On the last day of term, lounging in the classroom, chatting with friends with the usual, ‘What are you doing on Easter?’. Everyone seemed generally excited for their school holidays, however, I made one observation: whenever the word “staycation” was mentioned, it was followed by the same solemn, distinct moan. Let’s be honest – England isn’t known for its glamorous beaches, glorious weather or glitzy vacations. “So why go on vacation? ” I was wondering. This question would soon be answered when I visited Westward Ho!, a vibrant beach along North Devon brimming with the same glamour, sunshine and fun as any international party.
In fact, so much sun that at first I could barely make out the myriad of shops beside me, the whirlpools of cerulean water in front of me, or the glistening pool of rock in front of me, which I almost immediately slipped on . Luckily, the warm, happy atmosphere that shrouded the sand was enough to distract me from the pain, and my family also seemed too fascinated by the ice cream stands and shopping arcade to care about my accident. First we wandered along the sand, which was perfectly litter free and almost felt like a sin to disturb our footprints. Other families also strolled the beach, some swinging buckets and shovels and others clutching ice cream cones. Anyway, the place was not busy at all and my dog, Mr. Hat, had to constantly go back and forth on the sand, even climbing over rocks and jumping in puddles.
The next item was to stroll past the beach huts and dive into the world of ice cream, fish and chips, donuts, slushies and pastries, which had been teasing us for an hour with their delicious flavors. Even soaking up the whirlwind of smells rising up the promenade felt like a meal in itself, so when – only after a short while of waiting – we each sunk our teeth into one of these iconic Cornish pasties, it was as if we had reached paradise itself. My dad proclaimed they were shaming the ones bought by Tesco, then fell back into calm as we ate our lunch with satisfaction.
As the sunlight began to take on an orange hue, we checked off our final quest: visit the arcade. Mom and Dad continued across the beach with Mr. Hat as my brother and I walked toward the flashing lights. Naturally, the arcade was much more crowded and hectic than the beach, bustling with clanging coins and the occasional screaming toddler. However, all of this was offset by his drive, laughter and fun. Although not the highlight of our visit, yelling at the claw machines and giggling at the huge Jigglypuff and Luigi plushies was a happy end to our day that left us with a taste for pennies and pictures. Afterglow of coin pushers etched nostalgically into our memory as we drove back to our cottage.
For families, kids, dog owners and ice cream lovers, Westward Ho! is where you need to be. And before you let out that same distinct, solemn whine, remember this: shimmering waters and shimmering sands aren’t exclusive to vacation miles across the sea. Instead, you can always head to Westward Ho!, a vacation at half price but just as charming.