Arrived 6. 30 to be told to walk around site to find a pitch we wanted. Chose one that was furthest away from reception, disco, swimming pool etc, but then we had our bikes. All pitches delineated by hedges/ trees. If you wanted a sunny or shady pitch you would need to choose wisely. Our pitch just about fitted our outwell Montana 6 and extension. Fortunately as it 3rd week in August there were empty pitches to the side of us, where we parked our car. There were a fair number of Brits, probably because it was only 30 mins from Santander, but mainly Spanish.
Facilities - washing machines were 5 euros, WiFi was 15 euros a week or 2 euros an hour, hairdressers, take away - chips 3. 80 euros ( medium to small sized portion), restaurant and disco (can't comment as didn't use either) and shop. Shop was well stocked and sold many different pastries/ pies, bread etc
Several toilet blocks which were always nice and clean with plenty of hot water
Recreation - swimming pool looked nice but we didn't use. Had to wear a bathing hat and life guard was on duty. Football pitch, basket ball, tennis court, outdoor exercise bikes and table tennis.
What made this site was its proximity to the beach and estuary, which was part of a nature reserve. There were 2 gates giving you access to the beach from the campsite. Can't comment on the town of Noja as we spent most of our time on the beach. Well organised site especially as large.
Booked this online about 8 months in advance requested 2 large pitches together as we were travelling with family and this was all in order when we arrived. Pitches varied in size and with or without borders depending on what you paid. We had large hedges all round giving plenty of shade. Pitch was large enough for our caravan, awning with annex, car and washing line so very large compared to some Spanish sites we have been on.
Beach was a 2 minute walk from our pitch – cold showers just inside the site to rinse off with a large gate that closed at 11pm to avoid unwelcome visitors onto the site. You could walk to the neighbouring village when the tide was out – or swim back if it was in which nearly happened in our case – so be warned!
On site facilities were of the highest standard – lots of large toilet/shower blocks, constantly being cleaned. Laundry facilities – wifi area which you paid for, but to be honest was a bit erratic. There was a tv booster system on the electricity hook-up posts, presumably only Spanish TV, not sure.
Strict noise restrictions which were obeyed there was a nightclub for teenagers which was no problem. Swimming pool (swimming hats required), supermarket, souvenir shop, beauty salon, doctors. Outside gym, inside games room, tennis court. Restaurant and takeway – we did try the pizza but they were only out of the freezer so didn’t bother again. Chips were better value for money. Roast chickens available to buy but must order 2 hours in advance.
Just outside the site every Wednesday a fantastic market. Every 20 minutes or so also just outside the site was a little tourist train which could take you into town for 4 euros return.
Great site, would return if in the area, our only 2 minor issue would be for those campers that like their electric gadgets as on 6 amp we did find we used to pop the electric just by keeping the hot water on and then maybe putting the kettle on. The second would be no evening entertainment as it does say in the brochure for high season The only entertainment was karaoke once a week which I don’t think that can count.
Weather in August was just how we wanted it, not so hot that you couldn’t sight see during the day (Valencia last year, beautiful but just too hot!), but warm enough to sit out without putting on a jumper.
Also note, site very dark at night, so bring torches. A definite site to bring bikes. Security very good, guard at the entrance 24/7 checking the sticker inside your car.
Right then, family of 4, children aged 13 and 9 just returned from 13 nights from Camping Playa Joyel and wanted to share observations.
Travel & Arrival:
Sailed with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao. There are no toll roads between either Bilbao or Santander and the site. Its a big site, approx 1000 pitches including static, campers, caravans and tents) and even though I had a larger pitch it was very tight for my Outwell Yukon River 6 + plus front canopy and car. No room to apply most of the guy ropes. My biggest recommendation here is to join Brittany Ferries 'Club Voyage' scheme, cost us about £200 to join and saved £300 on the ferry crossing plus 3 morning breakfasts for 4 people cost me all of £5 and also got 10% of restaurant bill.
The pitches themselves are all relatively flat, hard ground however standard metal pegs should be sufficient to hold the tent. Electric connection is close and each pitch is usually loosely separated by trees or some other natural barrier, we liked this as it allowed us to say hello to neighbours yet clearly mark the boundary. You will get a fair bit of dry dust on your tent which when it rains will leave streaks. Also the trees in our area leaked sap onto the tent roof, don't pack tent if sap is not dry. Recommend you take a tarp to go over the roof of the tent if possible. The gaps between the trees that make your boundary are wide enough to string a washing line. Main problem on the pitch though was ants! Due to the weather and the tree sap these are to be expected but keep your food sealed and you should be ok. As previously mentioned the pitches are close and there is little privacy, however for a beach front campsite the pitch size is good.
Facilities / Amenities:
The site opens at 8:00 and closes at midnight. No noise! They are very insistent about this, from about 11:45 ish the site was quiet and at midnight the street lamps went out to emphasise the fact that its time for bed.
The site is a family site and caters for young and older children. 2 tennis courts decent swimming pool (not open all day. Lifeguard siesta!) restaurant, site shop, games room, sweet shop, wifi room (you have to pay 15 euro for a week and its slow!) chicken and chips takeaway (must be booked 2 hours before required. Or else) and club are all based around reception area which gets busier as the day goes on and where all the teenies hang out at night. Our pitch was in between this area and the play park and we never heard noise from either area.
The beach has got direct access from the site however side gates close at 23:00 and only access is via front gate after that. So be careful if you fancy a late night skinny dip. There are wardens on all entrances to watch for undesirables getting into the site who arent guests.
