Kids and family

Top family friendly islands

Shelley Tustin
Hamilton Island

Everyone wants to take off on a tropical-island getaway, and parents are no exception. However, the appeal of spending 10 days prone on a white-sanded beach, catching up on the latest celebrity rags and reading Dan Brown novels is sadly lost on most children. Thankfully, among Australia's beautiful islands are many that offer a compromise for exhausted parents and their excitable offspring.

Kangaroo Island, SA

A favourite holiday destination for South Australian families, Kangaroo Island offers a wealth of activities for the kids. Kingscote, on the north-eastern side of the island, boasts the largest hedge maze in the country — two kilometres of pathways for the kids to run riot in. Further south is another sure-fire way to tire out the littlies — Little Sahara, an area of enormous sand dunes, surrounded by bushland. Kids will love the thrill of the downhill slide, while the slog back uphill will make sure they sleep like sandy-haired angels. King Island’s abundant wildlife is also a major draw, and an opportunity for parents to give their kids an education disguised as fun. For example, the Penneshaw Penguin Centre runs evening tours to see the colony of little penguins in their natural habitat.

Phillip Island, Vic

Situated off the Victorian coast, Phillip Island similarly offers a wealth of opportunities for kids to get up close and personal with Aussie wildlife. The most famous residents of the island are the little penguins, who parade from the sea to their sand dune beds every evening. Some children might be more taken by Phillip Island's other great attraction: the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The go-kart track is a replica of the grown-up one, offering kids a miniature taste of petrol-head action.

Lord Howe Island, NSW

Switched-on families from Sydney, Brisbane and everywhere in-between have discovered the charms of Lord Howe Island, with its clear waters, lush marine life and lazy, laidback pace. In fact, the speed limit on the island is a painstakingly slow 25kph, so even the most slippery of children are unlikely to come to harm. Kids can swim in the lagoon, feed the fish at Ned's Beach or cycle around the island, while mum and dad melt into little puddles of contentment on a quiet beach.

Rottnest Island, WA

Western Australians are understandably proud of this little oasis, with its beautiful bays and beaches, stunning marine life and relaxed pace. There are plenty of activities for children to get involved in, from paddling in the crystalline waters to playing mini golf at Brett Heady's Family Fun Park. While the popular diving tours might not be appropriate for the little ones, they needn’t entirely miss out on the underwater action. Underwater Explorer operates 45-minute tours in a semi-submersible vessel, enabling families to experience the beauty of the reef, the tropical fish and century-old shipwrecks from the safety of a boat.

South Molle Island, Qld

The Whitsundays, jam-packed with luxurious resorts, are popular with honeymooners and other loved-up couples. However, South Molle Island caters for both the aforementioned couples and their adorable accessories with more affordable family accommodation. Kids are well entertained by a plethora of water activities, including a one-hour eco-tour around the island in a speedboat, another one of those wonderful incidentally educational activities. The kids' club also offers daily activities for children and child-minding services, so mum and dad can sneak away for a sunset cruise or a relaxing massage.

Daydream Island, Qld

Daydream Island is also a favourite family holiday destination, with the attraction of the Whitsunday Islands' ubiquitous (but oh-so-idyllic) tropical waters and white-sand beaches supplemented by plenty of under-age activities. Aside from the usual water activities, there are regular wild fish-feeding sessions where kids can encounter the real-life versions of their Finding Nemo heroes. Back on land, there is plenty to entertain the littlies, from the Jungle Jumble playground to the open-air cinema and the Australian icon-themed mini-golf course.

Hamilton Island, Qld

Hamilton Island takes their family-friendly policy one step further with kids staying for free and complimentary meals offered for under-14s at certain restaurants around the island. A romantic getaway and a rambunctious family holiday don’t have to be mutually exclusive here, with plenty of activities available for the whole family, from wildlife viewing at the Koala Gallery to the flying fox ride down the side of the mountain for thrill seekers. Alternatively, the resort’s Clownfish Club keeps kids busy doing anything from chocolate-making to snorkelling, while their parents indulge themselves with some of the more grown-up activities.

The pleas of burnt-out parents have clearly been heard by many tourist operators, with islands such as these offering a way for parents to enjoy their children without suffering from "are we there yet?"-provoked holiday meltdowns.

Make sure you put a little more fun into your next family holiday!

And what about overseas island holidays? Check out Getaway's gallery of the world's hottest islands:

Any other suggestions to add to the list?

User comments
Just returned from Lindeman Island, Whitsunday Islands. Fabulous location for a wonderful family holiday. The staff are truly wonderful with the children. Their children's program is so good the kids want to go every day. Accommodation, meals, beverages, entertainment and kids program included in the packages. The staff (GO's) love their work and it shows. The kids love it so much they don't want to leave. Mum enjoyed the spa, hiking tracks and lazing with a book and a lovely cocktail.
Why would you include the freezing cold and windy Kangaroo Island in "Tropical Islands"? It isn't tropical, it isn't even temperate! And at this time of year, you can expect to nearly freeze to death from the Antarctic blasts of the icy winds as you're near the roaring 40s. While an interesting location, it doesn't belong on your list.
RHEA is so right about south molle, also way overated as a resort,,a beautiful island it is, but management have no idea how to operate a resort, ,,woefull service , facilities and activities,,dont waste your time on this one.
I don't think you have done your research very well south mole is no longer a famliy friendly island in fact it hasn't been since early 2009 it is now only for backpackers , we were one of the least families to stay on south mole before Koala adventures took it over , even when it was advertising as family friendly it wasn't the accomodation was herendous and the food was not fit for prison and the facilities well all i can say as the best thing for that resort would be to bulldoze it and start again.
Have you ever thought of adding Magnetic Island to the list? Why don't you come and check it out? I have been to almost all o the islands on your list and Magnetic Island is right up there with the best of them.
What about Fitzroy Island off the coast of Cairns as a family friendly Resort, at very affordable prices compared with some of those you have listed ????
I'm not sure when this article was written or who you paid for the research but South Molle Island is no longer called South Molle Island. A quick click on the link that you provided will prove that it is now called Koala Adventure Island and caters exclusively for budget travellers between the ages of 18-35. In fact if you have a look at the bar titled 'Why Adventure Island' you'll see that one of the selling points is that it is a 'kid-free zone' You are absolutely correct on your information on Hamilton and Daydream Islands though!