The best holidays I’ve ever been on as a kid or adult is on an all activities watersports holiday. You can learn something new, make holidays friends and will never get bored with so many activities available.
I enjoyed our family watersports holidays so much that I decided to become a watersports instructor and spent my late teens and early 20s teaching windsurfing and paddleboarding in many places around Europe, Australia and South America. From Vassiliki in Greece to Jericoacoara in Brazil, I’ve been lucky enough to go to some incredible watersports locations.
Along the way, I’ve seen that some watersport holidays are way more suited to families than others.
For starters, the best family watersports holidays are the ones that are operated by UK companies, with the accommodation right on the beach, watersports included in the package and great childcare and kids club facilities. There will be English or English speaking beach staff who will give you lessons and help you get on the water at all possible opportunities.
In terms of the watersports available, this will depend on the location, so choose wisely.
Although most watersport holiday providers will list all the activities on their website, they will actually only specialise in a few at the destination. The weather/wind/surf will determine what activities are mostly done at the resort.
No destination is good for everything, chances are if it’s a great diving location, there might not be much surf. Likewise, a calm beach perfect for waterskiing and paddleboarding won’t be much fun for an advanced windsurfer.
If you’re more interested in a surf holiday – you might like to read our blog on the best surf camps for beginners.
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What makes a perfect family watersports holiday?
Go with a package holiday provider that sorts out everything for you. Booking the hotel then just hoping the nearby beach has watersports will always end in disappointment.
The package should include flights, a beachfront hotel or apartments, use of all watersports equipment and lessons.
This is probably the biggest factor that makes for a great family watersports holiday. An operator with a kids club will provide childcare during the day so you can either relax or get on the water in peace.
Along with making new friends, the kids club will have instructors where your child will learn windsurfing, paddleboarding, sailing and more. The amount of fun, experience and confidence children get from these holidays is immeasurable. The only problem is they’ll want to do the same holiday again next year!
These watersport centres won’t be in the windiest locations, but they should have a good mixture of conditions for everyone to have fun on the water. If it’s too windy, beginners and kids won’t enjoy being on the water, but not windy enough and the adrenaline junky windsurfers, sailors and teenagers won’t get their fix and will get bored. It’s a fine balance but most great beach clubs have set up in locations that have all types of conditions, which quite often vary during the day.
RYA endorsements & safety
Whilst it’s not a perfect indicator, any watersports holiday provider with an RYA badge will be a safe choice for a family holiday.
The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) are pretty rigorous with its certifications so if you see the RYA logo, this means the standard of operations, instructors and equipment are of the highest order. There will be safety boats on the water at all times, first aiders, shoreline rescue and more at all RYA centres.
The best family watersport holidays
Sardinia – Baia dei Mori Beachclub
Neilson Active Holidays – Learn more
For an all-around family watersport holiday, there aren’t many better places than Neilson’s beachclub in Sardinia. It’s in a stunning location, has conditions perfect for all the family and a whole host of watersports to get stuck in to.
The beachclub is in a quiet part of Sardinia, amongst pine trees on a beautiful sandy bay. The beach is shallow and perfect for getting on and off boards and boats. The wind is cross offshore which isn’t perfect for windsurfing, but you should be able to get blasting a little further out to sea.
For those not into watersports, there are fitness sessions, road and mountain biking and tennis. There really is something for everyone here.
All Neilson Holidays are very professionally run, so you’ll always feel safe on the water, which should give you and your family reassurance because there is always an inherent risk when trying any watersport.
They have a great kids club which is included in the price of the holiday. This is for 2 – 17 year olds, who will be grouped together in different ages brackets.
The flight time is 2 hours 25 minutes and the transfer to the resort is only 40 minutes, which is great for those travelling with small ones.
In terms of budget, I’d say Neilson is probably mid-range. They aren’t super high-end luxury holidays and the accommodation is normally a little basic, but you’ve come for the watersports, not to stay in your hotel room right?
- Return flights from Gatwick, Bristol or Manchester
- Return transfer
- Hotel accommodation
- Breakfast & lunch daily
- 4 evening meals weekly
- Mountain & road biking
- Kayaking & paddle boarding
- Dinghy sailing & windsurfing
- Children’s clubs (2-17years)
Greece – Vassiliki
Club Vass – Learn more
If you’re looking for high winds and want a super fun family watersports holiday, then it’s got to be Club Vass in Greece.
Club Vass has been operating since 1987, so have perfected the art of delivering a wonderful watersports experience. Most guests end up going back year after year, that’s how good it is. The equipment is probably the best in the business and the highly qualified instructors will mean you’ll come away from the holiday having learnt something new, no matter what your ability.
Whilst this holiday is clearly weighted toward windsurfing, wing foiling is available via a dedicated centre with specialised gear and coaching. They also have paddle boarding on offer which is perfect for calm mornings as well as mountain biking on hi-spec bikes in the amazing terrain around Vassiliki. Yoga & Pilates classes are run in the water-front zen zone for a perfectly balanced holiday. In addition you can find high-performance sailing boats from Wildwind, this centre is next door to Club Vass on the beachfront and further down the beach Nautilus offers scuba diving, snorkel & RIB safaris.
Club Vass is known for getting guests involved in the social scene, with fun BBQs and fancy dress parties that the whole family will get involved in.
Kids Club is geared to younger kids and taster windsurfing, and ProKids is aimed at older kids who are really getting into their windsurfing, with specially designed kids’ kit. Both options have a morning and afternoon session (younger kids only windsurf in the gentler morning wind and enjoy a range of other activities in the afternoons), which is timed well so you can get on the water to enjoy the strong afternoon winds.
