Beaches in Wales

Beaches in Wales

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Wales is home to some of the most striking coastal areas on the planet. It’s a land full of space, meaning you’re never too far away from an undiscovered seaside paradise.

There are literally hundreds of hidden beaches, bays, coves and rocks waiting to be appreciated. Some require a substantial journey to get to, but when you do arrive, the picture that greets you makes the extra effort instantaneously worth it. We cover seaside favourites, shoutout underrated masterpieces, and pay homage to staples of the wonderful Welsh seaside in this, the quintessential list of beaches in Wales.

Abersoch Beach, Gwynedd

Abersoch Beach

Abersoch fittingly takes its name from nearby river of Afon Soch, which empties itself into the harbour marking the northern end of the beach. It’s a sailing hub of Wales’ north coast, hosting meets with competitors from around the world. Not just one for the professionals, it’s also a playground for amateurs looking to perfect their skills at sea.

When you look out at the horizon, it won’t be just sailors you see. Boat trips take visitors to the gleaming St Tudwal and Bardsey islands, only a short ride away. The sea is more than hospitable to equipment and machinery. You’ll be pleased to know it’s perfect for a simple swim too. Spend a moment looking up at Snowdonia. Wales’ highest peak dominates the skyline and is about an hour away by road.

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire (South)

Barafundle Bay Beach

Previously a coastal backwater known to few, Barafundle Bay has risen to prominence since it was named as one of the top beaches in the world in 2004. Since then, it has become one of the star-studded sandy outposts in Britain. Set between cliffs to the north and south, it ends the limestone-formed cliffs of the Castlemartin peninsula. What it lacks in accessibility it more than makes up for in beauty.

Superlatives are often bounded up with too much frequency, but the bay really is jewel in the crown of Wales. The dunes slope easily down into calm seas to bring visitors a great experience whether the intention is to get wet or stay dry. You’ll have to park the car a relatively long distance away, but the walk back through lush land simply adds to the great experience.

Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire

Freshwater West Beach

Freshwater West is a beach that must pay a visit to, even if you’re not visiting the immediate area. There are clear reasons why directors have picked the beach is a filming outpost for their productions over the years. Pristine sand couples with stunning surroundings to provide the ultimate package. The beach was the burial site of Dobby, Harry Potter’s house elf in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In a more action-packed scene, it portrayed Dunkirk in the heat of the famous battle during World War Two. 

Freshwater is a key component in the famous Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the UK’s only coastal collection of its kind. Wide and generous dunes play host to relatively few people throughout the year, meaning your journey west gives you what feels like the place to yourself. 

Gronant Dunes, Prestatyn, Denbighshire (North)

Largest unspoiled sand dunes on the North Wales coast at Presthaven

Gronant Dunes is just a short distance from Prestatyn, a classic seaside town that has been attracting day-trippers for decades. It sits within a Site of Specific Scientific Interest, providing a home to hundreds of different species of wildlife. It’s worth noting that the beach is a great place to bring your own furry friend, with dogs allowed access to the sand all year round. It’s a fantastic space for them to stretch their four legs, extending from Talacre Point in the east to Barkby Beach in the west.

Swimmers and bathers head for this area, attracted by the accolades that Gronant Dunes has to its name. It’s a recipient of the Marine Conservation Society Recommendation, a nod to the fantastic water quality it possesses.

Harlech Beach, Gwynedd (North)

Harlech Beach

Harlech Beach occupies a prestigious position in what is widely regarded as one of Gwynedd’s loveliest areas. Four miles of pristine sand face the relaxing Ceredigion Bay, home to fresh grassy dunes and the most refreshing breeze you could wish for, courtesy of the Irish Sea. Another Site of Specific Scientific Interest, Harlech is nestled between the Morfa Harlech Nature Reserve in the North and maritime-inspired Shell Island to the south. It’s also a stone’s throw from Snowdonia Flight School, and you’ll likely see a range of light aircraft when you pay a visit.

The 13th-century Harlech Castle is a piece of history waiting to be discovered in Harlech town. The structure played an incredibly important role during the English Civil War and sat on the coastline in its heyday.

Llanddwyn Beach (Newborough), Isle of Anglesey (North)

Llanddwyn Beach

Llanddwyn Beach requires that little bit of extra effort to get to from most major population centres. We can confidently say it’s worth it. Another hidden gem, it sits to Anglesey’s South West, easily accessible from the mainland via the A55 road in this Welsh-speaking part of the country. Backed by forest, it’s a world away from human development.

The sand sits at the mercy of choppy waters, a fact that becomes particularly pronounced on the small peninsula that extends into the sphere of the Irish Sea. Often, you’ll see more animals than humans in the area. Snowdonia is never too far from the eyeline either, perched across the Menai Strait. Llanddywn adds another type of atmosphere to the list of beaches in Wales.

Llangrannog Beach, Ceredigion

Llangrannog Beach

You don’t have to go back to find Lllangrannog sitting at the centre of the fishing industry, modestly providing homes to the early rising individuals that used the sea for their survival. The beach was a sleeping giant. Today, it deservedly attracts visitors from far and wide looking for a coastal retreat. They’re never disappointed.

Nestled between two awe-inspiring cliffs, the sand is backed by quaint and colourful houses that offer a premier view of the seaside. Cilborth Beach connects with the area at low tide, and both beaches sit on the serene South Wales Coastal Path, a fantastic route to take if you fancy a stroll.

Morfa Bychan - Black Rock Sands, Gwynedd (North)

Morfa Bychan Beach

Morfa Bychan is also known locally as Black Rock Sands. It sits in a curious position at the confluence of the Afon Dwyryd lake with the Irish Sea. A venture down here requires minimal effort, with vehicles more than welcome to park on the sand itself. In peak season, you’ll see fellow visitors take advantage of this relatively rare privilege to bring all sorts of accessories into their beach experience.

The tide extends out generously here, and you’ll see Harlech Beach across what then becomes a stream of water. Don’t try to navigate it though! Morfa Bychan village is just a short distance away, a picturesque village that pales in comparison to the spectacular Snowdonia that dominates the skyline. Wales’ highest peak is only six miles away from here, and well worth a closer look.

Rhossili Bay Beach, Swansea

Rhossili Bay Beach

Rhossili Bay is a truly iconic beach. Described as the ‘supermodel of British Beaches’ by The Independent, it’s won numerous awards and has been a consistent performer in competitions looking for Wales, the UK’s and even the world’s best beaches. One of the best spots you could want for a picnic, the beach is also widely recognised as one of the best for families. A vast stretch of sand extends for three miles here, reaching its full potential when the tide goes out.

You’ll see visitors with their cameras ready to capture one of the most stunning coastal shots any beach could produce. Take care on the steep walk down to the sand from the cliffs, which are home to many different species of bird. You’ll likely see a nest or two as you get closer. Rhossili adds real world-class credentials to this list of beaches in Wales.

Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea

Three Cliffs Bay Beach

Three Cliffs Bay is another beach in Wales to bring your camera to. The limestone headland to the east unveils the three peaks the bay gets its name from. Connecting beautifully with the Bristol Channel, its particularly photogenic, even on a cloudy day. The bay could be categorised as a series of small beaches that come together as one at low tide. Pobbles and Tor Bay are just two that offer their own unique charm.

Whether you see these as one or as a collective, the sand rarely gets too busy, despite the area’s relative proximity to Swansea. Lifeguards patrol the shores during the busier months, and dogs are allowed onto the sand without restrictions throughout the year.