A family activity break in Pembrokeshire

There’s a lot of family fun going on in Pembrokeshire – and not just paddling and building sandcastles. Pretty seaside resorts plus Britain’s only coastal National Park have always made this ideal for jolly family holidays. What might be new since you last visited are the innovative ways we’ve found to get out and play.

Day 1 - Tight lines and swell-lines

Morning: Fishing in Tenby

Mackerel

Fisherman who come for premier-league sea-fishing trips from Milford Haven and Pembroke dismiss mackerel as kids’ stuff. Exactly. While a crabline in the pretty harbour is fine, there’s more family fun to be had on a fishing trip from Tenby – you don’t need to book nor have any skill with a rod. Fishermen sail daily in summer and provide lines to dangle in the calm bay off Caldey Island. So, there’s no gear to buy nor messy bait to hook (mackerel fishing is with a lure), just an odds-on chance of a line twitching with silver-blue fish. If you’re game there might also be barbecued fish for lunch. Yum.

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Afternoon: Surfing on Freshwater West

Man surfing on wave at Freshwater West

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire by Wales on View

So magical is Freshwater West it was a location in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The Blue Flag beach also receives more waves than anywhere else in the county but because rips are dangerous for beginners, book a half-day surf lesson with Outer Reef, Wales’s largest surf school. You’re almost guaranteed waves and a lesson together is a shared family adventure: younger children find reassurance with parents, teenagers get to show off and mum and dad might discover they aren’t too old for this sort of thing after all. And remember: surfing is one sport for which rain never stops play.

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Day 2 - A day with nature

Morning: Around Skomer Island

Atlantic Puffin swimming in sea by Skomer Island

Atlantic Puffin on Skomer, Pembrokeshire

The wave-lashed headland of Deer Park offers easy walking, spectacular coast and views of the birds that wheel around Skomer and Skokholm islands nature reserves. A short walk offers a glimpse of the sea safaris which depart to the islands daily (April–Oct) from Martin’s Haven beside Deer Park. A great trip with a spotter’s book of seabirds, seals and perhaps a dolphin to spot over three hours.

For a more active aquatic adventure go south to Dale, where West Wales Watersports hires stable sit-on kayaks by the hour or take their guided tour to explore the pretty inlets of Dale estuary.

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Afternoon: Beach rides at St Bride’s Bay

Group of riders galloping across Druidston Beach

Horse riding on Druidston Haven, Pembrokeshire

 by Bruce Holder

The technicolour coast around St Davids is gorgeous but lacks a broad beach for horse-riding. Nolton Stables has made its name through rides on Druidston beach, which is sheltered from prevailing winds behind the southern elbow of St Bride’s Bay. It’s an exhilarating blow in the saddle for advanced riders at low tide – the going is good, so horses are more confident to canter. For beginners the beach-ride is a sensory overload of wide open spaces and fresh salty air. If teenagers object, there’s safe surfing and equipment hire two miles up the road in Newgale.

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Day 3 - Up close to the coast

Morning: Coasteering at St Davids

St Non's Coasteering

Coasteering at St Non's, Pembrokeshire

Surrounded by sea on the north arm of St Bride’s Bay, the village-city of St Davids has an edge-of-the-world quality. The light here seems sharper, the coastline wilder. It was the latter that inspired eco-activities company TYF to pioneer commercial coasteering and no family holiday to Pembrokeshire is complete without a shared adventure (minimum age usually eight): a blend of shore-scrambling, swell-riding, nature-watching and, if you’re brave, cliff-jumping. Expert guides call it the most fun you can have in a wetsuit.

Find out more about coasteering in Pembrokehsire

Afternoon: Walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Couple walking on Coast Path at St Brides Bay with beach in distance

Coast Path at Newgale, Pembrokeshire

The walk between Abereiddy to Porthgain is on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which was ranked by National Geographic as the second best distance walk in the world. The walk is an insight into local history – at either end is the Blue Lagoon, a slate quarry turned coasteering venue, and possibly Wales’ prettiest harbour. But most people just come for sandcastles, the friendliest seals in Wales (they’re so used to people, explain coasteering guides) and fish and chips on Porthgain harbour wall. Return across fields or catch the Strumble Shuttle bus back.