawah Farm (01736 871520; www.porthcurnofarmholidays.com) offers B&B for £30 per night for adults (£18 for five- to 12-year-olds), and has a family bedroom with CD and DVD players. A good source of information on snorkelling in the UK is the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC)'s snorkelling website: www.bsacsnorkelling.co.uk. It offers tips on safe snorkelling, equipment advice and recommendations of good snorkelling sites around the country.

Beyond the UK, I'd suggest looking at Corsica, Crete and southern Turkey. Crete can be very resort-y, but luckily the best snorkelling is on the island's quieter southern side – and the summer winds blow offshore here, which keeps the seas calm. Good snorkelling beaches include Sougia, Agios Georgias, Drimiskianos, Agia Marina and Keratokampos. Most peaceful of them all is Tertsa, a tiny, pebbly beach in the south-east corner of the island, with one taverna and a couple of village rooms to rent. Web-only owner's agency Holiday Rentals ( www.holiday-rentals.co.uk) offers a charming, stone-built cottage with two bedrooms, sitting room, large terrace and a traditional Greek unfitted kitchen, a short drive away in the peaceful mountain village of Krevatas, for £250 a week, self-catering (ask for property 56861).

My final suggestion is the furthest away, but I think it's worth it. An hour's taxi ride west of Antalya in southern Turkey you'll find Cirali, a beachside village in the astonishingly fruitful Olympos nature reserve. Groves of orange trees and pomegranate follow the course of a small valley stream down to a wide, shingle bay, with a ruined, creeper-entwined ancient city at one end and the eternal mountainside flames of the Chimaera – a unique geological phenomena – at the other. The beach drops off steeply into the sea, so is only suitable for confident swimmers, but the snorkelling is outstanding, with crystal-clear, richly fertile water. In case this palls, traditional wooden gulet boats leave Cirali most days, with stops for snorkellers at other quiet, fish-rich coves along the coast. Or you could join a dive boat: tour operator TravelShop Turkey (00 90 252 316 4685; www.travelshopturkey.com) arranges one-day diving trips from nearby Olympos for ¿60 (£43) per person, including lunch. If you're not divers, then snorkelling can be arranged on the day for a discounted price.

Because a rare breed of sea turtle nests here, development is strictly regulated, and accommodation is simple and discreet, in wooden chalets or small guesthouses. These range from the bijou terrace of small huts that make up Ugur Pansiyon (00 90 242 825 7025; www.ugurpansiyon.com) for TL45 (£17) per person, including breakfast, to the eight air-conditioned thatched wooden bungalows and gourmet Turkish cooking of Arcadia (00 90 242 825 7340; www.arcadia holiday.com) at ¿42 (£30) per person, with breakfast.

Antalya is served by Cyprus Turkish Airlines (020-7930 4851; www.kthy.net) from Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester, and by SunExpress (0845 600 1521; www.sunexpress.com.tr) from Stansted. Charters such as Thomsonfly (0870 190 0737; www.thomsonfly. com), First Choice Airways (0870 850 3999; www.first choice.co.uk) and Thomas Cook (08707 520 918; www.flythomascook.com) fly to Antalya during the summer months.

A word on safety. The British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) says that children as young as six can enjoy snorkelling, but it recommends that all ages take an accredited course. This will teach them how to dive, clear their masks and snorkels, and equalise their ears, as well as explaining the vital buddy system. Children should also have properly fitting, purpose-made masks and snorkels. A wetsuit is also a good idea even in warm waters: it provides extra buoyancy, as well as protection from jellyfish stings and sharp rocks.

Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or email crusoe@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer - £30,000 OTE Uncapped

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor / Administrator

    £13000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines