Last year, Spain boomed in popularity with holidaymakers seeking a safe place in the sun. The Costas were booked up months in advance, and finding a place to stay – let alone sunbathe – was almost impossible in the Canaries during the school holidays.

Sharing the sand with hundreds of other tourists – and paying a high price for the privilege – isn’t very appealing, so perhaps it’s time to consider a few alternative family-friendly sun destinations?

[Read more: What you need to have with you in your car if you’re driving in Spain this year]

1. Cape Verde

This 10-island archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, 500km off the coast of West Africa, has been serviced by package holiday companies for years. Try island Sal for the best facilities, bars and a golden sandy 8km beach; the lunar-like Boa Vista is much quieter, with fishing, lazing and quad bike treks through the wind-sculpted dunes being the main activities. Book through Thomson or The Cape Verde Experience.

2. The Greek islands

Greece has bounced back from a slight dip in popularity in recent years and families are rediscovering its charms. Excellent local cuisine, warm hospitality and the ability to hop between islands are all attractions. Based on data from January and February this year, TravelSupermarket has reported a 149% increase in enquiries for Santorini, and 47% for Rhodes. Olympic Holidays are specialists in the region and offers some fantastic deals.

[Read more: 6 picturesque viewpoints that make trekking up Lisbon’s hills worth it]

3. Sardinia

Italians are famous for their tolerance of children and families are welcome everywhere on this sun-soaked island. Avoid pricey Porto Cervo on the east coast, and head to historic Catalan town Alghero, in the northwest. The turquoise waters lapping nearby Stintino beaches attract droves of Italian tourists in August, but early July is still perfect swimming weather. Further along the north coast, the Delphina series of five-star resorts have excellent kids’ clubs, pools and safe access to the sea.

4. Sri Lanka

The fluctuating value of the pound means more families are playing safe with all-inclusive holidays – often further afield. During the school summer holidays, a long-haul trip can actually work out only marginally more expensive than a European break. Combining wildlife watching, beaches and culture, Sri Lanka is a good option for adventurous families. Explore offer a great value 15-day Sri Lanka and Maldives escorted tour from £2,390pp with flights.

[Read more: 9 reasons to holiday in Eastern Europe]

5. Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

Few people realise the coastlines of the Black Sea (an enormous body of water between eastern Europe and Western Asia) can be just as balmy as Barbados during the summer – but trips cost a fraction of the price. Try the Golden Sands Resort for a wide, fine sand beach and easy access to hot springs; the natural sand dunes at Duni beach (near to Duni Holiday Village) are ideal for nature lovers.

Where are your favourite summer holiday spots? Let us know in the Comments section below.