Ask Lonely Planet: Warm welcome for kids at Fiji resorts

Fiji's Shangri-La Resort is great for children. Photo / Supplied
Fiji's Shangri-La Resort is great for children. Photo / Supplied

Which is the best resort in Fiji to stay at with three girls, one aged 9 and two 7-year-olds?
- Denise McCamish

Brigitte Barta, co-ordinating author of Lonely Planet's Travel with Children, writes:

Fiji offers a fantastic range of resorts. There are resorts by the beach and in the rainforest for families on a budget and resorts for those who want to splash some cash. Some cater specifically for children by providing kids' activities, babysitting and children's pools. There are even a few resorts that provide free accommodation and/or meals for kids.

Vitu Levu, the main island, doesn't have particularly nice beaches but on the island of Yanuca, linked to Vitu Levu by a causeway, the huge Shangri-La's Fijian Resort (+679 652 0155) has a soft white-sand beach that is great for kids. It also has spacious family rooms, a kids' club and a children's pool. It's not a budget resort but up to two children can stay and eat for free, which helps keep costs down.

The other advantage is you can escape the confines of the resort if you so choose and explore the lush rainforest, living villages and markets of Vitu Levu.

The more remote Mamanuca islands, with pristine beaches and lagoons, also have some great resorts. Castaway Island (+679 666 1233) has simple thatched bures for families. Kids under 16 years stay free and there's a kids' club. Mana Island (+679 666 1333) is less exclusive, but also has a kids' club, and bures for big families. All kids under 12 can eat free.

Cape Town after the Cup is over

For my 60th birthday (this year) I'd like to visit South Africa. We would love to explore Cape Town as I hear it has many wonderful sights. What is the best way of getting around the country and Cape Town on a budget and is it safe travelling? I hear there are some tours to townships. Also any other suggestions on other good cities to visit.
- Craig Lock

Simon Richmond, author of Lonely Planet's guides to South Africa and Cape Town, writes:

With the soccer World Cup kicking off across the country in June there's a lot of people headed to South Africa, so we'd first advise going after the tournament has finished - besides, it's winter in June and a better time to visit the country is late spring around the end of October when Cape Town looks lovely as the jacaranda trees bloom and the temperatures are not too high.

Cape Town is one of the most relaxed cities in Africa, which can instill a false sense of security. Paranoia is not required, but common sense is. There is tremendous poverty across South Africa and the "informal redistribution of wealth" is reasonably common. The townships have an appalling crime rate and unless you have a trustworthy guide or are on a tour they are not places for a casual stroll. But if you stick to the main roads in Cape Town itself you should be as safe as you would be in any other big city.

Lots of new accommodation has opened up for the World Cup so there's bound to be deals later this year as hoteliers and guesthouses try to fill the extra rooms. Dining out is generally a bargain and the quality of food is excellent. Getting around the city using public transport and shared taxis is cheap and easy, but sights around the Cape Peninsula are spread out so we'd recommend renting a car: try Around About Cars. When it comes time to leave the city, there's a wide network of intercity buses, trains and budget airlines.

Apart from Table Mountain - a geological and botanical wonder right in the heart of the city - Cape Town has many other sights including pristine beaches, vineyards and interesting museums and galleries.

Visiting one of the townships on the city's outskirts, such as Langa and Khayelitsha, is easily organised on day tours _ good ones are run by Grassroute Tours and Sam's Cultural Tours (ntimba@telkomsa.net).

For a deeper understanding of what life is like in these communities, consider staying at one of the several excellent B&Bs - recommended ones include Radebe's B&B in Langa and Kopanong or Makazi's Guesthouse in Khayelitsha.

Other places in South Africa to consider visiting include the Cape Winelands towns of Stellenbosch and/or Franschhoek, Knysna down on the Western Cape's pretty Garden Route, Prince Albert for a taste of the desert Karoo, and Durban on the east coast. You should also schedule a safari trip if possible; these need not be pricey. Check the website.

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- NZ Herald

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