I have incredibly fond memories of childhood caravan holidays at various seaside resorts around the South West of England and though as an adult our holidays have tended to be abroad we both feel it’s important for our daughters to appreciate a wide variety of experiences and types of holiday. After much research and deliberation we decided to invest in a tent earlier this year and made a reservation along with some very special friends at Pentewan Sands in Cornwall which looked like the perfect spot for our first family camping trip. Being right on the beach was a huge factor in choosing this destination along with the entertainment, swimming facilities and other child friendly activities on offer.
Prior to this trip we had spent one night in the tent to familiarise ourselves with setting up (and packing up!) so the thought of a full week with two four year olds was a little daunting; would they sleep well? How was the toilet/ shower set up going to work? Would we love it or hate it? As it turned out, we needn’t have worried as the girls did great and loved (almost) every minute of our adventure.
We arrived on the Saturday of the August bank holiday weekend so it was busy but driving onto the park on a gorgeous sunny day was pretty breathtaking, the sea looked amazing! We checked in and got the details for our pitch and made our way around to start setting up camp. We had chosen a pitch near to the beach and it was a great size, easy to find and fairly well marked out for the boundaries to each side. There was a toilet/ shower block approximately 5 minutes walk away and the beach was 2 minutes walk which was brilliant. We have a Vango 5 person air tent which is a really good size for the 4 of us and is quick to set up; pegging it down takes longer than getting it up!
The kids were desperate to check out the beach and the play area; there’s a variety of swings and a slide, the beach is a little more pebbly than we expected in some areas but the girls had fun hunting for shells and glass from the sea so it kept them occupied. We also went to the Seahorse for some dinner and the kids watched some of the activities going on on the stage, the food was better than expected and really reasonably priced. Overall our first impressions of the site were really good and we were all very excited for the week ahead.
Throughout our stay we spent the majority of our time on site as there was plenty to keep the children busy at the Seahorse Club including group activities, dance classes (which the girls loved!), soft play, treasure hunts, colouring and then disco’s, fancy dress, kids bingo, a clown show and live music. The entertainment was brilliant, the team who were running the activities were phenomenal and actually made the holiday for the girls, they were absolutely besotted with one of the team in particular who was running the dance classes amongst other things and by the end of the week we were chatting away like old friends which was really nice. Sandy the Seahorse was also a great addition, the girls were very excited to dance with him at the disco and followed him around when he made appearances in the day.
We ate at the Seahorse a number of times and we were really impressed, far more than we expected to be actually, the roast dinner in particular was really good as well as the breakfasts; the prices were reasonable, there was a varied selection on the menu and most times we weren’t waiting too long.
The site itself has good amenities; the shop had a good selection of produce and gifts and again reasonable prices, there’s a fish and chip takeaway also though we didn’t actually try it and down near the beach is another food establishment, The Hubbox which has some seating on the beach and had a very laid back atmosphere and simpler menu than the Seahorse. We only ate here once during our stay but we enjoyed what we had, the hot dogs were good!
There are many great things about Pentewan Sands but in the interest of full disclosure and providing an honest account of our experience there were a few things that were a little disappointing.
Firstly; the pool and in particular the changing area. We did go on a rainy day which probably meant it was busier than other days however the experience put us off going back again. The changing facilities are very small for the number of people that were trying to use them, people were squashed in trying to get changed, dry off, there was barely any room to move around because of the lockers and it was very claustrophobic. The pool itself was also packed, there were so many people it was hard to find an area to let the girls swim without them getting in someones way. On the plus side the water slides were a lot of fun for the kids though for the parents waiting to catch them it was not as much fun due to the volume of people and the layout. It felt like too many people had been allowed in and as I said we never went back again as this experience put us off which was a shame.
Secondly; (this may be due to us being new to camping) but we found it a very noisy site at night time and we were surprised that a lot of noise was acceptable until 11:30 PM after calling the reception one particularly loud night. We had a family camping next to us who were very loud in the evening and a group of children one night were playing hide and seek around the outside of our tent at 10PM, tripping over our guy lines and shouting right outside of the bedroom area. Luckily the girls managed to sleep ok but if we’d realised how loud it would be we would have looked into quieter locations on the site if there is such a thing! They could almost do with a quieter field for families with younger children though I have no idea how this would work logistically…
Finally, the toilet and shower facilities nearest to us were quite old and tatty, as it turns out they are actually being renovated over the winter ready for the 2019 season so this won’t be a problem moving forwards but for us we were surprised that they weren’t of a higher standard and after a couple of days we started to utilise an alternative block on the site which was much nicer.
Overall the positives far outweigh the negatives and we had a great trip; I think we would return, though possibly when the girls are older so they can stay up later and enjoy more of the evening activities as the location is brilliant and it has lots to do for all the family. Thanks Pentewan for making our first camping holiday so much fun!
Check out the link below for a highlights video of our trip.