Every year, my boyfriends’ family head to the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast for a great British summer of cycling, sea swimming, water sports and (hopefully) sunshine. Last year, I decided it was time for me to cure my fear of the open water and join them, as I tried my hand at a spot of sea kayaking.
Togged up in a borrowed wet suit, I joined my other half and his family as they carried their collection of single and double kayaks down to Caerfai beach, which is situated just outside in the UK’s smallest city, St Davids. The beach is a popular spot with bathers, but at high tide there is no sand left at all, making it the perfect time to head out on to the ocean.
After an initial attack of nerves and a few squeals, I managed to get the hang of maneuvering my little vessel and we spent quite a bit of time practicing near the caves and rocky outcrops along the coast. The boys being boys, they took every opportunity to jump out of the kayak and climb onto the cliffs for a bit of showing off. Eventually we had to start the real work though, and we began the exciting task of fishing for our supper.
I will confess that I left the actual fishing to my boyfriends’ younger brother, as I didn’t feel confident enough to master boat maneuvering and fishing simultaneously. Luckily, fishing from a kayak is very amateur friendly. Even with my shaky sea-legs ,a couple of hours of patiently floating atop the waves rewarded us with four big, glossy mackerel – plenty for the BBQ back at the campsite. We actually caught more than four over the course of the afternoon, but threw five back as they weren’t fully grown, and deserved a little longer in the ocean to breed.
Back on dry land, it took me a good ten minutes to wriggle out of my soggy wet suit, but my efforts were rewarded by the sight of a beautiful sunset over the ocean – admired over a cold beer whilst the catch of the day sizzled away on to the BBQ.
So how did it taste, and was it worth the effort? I can honestly say it was the best I’ve ever eaten: fresh, meaty and delicious, but somehow more subtle than any mackerel I’ve had before. What’s more, it went from the ocean to my plate in less than 2 hours! In a world so focused on commerce, it was liberating and exciting to be able to catch and prepare my own delicious dinner completely for free. If you can get your hands on a kayak this summer, give it a go.
Where to stay: St Davids Online has a great list of campsites and caravan parks in the local area. We stayed in a tent in Caerfai campsite which is a very steep, but short ten minute walk from Caerfai beach.
When to go: Stick to July and August when the weather is mild and the rain should amount to nothing more serious than a short, sharp shower.
What to pack: Swimming costumes, wet suits, and a tent!
This article was adapted for a feature in A Digital Nomad, a free iPad only travel magazine. Download the app here.