Sitting outside the Ty Coch Inn, drink in hand, we could see why it was voted the third best beach bar in the world in a recent survey.
The taste of our specially brewed 6.5% Ty Coch cider was enhanced by the views across to the Yr Eifl mountain range and Snowdonia beyond, as the kids played merrily on the sandy beach below the sea wall.
Ty Coch is nestled in the National Trust-owned fishing village of Porthdinllaen on in the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales, where we were enjoying some autumnal sunshine during a mid-week break.
Built in 1823, the inn started life as a vicarage but when the vicar moved closer to his church the housekeeper started to quench the thirst and fill the tummies of the shipbuilders working on the beach.
Only locals can drive into the tiny village so visitors must either walk along the beach from Morfa Nefyn or along the private road which passes through a scenic golf course (taking about 20 minutes).
The weather took a turn for the worse the next day of our holiday so we were glad to staying Hafan y Mor, a Haven holiday park where the massive swimming pool complex has had a £3m upgrade.
Splashaway Bay now boasts three exhilarating flume slides, a multi-lane slide, a bubble pool, a ‘Lazy River’, a wave pool, a children’s pool, lots of fun features and a lane pool for those wanting to just swim.
To top it all off there’s a Millie’s coffee and cookie bar.
We were there during the October half term and feared that with the inclement weather we would have to join a queue with a ‘‘one out, one in’’ rule, but the complex is so big that wasn’t the case.
The kids had such fun there that three hours passed in a flash, and they would have happily stayed longer had there not been so much more to do at Hafan y Mor – so much that our four days wasn’t long enough.
There’s crazy golf, sand art, roller discos, bug hunts, water zorbing, target shooting, segways, coastal walks, football lessons, swimming lessons, bicycle lessons, nest box making… the list goes on.
Our son, Owen, did his best Robin Hood and Errol Flynn impressions during the archery and fencing classes for three to five-year-olds. The swords were foam but they still wore the full combat gear.
Unfortunately, I left it too late to book our daughter Cerys, aged seven, onto the Turbo Paddlers, Aqua Gliders or Aqua Jets sessions. And she didn’t have the head to tackle the daunting high ropes course in the treetops.
A special, free event during our week was making Halloween costumes from bin bags and spooky decorations, to be worn at that evening’s disco, with prizes for the most impressive designs.
However, my daughter’s face dropped at the disco when it became clear she was practically the only child wearing a tatty DIY outfit. I tried to convince her that the effort we’d put in would win favour with the judges.
Another pool-based activity at Hafan y Mor for children over seven is kayaking, but we were able to do that as a family, and in the great outdoors, at Glasfryn Parc, just a 10-minute drive from the holiday park.
This was a first for the Caffery clan and we were a bit worried about rocking the boat, so to speak. But it turned out to an oar-some 30 minutes gliding around an island and under a bridge.
From the moment our two double kayaks – one for boys, one for girls, with the kids in front – slid into the water they seemed very stable and we were able to relax, although it worked muscles we never knew we had.
Back on dry land, we swapped our life jackets for helmets and overalls as the boy team raced the girl team in double-seated karts (that even children as young as three can help steer) around Glasfryn’s junior circuit.
Cerys and I also tried our hand at archery while mum took Owen to the soft play centre. Other activities include segways, crazy golf, wakeboarding, ten pin bowling, clay pigeon shooting, quad biking and fishing.
Another exciting day was spent at Greenwood Forest Park, near Caernarfon, voted the Best Family Attraction in North Wales seven years running and home to the world’s first people-powered roller coaster.
Riders then walk up the other side of the the hill to board the coaster, with gravity doing the rest. It’s hard work when you’re carrying a tired out tot, but worth it when the coaster hits its top speed of 25mph.
Greenwood also boasts the first solar-powered ride in the UK. Solar Splash is a water slide starting 12m up with two wave chutes, both 60 metres long, alongside a spiral tube chute that’s 91m long.
And there’s more eco-friendly fun: pedal-powered moonkarts, family-sized canoes, a huge bouncing pillow, treehouses, a barefoot trail, a 70m sledge run that’s the longest in Wales and Britain’s only boardwalk maze.
The sheer joy on the kids’ faces as they rode the Green Dragon and Solar Splash made for some great souvenir photos – and this is the only theme park I’ve ever been to where you don’t get ripped off.
For just £2 Greenwood will email you the photo so you can get print them off as many times as you like when you get home, which works out much cheaper than buying those ‘framed’ versions.
Back at Hafan y Mor, our evenings were spent in the company of the Seaside Squad: Polly the life guard, Ned the DJ, Rory the tiger, Greedy the monkey, Bradley the bear and Anxious the elephant.
There was dancing, games, bingo and photo opportunities, and one night there was a terrific musical featuring well-known show tunes and pop songs that Cerys absolutely loved – and even Owen sat through.
It was an action-packed few days, but the longest lasting memory of our holiday will probably be breakfast on our final morning at Hafan y Mor’s Mash & Barrel restaurant.
We were joined by the Polly, Anxious and Greedy, who were all very generous with both their time and their cuddles, really making our children’s week.
Meeting the Seaside Squad at Hafan y Mor, north Wales
- We were guests of Haven at Hafan y Mor, between Criccieth and Pwllheli, which is huge with 1,400 caravan pitches, many with views across to Snowdonia. We stayed in a Prestige caravan, sleeping six, positioned in a quiet cul de sac, with central heating and double glazing ensuring a good night’s sleep. It had a twin bedroom for the kids while the double bedroom had a small dressing table, masses of storage space and an en-suite. There was a good sized shower with shelves for your gels etc (why do so many hotels still get this so wrong?) The comfortable lounge was well designed with full width patio doors leading to decking, which looked out on to a landscaped island.
- Haven operates parks across the country and is offering a saving of up to 25% on all 2018 holidays until February 6. To find out more about this offer or to book visit www.haven.com or call 0333 202 5205.
- The best way to find attractions to visit in Snowdonia is to go to attractionsofsnowdonia.com. It’s worth getting a Snowdonia pass, which costs just £5 per person for 12 months and gives you discounts at more than 50 attractions, restaurants, shops and accommodation. See Snowdoniapass.co.uk
Prestige caravan at Hafan y Mor, north Wales
Newspaper article here