Heading to the Indian Ocean en famille sounds ambitious until you discover Mauritius with its direct scheduled flights (not a charter or budget flight in sight), glorious beaches and a near perfect ring of coral reef forming a calm lagoon round pretty much the entire island, plus a vibrant mix of Indian, African, Chinese and European (mainly French) culture.
Families looking for tried and tested four and five star resorts with that extra element of service in a thoroughly exotic location. As writer Mark Twain said in 1896, “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking all the island has is beaches. Families can explore the lush volcanic interior on cyclo tourism tracks; marvell at the oversized palms at Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens; dip into the capital Port Louis with its Penny Blue Museum and colourful markets; see the giant tortoises at Casela Nature & Leisure Park and the crocs at La Vanille Crocodile Park; learn about the influence of sugar on the island at L’Aventure du Sucre and pony trek in the Domaine du Chasseur.
For kids too young for scuba, there's a semi-submarine trip from Grand Baie or dolphin expeditions around Tamarin Bay.
Top tip: The best weather is from May to December, so good for summer holidays and October half term with school age kids.
How to get there: Air Mauritius and British Airways both fly direct from London with hardly any jetlag (it's only three hours ahead). Return fares with Air Mauritius start from £770 and with BA from £660.
Travel time: 12 hours.
Accommodation: There’s a plethora of upmarket, child-friendly resorts across the island. One of the best is Lux* Le Morne. Parents will appreciate the fresh approach to design and service and the Lux* Me Spa. Kids adore the treasure hunts and sand castle competitions, pop up ice cream parlours and market day outings to discover Mauritian street food. After a busy day, Screen on the Beach invites families to flop on beanbags and blankets and watch a movie on the soft sand with fresh popcorn and drinks.
Luxury Holidays Direct offers a seven-night family stay at LUX* Le Morne in Mauritius from £1,555 per person (two adults and 2 children, 5 - 11 years old) half-board in two superior rooms with flights and transfers.