Best Beaches in Wales

Best beaches in Wales

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Wales is home to some of the most wondrous coastal landscapes you could possibly feast your eyes on. It’s the UK’s hub of dramatic scenery, with untouched wilderness extending for mile and mile inland and out to the coast.

There are literally hundreds of beaches to be explored, each with their own charm and vigour. The relatively built-up south of the country gives way to nature the further west you go, with the UK’s only coastal national park in pretty Pembrokeshire. The more rural, Welsh-speaking Northern regions give visitors the double delight of serene seaside coupled with the remarkable sight of Snowdonia in the distance. We’ve mixed the best ingredients from North and South to bring you the quintessential list of the best beaches in Wales. Get ready for pristine sand alongside peace and tranquility.

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire (South)

Barafundle Bay Beach

Hark back a few years and Barafundle Bay would have been one of the first beaches on the list of hidden gems, not just in Wales but in the whole of the UK. Since then, the beach has been deservedly thrust into the spotlight, winning award after award, beating the likes of Sydney’s Bondi and Rio’s Copacabana as one of the world’s top beaches. The secret is quite simply out, so we have no qualms in including this on our list of the best beaches in Wales.

The entrance to this stunning stretch of sand is marked by limestone headlands, welcoming you to what is, despite its new-found fame, an extremely secluded location. Superlatives are often dished out too willy-nilly when it comes to beaches, but Barafundle Bay is the cream of the crop. Gently sloping dunes marry with the relatively calm seas to bring you everything you need at a beach. The long walk from the nearest car park is worth it the moment you see the sea.

Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire

Freshwater West Beach

The fittingly named Freshwater West on the rugged Irish Sea coast of Wales is a beautiful stretch of sand with a more than interesting history to it. Thanks to its secluded location and the rugged terrain that surrounds it, it once served as a smuggler’s paradise. Closer to the east coast of Ireland than London and relatively rural, access was just as easy via sea as land. Today, Freshwater West forms part of the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The beach is wide, expansive and increasingly popular with experienced surfers.

The beach may also look familiar if you’re a film buff. The beach was also used to bury Dobby, Harry Potter’s house-elf, in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’. You’ll be walking in the shadow of Harry, Hermione and Ron as you head down to the beach, with it attracting more than its fair share of Potter fanatics since part one of the film was released in 2010. It also features in the movie Their Finest and has been used as a double for the famous landings on Dunkirk in several re-enactments. You’ll see why it’s one of the best beaches in Wales from the moment you set foot on it.

Gronant Dunes, Prestatyn, Denbighshire (North)

Largest unspoiled sand dunes on the North Wales coast at Presthaven

Gronant Dunes Beach is just steps from one of our greatest parks. Designated within a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the beach is home to an immense amount of wildlife within its surroundings. The area is a real oasis of plant and animal life that’s waiting to be explored, with the winter months attracting tens of thousands of waterfowls and waders. The beach truly comes to life for bird watchers over this colder period.

With Barkby Beach to the west and Talacre Point to the east, Gronant Dunes provides the perfect playground for dogs to stretch their legs whilst owners take in the peaceful surroundings. The sand welcomes canines with open arms all year round. It’s also an excellent location for a foray into the water. Swimmers and bathers come down to the sand safe in the knowledge that it has a Marine Conservation Society Recommendation to its name. We’re adding to its accolades by including it in the list of Wales’ best beaches.

Harlech Beach, Gwynedd (North)

Harlech Beach

Four miles of uninterrupted sand await visitors to this picturesque corner of Gwynedd. Facing Ceredigion Bay, Harlech Beach is backed by grassy dunes and the freshest of Irish Sea breezes. The aptly named Shell Island sits south of the sand, with the Morfa Harlech Nature Reserve to the north. This is within yet another Site of Special Scientific Interest, with the beach acting as a great playground for kids whilst adults have ample space to sit back and relax.

The sight of the 13th-century Harlech Castle harks back to an era of strategic importance and immense conflict, in stark contrast to the peaceful nature of today’s Harlech. The World Heritage Site stands with authority over the beach and is open to visitors throughout the year. It played an incredibly important role in the English Civil War and stood on the coastline in its heyday. Its position today is a reminder of how coastlines can shift over time, with Wales’ only growing dune system also within the beach’s territory. For a mixture of past drama and present peace, Harlech Beach is one of Wales’ best beaches.

Morfa Bychan - Black Rock Sands, Gwynedd (North)

Morfa Bychan Beach

Morfa Bychan is a vast expanse of sand at the corner of Wales’ north west peninsula towards Aberdaron. Known to the locals as Black Rock Sands, the beach is unique in that it allows direct access to cars. Many people take up the opportunity to drive directly onto the sand, making it a great place for those with mobility issues. It also means you don’t have to lug a load of beach towels and food onto the sand for a picnic, which is always a bonus!

Rockpools and caverns combine to create another Welsh Site of Special Scientific Interest, with the tide extending outwards generously. This creates oceans of space even when there are cars and campervans parked on the sand. An interesting river confluence lies at the south end of the sand, which is where the village of Morfa Bychan can also be found. We couldn’t leave one of the best beaches in Wales without mentioning the ultimate peak in Wales. Snowdonia beautifully overlooks this coastal area and is only six miles away.

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

Llanddwyn Beach

Nestled on the south western tip of the Isle of Anglesey, Llanddwyn Beach is typical of the hidden gems Wales offers in abundance. Backed by forest, the sand is extensive and includes a small peninsula that sticks out into the choppy Irish Sea. This unblemished beach is one of the most extensive pieces of sands not only on Britain’s islands, but its mainland too.

Home to many different species of birds and wildlife, Lllanddywn doubles up as a nature reserve. The beach is a windy haven, attracting many kitesurfers over the years. Even though much of it remains untouched, the beach has many safe walking paths. The route down to Newborough Forest is a particular highlight, with the Welsh mainland represented with passion by the sight of Snowdonia in the picture. The paths are clear enough to cycle along without trouble. All in all, Llanddwyn is a fantastic addition to the list of best beaches in Wales.

Rhossili Bay Beach, Swansea

Rhossili Bay Beach

Such is Rhossili Bay’s beauty; it was the centrepiece of the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s easy to see why it was at the top of the tree. Rhossili isn’t just one for Wales, or even the UK. It’s popping up with increasing prominence in lists of the world’s best beaches. A huge expansive three miles of sand comes to life when the tide goes out, which also marks the time that visitors get their cameras out to capture one of the most stunning shots a UK beach could produce.

Wildlife and landmarks stand side by side on the sand that offers something different every time. Seals are often spotted sunning themselves on the rocks next to the mysterious shipwreck of the Helvetia, that washed up here in 1887 and has been a feature ever since. If you’re out for an adventure, head to Worm’s Head Island at low tide. It’s the perfect spot for seeing Rhossili Bay in all its glory. A glorious way to round off the list of Wales’ best beaches.