Family adventures: from wildlife-watching in Costa Rica to a husky safari in Lapland

Sarah Barrell picks some child-friendly thrills

If the prospect of a chilly February half-term at home has you yearning for a family-sized adventure, the world really is yours. Exotic destinations such as Morocco and Jordan are now regulars in specialist family travel programmes, with Thailand, the Galapagos and Vietnam popular choices for the longer school holidays.

Even "serious" travel outfits such as World Expeditions (020 8545 9030;, KE Adventure (017687 73966; and Pura Aventura (01273 676 712; are getting in on the act, putting destinations such as China, the Himalayas, Peru and Antarctica within reach of young explorers.

Costa Rican creatures

Nick Baker, of BBC2's Winterwatch, is leading a new family adventure to Costa Rica this summer. Explore Caribbean coastal waterways, volcanoes and Pacific beaches where you can encounter sloths, three species of monkey, red-eyed tree frogs, egg-laying turtles, mangroves and plenty more. The 14-day tour, with Reef and Rainforest (01803 866965;, costs £3,756pp and £2,860 per child (eight up) including accommodation, most meals, tours, flights and transfers.

High-octane half-term

Really embrace the cold with a half-term trip to the Lulea Archipelago in Swedish Lapland. After a winter survival skills workshop, take to the ice on a snowmobile, mush forest trails on a husky safari, and hunt the Northern Lights. From £1,445 per adult and £775 per child (8-14 years) with Activities Abroad (01670 789 991; departing 14 or 18 February. Includes flights, transfers, four nights' full-board accommodation, cold-weather clothing and guides.

Joy rides: cycling

Smells like teen surfers

Learn to ride and conquer the waves at Guincho Beach, near Lisbon, at Powder Byrne's Surf Academy for 13-15-year-olds (020 8246 5300; Accommodation is at Penha Longa Resort, with seven nights' B&B costing from £1,041pp during May half-term, including transfers. The Surf Academy costs £350pp and runs five days out of seven, with transport from the hotel to Guincho Beach for surfing, lunch and water activities. Flights extra.

Head for the Highlands

Explore Arisaig and the West Highlands by rail, canoe and on foot, on a guided holiday with Wilderness Scotland (01479 420 020; Take wildlife walks and go whale watching around the lochs and Arisaig Sound, set up camp on one of the small wooded islands and learn woodland crafts while cooking under the stars. Running April-October, the cost is from £595pp and £495 per child (eight up) based on four sharing, including three nights' B&B (one night camping), two packed lunches, all guiding and equipment for guided activities.

Atlantic adventure

Canoe in a volcanic crater, swim with dolphins in the open ocean and visit a lava tunnel while exploring three of the Azores islands on a new, eight-day family tour. The Family Adventure Company (0808 250 7442; holiday visits São Miguel, Faial and Pico islands. You can cycle the lakeshore of Cete Cidades, have lunch cooked in a fumarole and get into rural life at a local farm.

For a 23 May or 25 July departure the cost is from £1,704pp, £1,534 per child (five up), with flights, transfers and all-inclusive accommodation (most meals). Also new this year: active, teen-only trips to the Himalayas and Croatia.