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Paradise adventures - highlights video

This week, most of the UK has been shivering in Arctic conditions and dreaming of sunshine and beaches. Long-haul holidays are becoming more and more popular with British tourists, choosing to visit far-flung islands for their holidays. We headed to the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean to see what Beaches Resorts has to offer for families.

The Turks and Caicos are a collection of tropical islands close to the Bahamas. With crystal-clear water, sandy beaches and a huge variety of wildlife to explore, they really are paradise and one we couldn’t wait to explore.

Even though it sits on 19km of sandy beach, Beaches Resort boasts its very own water-park on site. There are seven water slides, a surf simulator (which is very cool), and a relaxing lazy river to splash in. There’s even a boat-shaped, 1950s-style diner where you can help yourself to the ice cream machine. All day long. Amazing!

Even spending a week here you’ll struggle to try all of the restaurants and snack bars (16 in total – we tried as many as we could), serving everything from pizza to teriyaki chicken, which flies through the air in front of you at Kimono’s Japanese restaurant. It’s a dream for food fans!

With baking sunshine most of the year, it’s a good idea to take shade during the hottest part of the day. We found a very cool way to chill out – at Pirate Island. Pirate Island is the perfect adult-free zone. There’s an Xbox Games Garage, which is packed with the latest games (lots of dads try to sneak in here), and the DJ Scratch Academy, where trained DJs help you spin, scratch and generally look very cool while learning to DJ. Beaches is also home to the Sesame Street characters, who can be seen stopping for pictures, as part of a bright carnival-style parade or even for a special breakfast or beach party.

One of the coolest things to try at Beaches is scuba diving. It’s all included and anyone eight or older can get to grips with the basics of underwater adventures, as well as learning about the ecosystem and reefs close to the resort. Whales, turtles, dolphins and hundreds of brightly-coloured fish can all be seen just off the shore. There’s even a friendly dolphin called Jojo who can often be seen swimming in the waters around the resort. We spotted a turtle cruising along the shore while snorkelling, but sadly no Jojo.

Exploring the island is a must. The islanders are obsessed with conch, a giant sea mollusc (like a clam or a mussel) and it features in lots of local recipes. There’s even a conch farm on the island where you can see hundreds of them. We also took a day trip on a kayak eco-tour, in search of wild iguanas and baby sharks. Kayaking is a great way to explore the mangroves, which are a haven for baby fish and sharks, who can be seen darting around the shallow water as you paddle along. The kayak route takes you to the rock iguana sanctuary where prehistoric-looking iguanas bask in the sunshine. They’re so well-camouflaged it’s great fun to spot them hiding amongst trees, and to learn the stories of how they all ended up on the island.

Whether you’re a beach-lover or an action addict there is enough to do at Beaches to keep even the most fidgety person busy. Our week was packed with fun and adventure and we loved every minute.

Kuoni (01306 747008 or www.kuoni.co.uk) offers 7 nights on a Luxury Included basis at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa including flights with British Airways from Heathrow from £2,260 per adult and £1,166 per child (aged 12 years and under) based on two adults and two children sharing. To book please quote: VC0003 *BOOK BY 29 FEB 2012* Excursions are bookable through Island Routes Adventure Tours (www.islandroutestours.co.uk). For more information visit www.turksandcaicostourism.com and www.beachesresorts.co.uk.