PHOTO: Holyhead is preparing to welcome Royal Caribbean as a port of call. (Courtesy Flickr/Alex Lilvet)
Dating back to 450 AD, Holyhead sits on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales, and is a bustling port that pulls double duty as the gateway to Ireland.
Home to the world’s largest seagoing ferry, it will make its debut in the summer of 2018 as the newest port of call for Royal Caribbean.
Here’s what you need to know about this fascinating place.
Holyhead Breakwater Country Park. Just outside of the town of Holyhead, the park sits on the site of a former stone quarry that in the mid to late 1800s supplied the rocks that made up the Holyhead Breakwater. Today, the park offers visitors the chance to enjoy the great outdoors. Bird watchers will want to be on the lookout for peregrine and chough, while hikers have the chance to wander among the gorse and heather that dot this rocky terrain. People of all ages can fish in the park’s lake or sip a lemonade while they watch model boat races.
Holyhead Maritime Museum. Housed in what is the oldest lifeboat station in Wales, this museum tells the tale of the brave men who sailed (and rescued) on the Irish Sea. Visitors to the museum can learn about shipwrecks and pirates, as well as visit the World War II Air Raid Shelter. Kids will thrill to test out the authentic air raid siren.
Rhoscolyn Beach. The dramatic rocky coastline of the western corner of Holy Island is perhaps best known for a pair of natural arches– Bwa Du’ the black arch, and ‘Bwa Gwyn’ the white arch–that have been carved out of the cliffs by the sea. This rugged stretch of coast is home to several species of breeding birds, including the peregrine falcon, shag, chough, raven and kestrel. There’s also a sandy beach, where families can enjoy fishing and exploring the rock pools.
Swtan Folk Museum. This folk museum gives visitors the chance to turn the clock back more than a century as they tour the home set to look as it would have in 1910, down to the furniture, fabric and even the pots and pans. It’s not hard to imagine how the family would have lived day to day, washing and repairing their clothes by hand, cooking and growing and raising their own food.
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Holyhead Mountain Hut Circles. Located in the South Stack region of Anglesey on Holy Island, the small farmsteads that comprise the Ty Mawr hut circles are thought to date back some 4,000 years. To date, approximately 20 homesteads have been excavated and reconstructed, although more than 50 buildings have been recorded on the site. Today, visitors can explore the area and imagine the struggles that daily life brought and the innovations that sprung from them.
South Stack Lighthouse. Sending out warnings to ships approaching Holyhead across the Irish Sea from the west, this landmark is open to visitors on a seasonal basis. Visitors can climb to the top and explore the engine room and an exhibit gallery. It should be noted that access to the island involves climbing a steep 400-step stairway.