The best family tropical holiday escapes for winter

When I moved to Melbourne from the tropics with my husband and kids four years ago I made a deal with him.  If he expected me to tolerate Melbourne winters (I am a winter wimp), we would escape north to the tropics, if only for a week or two every winter.  He’s been true to his word.  These trips are my lifeline – sun, ocean, rainforest, light – if I spend some time in them then somehow the southern winter is more tolerable.  I’ve explored (and lived in) a number of tropical destinations, with a few more on my wish list.   Tropical holidays don’t always mean palm trees and hammocks (although they are a good option)  Our tropical winter escapes have incorporated theme parks, volcanoes, and waterslides.  Here’s some of our family’s favourites.


Cairns and Port Douglas

Walking along the Cairns Esplanade

Cairns and Port Douglas are the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Atherton Tablelands and Daintree Rainforest.  I love tropical North Queensland for the green – cane fields, tree-frogs found hiding in your garden at night, and rainforest streams to swim in.  Both destinations – Port Douglas is an hour north of Cairns via the Cook Highway have plenty to do with kids of all ages, as well as stroller friendly beaches.  My main tips for this destination are be sure to visit the Reef, visit at least one wildlife experiences and get into the rainforest.  Special favourites of this family are Muddies Playground – free water play for little kids on Cairns’ Esplanade, Breakfast with the Birds in Port Douglas and swimming in Crystal Cascades waterhole (shhhh, don’t let the locals know I told you about it)

Kawandji-Wimpa dancers at the the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair


Darwin has two free waterparks

Australia’s true outback Darwin is a surprisingly family friendly city of free waterparks (two!), balmy night markets and Indigenous cultural experiences.  Darwin comes truly alive during the dry season (the June, July and August). A day trip to Litchfield National Park is a must, as is a trip to the Jumping Crocs.


The beach. Club Med Bali

I love traveling with kids however traveling with mine is not really a holiday – except that is if we are visiting Bali.  The reason, the amazing resorts with childcare facilities, and day spas that ensure this chronically exhausted mama gets some R and R.  We love the Club Med in Bali that has childcare for babies us and facilitates family fun together as well as separately.

Papua New Guinea

At the edge of Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea isn’t on most family holiday lists however our family discovered the beauty of the country together via a P and O cruise last year.  At the foot of a volcano we heard a local church group sing, snorkelled in azure waters around the Conflict Islands and leant about World War II history.  I was delighted that my children were able to wander local markets and be greeted by local children during village visits.

How beautiful is that water off the Conflict Islands in Papua New Guinea

Magnetic Island

A convenient ferry ride from Townsville Maggie is provides an idyllic tropical location for shoeless family holidays.  This isn’t a destination of resorts with kids clubs but rather, during months when Gold Coast waters are chilly a tropical low key paradise for family beach fun.  If you have fishing rods and your own snorkels, Magnetic Island is the place to bring them.


The Super Trees at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

Singapore is a city of delicious food and tidy streets and extravagant sites.  Gardens by the Bay is the mose extraordinary tropical garden with man made structures and blooms entwined.   Lavish (although not particularly budget friendly) hotels make this an upmarket destination.  Singapore gives families the option to have a theme park holiday in a tropical destination – Universal studios is located on Sentosa Island

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Disneyland has many of the classic Disney rides as well as some local originals

With a stunning harbour, the most amazing dining and shopping, Hong Kong is not just a tropical stopover.  or families planning a Disney holiday consider visiting Hong Kong Disneyland  Hong Kong Disneyland offers a traditional Disney park experience, with a Chinese edge.  We took two days visiting Hong Kong Disneyland, appreciating the shorter queues than those we experienced at the North American parks.  My kids loved the rides (It’s a Small World, Space Mountain and Alice’s Tea Cups are some of the tried and true rides there).


Enjoying the beach at Disney Aulani Resort

Before I moved to the tropics Hawaii informed my own images of what a tropical paradise looks like.  Each of the Hawaiian Islands are  different and for those that have the time an money, a cruise around the islands is one way to appreciate this.  Visitors to Honolulu will appreciate the traditional aspects of American culture married with Polynesian influences.  Maui offers visitors the stereotyped tropical experience with good snorkelling off the beach from many hotels.    Disney fanatics will enjoy the Disney Aulani Resort


You may have noticed there are some glaring omissions from this list – we are yet to explore Fiji, Tahiti, the Maldives, the Philippines, the Caribbean, tropical South America and Malaysia (although that one is happening later in the year…)  I also haven’t included some of my favourite tropical places to live and work because I’m not convinced they are a great match for people travelling with kids (the Torres Strait and The Solomon Islands)


As usual, but particularly if traveling to a tropical region I advise visiting a GP at least 6 weeks prior to travelling.  If you are pregnant or intend to get pregnant seek advice regarding Zika transmission in areas you are considering visiting.



© Copyright 2018 Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move

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