Activity holidays: The best in summer boredom beaters!

By Susannah Jowitt, Evening Standard

The best in summer boredom beaters!

Every child, every parent - especially every Teenager - knows about the boredom of the long vacation, when everyone else seems to be off doing something more exciting.

As a parent, you want your children to broaden their horizons and use a brain cell or two, not just sit in the sunshine or stare at a television. Here are the options to keep both idle teens and demanding parents busy, broadening everyone's horizons with family holidays that teach old and young a new skill.

Masked ball Children from as young as 10 can do a PADI Junior Open Water course - even those younger can enjoy snorkelling on a Learn to Dive adventure with Regaldive (0870 2201777,

And where better than Sharm el Sheikh, in the Red Sea, with its many sheltered dive sites, soft coral, shallow water and good visibility? Seven nights cost from £419pp for B&B (based on two sharing) and £299 for one child, 2-11 years, sharing an adult's room, including flights from Gatwick.

Lights, action While you're on the beach, admiring your suntan and the Art Deco surroundings of South Beach, Miami, your children can do what so many Hollywood moguls have done before them: film it.

This summer, as part of their Ritz Kids programme (aimed at 5-12 year olds), the funky new Ritz-Carlton South Beach hotel (0800 234 000, is allowing putative Bad Boys (1 & 2 filmed here) to use their DVD camcorder and digital cameras free of charge to make both a souvenir and a fashion travelogue.

With the ocean as the backdrop, the programme also teaches marine biology, with a fun look into the basics of ocean life. Full day session £29.

River deep... Discover the World, with Absolute Sweden (01737 214255,, has upped the ante on activity holidays with its log-rafting holiday down the Klaralven river: the family builds its own raft for the 100km route, which can take 35 to 70 hours, depending on your handling of the craft and how often you stop to gawp at the profusion of wildlife: beaver, moose and roe deer, not to mention the fishing. Departures between 5 June and 31 August - prices from £737pp (children aged 3-5 £360pp, from 6-14 years £468pp) include two nights in Gothenburg, transfers, all equipment and provisions for a four-night raft tour.

...mountain high You don't have to touch the void to enjoy mountain-climbing: Mt Kinabalu, in the Malaysian state of Sabah (on Borneo), is do-able in a day from the family-friendly resort of Kota Kinabalu.

Kids can also dip into conservation with a trip to the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre or the Turtle Islands Park, where turtles hatch and guests help them make it back to the sea. Travel Bag (0870 8146544, are offering a 10-night family break there from £636pp based on a family of four; includes flights from Heathrow via KL and a stay at the deluxe Shangri La Tanjung Aru.

Speedy beaches Land-yachting is as thrilling as leaping through the waves in a boat race past Cowes - but without risk of loved ones going overboard. Most beaches in Britain ban the practice during the summer months but on the beach at Narbonne, near Carcassonne, there are no such restrictions.

Acorn Adventures (074 9791, has just released a special offer price of £1,700 (saving £120) for a family of four for a two-centre, self-drive holiday in the gorgeous Ardèche at Narbonne, including ferry crossing, two tents, all meals and activities, including land-yachting.

Run wild The wilderness is now a step closer at Governors' Camps, in the Mara, Kenya, where the recently screened BBC Big Cat Diary series was filmed. Just launched this summer is the Bush Camp and Walking Safari - real camping, on the banks of the Olare Orok River, with just four tents, for zero-impact, removable camping and a taste of what safari was like before the days of deluxe 'canvas' permanent encampments.

Older children especially will appreciate the frisson of walking safaris and eyeballing animals as nature intended, not just through a telephoto lens; all under the careful direction of experienced guides. Heathrow flights and a week at Governors' main camp, including one night at the Bush Camp, cost £1,845pp (children under 12, £1,395) from Wildlife Worldwide (020 8667 9158,

Hot tip: For malarial areas like Kenya, children can now travel safely and without side effects. All GPs should now have information about Malarone, the new, side-effect free anti-malarial drug which is now also produced in kids' doses.

Cool cruising Mention cruising and you may get the rolling-eye treatment, but the Crystal Cruises (020 7287 9040, summer programme - from San Francisco, up the West coast and sailing some bays of Alaska - will make converts of any landlubber.

Panning for gold, bear-watching, dog-sledding, sea-planing over glaciers and horse-riding are just some of the off-boat activities.

Onboard, counteract all this fresh air with a few hours in the custombuilt PlayStation kiosks. A 12-day Alaskan journey starts from £2,300pp (based on two sharing) including flights, transfers and hotels. Children under 12 cruise free: return flights to San Francisco start at £199 excluding taxes.

Good times roll Earn your child's respect - until at least the next fight about curfew - by going with them on a rollerblading holiday.

Zephyr Adventures (001 406 818 0001, www. has been running inline skating tours for eight years in the US and Europe. There are still spaces for the seven-day trip to Switzerland, from 27 August to 2 September - good news for less-fit parents is that although the surrounding scenery is all jagged mountains and steepsided meadows, the route isn't just flat, it's downhill in places.

Along the way are alpine towns, vineyards, Roman ruins and medieval fortresses for a rolling programme of culture. Costs £1,105pp for trip, food and lodging, excluding flights and skates.

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