Milford Haven in Wales sits between Tenby and St. David’s on the Pembrokeshire coast. If you don’t know the name yet, it’s time to right that wrong as Kim Jones and her family discovered on a recent seaside break. Just wait till your kids hear about the ‘floating’ hotel rooms!
Sitting slap bang in-between popular Welsh beach resorts like Tenby and the conservation area of St David’s, Milford Haven is a well placed base to explore the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It’s within easy reach of walks on the coastal path and plenty of beautiful clean beaches such as Broad Haven, Little Haven and Freshwater West too.
With a long history of salty sea-commerce, Milford Haven not only sits on the largest estuary in Wales, it also has one of the world’s deepest natural harbours.
In the late 19th century, it became one of the largest fishing ports in the UK. Then, in the 1960s, the focus changed. Esso opened a refinery across the estuary, other oil companies followed, and Milford Haven grew into the UK’s largest energy port.
Today you can still see tankers in the distance and refineries continue to light up the horizon like a space station at night. However, as greener energies emerge there’s a sense that landscape may change in the future.
Where to play in Milford Haven
- While away a couple of hours on one of the many short walks around Milford – perfect for little legs.
- Wander around the waterfront on a 1.1 mile loop taking in the marina. Remember to check lock times. The gates open for two hours every day and you can’t cross over the marina at this time.
- Stop off for homemade ice cream at The Scoop Ice Cream Parlour or Velluto Gelato.
- For extra treats, don’t miss Scotts Sweet shop in Milford Haven.
- Walk through the woodlands to Lower Priory, a hamlet on the outskirts of Milford Haven.
- Hug the coast on a stroll along Scotch Bay for some ship-spotting.
- Check out the Pembrokeshire Coast ‘Heritage Walks’. Kids will like the ones created by local children to celebrate the town’s history
- On a rainy day, head into Phoenix Bowl for the 10-lane bowling alley.
- Younger kids will like Pirate Pete’s Adventure soft play on the marina.
- Discover hands-on history at Milford Haven Museum or have a browse round The Waterfront Gallery.
- Milford Beach Activity Centre offers stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.
- Family attractions like Oakwood, Folly Farm, the Blue Lagoon, Heatherton World of Activities and Carew Castle are an easy drive from Milford Haven.
- Make a point of visiting nearby Pembroke Castle too, it will capture the imagination of any young would-be knights.
Take your pick of the Pembrokeshire Coast
The Pembrokeshire Coast is famous for its beautiful beaches and several spectacularly sandy ones are just a short drive from Milford Haven. If the weather is playing nice, try to make time for dolphin spotting boat rides and voyages to nature reserves too.
- Freshwater West beach offers super waves for surfing.
- Broad Haven and Little Haven boast family-friendly sweeps of sands and rock pooling.
- Head to Dale for fantastic water sports in spring and summer.
- Martin’s Haven is the place to catch dolphin spotting cruises.
- You can also sail from Martin’s Haven to Skokholm and the Skomer islands’ Marine Nature Reserves to see Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills.
Where to stay on the waterfront
Milford Haven’s thriving marina houses 100s of boats and has an even longer waiting list. It’s also where you’ll find an interesting new place to stay: Ty Hotel Milford Waterfront. Ty is Welsh for ‘home’ and this friendly family hotel is home to 100 rooms. Amazingly, 86 of them have harbour and sea views, maximised by floor to ceiling windows which give the effect of being on a ship’s deck.
Family rooms at the Ty Hotel are super-comfortable, but we were lucky enough to do things a little differently. Remember those floating hotel rooms? Well, they’re actually Floatel Cabins, rooms that literally ‘float’ on the marina itself. Each ‘Floatel’ is self-contained and features a luxury bedroom and shower room as well as an outdoor balcony, where you can enjoy even more of the waterfront view. Cabins sleep two people, so families may need more than one, but the wow factor is worth it, especially with older kids.
On calm days, you feel no movement in your floating cabin. However, in stormy weather, you’ll likely sense a bit of the sway!
Best places to eat in Milford Haven
Milford Haven marina is surrounded by dozens of shops, restaurants, cafes and ice-cream bars. So you can easily while away hours watching boats bob in the sunshine or clunk and rattle in high winds.
- Martha’s Vineyard serve local steaks, lobsters and crab landed nearby in Little Haven, sardines from local fishermen and homemade chips from Pembrokeshire potatoes.
- Coco’s is a city-style restaurant housed in ‘The Sail Loft’. This historic Grade II listed building, used to service and repair Nantucket Whaling ships. In it’s more recent incarnation it serves a catch of the day, fabulous cod and chips, grills, burgers and a great children’s menu. Book ahead and dine in your own private hut.
- Our favourite for breakfast and brunch is just off the marina, looking over Milford waterway. Foam serves fluffy pancakes, porridge and full breakfasts – with vegan option. Mini-sizes are available for kids. Come in the evening and book one of the Foam Domes: glass domes with 360° views, set on the restaurant terrace. Stargazing for dinner anyone?
- If you want picnic supplies, try the Sugar Loaf bakery for good value sandwiches, cakes and pastries.
How to plan a break in Milford Haven
How to get there
Milford Haven sits on the edge of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It’s about 1 hour, 30 minutes drive west of Swansea, and half-an-hour from the iconic seaside town of Tenby.
Where to stay
Family rooms at Ty Hotel Milford Waterfront sleep up to 4 guests, from £101 per room per night, bed & breakfast.
Floatel cabins at Ty Hotel Milford Waterfront from £223 per cabin, minimum 2-night stay, room only.
Good to know
Direct trains run from London to Swansea several times a day and take from 4 hours.
Direct trains from Swansea to Milford Haven take from just under 2 hours.