A great British seaside holiday at Bunn Leisure Holiday Park in Selsey
The beach. The seaside. I love it. I was born in California not far from Santa Cruz and grew up making sand castles and running through freezing Pacific Ocean waves. As a teen, I went through a period of being a surfer girl, which meant I got on a surfboard a few times and wore white Vans. I also had a Hang Ten bikini with a cutout of the logo and in the sun the famous two feet were tanned onto my thigh. This is the closest to a tattoo I have ever come.
When I moved to England nearly 20 years ago, I missed having the beach less than an hour away which is funny because England is an island and is surrounded by beaches. Years ago when I first moved here, one sunny bank holiday Monday we made a pilgrimage to our closest beach – but when we got there – after hours in traffic — we were rewarded with a thin rocky strip. Ever since, I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect British seaside holiday.
Since having kids, this has become even more important since the seaside can be a source of the best childhood memories. But where? We’ve found a few favourites places in Cornwall, but unless you live in the West Country, Cornwall is a trek. From the Thames Valley, we can reach the south coast in under 2 hours.
Bunn Leisure invited us to try out a short break in one of their family owned holiday parks on the Selsey peninsula, which is just a little south of Chichester. It’s a massive 5-star holiday village, winning Holiday Park of the Year for three years running. You can stay in caravans or cottages, and there are four parks to choose from, each with their own personality.
We stayed in West Sands, the largest of the parks and near the 1-mile privately owned beach which has recently a redeveloped £17 million beach. It hosts the Waterfront complex, the centre of activity, with the Oasis swim centre with megasplash waterslides and a lazy river, restaurants, arcade and all the entertainment and kids activities.
Our 3 bedroom caravan slept six and was decorated to a very high standard and was surprisingly spacious and meticulously clean. The sitting area had a comfortable wraparound sofa, electric fire and television (which I banned, I know mean mummy). The kitchen table sat 4, but there were two stools you could use to make up the six.
The kitchen itself had everything; gas oven and hob with extractor, kettle, microwave and plenty of cupboards and counter space. As I was looking around the caravan, opening up all the drawers and seeing what was there, I noticed how clean it was – stacks of matching white china and rows of drinking and wine glasses. I started to worry when under the sink I found a tub for washing up, but I didn’t see any Fairy liquid. As it dawned on me that I perhaps I should have read the fine print and have brought a few household essentials, I found a little welcome pack with bin liner, washing up liquid and the critically important loo roll.
The rooms were compact, but comfortable. If I bought one (you can, and it will cross your mind over the weekend, they start at £37k) I would put a mattress topper in the master bedroom. Each room had its own heating, which if you’ve stayed in a caravan before you’ll know is very important. Our accommodation didn’t have any outdoor seating, which would have been just awesome because the weather was fab and we wanted to spend all out time outdoors.
I’m not a huge fan of public swimming pools, but the Oasis pool complex was very clean and the girls loved it. At first glance they were disappointed (we had just been across the channel in Brittany to a caravan park with a very large pool complex). But after an hour they came back to me very excited. Apparently the lazy river was THE BEST and EVEN BETTER than the one in France (though the liked the water slides in France better.) Note children under 12 require a parent/adult supervisor with them in the pool.
The park invests £1.5 million each year in a star-studded line up of free entertainment from bingo to live shows, bands, comedians and big name artists. The Embassy Cub seats up to 2,000 people, and we had the option of an Olly Murs tribute, Georgia on My Mind (celebrating the music of Ray Charles) and Abba Fever. There are kids discos and karaoke. The whole holiday park seemed to take this very seriously – with women arriving in high heels, a funny site in a holiday park. We opted to eat most of our meals in, but there are plenty of catering options on site, including the Smugglers Restaurant which overlooks the Solent and has views of the Isle of Wight.
After fully enjoying swimming and the beach (and having a slushy) we took a few trip outside the park and explored Selsey (5 minutes), the RSPB Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserve (10 minutes away) and West Wittering Beach (about 25 minutes away). We had a wonderful time on the South Coast swimming in the Solent, making sandcastles and eating fish and chip. As we drove home, a little sun kissed and buckets full of rocks and shells in the boot, I thought there is really no other place to be than beside the seaside!
My 10-year-old’s perspective I really liked the swimming pool at Oasis Swim Centre because of the lazy river. There is a really strong current and it’s in a circular shape, so you can go round and round and round. The beach at Bunn Leisure was really goo as well especially when you bring fish and chips from the Real Fish and Chip Company. The slush puppies were good as well.
My 9-year-old on West Wittering West Wittering is the best beach in the UK! It’s as nice as California. It’s a beautiful sandy beach that stretches for miles and the sea is blue and sparkly. It was warm too. I went swimming in the sea and for the first time and loved it. Once you get used to the water and start swimming it is really great and warm. If you stand still it is cold. It’s really fun. I also made a sand castle.
IF YOU GO:
Bunn Leisure Holiday Park Selsey, West Sussex www.bunnleisure.co.uk +44 01243 606080. Stays at Bunn Leisure for a three-night weekend or four-night midweek break for six people start from £99. A week in a bronze standard caravan for 6 people is £230 (low season) to £827 (high season). To book or for more information see www.bunnleisure.co.uk or call 01243 606080.
The Real Fish and Chip Company Located at the entrance to Bunn Leisure West Sands Holiday Park, right by the windmill. The best fish and chips. Grab a few orders and eat them on the beach. Perfect.
Julie’s Hut Hut 10, Fisherman’s Wharf, Selsey, PO20 0SY, West Sussex +44 01243 603378 Fresh fish and seafood, landed, cooked and sold on the beach. Go through the really smelly fish alley and it’s the last hut on the right. We grabbed fresh dressed Selsey crab for £5.50 and a fork and ate it on the beach.
The Landing thelanding.co.uk Pound House/Pound Rd, Chichester PO20 8AJ +44 01243 513757 Pick up a specialty sandwich or salad at this cafe/deli and eat it on West Wittering beach. You may as well get a bottle of cider too.
West Wittering Beach www.westwitteringbeach.co.uk SatNav post code is PO20 8AJ. Possibly Britain’s best beach. Certainly one of my favourites. On a sunny day, you would think you were in California (plus the cute pastel-coloured beach huts). Parking is steep, with tiered pricing through the day (from £8 to £3 in high season).
RSPB Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserve www.rspb.org.uk A big sheltered inlet that fills and empties with each tide, and sheltering a myriad of wildlife.
West Sands Fun Fair. At the entrance of Bunn Leisure Holiday Park. £10 gets you unlimited rides at this cosy seaside amusement park.
Note: Our accommodation was provided by Bunn Leisure for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and my family’s.