10 Sunny Getaways
You're up for an adventure this summer, but where to go? Ian McCurrach explores the long-haul deals - and tells you what the weather will be like
Sunday 02 July 2006
1 Take to Canada's mountains
If you are looking for a different twist on the usual summer bucket and spade holiday, Banff in Canada could just be the ticket. This Rockt Mountain resort offers giant hanging glaciers, sparkling emerald lakes, tumbling waterfalls and jaw-drop ping scenery. There is also a wide range of activities to get the family fit, such as exploring the 1,800 miles of walking trails. With all the golf, white-water rafting, biking or heli-hiking on tap you may also need to relax, so book a cruise on Lake Minnewanka or a soak in the hot springs.
What's the weather like? The northern hemisphere's summer is a perfect time to visit when Banff enjoys warm, long, sunny days and temperatures hovering about 28C in August.
The deal: Inghams Travel (020-8780 4433; inghams.co.uk) offers a seven-night b&b break from £756 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, from Gatwick, Manchester or Glasgow to Calgary, and transfers.
2 Book a room in an Indian palace
Swap your mundane Mediterranean villa for a night or two spent in a Maharaja's palace in India. Elephant rides, tiger-spotting, the Taj Mahal, boat trips and the snowcapped peaks of the Himalaya will be memories the kids won't forget in a hurry. Girls will be gripped by the country's treasure trove of jewelled slippers, sparkling jewellery, pashminas, cushions, sarongs and pretty wooden carvings. The Jungle Book will come alive for younger children, who can take an elephant ride to an ancient Rajput fort. For the whole family you could plan a visit to Gwalior which is situated at the very geographical and historical crossroads of India and has an immense fortress which stands as an outstanding example of a Hindu castle.
What's the weather like? Fair for most of the day with monsoon rain in the afternoons, but downpours are short and intense. September tends to be drier with average temperatures hovering at about 32C.
The deal: Greaves Travel (0870 850 2497; greavesindia.com) offers an eight-night room-only package, building your own itinerary, which could take in the Taj Mahal, the Himalaya, Udaipur and Ranthambhore National Park. Prices for the package start at £1,899 per adult and £699 per child under 16, which is based on four people travelling and sharing two double/twin rooms, including return British Airways flights and internal transfers. These rates are valid until 30 September.
3 Catch the waves in Durban
July and August are the best months to catch the waves in South Africa's coastal city of Durban. North Beach also hosts the Gunston 500 festival this month. Part of the larger Ocean Africa Festival, this is an event that includes every beach activity imaginable - think night-surfing, music and fashion shows. Located on the famous Golden Mile's Marine Parade, overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Tropicana Hotel is a family-friendly resort close to Durban's best attractions, including the Indian Market and a plethora of shopping opportunities. Visitors can also tour the Drakensberg Mountains in the surrounding region of KwaZulu-Natal. The time difference between Durban and London is one hour, so jet-lagged children shouldn't be too much of a problem.
What's the weather like? Durban's subtropical climate means that average July and August temperatures flutter at about 23C.
The deal: Travelbag (0870 814 6544; travelbag.co.uk) offers a seven-night b&b break at the three-star Tropicana Hotel from £669 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights with Air France from London Heathrow, via Paris and Johannesburg. Valid for travel between 21 July and 2 September, last booking by 30 August 2006.
4 Test the waters in the Maldives
Sprinkled in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a good year-round destination. The Bandos resort on the North Male Atoll is a short 20-minute transfer by speed-boat from the airport, so families can blow away the jet-lag and get straight into the holiday spirit with a thrilling spin across the water. Sporting activities available include tennis and squash at the resort's Paradise Club and catamaran sailing and windsurfing. The Maldives also provides superb snorkelling opportunities, so endless hours in the still waters watching some of the world's best marine life is recommended.
What's the weather like? The rainy season runs May to August, so travel in early September is drier, with average temperatures hovering between 28 and 32C.
The deal: Hayes and Jarvis (0870 850 3565; hayesandjarvis.co.uk) offers a 14-night b&b break at the four-star Bandos Hotel from £1,099 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights with First Choice Airways from Gatwick and transfers, departing 27 August.
5 Make BA and Rio your goal
If you haven't tired of the footie, this new tour takes in La Bombanera stadium, in Buenos Aires and tickets to a game at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Start by following in the footsteps of Diego "Hand of God" Maradona at La Bombanera, known as the Chocolate Box, and enjoy a tour of the fascinating Boca Juniors Museum as well as tickets for a match. In Rio, take a guided tour of one of the most famous stadiums in the world and the spiritual home of Brazilian football legend Pelé, and take the chance to see the Jules Rimet Trophy, presented to Brazil when they won the World Cup for the third time in 1970.
