People say life changes once you have kids. As a parent, this becomes really obvious when you start planning holidays. Suddenly, a trip somewhere doesn’t just revolve around your own interests but requires research for child-friendly stays and activities. To save you the trouble, we’ve put together a collection of 10 island activities for kids that will make for an enjoyable getaway for everyone. The best part is that they’re mostly screen-free!
A simple activity that will not only engage your kids but also teach them to observe their surroundings is a scavenger hunt. All you need is paper filled with items that your children need to spot and tick off while on their holiday. You can create your own by hand, or with photos from the Internet. Think about your itinerary and what they will be doing to give you an idea of what to include. Alternatively, you can download one here.
For older kids, you can modify the activity and let them take photos of or with actual items or monuments. These shots can be used later on at dinner to discuss your day, or if you have a polaroid camera, in their travel journal. You could also get them to complete various tasks like collect 5 seashells, taste saltwater and so on. It takes a bit of preparation, but it will make for a meaningful holiday!
Most kids love animals and any chance to interact is great for educating and entertaining. To do this, you can visit a local farm or a conservation center. Some popular animals to view include turtles, crocodiles and even orang utans! A lovely island with opportunities to encounter turtles is Lang Tengah. It’s a pristine island on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia between Redang and Perhentian with clear waters and sandy beaches. Book a visit with The Lang Tengah Turtle Watch and take a closer look at our turtles- how they breed, where they live and the work that is being done to preserve them. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to spot hatchlings or even a mummy turtle heading to shore to lay her eggs.
If this interests you and you would like to find out more, check out our Makan Angin packages for Lang Tengah here.
One of the best parts of going for an island holiday is having fun in the water. And while many activities seem to be catered to adults, there are quite a few that children will enjoy just as much.
One such activity is banana boating. It’s an inflated boat in the shape of a banana which takes up to 5 people. The minimum age is usually 7 (depending on your provider) and you are given life jackets for your safety. Jump on, bob around in the water and don’t forget to take that iconic shot of the whole family on the boat!
Not for the faint-hearted, another activity that most kids enjoy is jet skiing. It’s a bit more expensive, but it is worth the thrill. Kids need to be over twelve and have to be accompanied by a licensed adult who can operate the jetski. Once you’re all geared up, you’re sure to have fun making waves together!
Another great island activity is snorkelling because it’s so convenient and affordable. All you need is a snorkeling mask, a life jacket and the sea! Most resorts will have some available for free or to rent. Do your research or ask a local guide when and where to snorkel for the best experience. Once your kids have their gear on, wade out for a swim and take in nature at its best. Play eye spy and spot little fish, crabs and corals.
Tip: Corals can be sharp and may hurt your little ones’ feet so do consider getting some shoes or flippers for them.
It’s quite common for islands to be close to or surrounded by other smaller islands. In these situations, speed boating and island hopping is a popular option. The boat ride itself is an adventure with so much to see as you enjoy the sea breeze in your hair. Your guide will know where to stop and what is to be enjoyed at various places.
In Tioman for example, you could visit places like White Sand beach, Reggis Island and Marine Park by speedboat. You could also go fishing at the beach and catch some crabs or small fish. To find out more, check out our deals for Tioman Island here.
Kayaking is a fun way for kids to experience the island in a new way. The recommended age is 4 and up. For kids aged between 4 to 8, be prepared to do most of the paddling but let them have a go. The general rule is to have one adult to a child in a kayak. Kids that are older and are capable of paddling on their own may take a single kayak for themselves as long as you are close by. Always check the conditions of the water before heading out.
Tip: Bring a waterproof camera or DIY one with your smartphone and a zip lock bag to capture the experience.
If your child has always wondered what it’s like to fly like a bird, this might be the activity for them. Take to the skies and enjoy the view of the beach from the top. This will be a thrilling, mesmerizing and even educational experience for them. Keep in mind that kids have to be at least 7 years old and can fly with an adult. Older children may fly independently, depending on the provider.
Tip: Research providers and ensure that they have a high safety record!
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One of the best things about being on an island is having an endless sandpit available to you and your children. Some younger ones may take some time getting used to the feeling of sand in their toes so bring along a beach towel just in case. For the older ones, all you need is a bucket of sand toys and tools to build the fanciest castles. You could even suggest the idea of forts with waterways around them. Make use of what’s around and collect shells and rocks to decorate!
If your child is into construction, bring a digger or a dump truck and this can occupy them for ages! Or if they’re into cooking, some containers and spoons will do the trick.
Tip: When you’re out of ideas, who can resist the bury-your-parent-in-sand activity? Get comfy, don’t forget the sunblock and enjoy as the kids pat sand on you. You’ll have the honour of breaking out of the sand mould eventually!
Cycling is a great family activity and one that is quite popular around islands. Some resorts even provide bicycles free of charge for their guests. Do your research and look for cycling paths that are suitable for young cyclists. Often, paths may lead you to different parts of the island that you cannot access with a car.
If your family prefers to walk, go for a hike instead. Pack some food and water, get your walking shoes on and go where the path leads. Look out for local trees, spot wildlife and enjoy your time in nature.
Sometimes all you need are a few simple tools for some great family activities. Play volleyball or stand in a circle and try to keep a beach ball in the air for as long as possible. Have a game of frisbee or play beach soccer. Another favourite is to fly kites and see how high they can go! Finally, when you are ready for a break, have a little beach picnic together. These are the things great family holidays are made of!
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Kristy Tan is a teacher and mother who believes that travelling is good for the mind, soul and the body. When she isn’t chasing her two boys around the garden, she can be found writing articles and researching places for their next family holiday.