Barry Island is a peninsula that was once an island before the Barry Docks joined it to the mainland. Since the 1930′s Barry Island has been known as one of South Wales’s most popular seaside resorts.
A big part of Barry Island’s lasting appeal as a place for day trips and short stays is the presence of the Barry Island Pleasure Park. This is an amusement park that still operates on a token based system popular in the Victorian era but don’t let that mislead you. They recently installed several modern, high-octane thrill rides as recently as 2012. The Park now includes a Bungee Thrill Ride and Speed, a massive vertically rotating arm with a strap-in seat on the end which allows you to experience high levels of centrifugal force.
A minute’s walk from the Pleasure Park is the thing Barry Island is best known for – its beach! Whitmore Bay is a large, sandy beach popular with people from all over Wales in the summer season. Its clean sea and sand makes it suitable for children and adults to bathe in and build sandcastles on. The beach is also home to a traditional pony trek, another popular Victorian entertainment still going strong in this Welsh seaside town.
Along the beach runs a Promenade, a wide pedestrianised area with flowerbeds and lawns perfect for enjoying an ice cream on while watching the kids or just appreciating the sea view. Nearby are cafes, restaurants, pubs and giftshops of the sort you’d expect selling 99′s and fish and chips for reasonable prices.
Visiting the town on public transport is made easy by the presence of Barry Island Railway Station which is just 36 minutes away from the centre of Cardiff and even closer to Bridgend, Llantwit Major and Penarth. If driving, two of Wales’s largest cities (Newport and Swansea) are each less than an hour away. On quiet days it’s possible to park on Friar’s Road right by the Promenade and a short stroll away from the beach itself.
Walking through Barry Island it is possible to join the recently opened (2012) Wales Coastal Path which follows the entirety of the Welsh coastline. The official route of the path actually takes a minor detour just to loop around Barry Island before continuing West towards Llantwit Major. Continuing West you would eventually encounter some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the UK (and perhaps even Europe) with the Gower Peninsula, Worm’s Head, Cardigan Bay and the renowned Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
That’s not to say that there’s too little to see in Barry, however. Friar’s Point and Nell’s Point (on either end of the Promenade) both have beautiful cliff top views of the sea and can provide some welcome calm in contrast to the often packed-out beach areas.
While you’re walking the Promenade make sure to stop off at the Smuggler’s Cove mini golf to test your putting skills in a pirate-themed, seaside mini golf course. If you don’t fancy golf you can watch other people play from the nearby cafe.
Barry Island has plenty to offer to families, couples or single travellers for a day out or a short stay trip in the summer months when the weather is usually hot by British standards. All in all, it is a traditional British seaside resort that has seen significant investment in recent years and continues to remain popular with people from around Wales and further afield.