What's the weather like? In Rio, summer temperatures edge up to the 25C mark, while Buenos Aires further south is a cooler 18C.
The deal: Sunvil Latin America (020-8758 4744; sunvil.co.uk) offers a seven-night b&b Football Legends tour from £1,843 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes return flights via Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires and back from Rio, internal flights, private transfers, b&b accommodation, tickets to the football matches and guided tours.
6 Indulge your senses in Phuket
Some of Thailand's most exclusive hotels are a much more attractive option during the summer, when low season means bigger discounts. The Evason Phuket Resort on Rawai Beach is set among 64 acres of lush tropical gardens and has a wide range of facilities including a volleyball court, tennis courts, three swimming pools, a fitness centre and the highly regarded Six Senses Spa. It has its own private island, Bon Island, which is a 10-minute boat ride from the hotel and offers more powder beaches and clear waters for snorkelling and swimming. Canoes, Hobie cats and windsurfing equipment can all be hired at the dive centre. There are daily excursions, such as snorkelling trips to Phi Phi and nocturnal long boat fishing trips.
What's the weather like? Temperatures hover about 30C with sudden short sharp showers cooling everything.
The deal: Only Exclusive Travel (0161-233 0110; onlyexclusivetravel.com) offers a two-week half-board break for the price of one week from £4,563 per family (two adults, two children), based on four sharing two studio rooms, including return British Airways flights, internal flights and all transfers.
7 Some like it hot in Cape Verde
West of Africa and east of Brazil, the Cape Verde islands are on the same latitude as Barbados and are well on the way to becoming one of this year's hottest new destinations. Each of the archipelago's 10 islands has its own distinct personality, as well as being relatively untouched by mainstream tourism. You'll find time-warp towns, unspoilt beaches and a heady African-Brazilian cultural heritage. A flight time of under eight hours also means minimum jet lag, and a stop in Lisbon, means fidgety kids have less chance of getting bored. Sal is flatter than the rest and one of the most popular islands for visitors. Club Hotel Riu Funana is a Moroccan casbah-style, all-inclusive hotel on a white sand beach, just 2 km from the lively bars and restaurants of the island's principal town Santa Maria (think impromptu street dancing and samba). The hotel's Magic Castle offers a range of day-time activities and entertainment for children aged four to 12.
What's the weather like? Dry and warm, similar to the Canary Islands, with temperatures at 29C.
The deal: Holiday Options (0870 420 8372; holidayoptions.co.uk) offers 14 nights at the five-star Club Hotel Riu Funana in Sal from £3,994 based on a family of four sharing, including return flights from Heathrow via Lisbon, transfers and accommodation on an all-inclusive basis, in August.
8 Go exotic in Brazil
Inject the exotic into your summer plans with a stay in Guarajuba, a small resort south of Costa do Sauipe in Bahia, just 30 minutes from Salvador airport. It has one of the coastline's most beautiful beaches, lined with coconut palms and protected by reefs. Guarajuba offers a good selection of restaurants and bars, but is small enough to retain an authentic Brazilian atmosphere. Day trips to the region's capital, the Unesco World Heritage-listed Salvador, are available for those interested in exploring the area's colonial history. Youngsters can be kept amused by the hotel's free snorkelling equipment, bicycle hire and a playground. Other activities include archery and volleyball.
What's the weather like? Good all year round, with the lowest rainfall between May and September, when temperatures average 26C.
The deal: Thomas Cook (08701 111 111; thomascook.com) offers a 14-night half-board break at the Villa Gala Mares in Guarajuba from £932 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes return flights from Gatwick and transfers, departing on August 24. Child prices start from £699.
The best for surf lovers
Glued to Channel 4's hit Lost? Then discover the charms of Oahu, where much of the drama was filmed. Hawaii's best-known island offers everything from the flashy resorts of Waikiki to quiet, deserted beaches. There are also volcanoes, jungles, scuba-diving, snorkelling and surfing. For culture visit Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194; bon-voyage.co.uk) offers 10 nights in Waikiki from £1,250, including flights and transfers.
The best for festivals
For three weeks in July and August Barbados is awash with events as it celebrates its annual crop-over festival. The four-star Almond Beach Village, on the west coast, offers various programmes for children and water sports with free tuition. Virgin Holidays (0870 220 2757; virgin holidays.com) is offering a seven-night, all-inclusive break from £969 per person, based on two sharing, with a "kids stay free promotion" thrown in. Book by 15 July.
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