Best Beaches in South Wales

Best beaches in South Wales

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South Wales is the most populated part of the country, so you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a place with more substance than style. The reality is, it has both.

Big cities and industrial heartlands give way to pretty fishing villages and untouched coastline the further west you go. The area has a rich shipping history, with the remnants of this being found in more than one coastal town along the way. There are ample opportunities for water sports, with surfers and sailors coming from far and wide to navigate the Bristol Channel. You’ll also see the former heartlands of smuggler’s operations and site or two that you may have seen on the big and small screen. Discover our list of the best beaches in South Wales.

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

Barafundle Bay Beach

Barafundle Bay has risen to prominence in recent years, and not just in the conversation about the best beaches in South Wales either. It’s gone from an underrated unknown to being thrust into the spotlight by a series of awards. Increasingly cropping up at a national level, the beach has also beaten the likes of Sydney’s Bondi and Rio’s Copacabana in global terms.

The stunning entrance to the beach sets you up nicely for a day out at the seaside. Marked by limestone headlands, it retains a hidden aura, despite its new-found fame. Gentle dunes slope ever so slightly downwards to a serene sea that rarely whistles up a storm. It won’t take you long to realise why this beach is widely considered amongst the cream of the crop. It makes the relatively long walk from the nearest car park an absolute pleasure.

Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire

Freshwater West Beach

Freshwater West sits on the west coast of Wales, exposed to the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. This pleasing stretch of sand has a colourful history as part of a huge smuggling operation. Closer to Ireland than the UK capital, access to the beach comes via windy roads and a series of grassy dunes. This peculiar route takes you through the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. This entire area is a magnet for surfers, with the consistent swell and strong currents providing optimum conditions. The vicinity is also known for fossils, with many prehistoric remnants discovered over the years.

Freshwater has been in many famous film scenes. The beach provided a graveyard for Harry Potter’s loveable house-elf to be buried in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You’ll be walking in the shadow of Dobby, Harry, Ron and Hermione as you head down here. It’s also played a key part in Their Finest and doubled up as Dunkirk in several portrayals of the Second World War.

Llangrannog Beach, Ceredigion

Llangrannog Beach

Not so long ago, Llangrannog was a modest fishing village with industry at its heart. These days, its primary source of income comes from tourism, with the breathtaking beach at the centre of its appeal. Sitting beneath a series of craggy cliffs, the sand forms part of the superb South Wales Coastal Path.

Lifeguards give reassurance to swimmers over the summer months, which is sailing and surfing also reach their peak popularity. You’ll be connected by land to Cilborth Beach in the north when the tide recedes, with a coastal path providing alternative means to get there. Ynys Lochtyn- a nearby peninsula with a seal colony is also accessible to walkers.

Rhossili Bay Beach, Swansea

Rhossili Bay Beach

The quality and depth of the best beaches in South Wales is highlighted by the inclusion of another gem – Rhossili Bay. Another that has risen to the top of global features around beaches, Rhossili is more than just a regional beach. Its huge expanse of sand stretches for three miles along the coast, with the second-largest city in Wales not too far away. The tide’s retreat is the cue to get your camera out and capture what is widely considered one of the most stunning seaside shots anywhere in the UK.

Landmarks couple with wildlife to offer experiences that are different every time you venture down here. The way the seals sun themselves next to the mysterious remains of the Helvetia ship is a snapshot of the atmospheric peculiarities of Rhossili. To continue the adventure, head down to Worm’s Head Island at low tide, the perfect place to reflect on the glorious surroundings.

Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea

Three Cliffs Bay Beach

Yet another South Wales beach to bring your camera to, Three Cliffs Bay is one of the region’s most photographed locations. Golden sand is backed by gently sloping dunes around all three sides of land that form the bay, connecting harmoniously with the Bristol Channel. The three summits are iconic and named as Britain’s best view on more than one occasion. 

Empty in the winter and sparse in the summer, Three Cliffs never gets too busy. Several small beaches form it, with each one offering something slightly different to your seaside experience. Access to some of these involves some rather rough terrain, with the Parkmill route being the best for a smooth journey to the sand. Low tide also connects several of the beaches, creating a route along the South Wales coast like no other.