Take the family to the Witterings for a memorable weekend of watersports, beach time and camping.
On the edge of Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the twin coastal villages of East Wittering and West Wittering make a great base to dive into the area’s excellent family friendly watersports adventures. Have a go at surfing, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, or just build the mother of all sandcastles!
You don’t need any watersports experience to enjoy this family holiday itinerary – just a willingness to get wet and have a laugh. Bear in mind that some activity timings will depend on the tides, so be prepared to adapt your plans to suit. It’s also advisable to ask about any age restrictions before booking.
Ideal for: Families
Themes: Beaches, outdoors and watersports
Getting there and around: Chichester is 1 hour 30 minutes by train from London, or just over 2 hours by car. Once you’re there, there are plenty of opportunities to cycle, so bring bikes if you like to ride.
Kick things off with a family surf lesson. 2XS runs two hour sessions a few hours before the high tide on sandy West Wittering beach, where the small waves are perfect for newbies to get to grips with the basics of surfing. Suitable for ages 7+, the lessons cover paddling out through the waves, catching waves and safety, and all kit, including wetsuits, is provided. Expect some healthy competition to become the first to pop up, and a new family joke about that epic wipeout…
You could also try 2XS’s windsurf taster session, held at low tide when flat water lagoons appear on the beach, or 5-7 year olds can join the 2-hour Little Rippers windsurfing course.
Refuel on savoury pancakes, smoothies and organic coffee at the Drift-In Surf Café, East Wittering before settling in for some family chill-out time on the beach. As the tide goes out at pebbly East Wittering beach, a sandy expanse that’s perfect for building sand castles is revealed. Set up camp with a book and watch the kids burn off whatever energy they have left after the morning’s shenanigans.
Perhaps you’re the type of family that never sits still? Then hire a board from the Natural Surf School and practice your new surf skills. You can also take up family surf lessons if you’d like some more practice.
If the weather doesn’t play (beach)ball, take to the sheltered waters of Chichester Harbour on a boat tour. Depending on the time of year, you might see grey or harbour seals, curlew, oyster catchers, huge flocks of Brent geese or even peregrine falcons – rumoured to be the same pair that nest each year on Chichester Cathedral. Chichester Harbour boat tours run in most weathers, or you can board Solar Heritage, a near-silent solar-powered catamaran.
Take a picnic, a blanket or two, a football or your favourite family game to West Wittering beach and watch the sun go down.
The area around East Wittering and West Wittering has plenty of camping options for families. Family-run Gees Camp Site is within easy walking distance of East Wittering beach and the village’s restaurants and shops. It’s small and popular, so book in advance.
Just outside East Wittering, Stubcroft Campsite is on a working sheep farm with a sustainable ethos. Expect to share the hedge-lined site (campfires allowed) with hedgehogs and rare butterflies, as well as bees and free-range hens. Plus, you can pick up Stubcroft honey and eggs in the campsite shop.
On the edge of West Wittering village and a 15-minute walk from West Wittering beach, dog-friendly Nunnington Farm Campsite has pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes, as well as tents. Kids will love meeting the donkeys, ponies, pigs and goats in the free on-site pet park.
If glamping is more your style, head to Wicks Farm Holiday Park, 1.5 miles (2.5km) from West Wittering beach, where camping pods are available alongside the tent pitches. There’s also a ball games area with football and basketball nets, table tennis and swingball.
Hop on your bikes and ride to Itchenor to catch the frequent ferry for the short trip across Chichester Harbour to Bosham (April to October), then pedal on to Cobnor Activities Centre. Cobnor’s range of water-based activities include family sailing days and canoe safaris. If some of you feel like keeping their feet dry, try one of the family activity days (for parents and children aged 7 years and over) with climbing, archery, low ropes and aeroball, as well as canoeing, kayaking and the super-fun raft building and racing.
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Sit down for a classic pub lunch at The Anchor Bleu, on Bosham’s historic harbourside. Fresh catch of the day or a Coastal Cheddar Ploughman’s seem appropriate dishes to munch as you sit on the terrace watching the water flow across the tidal creek!
Wind down with a spot of stand-up paddleboarding with Get Kiteboarding. The two-hour introductory sessions take place about an hour before high tide, from Bosham. You’ll learn to propel yourself across the water while standing on a large board. Queue plenty of splashing as you test each other’s balancing skills!
If winding down isn’t part of your family’s vocabulary, get in touch to ask Get Kiteboarding about kitesurfing lessons on Bracklesham Beach – guaranteed to tire everyone out!
Finish off your family holiday with dinner at Billy’s on the Beach. If conditions are right, you can watch the kitesurfers zipping across the waves and your kids running wild on the beach as you linger over moules frites and a glass of something bubbly.
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