I have just come back from a week at El Bahira with my wife, two daughters (6 and 3) and my mother in law. We are an Anglo-Italian family who know exactly what we want on an Italian beach holiday: somewhere clean and interesting to swim, good food, simple yet adequate accommodation and somewhere for the kids to play while the adults relax.
We loved the beach. When calm, the sea was simply beautiful. It was clear and very clean. There was lots to see under the water and in the adjacent rock pools. My two daughters, previously only interested in sandcastles and burying Daddy in the sand, now prefer hermit crab hunting, shrimp catching and watching the fish swimming around them. The beach area itself was tranquil, mostly pebbled with sandy areas with beach brollies and sun loungers. The on-beach bar was friendly and sold palatable snacks and light lunches. The bouncy castle was very popular. Apart the barkeeper's great love for the collected works of U2 and some Italian band that sounded a lot like Pearl Jam (admittedly played at an almost background level) the beach area was a very enjoyable, relaxing and pleasant place to be. Or at least it was... when the pool was closed.
Yes, whether or not the pool was open dictated whether your time at the seaside was going to be calm and fun or overshadowed by incredibly loud party music punctuated by the inane gibberings of a twerp with a microphone and verbal diarrhoea. Every morning and afternoon, there was an ominous countdown followed by the banal camp theme tune, then Mr Shouty began his endless monologue. There were two pools; a large pool for the grown ups which was relatively clean, lightly salinated and chlorinated and warm enough to splash around in even first thing in the morning. The children's pool was horrid; the chemicals were probably strong enough to kill anything smaller than a cat and frequently had a mild seasoning of the kind of detritus that small children can produce seemingly at will. The water really was a primordial soup; shove a few thousand volts through it and the resulting creature would be lively enough to wear a staff t-shirt. Also there were far, far too many people trying to use the facilities. I simply cannot see how being harangued by Mr Shouty in an over-full pool area can possibly be fun, but most of our fellow holidaymakers seemed to be enjoying themselves, preferring the pool to the wonderful beach area. Perhaps we are the weird ones for not quite sharing their enthusiasm.
The accommodation at El Bahira was a mixture of prefab mobile homes and caravans, with camping areas for those preferring to take their chances with the mosquitos. We stayed in one of modern prefabs just below the pool area. It was clean and modern but too small for us. Our neighbours were a mixture of friendly English and Italian speaking families, all of whom loved the beach but dreaded the pool area. Unfortunately Mr Shouty was well within earshot. Unpleasant enough during the day, but doubly so at night, especially near to Ferragosto when loud music was played until midnight and occasionally until 2am. This situation was very strange in my opinion - El Bahira is marketed at families but the nocturnal activities ensure that everyone is tired and crabby irrespective of whether they participated or not.
My children liked dancing to cheesy Italian children's songs on previous holidays, so most nights we attended the Baby Dance event. Apart from a couple of honourable exceptions, the staffers seemed utterly bored by Baby Dance. I've done camp counselling myself, so I understand how they might feel two or three months into the season. Even so they shouldn't make it so obvious that they hate the songs, hate the actions and hate being up there on stage every wretched night grinding through yet another half hour of unrelenting misery. Your audience are enjoying themselves - that's your reward - so SMILE!
El Bahira has a children's play area (a bit run down and dirty), a bar (delicious pastries in the morning and ice cream as good as any in Palermo) and a shop selling most of the foods you would expect a small supermarket to stock (admittedly at a price). It also had a busy pizzeria and thoroughly unpleasant public toilet facilities. The road to the camp was treacherous with a steep drop on one side. Considering the popularity of the site I was surprised that the road had not been improved.
If we could have had our accommodation next to the beach at least three miles away from Mr Shouty and the pool area, we would have had a good time. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. It was a relief to get back to relative serenity of my mother-in-law's apartment in central Palermo. Even the car horns and salt sellers were preferable to Mr Shouty.
- Also Known As:
- El Bahira Camping Village Hotel San Vito Lo Capo
- El Bahira Camping Village Hotel
- El Bahira Camping Village San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily
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