We’ve found 10 of the most original and exciting family eco adventures for 2022, proving once and for all that responsible travel can be great fun and kids are never too young to start. Take a look.
1. Save the coral reef: family eco adventures in the Maldives
Top of the lux family eco-adventures has to be the Junior Marine Savers programme at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives. Run by the resort’s dedicated marine conservation team, this hands-on programme allows kids aged 6 and over to get involved with cleaning the aquarium, propagating coral and feeding tropical fish. But we think everyone can agree, the highlight for most young conservationists will be feeding and tending to baby turtles in the resort’s rescue centre.
2. Search for UK wildlife: Elmley Nature Reserve, Isle of Sheppey, Kent
Elmley is a private nature reserve set across 3,300 acres of Isle of Sheppey wilderness in Kent and populated by skittish hares, slithering grass snakes and owls-on-the-prowl. Established with the aim of reintroducing biodiversity to the landscape, it’s the perfect place for nature-loving kids to discover British wildlife on a sunset safari in an open-top truck. Then to complete the adventure, stay overnight in one of the cosy onsite shepherd’s huts, where windows open straight onto the wilderness, wood-burners keep guests warm and outdoor bath tubs add to the fun.
3. Tackle an eco theme park: Naturkraft, West Jutland, Denmark
Naturkraft in West Jutland is a sort of souped-up version of the Eden Project for kids. Billed as an eco theme park, here young adventurers can walk through a North Sea wave, zipline through trees, sledge down hills, and even hop into a wind machine to feel the difference between a light breeze and a storm. Meanwhile, the surrounding area comes with the sort of white-sand, turquoise-water beaches that conjure the Caribbean (minus a few degrees). Stay at one of the holiday homes that crouch in the dunes of nearby Søndervig.
4. Escape to a treehouse: family eco adventures round Garden Village, Slovenia
Hidden away in fairy-tale surrounds, a five-minute stroll from serene Lake Bled in Slovenia, this Enid Blyton-esque assortment of tree houses and safari tents scores green points for being sustainably built. Designed to help guests reconnect with nature, Garden Village is eco-conscious without being over-worthy. Kids will love playing on the stream-side beach, navigating rope bridges to the rooms and hanging out on soft-play mattresses suspended high in the ceilings.
5. Go flight free: catch the Salamanca ferry to Bilbao, Spain
Determined to ditch plane travel on your next trip? Hop on Brittany Ferries new LNG-powered ship, Salamanca, which ploughs the Portsmouth to Bilbao route. With posh bars, spacious cabins and even an onboard tapas bar, it’s more short luxury cruise than ferry crossing, and kids will love the novelty of sleeping onboard.
6. Have a Lithuanian sleepover: discover the new land of family eco adventures
Peppered with ancient forest, empty beaches, pristine lakes and four UNESCO world heritage sites, Lithuania is the next big thing for family eco adventures. It makes the perfect short-haul destination for low-impact escapades. You get to explore some of Europe’s cleanest beaches. And a raft of comfortable homestays let families contribute directly to the local economy. Vilnius-based Travel Addicts Club has a 10-day family tour featuring lake kayaking, castle and waterfall visits, off-the-beaten-track treks, wild animal safaris and overnighting with Lithuanian families.
7. Free range your kids: Old-Lands Estate, Monthmouth, Wales
Old-fashioned fun is on the menu at this sprawling manor house estate near Monmouth in Wales. Kids can seek out newts and bats, go pond-dipping, and search for treasure hunt clues across wild meadows. Run by naturalist Sam Bosanquet, the Old-Lands estate comes with a handful of simple self-catering properties and impeccable eco credentials. The honesty shop sells vegetables grown on-site, as well as local produce. The farm is in the process of being re-wilded. And Bosanquet’s enthusiasm for the local fauna is infectiously conveyed on regular nature walks.
8. Embrace French-style family life: Domaine de Fontenille, Provence, France
Family eco adventures come with a jazz band soundtrack and pizza-van dinners at this organic wine estate near Avignon. There might not be a children’s club, but a roster of imaginative events keep things interesting for everyone. And free bike hire, chic apartment-style rooms – complete with kitchenettes – and wild wooded grounds make it great for kids of all ages.
9. Try a safari: Safari Series family eco adventures in Northern Kenya
Generally the preserve of the elite, Kenyan safaris have been given a 21st-century makeover by the Safari Series. This not-for-profit tented camp in Northern Kenya’s rippling Lolldaiga Hills organises carbon-positive holidays for wildlife loving families with kids. Here, guests stay in cosy tents decked out with patchwork quilts and the safari experience covers everything from searching for leopard, lion and elephant to learning life lessons from local Maasai elders.
10. Stargaze in style: Under Canvas in spectacular US National Parks
With en-suites, daily housekeeping and an ‘adventures concierge’, Under Canvas camps are slightly different to normal campsites. And with 10 outposts at the edges of the most spectacular US National Parks, the settings are superior too. Mountain bike tours, stargazing and white-water rafting will please older kids – they’ll also like their own ‘kids’ tent’ next to the adults. Eco credentials include low-water toilets, solar energy and minimal land use.