What You Need To Know Before Booking Your Haven Holiday

Haven is a great place to go for a family holiday, but what can you do when you are there? Do all sites have the same options and how do you choose the best site to go to? I answer all these questions and provide other useful information (including whether you can bring your pet dog) that you'll find helpful to know before you book a Haven holiday in this post.

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Haven caravan holiday on the beach front and what there is to do on a haven holiday

What Is There To Do On A Haven Holiday?


Just like at Butlins or CenterParcs one of the big attractions for families at Haven is the swimming pool, which is included in your Play Pass so you can use it for free. Unlike those other holiday resorts though most of the pools aren't amazing and while they all have access to indoor pools there are some which are just swimming pools (eg no slides). Of the 37 sites 24 have outdoor pools which will be open when the weather is appropriate (between April and September), 22 sites have an indoor slide or flume and a few others only have flumes, slides etc in their outdoor pools. This is a useful pool comparison page. 

Haven sites with the best pool facilities are probably: Blue Dolphin (North Yorkshire), Devon Cliffs (Exmouth), Kiln Park (Tenby South Wales), Primrose Valley (Filey, Yorkshire), Seashore and Wild Duck (both Great Yarmouth, Norfolk), Seaview (Weymouth, Dorset), Thorpe Park (Lincolnshire).


There is entertainment every evening in peak times which can include quizzes, bingo, children’s disco, live music, "light entertainment" etc. During the day in school holidays there are sessions for children and you can meet the Seaside Squad mascots. You don’t need to book for entertainment, but the table seating runs on a first come first served basis so if you arrive for a later show you might end up standing as some people arrive early and settle in for the night. You can find out what will be available during your stay via the app in the month before your stay.


There are a mixture of free and paid for activities at all sites, but what exactly is on offer will vary. Some of the options include: aerial adventure courses, climbing walls, jump towers, bushcraft activities, 4x4 off roaders (for children), golf, adventure golf, archery, badminton, bike hire, football and segways. All sites have playgrounds and an arcade where children will happily spend time (and all their parents money) on the 2p slots if given a chance.

Eating and Drinking

The caravans are self catering and you can cook basic meals in them, but you probably wont want to attempt a full on Sunday roast. If you want to save money on meals bring food with you or head to a supermarket after you arrive, but the onsite shops are ok for basics. If you don’t want to cook then there are takeaways and a restaurant onsite or there will be plenty of other food places a short drive away. There is normally a bar area in the restaurant as well as in the main venue for entertainment.

Off Site Activities

Most Haven sites are located on the coast so you can walk to the beach from your caravan. Inland sites will give you plenty to explore in woodland areas. They tend to be near tourist areas too so there will always be places to go. You can book some local attractions at a discount from the reception area so have a chat with them for ideas if you fancy a day out.

Booking Swimming and Activities On Site

If you book a holiday through Haven (other than the Haven Hideaway breaks) you will get access to book activities and swimming 4 weeks before your visit. You can currently pre-book 14 one hour swimming sessions in advance for your stay.  You can book online via the link they email you or via the Haven app.  The slots become available after midnight so if you really want a slot at a specific time and you are visiting at a peak time it is worth staying up. Please note that the 14 slots are per booking, regardless of how many people are on your booking or the length of your stay. Find out how to book extra swim sessions below. 

If you book a private caravan on a Haven site you can’t book sessions until you have bought your Play Pass so at peak times there might be limited availability left if you don't buy your pass until after you arrive.

The free activities get booked up quickly so look for those when you get access 4 weeks before, most of the paid for activities are less popular and some may be available to book after you arrive. The entertainment including kid's shows aren't prebookable.

How To Get More Swimming Pool Sessions at Haven

If your children love to go swimming you will probably want to go to the pool more than the 14 prebookable slots allow, for instance as a family of 5 we could only prebook swimming sessions for us all on 2 days. We went Easter weekend so all the swimming pool sessions ended up fully booked, however we managed to go swimming on all 4 days we stayed using these tips:

