Best beaches in North Wales
The North Wales coast is an eclectic mix of major seaside towns, quiet bays and soothing stretches of sand that are often untouched for days.
Spotless scenery sits just a short drive from major regional hubs in this, one of the most sparsely populated parts of the UK. The area has always been a magnet for staycations, with the population increasing during the peak season as city dwellers head for a much-needed break. This doesn’t mean any more hassle though, with roads winding through the imposing hills of the region without the traffic seen in other domestic holiday hotspots. You’ll never be far from the sight of spectacular Snowdonia, which at its closest sits just six miles from the shore. Feast your eyes on this special list of the best beaches in North Wales.
Abersoch Beach, Abersoch
Abersoch Beach is the sailing hub of North Wales and one of the region’s best beaches. Regularly hosting international events, the area attracts sailors from far and wide looking to perfect their masting skills. The sea isn’t just for the experts, with boat trips taking visitors to the rocky islands of St Tudwal and Bardsey, around 3km southeast of Abersoch off the coastal mainland.
The sea is hospitable even on a changeable day and you’ll often see swimmers relatively far out from the sand. There are no waves or currents in normal conditions. The Afon Soch River meets the sea at the beach’s northern end, which is where you’ll find a lovely spread of amenities and further access to the wonderful Welsh town. Snowdonia adds an epic edge to the horizon and is about an hour’s drive away by car.
Gronant Dunes, Prestatyn, Denbighshire
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 this list of best beaches.
Harlech Beach, Gwynedd
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
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.
Prestatyn Beach, Prestatyn, Denbighshire
Prestatyn is one of North Wales’ premier seaside outposts. A hive of seaside fun, the town is undergoing a cultural revival that puts it at the pinnacle of what this stunning country has to offer. Backed by a wide promenade, the coastal area is the go-to place for a cycle in Wales. The North Wales Cycle Trail takes you miles along the Irish Sea coast, and Prestatyn is a great place to start, finish or take a break on your journey.
The beach is also favoured by windsurfers and sailors. The town is awash with amenities, with the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre home to everything great about film. The historic Offa’s Dyke path also converges on the seafront, marking the ancient border of England and Wales.
Rhyl Beach, Rhyl, Clwyd
Rhyl Beach is one the first places people flock to for a seaside experience on the North Wales coast, and it's understandable why. Little more than a collection of fisherman’s houses in the 19th-century, Rhyl became a town in its own right through the advent of mass tourism. A rise in prosperity in cities also translated to Rhyl, welcoming those with newfound income to its seaside promenade.
Rhyl’s renaissance continues to this day, attracting a new generation of staycationers and residents looking for a better quality of life. The town’s beach is a key reason for that, stretching two miles along with its heart from Clwyd Estuary to Splash Point. Half a mile’s walk is a delight when the tide goes out, putting into perspective just how vast the sand can reach when the sea recedes.
Dinas Dinlle Beach, Dinas Dinlle, Gwynedd
Dinas Dinlle is only a short drive from Caernarfon on Gwynedd’s north coast, but the atmosphere is a world away from that of a major town. The major selling point here is the fantastic views across the bay towards the Isle of Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula. Another with a prestigious Blue Flag Award, the beach has extensive sand that eventually becomes pebble where the beach meets the coastal road.
A Marine Conservation Award means the sea is equally good for swimming in, and when you’re done with your exercise, you can refuel at the beach café. The breakfast served here alone is enough to include this in the guide of beaches in North Wales.
Llanddwyn Beach (Newborough), near Niwbwrch, Isle of Anglesey
Llanddwyn is another Anglesey-based beach, sitting on the island’s southwestern tip. It marks the spot of one of the largest areas on sand dunes in the whole of the British Isles, in an extremely quiet and peaceful area free from the blemishes of human settlement and activity. This makes for a natural masterpiece.
Backed by forest, the beach adds to its endearment with a short peninsula extending its reach out into the Irish Sea. A walk along here reveals two lighthouses marking the end of Wales and the beginning of harsh waters. Tie in your visit with a detour to Newborough Forest, which offers one of the greatest views of Snowdonia anyone could wish for. Across the bay, it’s a sight no one can forget in a hurry.
Benllech Beach, Benllech, Isle of Anglesey
One of Anglesey’s most popular, Benllech Beach sits on the island’s eastern coast and faces back towards the Welsh mainland and North West England in the far distance. Fine golden sand affords it a Blue Flag, and at low tide, this extends for miles. Rockpools form, providing the perfect setting to see crabs and other small sea creatures up close.
Grassy cliffs offer a route up to the beach promenade, where there is an abundance of facilities at hand to extend your stay. Some areas of the beach are dog-friendly all year round, and there is easy access via roadside parking.
Treaddur Bay Beach, Treaddur Bay, Isle of Anglesey
Treaddur Bay is only a couple of miles away from Anglesey’s biggest population centre. It attracts walkers from Holyhead and some even stop off here for a break when they disembark a ferry from Ireland. In all honesty, they couldn’t pick a better place to prepare them for their onward journey, with the vast expanse of sand neatly overlooking the Irish Sea.
The beach has recently become a site of historical interest, with an ancient burial ground uncovered in the coastal area. It was excavated in 2003 and continues to be the source of studies into what life was like thousands of years ago. The town gets its Welsh name from Arthur, a reference to the King and its role in antiquity.