The joys of the British seaside were somewhat lost on my sister and me as teenagers, despite countless trips to the beach with my ever-cheerful dad. But then we never made it to the rugged seascapes of Wales.
At a recent event, I discovered that Wales has 230 beaches and 50 islands, more Blue Flag beaches per mile than anywhere else in Britain, and, perhaps most surprisingly, that the most notorious pirates in history were Welsh – from Captain Henry Morgan who inspired a well-known brand of rum, to Black Bart who designed the skull and crossbones flag.
Next year is Visit Wales’ Year of the Sea, and the destination is launching a new marketing campaign in a bid to entice everyone from swashbuckling adventurers and active coastal breakers to families looking for wholesome bucket-and-spade fun.
Back in 2012 Wales opened the 870-mile Wales Coast Path, the world’s first uninterrupted route along an entire national coast.
In a similar vein, next year Wales will champion the Wales Way, a new trio of routes for visitors wanting to explore the coast and its surrounding areas.
The first is the Cambrian Way, a complete north-to-south journey along the mountainous spine of Wales, running for 185 miles and weaving through two national parks, Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons.
Then there’s the 180-mile Coastal Way, which runs the entire length of the rugged west coast around Cardigan Bay.
The final route, the North Wales Way, heralds myths, legends and culture along an old trading route on the northern coast, with four fortresses and two Unesco World Heritage Sites as the jewels in its crown.
At the Year of the Sea event, Visit Wales’ Bethan Wicks explained that the three routes can be linked for a longer adventure, or elements can be combined to create a custom-built itinerary for clients.
“Igam ogam is how we zig-zag in Welsh,” she said. “It’s how we’d like people to approach the routes, creating their own experiences along the way.”
Tying in with the nautical theme for next year is the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, which Cardiff will host for a stint from May 27 to June 10.
For two weeks, Cardiff Bay will be abuzz with excitement, attractions, and plenty of stalls serving up locally sourced food and drink – yet another reason for your clients to pack their swimming cossies, slap on the sun cream and visit Wales next year.