Saundersfoot Harbour has undergone major re-development and transformation in recent years, with the Trust Port acquiring disused and derelict sites on the Harbour's old boundaries, and renovating, developing, and transforming these areas into high-quality facilities and experiences, with the aim of revitalising the village and creating an unique coastal visitor tourism attraction called the Wales International Coastal Centre.
This £10 million development of the Wales International Coastal Centre, made possible by the funding from EU Funding Bodies, Welsh Government, and Coastal Communities, was completed in 2022 and is due to officially open in 2023 (date TBC).
The first major developments of the plan to transform and redevelop Saundersfoot Harbour happened back in January 2015. First Minister Carwyn Jones visited the village and announced that a project to redevelop the marine facilities had been awarded. He said “The scheme will see the harbour, built 185 years ago, overhauled to improve access but also to ensure its long-term viability.”
Phase 1, most of which was completed in 2015, included visitor pontoons and moorings, an outer slipway and dry boat racking. This has already benefitted recreational harbour users by overcoming tidal problems through the building of a new slipway, which now allows launching at all states of tide. This has made a positive difference to the harbour workings and supports Visit Wales’ intent to increase the use of our coastal waters for recreational use.
Phase 2, completed in 2022, was a more ambitious strategy to transform Saundersfoot into a year round tourist destination by establishing the Harbour as a venue for arts, events and water activities, and reviving the heritage of the area in four new linked facilities: the Marine Centre of Excellence, Ocean Square, Coastal Schooner, and National Events Deck. Find out more about these below.
This comprised of six elements that has dramatically increased water access times for boat users, in addition, it enables the harbour to extend its boat operation from 200 to 300+ boats with an overall ambition to extend the seasonal operation period and visitor attractions. These include:
There is a growing demand for visitor moorings for boats transiting the Bristol Channel, from the southerly approaches of Cornwall / Devon, and Ireland. It therefore, was Saundersfoot Harbour’s Commissioners aim to establish a pontoon mooring facility that is afloat at all states of tides that offers a substantial facility for its current mooring holders and visiting boats to moor alongside.
Such a facility, has for the first time, enabled local and visiting boat owners to have an all-state of tide mooring within the Carmarthen Bay area, and with only a handful of such facilities within Wales.
The Harbour has installed 10 visitor swing moorings in 2015 and increase these, in 2016 to 15 and 2017 to 20, as demand has increased. All of which can be booked in advance for up to a two week period so holidaying families can have their boat permanently on water during their stay.
This facility has created a more relaxed approach by visiting boats as they do not need to worry about tides, allowing them to explore the land sites of Pembrokeshire in the morning if the weather is forecasted to brighten up during the afternoon.
Located at the old J&T site on the Eastern end of the harbour, the only such facility accessing Carmarthen Bay, giving uninterrupted access to the water line, therefore, increasing water access from the current 2 hours either side of tide to doubling the opportunity to 4 hours which has resulted in only a few hours each day that water access is limited
This facility has been able to give in harbour users and visitor boats the ability of planning their holiday around family needs, not just when the tide is available. Therefore, marketing Saundersfoot as a far more desirable location to stay.
The benefit to this system is that a boat is only on water when required enabling the harbour to increase its availability to at least 80 additional boat users with the added benefit to the owner of reducing the need to use antifouling paints and significantly lessen wear and tear.
Boats can be launched and recovered by the harbour team reducing the complexities of owning a boat creating a far more enjoyable experience for the entire family.
Such a facility has, for the first time, enabled harbour users and holidaying visitors to Pembrokeshire access to Carmarthen Bay via a storage system that maintains the quality of their vessel.
The Harbour has installed an access ramp onto a pontoon structure that offers safe access enabling less mobile persons to access leisure vessels and the excellent tripping vessels operated from the harbour.
Through decking over the old sluice without hampering its operation the harbour has created a valuable community open space that can support open-air events irrespective of the weather, providing a venue to support the current excellent out of season program of events staged by the Saundersfoot Chamber of Tourism.
This is an ideal venue to come and sit and relax or to enjoy a family picnic, with a program of events to be developed creating an atmospheric events diary of music/culture/food and arts.
This is comprised of 4 linked facilities that promote a fun and active family-friendly environment for all ages and abilities, promoting exploration, education, heritage and the Welsh Culture through food, music and interactive experiential opportunities.
The development on the site of the disused and derelict Jones and Teague building to create a centre for marine tourism and water based activities in the region. The Storm Centre is one of three Interpretation Centres at Saundersfoot Harbour, which will focus on climate and its effect on the sea and coastline. The Marine Centre of Excellence includes a Marine Workshop, Chandlery, Water Sports Facility, Cafe, Restaurant, short-stay pod accommodation Ocean Cabins, meeting rooms, and the relocated Harbour Office.
The Marine Centre of Excellence was completed at the end of 2020, and the Harbour Office is now located on the Third Floor. The Cafe, Chandlery, Marine Workshop, Water Sports Facility and accommodation opened in 2021. The Storm Centre is due to open in March 2023.
At the Harbour entrance on Cambrian Terrace, the derelict old Coal Office (also known as the Barbecue and the old Tourist Information Centre) was renovated and extended to establish a mixed commercial and community facility known as Ocean Square. The Welcome & Heritage Centre will provide a point for visitor information, and also be one of three Interpretation Centres at Saundersfoot Harbour, and will focus on the history of Saundersfoot and the local area, concentrating on the coal mining industry in the area and its role in the building of the harbour. On the first and second floors are located short-stay pod-style accommodation (Ocean Cabins) in addition to those in the Marine Centre of Excellence.
Ocean Square, comprised of a number of retail units surrounding a covered year-round events plaza, was completed in 2021 and is now home to a number of new retail and food businesses. The first floor of Ocean Cabins @ the Square opened in 2022, with the second floor opening in early 2023. The Welcome & Heritage Centre is due to open in March 2023.
The Coastal Schooner is a life-size schooner built on the decking over the sluice. The Coastal Schooner includes a small coffee shop, and one of three Interpretation Centres at Saundersfoot Harbour, recreating and interpreting the maritime heritage of the region and of the entire coastal communities and harbours of Wales. The design enables the masts to be utilised for outdoor cinema, and a high ropes course; and the upper deck to be used as events stage.
The Coastal Schooner was completed in 2022, and the name of the vessel 'Free Spirit' was unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal in October of the same year. The Coastal Schooner is due to open to the public in March 2023.
The transformation of the decking over the old sluice into a National Events Deck, to provide an unique events venue within Wales, with world class views of Carmarthen Bay. Combined with the upper harbour wall the National Events Deck has a seated capacity of 2,500, supporting large scale events, as well as an amphitheatre for smaller events.
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Our friendly team at Saundersfoot Harbour will get back to as soon as possible with any queries you have about the new development or regarding the harbour facilities.