Family’s take on indoor fun at seafront

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The stunning sea-front that stretches across our region provides many a great day out for all the family.

Unfortunately while we’re still waiting for summer to happen, it’s good to have some indoor ideas in the back pocket just in case Mr Sunshine isn’t smiling.

For this week’s generational review, we decided to visit the sea-side, but instead of risking the unpredictable weather, we called into South Shields activity centre Dunes Adventure Island to see what they had to offer the whole family.

Set alongside Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, opposite South Marine Park, Dunes Adventure Island, known mostly as ‘The Dunes’ has a prime location right on the sea-front.

The large pay and display car park outside makes it easily accessible while inside they offer a wide range of activities.

Their two largest attractions are Dunes Bowl – a 12 -lane ten pin bowling alley and Captain Dunes Galleon Soft Play area. There is also The Brig Bar, offering food and drink, an amusement arcade, function rooms for hire and Sambuca Italian restaurant all housed in one building.

On our visit, we decided to go bowling first. Dunes bowl is colourful, comfortable, fun and most importantly everyone in the family can take part.

Peak prices can be costly at £5.20 per person for one game, but there are some excellent deals to be had. These include £1 bowling for pensioners, £2 bowling for kids, adult bowling with drinks packages and a great evening offer of unlimited bowling for up to 6 people for two hours from only £15.

To ensure all ages are involved, different weighted bowls are available, you can choose to have the bumpers up or down even on the same lane while in play and there are assistance ramps available for the little ones to help their aim.

Snacks and drinks can be ordered and consumed at the lane, there are sweets and slushes available for younger tastes and after 8pm the lights go dark for neon 

Afterwards, we made a quick visit to Captain Dunes Galleon Soft Play area. 11 year old Georgia is too tall to play now, but 9 year Scarlett was happy to try it out alone.

Large in size, the area has a big slide in the centre, with a series of levels, bridges, climbing apparatus, swinging ropes and a ball pit to keep the little ones amused for ages. The area is currently under-going some renovation work but this doesn’t detract from the kid’s enjoyment.

There is considerable space to sit and relax on the leather sofas and the café sells a wide range of food, drinks, cake and coffees to keep the accompanying adults happy too.

The facility is very popular for children’s birthday parties and there are daily packages on offer from £5.99 for two hours soft play and a children’s meal which we thought was reasonable.

Our final stop was to have our tea at Sambuca Italian restaurant. This quirky circular shaped restaurant has a warm friendly atmosphere and offers the usual mix of pizzas, pastas, meat and sea-food dishes you would expect.

A daily special of only £4.95 is a remarkably cheap offer for a three course meal including any pizza or pasta on the 

Two of us ordered the special while the other two went for chicken dishes and all of the food was delicious. We’ll definitely be returning!

The Verdict


Ten pin bowling is a brilliant way for all the family to have fun. There aren’t that many activities where I can keep up with the grandchildren, but this I could. Rather than sitting on the side-lines, I had a good go and we all had a great laugh.

Dunes bowl is just the right size, not too big or small so it has a nice atmosphere and the kids can relax and have fun.

I was really impressed with Sambuca’s. The staff were so welcoming and went out of their way to make sure we had a great time. The food was lovely too. All in all a great family facility on our doorstep



Dunes Adventure Island is a firm favourite with me. We often visit Dunes bowl on an evening, its only £15 - £20 for two hours and its loads of fun. We’re all quite competitive so we try to put each other off. You can’t really beat it for value for money.

The soft play area is great facility for letting the children tire themselves out while I can catch up and have a natter with other mams over a cuppa. Sometimes I take a book down and have an hour to myself on the sofas. The food is actually a very good standard there too, especially the cake!

We always have a scrumptious meal at Sambuca, the staff there make a fuss of the children and the bill is always reasonable.

Definitely a place to recommend to all my friends


The Minis

Georgia (11) – I like the fact that all the family can take part in the bowling. The best bit is the neon bowling on a night time, it’s cool and we always go and ask for our favourite songs to be played. I like the arcade too, the rollercoaster rides are my favourite.

Scarlett (9) – I like it when I get a strike at bowling and I like sliding down the big slide in the soft play area. Sambuca is my favourite place to eat, the cheesy garlic bread and margarita pizza is yummy. When it was my birthday the staff stood me on a chair and they sang happy birthday to me.