Australasia and the Pacific is a great part of the world to find family-friendly eco hotels and lodges for all budgets and tastes. In Australia they tend to be slightly eccentric retreats in the mountains or rainforest, with the emphasis on the spa/luxury end of the market. New Zealand has some spectacular wilderness lodges in or near its National Parks, plus some venues set up on organic farms or on the beach by enterprising individuals. On the islands of the South Pacific, beach huts and jungle lodges are a growing phenomenon – villagers have traditionally kept community huts to house travellers and these are being developed into small hotels or lodges offering snorkelling and diving. More touristy islands such as Fiji have a number of world-class and family-friendly diving resorts, and this trend is spreading to some of the more remote islands.
Turtle Sands, Mon Repos, Queensland
This small, low-key, eco campsite with tent pitches and cabins is right on the beach at the largest turtle-hatching conservation area in Australia. Its facilities are pretty basic but the unspoilt scenery is idyllic, you can swim, surf or hang out to your heart’s content, and then of course there’s the turtles – normally difficult to spot, they are given their own space and treated as part of the natural background here. Kids are welcome, though there’s nothing specifically for them except the back-to-nature experience in itself, so it’s best for ages 6+.
Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa, Daintree Rainforest, Queenland
Set in magnificent rainforest in northern Australia, this place helps protect and preserve the rainforest’s river systems and mangroves and rich aboriginal cultural heritage with grace and flair, combining conservation work with luxury accommodation and a spa using traditional aboriginal treatments by mainly aboriginal people. The bayans (stilted lodges) are only suitable for kids aged 6+, and a family of more than 3 people would need to book two, but in any case the educational walks and experiences laid on by the lodge and the overall ambiance are best for those travelling with teens.
Or try these:
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Queensland
A calm haven amidst unspoilt rainforest with a wide choice of rooms, suites and villas surrounded by wildlife, a spa, and a pool plus a kids’ wading pool. Under-11s stay and eat free.
Pumpkin Island, Queensland
Family-size beach cottages on a stunning island in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, with snorkelling, diving and bird-watching.
Kanimbla View, New South Wales
An eco-retreat in the beautiful Blue Mountains, offering riding, bush walks and swimming at reasonable rates. Family bungalows are available.
Moonshadow Villas, Northern Territory
Self-contained five-star villas in an orchid forest just outside Darwin.
Wairua Creative Retreat, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island
A family-friendly holistic retreat in native bush, set up by two artists as an escape from city life. They offer delicious organic food which has mostly come from the extensive, eccentric garden. The accommodation is comfortable, almost boutique-style. There is a magical outdoor spa bath, creative workshops, yoga and massage as well as kayaking, glow-worm tours, scuba-diving and more. Take the kids swimming in natural swimming holes or to the fantastic Waterworks theme park for some very wet fun. All ages are welcome, with large self-catering family rooms available.
Peppers Awaroa Lodge, Abel Tasman Park, South Island
This 4-star wilderness lodge is in the wildest part of the spectacular Abel Tasman Coastal Path – most visitors hike or kayak in with local Maoris, but you can get here by helicopter on one of the Lord of the Rings location flights. Family rooms for up to 8 are available for the adventurous family – though it is remote, the hiking here is viable with hardy children. The award-winning restaurant mainly uses ingredients from the lodge’s own organic garden.
The Eco Inn, Taranaki, North Island
Off the National Grid, this model of self-sustainability has self-catering family huts with hot tubs to enjoy the views of mountains and ocean.
Wanaka Homestead, South Island
A boutique hotel and lodge by the shores of Lake Wanaka, with self-contained cottages for families.
Jean Michael Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Voted ‘Worlds Best Green Resort 2010’ in the World Travel Awards, this seriously luxurious option offers family packages including diving and a children’s club. Under-12s stay free.
Gina’s Garden and Beach Lodges, Cook Islands
Two sets of solar-powered family lodges, one on a white-sand beach on an uninhabited island and the other in a garden by a lagoon in Aitutaki.
Epi Island Guest House, Vanuatu
This little guesthouse on a remote island, built by hand from local materials and set on its own beach, offers child-friendly accommodation plus superb snorkelling, kayaking and village tours.
Kosrae Village Eco-Lodge, Kosrae, Micronesia
This award-winning 4-star eco-lodge on a stunningly beautiful island, with traditional huts built amongst the trees on the beach, is famous for its snorkelling and diving and its large red crabs. All ages are welcome, but it is remote.