Although you might not guess it from this blog there is a lot more to Wales than just surfing!
Wales has always been a great place to visit for families, many of its holiday resort’s histories can be traced all the way back to the Victorian times when towns like Llandudno and Colwyn Bay were magnets for holidaymakers seeking a dose of sun and seaside attractions.
Whilst many argue that Wales’ heyday as a holiday destination is firmly in the past, in the last few years a number of stellar attractions have opened drawing thousands of eager tourists to Wales all year round. Inland activity attractions like Zip World, Bounce Below and Surf Snowdonia have done wonders for the tourism here but, not surprisingly, I still prefer the sights and activities based on the coast.
If the surf isn’t quite working your way, or you just fancy a change of pace, these places make for a great alternative day out:
South Stack Lighthouse
This little islet off Anglesey holds a real place in my heart for rather sappy, sentimental reasons. Built in 1809, the lighthouse itself was reopened in 2017 after being closed for sometime, much to my delight. I’ve intermittently returned here throughout my life with the people who are most important to me: my Father, my wife and my boys. Every time I go back my mind drifts back to the other times that I’ve visited – it’s a real treat. There are always loads of birds to spot, making it a great half-day out for the whole family.
Where to Surf: Nearby Rhoseneigr is a good shout for a quick surf and there’s a great ice cream shop there too…
Where to Stay: Ynys Groes is a charming little cottage, you’ll want to book in advance!
Often described as the ‘greatest castle never built’, this Medieval ruin was intended to be a fortress that could stand tall next to Edward I’s other great Welsh castles, however a lack of funds followed by the Madog ap Llywelyn led to Beaumaris remaining unfinished. Ironically the ruins remain in very good nick and make for a fun day out! During the summer there are a number of great activities for kids and you can get some great views of Snowdonia too.
Where to Surf: Benllech beach is a nice little spot to catch some surf and just a short drive from the Castle.
Where to Stay: The Sea View Guest House is my top pick for the area – it’s cosy, clean and always welcoming.
This 19th century short-gauge railway was under threat from an invasive plant species, thankfully the preservation society acted quickly hiring a team of Japanese knotweed specialists to treat the problem before it got out of hand. A 55 minute journey takes you through fantastic scenery with the route terminating at Abergynolwyn. It’s worth checking their website before you make the trip as their packed programme of events can interrupt the schedule.
Where to Surf: The surf at Llangrannog Beach is great for beginners, perfect for a couple of hours of paddling.
Where to Stay: Trefeddian Hotel is a great example of a classically designed hotel that has been updated with class – a little pricey but definitely worth it.
Welsh Mountain Zoo
Who doesn’t love a zoo? Whilst you might not get the kind of range of animals that bigger establishments offer, this is by far the quirkiest zoo you’ll find in the UK. I’m a huge fan of Colwyn Bay, it’s a seaside resort that has retained it’s Victorian charm whilst not feeling dated and the Welsh Mountain Zoo is a great example of this. Don’t miss feeding time for the seals, who are by far the star attraction – the Sumatran Tigers are also a must see.
Where to Surf: Llandulas Breakwater can sometimes be a little rippy, but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Where to Stay: Bryn Woodlands House is a family-run 4-star guest house that is centrally located in the town – a real treat for those who appreciate good hospitality.