Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Review: Ladram Bay #LadramBay #Devon

With more families leaving booking their summer holidays to the last minute, many of you will be looking for a great location with family-friendly swimming pool, kids clubs and activities, private beach, local attractions and more.  Why head to the continent, after all your pound isn't going to buy many Euros, when this is on your doorstep?

When I posted this photo on social media, fans were clamouring to know where we were, somewhere exotic no doubt?  A long flight away, surely?  Not somewhere they could afford, of course?  Um, nope, nope and yes - we were in Devon.  In May.  Glorious Devon.

This stunning location is the private beach belonging to Ladram Bay Holiday Park in Otterton, near Budleigh Salterton.  Situated on the majestic East Devon coastline with its characteristic red sandstone rock, and at the far end of the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast, Ladram Bay offers everything you could want for a great family holiday, at any time of year.

There is on-site entertainment including a soft play area and dinosaur-themed mini golf, playgrounds, a private beach, plenty of fields and open spaces to run around in, nature in abundance including a fun nature trail to follow, a swimming pool, bars, restaurant, take away and well-stocked shop.  In fact, you could easily spend all your time on this 5 star, award-winning family-owned site, but venture out and Diggerland, Crealy and World of Country Life await you within a short drive, not to mention the delights of Exeter and the English Riviera beyond, all under an hour away.

Let's explore what Ladram Bay has to offer...


Captain Phi-phi
Sophia's dress c/o Olive and Moss

Our girls loved the pirate ship-themed playground and made some lovely friends there who they met up with each evening, and they certainly made the most of a free soft play being available whenever they wanted!  The amusements area was not too big and had plenty for children of all ages to have a go on.  We were delighted to see that the prize levels started very low and, compared to elsewhere, were quite generous.

Tatia loved findings lots of ride-ons she could go on, and having a toddler-sized playground to herself.  But most of all, with everything quite close together, they all loved the freedom of being able to run around and explore all these play areas, with us keeping an eye from not too far away.


We all loved the suitably Jurassic-themed dinosaur adventure golf, which was great fun even on our last day when the sky went suddenly overcast and grey.  Our mini Tiger Woods, Lara, even dressed for the occasion!

After our epic trip round much of Cornwall and South Devon, not to mention a few days with the inlaws, we were ready for some serious chilling out at Ladram Bay.  We just pottered about the site, apart from a day at the fab World of Country Life in Exmouth, and heading out to stock the fridge (Waitrose in Sidmouth; Lidl and Tesco down in Exmouth) - that complimentary wine won't last forever you know!


We went to the swimming pool every day which is just brilliant, so much for little ones to do in the safe shallow area, a great water slide, and plenty of room in the big pool for swimming practice.  It even has a padded bottom so little knees don't get bashed if they slip, perfect attention to detail.

Beach bag c/o Talented


There is a range of entertainment available every day and evening at Ladram Bay, with something for all the family.  There is also Ozzie's Club where children aged 8+ can be dropped off in the evening, and during the day during school holidays, I believe.

Our only quibble was that the children's entertainment started very early, just after 6pm, so trying to get dinner eaten before that when on holiday was a bit of a challenge.  We only saw one children's show, a ghost pirate one which wasn't wholly appropriate for very young children or particularly engaging, and attended the children's disco a couple of times, although it only consisted of two songs.  You can see Tatiana was hoping for more!

We also felt that the children's entertainment finished early (well before 8), with a lot of emphasis on quizzes and bingo for the adults, during which the children were expected to sit quietly in their seats.  Not an expectation our kids cope with well!  With decent weather and light evenings, we were quite happy to spend our time outside in the playgrounds, but it was shame there wasn't more opportunity for this kind of crazy fun with their new-found friends indoors:

"What is this sitting down quietly you speak of?!"

Having said that, being outside with views like this from your breakfast/lunch/coffee/dinner table isn't exactly a hardship!  (See our separate review of the lovely Pebbles Restaurant.)

The Beach

Our days followed a kind of rhythm, pool in the morning, lunch then beach in the afternoon.  And the beach was just lovely, in such a pretty little bay.  It's pebbles and rocks but with a fringe of sand when the tide went out, at around 3-4pm whilst we were there, so perfectly timed.

We didn't find any fossils, but it is a great beach for beachcombing, exploring - and lounging.  With rock pools to explore, pebbles to sort through, and treasures to discover, the girls loved it.

Lara's still life shot

Beach hair

Sophia's Spiderman dress c/o My Sister Mabel at Loubilou

Beach finds


Another big source of entertainment and interest for us is wildlife, plantlife, animals, insects and nature in general, and this is available in abundance at Ladram Bay.  From herring gulls nesting in crevices of the sandstone rock to drifts of wild flowers and exquisite blossom, there was plenty for us to spot.

We loved walking up across the cliffs above Ladram Bay, with these views along the Jurassic coast and across Lyme Bay to Beer, Seaton and beyond.

The sandstone pillars reminded me of the limestone karsts of Thailand's Andaman coast, stunningly beautiful against the blue of sea and sky.

Most evenings as we went for a walk we met an elderly gentleman and his adorable springer spaniel Jago in the fields above the site, and lots and lots of wild rabbits, not that we ever managed to get very close!

In the adjoining field were cows and two very elegant horses, who Tatia adored.  They were so friendly, and so gentle with her.

The view back down to the site and the bay:


So, you're ready to book.  Where can you stay?  Well, there are static caravans, you can bring your tourer or campervan, you can camp in your own tent, you can stay in one of the new glamping pods, or if you prefer solid walls, rent an apartment or stay in a luxury lodge complete with your own hot tub and views of the bay.  We were treated to a new Ladram Gold caravan on the front row of the site, with nothing but a playing field between us the cliff edge.  Just look at our view!

The caravan was extremely well-equipped with a good sized kitchen area, sitting room and enclosed balcony which was perfect for the girls to play on, as well as for having all of our meals outside.

We do love a caravan!

Seat with a view

We were usually joined for dinner by this handsome fellow

The caravan we had accommodates up to 8 and has a double bedroom and two twins, all with lots of storage space, and a shower room, with extra separate loo off the double bedroom.  Everything was so well-maintained, nearly new, and clean and tidy.  All compliments to the housekeeping team, a member of which came to knock on our door to check we had everything we needed.  Fab service!

I relished being the first up and opening the curtains to see the sun glinting on the sea every morning, and happily took my tea and book outside for a few quiet moments before the pitter patter of small people began.  They loved having the doors wide open so they could play on the balcony, and we even set their little holiday paddling pool up out there.  Perfect laidback holiday moments.

We absolutely loved Ladram Bay and will be heading back as soon as possible.  Of course we were very lucky with the weather, but there is so much to do on the site that, rain or shine, you won't get fed up or bored, and under 10s will be in their absolute element.  And, the best recommendation of all, the best part of our holiday was there was lots of this:

Thanks for a fab holiday, Ladram Bay!

Head over to the Ladram Bay website to see what's on and to check availability for your holidays dates.  You won't regret it!

Swimming pool photos c/o Ladram Bay

And don't forget to enter our competitions!

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