The Reilly family from Belfast were looking for a fun-filled family summer holiday destination when they enquired with the Holiday NInja – and after being set up with a #NInjatastic value offer from a local Northern Ireland NInja Travel Agent, they were more than happy to review their (much needed) vacation break and detail why so many choose to visit the amazing Costa Dorada Spain!! #NInjaVerdict
Our family of four (2 adults and 2 kids aged 15 & 12) made our first foreign school summer holiday (since Covid!) to Cambrils in the Costa Dorada region of Spain staying for 10 nights. We choose it for the great beaches, the weather and of course the Theme Parks. We stayed in Cambrils, which is about 12K away from perhaps the more well known and larger Salou resort.
We couldn’t wait to get away and enjoy some fun in the sun after missing out the past two summers!
We booked a package holiday from Jet2 which flew out of Belfast International Airport into Reus Airport, which was only a 20mins transfer to our hotel in Cambrils. We sourced the holiday from a local NI Travel Agent after being referred from the Holiday NInja. Thankfully the checking in process and getting through to departures at both airports was very easy with no delays or luggage issues – this helped start AND end the holiday stress free!
It is worth noting that the Covid rules for entry into Spain required checks on our vaccination status in the arrivals area in Reus airport – although as we all know, these rules and procedures are ever changing!
We stayed in the 4* Estival Eldorado Resort in Cambrils, which was about a 20 mins walk to Cambrils town centre. The resort was fantastic – we all shared a suite that was large, spotlessly clean and modern with a nice balcony outside. It was a very family dominated hotel resort with excellent facilities throughout: 4 pools in total, one of which was adults only and another one had a splash pool with slides. There was also a tennis court, mini golf, sports bar and a games room. The hotel was also ON the beach so you had that nice choice of pool OR beach at hand. We stayed on an all inclusive basis and the choice of food and drink within was very good.
NInja Tip – There is no need to worry about sun loungers and getting up early with your beach towels by the way! There are plenty of loungers around and lots of pools and space to choose from! Whilst the hotel was busy it never felt overly crowded.
Things to do
Naturally, first on anybody’s list to visit will be Portaventura …. BUT we also bought a day pass for Caribe Aquatic Park so we thought we would tick off the waterpark before anything else. The cost was 29Euro per person (over 11s are classified as adults). We didn’t buy the Premium Express lane tickets (25Euro per person) and on the day we visited we didn’t need to, as we only really had to queue for 1 ride, c.20mins.
We had such a fantastic time in the waterpark (how can you not?!) and stayed for nearly 6 hours. There were 16 water attractions and pools and it was perfect for the kids (and the older kids!).
El Torrente was a raft slide we could all ride on as family and was great fun. As was the classic straight water slide head first of Rapid Race. But the one that we will remember most (as it took us all quite a bit of courage to do!) but well worth it was King Khajuna – an unbelievably tall slide….but the thrill after was amazing! We also ate while we were there at La Cabana – it was really nice, we all opted for the basic Chicken Goujons and Chips but they were actually so good, really nice and fresh.
After a few days rest at the hotel (spent mostly at the pool), we headed to Electric Kart Salou. This was conveniently located very near Portaventura, so very easy to find.
We are a very competitive family and we couldn’t wait to get out and race on the track against each other. The team at the track are very attentive and helpful (and speak very good English). It was really good fun! Each race is over 5 laps and you are given your lap and total times when you finish. They also have arcade games and a café for food and drink too. It was a really good experience and if you like a bit of speed and friendly competition its definitely worth a family visit.
As mentioned earlier, Cambrils is situated close to Salou, about a 10 minute taxi ride costing 15 Euros, so we also decided that, as we were tourists, we would spend some time exploring the town itself. When we arrived we noticed the Salou Tourist Train at the beachfront so we decided to jump so we didn’t have to explore on foot (it was very warm that day). The little train takes you to the City Park, the Church of Santa Maria del Mar and many more little places and was really enjoyable. They also have audio guides available in 5 different languages which we used and would recommend also, to find a little more information on each of the stops along the route.
With only a few days of our holiday remaining it was finally time to make the trip to Portaventura – so we bought a one day ticket for both the Theme Park and Ferrari Land. This cost 59Euro per person (with an option to buy Express Lane tickets worth between 40-75 Euro per person). We spent the full day exploring these two great parks.
We started with Ferrari Land, which has 16 attractions and games. Without a shadow of a doubt the key attractions for us were Red Force (which boasts 0-180kph in 5 seconds) and Torre Caida Libre which is a free fall tower. We absolutely loved Red Force – it was unbelievably fast and a ‘must do’ if you can summon the courage. As for Torre Caida Libre, all I can say is my kids where a lot braver than me, but they loved it too!
There are plenty of attractions and rides for smaller kids and lots of history for Ferrari F1 fans too – the virtual legends tour and experience is definitely recommended for them, as well as the opportunity to get kitted out in the famous Ferrari pit overalls and change an F1 tyre …. we certainly wont be making a career change given our slow time!
Next door to Ferrari World is the main event …. Portaventura Theme Park!! With over 40 rides and 6 worlds you could literally spend days there. There are also a variety of places to eat and drink too (which was much needed as the temperature was nearly 33 degrees when we went). There are also shows at different times of the day in the different worlds which are well worth a look and are free to watch and enjoy. We spent over 6 hours in Portaventura and I am pleased to say that we didn’t have to queue for more than 15mins to get onto any ride on the day that we went – although maybe at busier times the fast pass system purchase would have been considered.
The park has such a great mixture of rollercoasters, water rides and loads to do for the smaller kids too. We did so much when we were there but special mentions have to go to:
Furious Baco, an unbelievably fast thrill ride around the park – it goes from 0 to 135km/hr in only 3 seconds!!
Tutuki Splash, a great family water ride … you WILL get wet!!!
Kontiki, a classic swing ride which may look harmless but feels a lot higher than you think!
Dragon Khan, thrill coaster with 8 inverted loops …. maybe one for BEFORE you eat lunch!!
And Shambhala which is Portaventura’s tallest roller coaster and a fantastic adrenaline rush with the longest drop in the park! You will want to ride this one again and again!
There is so much to see and do in the Costa Dorada region that we felt like we barely scratched the surface. And It is worth noting that Barcelona is only 2hrs away and we spent an amazing day there on a great day trip organised as a package deal by our Jet2 rep at the Hotel. We visited the Nou Camp, home of Barcelona FC (which was such a thrill for a football mad family) and of course the world famous Las Ramblas!
It was great to go abroad again for the first time as a family since the pandemic and the Reillys would definitely recommend the Costa Dorada region! We will be definitely be back next year!
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