  • Book with all your prebookable slots as soon as you can. For the 5 of us we booked 2 sessions for us all and 1 session for 4 of us at what I thought would be a less popular time and I might be able to get an extra space (I did). 
  • You can go swimming after 6pm (until the pools close) without booking.
  • You can go swimming in standalone outdoor pools without booking (these are only open in the warmer months).
  • Check the app for availability as it does change. It will say whether swimming sessions are fully booked, how many spaces are available (if it's very low) or that there are spaces. You can book additional sessions from 24 hours in advance so if you see that at 2.15pm on Saturday there are spaces make sure you are on the app 2.15pm on Friday grabbing those sessions. You can also do this to get sessions on your arrival day if your check in time is early enough to allow pool time.
  • When a session you booked with your 14 slots has past it looks like the allocation becomes available again eg if you are staying for a week and you book for 4 of you to go swimming on your first day, by the time you come out of the pool the app will show you have 4 slots you can use for booking later in the week (if there is space).
  • Just a note that if you book a swim session for some of your group and you want to change the number of people going (assuming there are spaces) you have to cancel then rebook. I had to do this to increase a booking from 4 to 5 and found it a stressful 2 minutes incase someone managed to grab them in the few seconds between cancelling and rebooking. 

Which Is The Best Haven Caravan Park?

The facilities, lay-out etc. vary between parks so where you will have the best holiday will depend on personal preferences about location and what sort of break you want. I don't find the Haven website very easy to use for comparing holiday options and prefer to make sure I know the differences between the sites I am looking at and the difference between caravan types before I check availability. The flagship site is Primrose Valley which is both large and packed with facilities, but they continue to improve their offerings across all their sites. Some sites will always remain smaller and quieter than others, but that might suit your family better. 

If there are particular activities you want then double check where they are eg if looking at Norfolk holidays all 4 sites have indoor pools with a slide or a flume, all are in or close to Great Yarmouth, but 3 are next to the beach where as Wild Duck is further inland and has forest walks. If you aren’t bothered about being right on the coast then Wild Duck tends to be considerably cheaper. You can find out how to get the best deal which ever site you go to in this post.

Useful Information To Know When Booking A Haven Holiday

Arrival and departure time

Haven send you a 1 hour window check in time a week before your booking starts. They may give you an arrival time slot from afternoon to early evening and it can not be changed. If you particularly want to arrive early you can now pay in advance to choose your check in time, you have to do this at least a week before ie you still can't change your check in time once allocated. For our 2024 holiday I decided I wasn't prepared to pay an extra £25 for an early check in so left it to chance. I was worried that people being able to pay would mean anyone that didn't would get a much later check in time, but we have been allocated 2pm and I wouldn't want earlier than that. 

If you plan to arrive later then you can advise them on the app, but you are not allowed to arrive more than 2 hours before your allocated arrival time or they may ask you to leave. If the 2 hours before your check in time you are allowed to use the restaurants, arcades, shops and outside spaces, but you will not be able to access your accommodation early. When we visited recently we were given our play passes and key at the gate when we arrived (before our check in time) although on the website it claims that these are left in your caravan. Some people have found their check in time is too late and while you can try contacting Haven and asking them for help, they state that it can not be changed.

You have to leave your caravan and return your keys by 10am on your departure day, but you can stay on site and use facilities for the rest of the day if you want.

Hire facilities 

If you want to come by public transport or don’t have space in your car there are hire facilities at each site. These include basics like high chairs and cots, but sometimes towels and bikes as well. You can see full details of what is available to hire when booking or subsequently in your online account area, but there is also some details on these information pages.

Dogs at Haven

Most Haven sites allow dogs (except Riviere Sands and Burnham-On-Sea), but they don’t allow the following breeds: Pit Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro & Japanese Tosa. There is a maximum of 2 dogs per caravan.

When looking for accommodation select how many dogs you are bringing and you will be shown the dog friendly accommodation options.

Dogs (other than assistance dogs) aren’t allowed into the inside venues so you wont be able to eat in the restaurants unless there is an outside terrace area that can be accessed without going inside. 

There are lots of dog friendly holidays out there if you can’t find what you’re looking for at Haven sites. Some accommodation providers are more accommodating than others when it comes to pets.

As most Haven sites are right next to the beach you may want to check if the beach is dog friendly at the time you are visiting (some beaches have seasonal restrictions and others require dogs to be kept on leads). Haven actually have a blog post about the top dog friendly beaches, but unhelpfully non of these seem to be beaches next to their sites which implies non of the immediate beaches are dog friendly all year round. Check the local council websites for the most accurate information for the beaches near to your preferred location before booking to avoid disappointment.

Wifi and Phone Reception

Mobile reception will vary across parks and phone networks, but it is possible you won’t have reception. Every site seems to have somewhere with free WIFI access though, usually the restaurant or the main complex area. At a few sites there is wifi available across the park. 

What To Take To With You

Find out what you need to pack for a Haven caravan holiday in this useful packing list.

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