Highlighting Places in Wales I’ve Visited – International Student’s POV – Part 21 March 2023
Continuing the series of ‘Highlighting Places in Wales I’ve Visited,’ we move on to Barry Island. When mentioning Barry Island to peers, some said it wasn’t worth the time. However, I wanted to experience this place for myself. So when I had a free day, a couple friends and I took the train from Cathays to Barry Island station.
When first arriving at Barry, I’ll admit my impression was so-so. It was pretty cold out that day and slightly rainy, so already the day wasn’t starting the best! When you walk from Barry Island Station to get to the beach, you’ll pass by Barry Island Pleasure Park. Essentially it’s an amusement park that’s set up for the majority of the year. I can imagine this park being filled in the summer months however with the mix of weather and time of year, it was slightly dead. Rides were still running for visitors but, again, it was pretty barren. I found it slightly confusing as to why, with the climate that is south Wales, that an amusement park would be left up during the colder months. However, this was only my initial impressions. There was much more to explore from here.
As you continue your journey through the amusement park, the path reveals the open sandy beach area. I’m a sucker for a good beach and Barry Island had a gorgeous beach right in front of us. My friends and I started running past cafes and people walking their dogs, making a beeline for the sand. The sand was soft and the the air from the sea was crisp. The sound of the waves was the perfect recovery from my initial experience at Barry. The Whitmore beach (AKA Barry Island Beach) exists between two larger hills. Paths are carved out to get to those higher grounds that peer over the water. After taking in the smell of the fresh air and stopping to pet all the dogs on their walks, we decided to trek up the hill that led to Nell’s Point.
Whilst walking to Nell’s point, we passed an amphitheatre used for martial arts classes every weekend and beach huts ranging in colours standing alongside the promenade. These small details in Barry add value to the experience for me. Seeing that there are community events held at this amphitheatre made Barry seem more friendly and open. My friends and I even considered going back for a class one morning. When we finally made it to Nell’s Point, the wind and the cold felt as it if it melted away and all I could think about was how in awe I was. The view from the top of the hill was all I had wanted. I could see families running on the beach, boats in the distance, and I could smell fresh air. Again, timing means a lot when visiting new places. Barry seems like a place that is more thriving in the summer. But even with it being windy and cold, I was able to find peace in this place.
Though the view was everything, the cold eventually settled back in so we decided to take a break in a café. Barry offered a variety of places to eat like Boofy’s, Costal Coffee, and Marco’s Caffe, however, we chose Bay 5 Coffee as it offered perfect views of the beach and a wide menu. Though it was a smaller café with limited seating inside, we managed to find a high top table and warm up. With a combination of great food, an amazing view, and excellent service, I highly recommend checking out Bay 5 Coffee if you come to Barry.
To get to Friars Point, we passed a promenade filled with ice cream shops, arcade games, and even a mini-golf park. But as you get to the path up the hill, it almost feels like a jungle. The trees block out the rain for a bit and the sun is hiding behind the leaves. Once you are out of this hidden cove, you reach the hill where Friars Point rests. What was interesting on this side of the beach was we saw families fishing off the rocks of the hill. Kids would be sitting, shielding themselves from the splash of the water while the adults managed the fishing rods. These little details of family dynamic and community create a fulfilling memory of Barry for me.
From the top of Friars Point, right near the edge of the cliff, a huge cargo ship floated by. The wind was blowing my hair every which way and I could even adjust in a way where the wind was the only thing holding me up! The sun was just peeking out from the clouds, spotlighting areas of the bay. From Friars Point, I gained perspective of the area.
Barry Island has so many interesting quirks to it that make it special in my memory. Though the weather wasn’t amazing when I went, I was able to make amazing memories, create beautiful images, and picture this place in all aspects of the year. I can see friends and family gathering here for a good time. I saw dogs running to no end. I experienced the water on my face, a feeling I had missed being in the city. Barry allowed me an escape from city life for a bit. It allowed me time for my blood to rush in the cold air, for my face to feel the air, for my senses to awaken. I highly recommend going to Barry. Make your own experiences. Take the day trip and see what adventures you can get yourself into.
Have fun exploring,