- Return flights from Gatwick
- Return transfers
- Hotel or apartments
- Full windsurf tuition program & unlimited kit usage or wing foil usage
- Kids Club (4-10)* – introduction to windsurfing and other activities
- ProKids (10-15)* – more intensive windsurfing from improver to advanced level
- Mountain biking
- Paddle boarding
- Sunbeds on the beach
For dinghy sailing
Minorca – Ses Salines
Minorca Sailing – Learn more
Dinghy sailors love to head to Minorca Sailing because they probably have the biggest fleet of high-performance sailing boats in the world. This watersports holiday is aimed toward keen sailors, but Minorca Sailing also has good windsurfing kit, foiling and paddleboarding.
Minorca is a lovely peaceful island in the Balearics, just above Mallorca. Minorca Sailing is in a tiny village called Ses Salines in the Bay of Fornells, with Fornells town being around a 20-minute walk away, or a 5-minute sail if the weather is right!
It’s a not high wind resort-like Vassiliki and the summer months are mostly filled with light, hot breezes. During half terms, Minorca can get the tail end of the tramontana winds that come from Southern France, which brings excitement to the windsurfers.
A Minorca Sailing Holiday is rather structured and focuses heavily on instruction, with morning and afternoon lessons included in the package. The same goes for the kids club with morning and afternoon activities and lessons for all age groups. There are also evening activities and childcare available, so you can have some me time for a romantic meal with your better half.
The safety at Minorca Sailing is second to none, and they probably have the most amount of safety boats on the water per guest compared to any other watersports centre. So you can be confident your child is in safe hands during the day whilst you are off blasting around the bay on your board or boat.
Minorca Sailing is at the pricer end of a European watersports holiday, but you certainly get your money’s worth and will have a fantastic week away with the family.
- Return flights
- Return transfers
- Hotel or apartments
- Dinghy sailing, windsurfing and paddleboarding
- Kids club
For hot half terms
Turkey – Phokaia Beach Resort
Mark Warner – Learn more
These days most watersport holiday centres are in Western Europe, but the May and October half terms can be wet and cold, even in Spain and Greece. With Mark Warner’s Phokaia Beach resort, you can guarantee warm temperatures and beautiful weather, even in the ‘off’ season.
This resort in Foca, Turkey was an old and well respected Neilson centre. It’s quite common for these bigger watersports holiday providers to exit resorts, only to find a year later it’s been taken over by another operator.
Mark Warner was started in 1974 are one of the oldest operators around. With these years of being able to fine-tune their holiday experiences, they can make sure you have an unforgettable time away with the family.
The Phokaia Beach Resort is one that has everything needed for the ultimate watersports family holiday. Windsurfing, paddle boarding, sailing and kayaking with a variety of conditions throughout the day, from light wind mornings to relatively strong winds in the afternoon. The bay itself is glorious, with clear warm water and a feeling that you are safe at all times.
Childcare is something Mark Warner really prides itself on. The complimentary childcare (2-17 years) will keep the kids entertained all day and they also run evening activities and events, allowing you to have an evening by yourself. There is also a baby club but that’s an extra charge.
As with most other operators on this list, Mark Warner will try to get your kids on the water at any opportunity. They will learn new skills, gain confidence, and hopefully get the bug for windsurfing or sailing! The kids’ clubs are normally pretty packed so they’ll come away having made new friends, just make sure you pre-book before you get to the resort.
Mark Warner holidays aren’t the cheapest around, but I wouldn’t say they are high end either, with prices probably similar to Neilson or Club Vass.
- Direct flights
- Resort transfer
- Half board (2 days)
- Full board (5 days)
- Childcare clubs 2-17 years
- Evening childcare
- Sailing/windsurfing tuition
- Stand up paddle boarding
- Mountain biking
- Road cycling
- Fitness classes
For luxury/high-level watersports
Le Morne – Mauritius
Planet Travel Holidays – Learn more
For something more luxurious, you could try a family watersports holiday to Mauritius. Instead of the Neilson, Mark Warner, Sunsail type holidays, which are relatively similar and mostly in Europe, why not head to Mauritius for an experience the family will never forget!
This holiday is different because the hotel and watersports operations are run by separate companies, but that doesn’t matter too much. The luxury hotel is run by Marriot and Watersports centre by Ion, who are both very well known and established.
Le Morne is a truly unique and proper watersports playground, with a combination of flat water and waves which is perfect if you are an advanced level kite or windsurfer. It’s a bucket list kind of destination for any watersports enthusiast, but maybe not ideal if you’re a beginner or someone to just wants to give it a go for a few days whilst on holiday.
The scenery is nothing like you will have seen before and the sandy beach and turquoise water is perfect for building sandcastles and snorkelling in the shallows.
The Marriot hotel run a kids club (4-12 years) from 9am to 7pm, but unlike the other holidays on this list, they will only run land-based activities. However, the Ion watersports centre will be able to get your kids on the water.
The only downside of a holiday like this is the 12-hour flight, which isn’t really suitable for younger kids.
You could book this holiday yourself or use a specialist travel agent like Planet Travel Holidays, who will give you ATOL protection for your holiday package. They’ll also book your flights and any extras you might want, so it’s definitely worth it.
- Return flights
- Return transfers
- Kids Club at the hotel
- Windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing and paddleboarding
I’m hoping these family watersport holiday ideas will give you the inspiration to book an unforgettable family watersports holiday!
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.