At the start of March, Reuben celebrated his 5th birthday! When we asked him what he wanted to do, his first response was to go to the forest and have a campfire and sleep in a tent! It’s definitely out of season for camping, so we asked if there was anything else he wanted to do. “Go to the beach” was his next response! So on the Saturday after his birthday we decided to visit Barry Island in Wales.
A quick visit to Whitmore Bay in Barry Island with kids
We blocked out the whole day for a trip to Barry Island in Wales, but we were never sure if we’d actually make it as the weather was so unpredictable with a terrible storm the weekend before. We also had a family party at our home the next day, so we needed to buy food and prepare for a house full of guests.
Our back up plan was the soft play if we didn’t make it to the beach, but luckily the weather didn’t look too bad once we got to Saturday and we decided to go to Barry!
Whilst the weather might have been quite warm at home, it was around one and a half hours to drive to Barry and being on the coast, it was freezing and windy! Too cold for me, so we had to keep moving!
Lots of dogs on Whitmore Bay beach in the winter
It’s also a dog free beach in the summer and there was around one month left that dogs could go on the beach. I think every man and his dog chose to go to Whitmore Bay beach that day as there were dogs everywhere and barking galore!
Bella is terrified of dogs so right away she didn’t want to get out of the van or go to the beach! We managed to wrap them up as best we could, as Reuben is so stubborn and refuses to put any warm winter clothes on, and got them down to the beach of Whitmore Bay.
I was worried there would be dog poop everywhere because of the sheer number of people walking their dogs, some with several dogs, but it was surprisingly a very clean and tidy beach! We sayed near the rocks at the far left end for quite a long time and the children looked for crystal rocks and dug a trench from the pools of water by the rocks to guide the water back to sea.
It will definitely be more appealing to us when there are no dogs on the beach as there really were so many! It would be a dog lovers paradise! Just not good if you have kids that are scared of dogs.
The beach is sandy and pretty large so it was great for the kids to dig with their spade! We just stuck to the far edges as the kids like to explore the rocks and they didn’t want to walk across the beach and the sand because so many dogs were coming up to them.
I expect it’s a great beach to sit on when it’s sunny and to take a picnic.
Great views from the cliffs above Whitmore Bay beach
We took a short walk up the cliffs above these rocks, looking out to sea, but it was so cold we headed back down to the path along the beach and walked along. The kids absolutely loved playing on the climbing wall which spells Barry Island. Even me and Ben climbed the wall!
We walked down to the chip shops and the kids were begging us for some chips as we could smell them for ages, however the queues were ginormous! We’d eaten a packed lunch when in the van on arrival, so we skipped the chippy chips as we’d have been queuing for so long and promised them chippy chips for dinner instead.
To the right end of Whitmore Bay we climbed up to the cliffs and walked to the end and back. There are great views up here of the bay.
It was super cold and the kids kept going on and on about the chips… so we decided to head home after only being at the beach for a couple of hours and grab our food shopping for Reuben’s party on the way home, along with chippy chips after for the kids!
Pleasure Park was univiting
On the way back to the car, we decided to have a quick look in the Pleasure Park which was near our carpark. The only other time I’ve been to this beach is as a child and I had a vague memory of the Pleasure Park and it being amazing!
We walked in slightly this time and couldn’t work out if it was open or closed!
It looked in disrepair with mess and litter everywhere, very unwelcoming, several rides closed, but some with lights and music on – very strange! It seemed very rundown and no idea if it was actually open or not.
We walked straight back out again!
We broke down (almost)
We had a bit of a disaster when we got back to the van. It wouldn’t start! Nothing happened when Ben turned the key, but he could turn the key and make all the electrics come on. So it didn’t seem to be the battery.
He checked out some fuses, wires and the engine and even searched on a Mazda Bongo owners group, but couldn’t work it out. I started Googling too whilst Ben called our breakdown company.
Frustratingly we had no phone signal, but he managed to get through and have a very broken phone call to them! They were going to send someone out within the hour and tow us home if needed.
As we started waiting, I found a Mazda forum with someone else saying the same issue. They could turn the key and hear a click, but nothing happened. They had no idea what was causing it, but found a solution. They had to move their battery slightly and then it would start.
Ben didn’t think this would work as all the electrics were still working, but he tried it anyway and the Bongo started! Phew!
We cancelled the recovery van and managed to make it home just fine. It’s not done it since, so there must have just been a loose connection?!
Not the day out I expected
I’m not going to rule out Barry Island for a future visit, but based on this trip I wouldn’t be in a hurry to return. I do despise being cold though, so perhaps we’d have a much better experience on a sunnier day at this beach when it’s not open to dogs.
It’s a very touristy beach and I definitely prefer less built up beaches with countryside surrounding and less people!
If you love the typical touristy beaches with lots of seaside shops, fairground rides and chippys, then you might love this beach.
Based on the number of people there and size of the queues on a freezing cold day at the start of March, I can only imagine it is jam packed in the summer months!
I was also disappointed by our peek into Pleasure Park, but again this might be better in the summer when it’s maintained better (if it is) and is buzzing with people.
There are more beaches in Barry Island to explore, so perhaps we will return on a warmer day with more positive vibes and explore those.
If you’re in the area, then I’d recommend driving a little further and exploring The Gower which is much more picturesque with stunning coastlines if you prefer a less resort-type beach. It really does depend on what type of beach you prefer!