Susan & Jack’s favourite: New Quay, Cardigan Bay, Wales
Even from a very young age, children love seeing sea creatures in their natural habitat. Add a trip in a boat and you’ve got the ingredients for a memorable seaside experience. (For those not keen to get afloat, dolphins can be spotted from the shore, too.) A two-hour trip costs £16 for adults and £8 for children (2008). For more info, log on to www.cbmwc.org, or call 01545 560032.
Find out more at newquay-westwales.co.uk
“Baby Jack got his sea legs early and loves going on boat trips. We’ve taken him on a few boat jaunts around the UK coast and he loves seeing animals and sea life in the wild, especially seals and dolphins.”
Susan, 34, mum to Jack, 14 months
Sophia & Polly’s favourite: Southwold, Suffolk
This is the place to go for favourite seaside experiences such as a Punch and Judy show on the promenade and exploring a beautifully restored traditional pier. Entry to the pier is free, and youngsters can watch fisherman reeling in their catch or take a peek through the telescope to scan the horizon for boats. The main visitor car park in Southwold is next to the pier and everything’s within walking distance, so you can leave the car and even the driver gets to relax.
Find out more at southwold.info
“We love spending a day on Southwold’s sea front. The promenade behind the beach is buggy-friendly and links the town centre to the beach and pier – it’s all away from traffic, too, which makes it safe for kids. There’s a café on the pier and pubs with outdoor seating in the town centre, which are ideal for lunch.”
Sophia, 27, mum to Polly, 23 months
Rebecca and Lucinda’s favourite: Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, Wales
This small, family resort on the coast of Pembrokeshire has retained its charm and family appeal. The village has all the essential ingredients for a family seaside holiday, including shops and a small, gently shelving sandy beach and plenty of places to buy ice cream. Lifeguards are on duty, and dogs are banned from the beach in summer.
Find out more at visit-saundersfoot.com
“We came here every year when I was a child. My sister and l have great memories of warm summer days on the beach and jumping from craggy rocks onto soft sand, which is still just the same now.”
Rebecca, 33, mum to Lucinda, 19 months
David & Serena’s favourite: Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
This resort has a picturesque sandy beach backed by beach huts on stilts with pine woodland surrounding it. The large inlet area makes a safe and sheltered bathing area for little ones. As far as kids are concerned, the most memorable part of a trip to this beach is the miniature narrow gauge railway that runs from the quay to the beach throughout the day from May to September. If you arrive early for the train, which departs every 20 minutes in the summer there’s a playground right next to the station to keep the children entertained while they wait. The town itself is very quaint and continues to be a working port.
Find out more at wells-guide.co.uk
“We’re lucky to have grandparents living close by, so we make regular visits to the Norfolk coast. There’s usually plenty of space to spread out on the beach, and the water is calm. There’s a good fish and chip shop overlooking the quay, which makes for a well-earned treat after a hard day on the beach.”
David, 36, dad to Serena, 2
Gareth & Marissa’s favourite: Blackpool Sands, Devon
This is one of the county’s most family-friendly beaches. The gently shelving beach and calm waters here should give even apprehensive toddlers the confidence to have a splash and a paddle in the sea. There’s also a great café serving toddler-friendly lunch boxes. Prices are reasonable, and locally sourced organic ingredients are used where possible. The car park is behind the beach and facilities are close to hand, so there’s no dragging the buggy over the dunes to reach the sea. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer, and dogs are banned from the beach.
Find out more at blackpoolsands.co.uk
“Blackpool Sands is well managed, and every detail has been taken care of for families. It’s a relaxing place to spend the day, as the facilities and a great café are right on the beach and it’s very sheltered.”
Gareth, 30, dad to Marissa, 2