Shower blocks are clean and don't be shy when the lady cleaner is working next to you in the gents facilities. Toilet role is provided but you must remember to take it into the cubicle with you. Showers are hotter at the start of the day and get cooler in the evening. People come off the beach about 7ish and you get a 5 minute queue for showers at this time. Given the sunshine we had I was surprised they don't make more of solar energy to heat the water rather than listening to the big industrial boiler fire up when you are in the shower.
We also hired a fridge on site for 5 euro a day. Expensive you might say but it saves space in the car and keeps the beer, butter, meat, fruit, etc chilled. Worth it in my opinion. It does come with a continental connector so you will need a converter.
What to say about the beach. This makes the site and gives it the high rating. I have never come across a better beach. Golden clean sand, clear blue water at least up to your waist and you can see your feet, safe enough to swim in, rock pools when the tide goes out with crabs and fish, a tidal estury with a quick tide (be careful here for smaller kids) and some sandbanks, small surf good enough for body boards and 1 mile of beach if you fancy a jog. There is often plenty to see. :-)
Before we went the weather reports were scary, average temps of 22 and rain. In reality we had probably 3 days of rain (first day putting tent up and last day putting tent down. Bloody typical!), at least half of the days were fantastic sunshine blue skies with temps between 25 and 30. Great! It stays warm even when cloudy and I rarely had to wear a jumper at night. The fan heater we used in the vendee (France) at night the previous year was redundant this year. If it does rain, it is usually drizzle and dries very quickly. Very little wind, thankfully as I couldn't deploy most of my guy ropes. I found that worldweatheronline was very close to reality in its forecasts.
Noja is ok, its a a beach town with a main street 'Av. Santander' if I remember correctly. There is a Lupa supermarket on this street with an underground carpark, however we preferred the El Arbola on the outskirts of Noja as you head towards Santander. All the shops close around 2ish and don't open until 5ish. Be aware if you are a late riser. We also spent a day in Santander, get the boat from Somo or Pedrena on the CA-141 which takes you across the bay and drops you in the middle of Santander. Nice for shopping, very expensive compared to UK and crap between 2pm - 5pm. Its all closed! Market day in Noja is Wednesday and is just outside the campsite. Food, bags and fake gear. Same in Somo on fridays.
Ice cream. Best vfm is Regma on the beach front road as you walk out from the site, recommend you have the lemon, one scoop is huge and only 2. 10 Euro
Generally I, and others I spoke to on the site, found the local spanish not very welcoming, whether this is because this is generally the local culture, Noja is geared towards a more Spanish tourist or was it due to the ongoing Gibralter crisis that played on TV in every restaurant I went in, not sure. On comparison I find the French more open and accommodating towards the Brits. Make sure you have your spanish phrase book or dictionary app on your phone, especially in restaurants to translate the menu. Food is generally good but too much pizza and chips available for my liking when what we actually wanted was more local cuisine.
A decent site with a beach front location. What makes this stand out is the beach, I could have stayed for a few more days and would have liked to have visited more local attractions, especially the Picos mountains. Would I return. Probably but not again next year, too soon.
Sorry its a long review but thanks for reading and hope this helps.
Booked a week for August 2013 because of previous good reviews. Driving to the site was easy. The small seaside town location may be convenient for the beach but the whole area seemed quite poor and a bit run down.
The actual site is huge, with several hundred pitches, all spaced very closely together, with narrow vehicle access paths and tight corners. Always busy, with lots of people, many families with children, many cycling on bikes along the narrow paths.
Once pitched, from our van we were face to face with the neighbours with no illusion or feeling of privacy at all which was not very pleasant.
Showers were clean enough but appeared a bit old and the water pressure was very weak indeed.
Wifi is only available at Reception - for a fee. TV satellite dish reception probably very poor as tall trees are everywhere.
Saw three nice swimming pools, a large main Reception area and several other facilities.
An expensive place for what you get. We moved on after just one night to another site (El Molina, inland near Cabuerniga).
A really busy Spanish holiday site but when you see the beach you understand why - it's a perfect campsite holiday beach, with direct access from the site, beautiful sand, sheltered from the full force of the Atlantic, and easy to get across the little river at low tide to Isla (although watch out for the tide if you want to get back without getting more than your feet wet!)
Busy+Spanish holidays+teenagers = quite a lot of noise although it got a lot quieter after our first two nights. Our pitch was fine sizewise- people happy to help us shift the van and there was room for the porch awning and car as well. Some pitches seemed to have a lot of litter trodden into the ground, but the toilets and showers were always clean, so probably a reflection on the clientèle rather than the management. Remember to grab the loo paper you need on your way in - it's provided in the toilet blocks, but outside the cubicles!
We also did the Santander-Portsmouth return crossing and agree with the comments below - it is expensive, but does make your holiday feel longer.
I agree with the above reviews, a decent site with a lovely beach. The barbecue chickens were fantastic! Make sure you say si when they ask you if you want sauce, it's the best bit. The cafe was very disappointing, caff style food at extortionate prices. We couldn't be bothered to eat out elsewhere, there are some restaurants in Isla which looked good but if the tide is in you have to wade through deep water to get there. We had a pitch next to the beach, there was sometimes a bit of noise from teenagers walking past at night but I've had worse and it was quite private with nobody in front of us. The sand was lovely and the waves were small and gentle. It was interesting seeing all the Spanish at play, they all operate on late time so you won't be woken early! They take their cooking very seriously and have the best equipped kitchen tents you've seen!
This site is very busy, quite cramped but had a certain charm, I'd go back again. The ferry back from Santander (Brittany) was very expensive but very pleasant, and a nice way to chill out on the way home rather than a 2 day drive to Calais.
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