Barafundle Bay Beach

Beaches in South Wales

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When we think about landscapes, the beaches of South Wales have it all. From bustling promenades to spotless sand in what feels like the middle of nowhere, the list of experiences is endless.

A trip along the south of the country brings you past the country’s capital and industrial heartlands, with classic seaside towns serving this clientele for decades with no let-up in their popularity. As you head further west, the people become fewer, and the beaches become greater. Coastal roads help around lush surroundings until you finally get to some of the greatest hidden gems the UK has to offer. Find out more about these in this, the quintessential guide to beaches in South Wales.

Aberporth Beach, Ceredigion

Aberporth Beach

Aberporth Beach is a wonderful place to head to with the family. In reality, two separate stretches of sand come together in one in Aberporth. These are kept separate by a natural headland, with the two sections commonly known as Dyffryn and Dolwen. There is no doubt that these come together to form one of the prettiest spectacles in the area, making this one of Ceredigion’s hotspots for tourists near and far.

After a few hours on the sand, stretch your legs along the clifftop walk eat to Tresaith. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to photos. You can also sample some special seafood in the area, a nod to Aberporth’s credentials as a centre of fishing.

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire (South)

Barafundle Bay Beach

Once amongst the most underrated beaches in South Wales, Barafundle Bay has been thrust into the spotlight in recent years with an incredible series of awards. It’s entered the beach conversation alongside the world-famous Bondi in Sydney and Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro. Blue Flag Awards, magazine features and online blogs have given it momentum like few others.

A visit here makes you wonder why it wasn’t front and centre even earlier, bringing true meaning to the word ‘picturesque’. Gentle dunes slope slightly down towards the sea, with cliff faces offering perfect protection from the wind at ground level. Even the half-mile trek back to the car park is a delight. It follows a route through charming land managed by the National Trust.

Barry Island Beach, Glamorgan

Barry Island Beach

Barry Island is one of the most famous seaside resorts in the whole UK, let alone Wales. Historically separated from the town by water, it was linked by land as Barry expanded from the 1880s onwards. When the tide goes out, a wide expanse of golden sand appears just a few steps from all the seaside favourites you could wish for. When the tide is higher, surfers and sea anglers flock to the shores to practice their favourite pastimes.

A tidal range of 15 metres actually makes Barry the second broadest of its kind in the world. This great fact aside, it's best known for featuring prominently in the hilarious BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey. Check it out and get to know Smithy and Nessa!

Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire

Freshwater West Beach

If you feel as if Freshwater looks familiar, it's likely you’ve spotted it on the big or small screen at some point. Featuring in countless dramas, tv shows and films, the beach has welcomed film crews from the UK and around the world. It was the burial ground of Dobby, Harry Potter’s loveable house-elf companion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s also provided a fitting double for Dunkirk in several films that cover the tragic events of World War Two.

Sitting to the south on Wales’ west coast, the beach was previously the centre of a huge smuggling operation. It was the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park that provided cover in those days, and still offers the sand a large degree of seclusion to this day. Exposed to the harsh Atlantic, the beach attracts surfers who frequently encounter some of the best conditions in South Wales here.

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.

Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire

Marloes Beach

Marloes Sands occupies a prestigious position on the very edge of Pembrokeshire. The long and windy journey here is more than worth it, with stunning scenery and a wealth of wildlife on hand to make a visit to this beach in South Wales one for the photo album. The beach is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean, creating intense gales and a spray or two from the sea.

Another beach that has featured in Hollywood, scenes from Snow White and the Huntsman were filmed here back in 2011. There are two utopian islands in the distance. Skomer and Skokholm host a mass of birds, seals and archaeological sites. Boats frequently sail to the former from Martin’s Haven on the mainland, a trip that is well worth the time and effort.

Pendine Sands, Camarthenshire

Pendine Beach

Pendine Sands was the setting for an unbelievable record attempt by one of the most recognisable faces in the whole country. 2015 was the year that Idris Elba famously broke the UK’s land speed record at over 180 miles per hour in this quiet corner of South Wales. Being an extremely flat area, Pendine attracted weekly vehicle races back in the early 20th-century.

Today, it’s used partly by the Ministry of Defence for training purposes. Walkers will spot Carmathen Bay, Gower and Tenby from the shoreline, with the delights of Pendine village just a short hop away. Dogs are allowed all year round here, making this a great South Wales beach to bring your pooch along to.

Rhossili Bay Beach, Swansea

Rhossili Bay Beach

Rhossili Bay marked the spot of the UK’s first-ever Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the fact that we’re repeating this title shows the depth of quality beaches South Wales has to its name. More than just a regional beach, Rhossili is another to have entered conversations in a global context. Its beauty defies its accessibility, with an easy route to Swansea no more than an hour on a bad day.

Another sandy stretch to be captured, it’s widely considered one of the most stunning seaside pictures the country has to offer. A slice of history is quite literally in the background too, with the ruins of the Helvetia ship representing a throwback to the area’s role as a hub for vessels far and wide.

Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea

Three Cliffs Bay Beach

Three Cliffs Bay is even closer to Swansea. Just a half an hour’s drive from its vibrant centre, many choose to tie in a few hours at the beach with a visit to Wales’ second-largest city. Backed by gently sloping dunes, the beach is surrounded by rocky interfaces on three sides, with gently flowing streams separating sections of sand at low tide.

The bay never gets too busy. You’ll likely have it to yourself at any time of the year other than summer. We recommend the Parkmill route as the smoothest journey down to the sand. Grab a picture of the three summits the bay is named after, sure to give you an iconic photo and one to entice you back.

Whitesands Beach, Pembrokeshire

Whitesands Beach

Another representative of Pembrokeshire, the aptly named Whitesands Beach sits on its north-western peninsula and is another that’s at the full mercy of the Atlantic Ocean. The white sand heads north towards St. David’s Head, a natural pier that waves crash against. A Blue Flag Award means lifeguards in the busy months and range of handy facilities.

You’ll spot the Bishop and Clerk Islands out at sea. These untouched outposts about 5km from the shore. The hospitable sight of these shouldn’t be underestimated. They marked a dangerous area for the ships of the past and were the site of many wreckages. In the immediate water, all sorts of water sports are practiced, from a simple bit of swimming to full-blown canoeing sessions.