With two child-friendly properties in Cornwall and one in Dorset, our friends at Luxury Family Hotels know all there is to know about making the most of beaches during the colder months. We invited them to share their top beach games, activities and tips for winter breaks with kids.
• They might not be up for a swim or even a barefoot paddle, but many beach activities that kids love can be done all year long – rock/shell-collecting, rock-pooling, fossil-hunting, crabbing, sand-writing, sand angels, sandcastle-making, driftwood sculptures, hide and seek among the sand dunes, and ball games including beach volleyball. In fact, they can be even more fun when the crowds are gone and you have the beach to yourselves.
• Some activities actually come into their own in winter – windier days are great for blowing the cobwebs away after a hearty Sunday lunch or Christmas dinner but are also a boon for kite-flying and games of frisbee. Bigger, wilder waves than in summer might well tempt the kids (and you!) into the sea to play a spot of ‘wave chicken’, so make sure to bring high-top wellies and waterproofs.
• Winter may bring birds and other wildlife that you won’t see at other times of year, so remember to take binoculars on your outing.
• If there is more than one adult, take it in turns to distract the kids while the other lays a winter treasure trail around the beach – think shiny and even festive items such as Christmas baubles and glittering chocolate coins. Make an ‘X marks the spot’ map, and give the kids small spades and bags for their booty.
• Go prepared. A winter beach picnic should include a massive flask of hot chocolate and a packet of marshmallows, either to float on top or to toast over a disposable/portable barbecue or even a campfire if you’re feeling particularly adventurous (bring sausages to scoff first). If you do aim to sit down and eat, bring a blanket/mat with waterproof backing.
• Get the gear. In winter, it’s even more important than the rest of the year to take spare clothes and shoes and a plastic bag for wet and/or sandy items.