For swashbuckling pirates
- Northumberland The Northumberland coast is simply stunning, with great sweeps of butter-coloured sand beaches like Alnmouth and Beadnell and historic castles including Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanborough. Hop on a Billy Shiel boat trip at Seahouses and you’ll be spotting seals and puffins on the wonderful Farne Islands.
Coastal Retreats has a wide range of chi-chi self-catering family properties, including Craster Rocks in the harbour village of Craster, famous for its kippers, which you can buy from L Robson & Sons, the local smokery. This three-bedroom house is right by a National Trust path that leads to Dunstanborough Castle and overlooks the sea. You can try your hand at kitesurfing or hire bikes nearby. Craster Rocks sleeps six and week in June costs from £999.
Alternatively, stay in the heart of Bamburgh at the Victoria Hotel. It has spacious family rooms and the nearby Seafield Ocean Club in Seahouses allows residents to use their pool, gym and sauna for a minimal charge. Family rooms cost from £150 per night, including breakfast.
- Cornwall Stay in a cottage right by the sea in a stunning Cornish seaside location such as Watergate Bay, Porth, Polzeath, Fistral, Mawgan Porth and Camel Estuary, and your children will feel as if they have entered a Susan Cooper fantasy novel. Beach Retreats offers stylish self-catering holiday properties ranging from tranquil beach houses to rugged cottages. One of these is 22 Zinc at Fistral – a two-bedroom apartment with views over the legendary surf beach and the golf course. It costs £1,350 for a week in August for up to six.
Or you could book one of the eight Glynn Barton Cottages set in a stunning 18th-century estate. There are excellent facilities for toddlers and older children, with everything from farm animals to feed to Wendy houses and buggy-friendly forest walks. A baby swimming course with the Swim Academy for Babies has also just been introduced in the indoor swimming pool. A week costs from £1,274 for a two-bedroom one in August.
If your children are thrill-seekers, check out The Hotel and Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay where over-eights can learn surfing and kite boarding, and three- to seven-year-olds have fun in the crèche. Prices in the hotel start from £275 per night with breakfast for a family suite in August.