7 amazing off-grid family holidays to book now
Hat? Check. Sneakers? Check. Just add a sense of adventure, and head off on a family holiday where you can unplug and reconnect. No smartphone needed!
- April 2019
Leave your devices behind and head to one of these magical destinations where you can go back to nature - and each other. From a Fijian island escape to a New Zealand farm stay, there is something for every family here.
Take an old-school road trip to Jurien Bay, WA
Remember when Dad would pile everyone in the station wagon for a trip up the coast? That nostalgic old-school holiday can still be found in Jurien Bay, a 2.5-hour drive north of Perth along the scenic Indian Ocean Drive. Watch as the kids sprint towards the beach, eager to catch their first glimpse of the ocean, moments after the car has pulled up at the Sandy Cape campsite (arrive early or go off-peak as you can’t pre-book this popular campground). Western Australia’s Coral Coast is a great place to swim, go four-wheel driving, enjoy campfire barbecues and devour cream buns fresh from the bakery. Families can fish off the jetty and even have encounters with Australian sea lions – the breeding ground for these rare and playful mammals lies just off the coast.
Experience jungle treks and waterfalls at Sanak Retreat Bali, Indonesia
This boutique retreat, a 2.5-hour drive from Denpasar in a far-flung North Balinese village, offers the chance to immerse the whole family in the island’s bucolic life. Children can join guided treks to a pristine waterfall, learn about local culture, cycle through rice fields, make and fly Balinese kites or even take a cooking class in a local’s home. The resort offers hand-built teak villas, a paddy-to-plate restaurant with rice field vistas across the main patchwork pool and an inspiring ethos aimed at giving back to the local community. Fall asleep to the croaking of contented frogs as fireflies dance in the night sky.
Have a barefoot adventure at Fiji’s Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
Kids will spend their time barefoot, device-free and learning about life above and below the water at this extraordinary eco-resort, founded by the son of legendary French diver Jacques Cousteau. Dusk-to-dawn nannies (for children under five) or buddies (for kids six to 12) are teamed up with young charges at the award-winning Bula Club (the kids club), with its fun and educational program revolving around Fijian culture and the environment. General manager Bartholomew Simpson says one of the many highlights is the resort’s program for teenagers, where “iPhones rarely make an appearance”. Teens can build and sail a bilibili (bamboo raft) or trek through the jungle to swim at a waterfall. Meanwhile, younger kids can swim in their private pool with a water slide, play in the treehouse adventure playground and explore coral reefs with marine biologist Johnny Singh. The resort is at Savusavu, an hour’s flight from Nadi.
Go for a retro beach holiday in South West Rocks, NSW
If you’re a child of the 70s or 80s, you’ll remember heading off barefoot (and typically sunblock free) after breakfast with Mum’s words “be back before dark” ringing in your ears. Allow your kids to experience the same free-range existence at the incredible Big4 Sunshine resort South West Rocks, bordered by Hat Head National Park, frequented by kangaroos and a short distance from a string of crowd-free beaches. A three-hour drive north of Newcastle, this laid-back coastal pocket is where you can have a holiday that revolves around beach cricket, swimming, walks along sandy beach tracks and sunset barbecues – no tech required. Located in a gated site, complete with Shipwreck Island Water Park, a jumping pillow, playground and more, kids can safely roam the resort on bikes, scooters, skateboards or on foot – popping back to see Mum and Dad when hunger strikes.
Sign up for a New Zealand farm stay at Valley Views Glamping
Patrick and Amber Tyrrell grew up on farms (Patrick in South Africa and Amber in New Zealand) and wanted to recreate an African safari tent experience with a Kiwi spin. At their 40-hectare holistic beef farm in the beautiful rolling hills of the Waitaki Valley, about two hours from Dunedin, guests can stay in one of six cosy geodesic dome tents. There’s no need for devices at Valley Views, as the kids can roam the property, see belted Galloway cattle, go fly-fishing or take a horse-riding lesson. Best of all, the little ones will love getting thoroughly muddy before soaking in a rustic alfresco bath in the forest – be sure to pack your gumboots.
Pitch a tent on Wee Jasper Reserve, NSW
Travel the route tramped by thousands seeking their fortune on the Kiandra goldfields and stop at this creek-side camping spot. Here, there’s no electricity, limited phone coverage and just the sound of birdcalls to break the silence. Fish, canoe, kayak or loll about on a li-lo at one of five camping reserves along the Goodradigbee River, four hours’ drive south-west of Sydney. Thought to be named after tiny green gemstones found by an early Scotsman, which he called “Wee Jaspers”, this natural wonderland offers fossil viewing and the chance to explore the wild limestone Careys Cave system or bushwalk along the Hume and Hovell Walking Track, spotting some 56 species of birds. With no bookings required, simply turn up, pay for your stay and find a spot to set up camp. Creature comforts include hot and cold showers, flushing toilets and drinking water.
Sail the Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
Throw off the bowlines and be the captain of your own destiny on a sun-kissed sailing adventure through the Whitsunday Islands. Bareboating is thus named because you do it “bare” – without a skipper or crew – taking the boat wherever you decide on the day (weather dependent, of course). The Whitsundays is Australia’s ultimate sailing playground and home to one of the world’s top 10 stretches of sand, Whitehaven Beach. Young children will love the novelty of sleeping on board, seeing local wildlife, building sandcastles on deserted beaches and swimming in turquoise waters. Teenagers get to experience quality, screen-free family time, along with jumping off the boat, snorkelling, playing board games and fishing for lunch. The whole family can even learn to sail.