A holiday by the sea is all you need to reset the mind, body and soul and Wales is a great destination for those of you who are in love with being by the sand and the ocean. What is it that we look for in the perfect Welsh beach? One aspect shared by a lot of the beaches around Wales’ extremely long and jagged curved coastline is the golden sands. Other ideal qualities would be sunny weather, clean water, good accessibility, exceptional surfing prospects, lots of room for dogs to play and also great potential for epic sandcastle construction.
Is there such a thing as a Welsh beach that is all things to all comers? We think there are a few that surpass expectations and are bound to remain high on the list of ‘must-visit’ beaches for Wales for decades and future generations to come.
Wales has a high proportion of the British Isles’ Blue Flag awarded beaches. These certifications are handed out by the Environment Agency for clean water and good facilities, environmental protection levels and visitor safety; they aren’t won or purchased like some endorsements can be. Several of our selected beaches have Blue Flags. For a more exhaustive list, check out our quintessential guide ‘All About Wales’ Wonderful Beaches’.
A long-time favourite with holidaymakers, Tenby is a lovely seaside town in Pembrokeshire. At the time of writing, Tenby has garnered three of the county’s considerable 11 Blue Flag awarded beaches. It’s also Wales’ best-loved holiday destination with visitor numbers increasing year on year. The beaches are simply named: North Beach, South Beach, Harbour Beach, and Castle Beach – and it’s very easy to deduce which is which when you’re in town. South Beach is about 2 kilometres in length from Giltar Point to St Catherine’s Island as it runs into Castle Beach. Around the point is North Beach which is the main town beach; it is divided by the harbour wall. All four beaches are very sandy and whilst Tenby is a great place for dogs in the winter and autumn, there are some restrictions between May and September. The town is a gorgeous spot to explore as well. With its independent shops, pubs and restaurants there’s something for everybody, young and old, to entice visitors back to Tenby and its beaches again and again.
Rhossili Beach Bay
The Gower Peninsula is gilded with gorgeous sandy beaches, some west facing and others south facing. Our favourite is Rhossili which is a sheltered bay. It has previously been named as Europe’s third best beach (after Sicily’s Rabbit Beach and Playa de las Catedrales in Galicia, Spain) in a popular survey run by one ofthe national newspapers. Rhossili has a 3-mile stretch of white sand, and this makes it the most distinctive and locally celebrated beach on the Gower Peninsula. At the most westerly point of the Gower lies the peculiar serpentine promontory, Worm's Head. At low tide, a rocky causeway out to 'The Worm' can be seen, but visitors must be warned that the sea only allows access to the causeway for a few hours during each tide cycle, so make sure you don’t get cut off! Head up to Rhossili village for eateries, a small number of handy shops and facilities for beach enjoyment and play.
St David’s Bay
The beaches of St David’s Bay in Pembrokeshire are stunning. Also stretching westwards into the Celtic Sea with views of Ramsey Island, this is about as far as you can drive into Wales before you have to turn around. Two of the best but lesser known beaches on the bay are Porthsele and Porthlysgi Beaches. The former is located less than a mile from Whitesands Bay; this private beach is accessed via the Pembrokeshire Coast Path close to the Pencarnan Campsite. Well worth the effort, this is a sandy beach that you’ll tell your friends to look out for on their own trip to West Wales. The second beach, Porthlysgi, is a small bay with a lightly-slanted beach and a pebble bank above the strandline. With no facilities, lifeguards or dog restrictions, this is also 1 mile from the nearest village, Porthclais (where you’d park up). Head here for seclusion, space and a pure Welsh beach to play and relax on.
Overlooked by an impressive stone castle, this beach is characterised by its lovely sand dune system (which is also a National Nature Reserve) that separates the miles of golden sands from a golf course. Visitors can enjoy some superb views of the peaks of the Llyn Peninsula to the North. Harlech is one of the best beaches close to Snowdonia National Park. You can also reach Portmeirion, Barmouth and the Mawddach Estuary Trail in under an hour for even more great beaches. Harlech Castle is a World Heritage Site, and a superb spot to pop into for the history and views. Harlech village has a small number of handy shops, pubs and eateries to make good use of too. Harlech Beach could be our favourite out of our list of five beaches.
This Victorian seaside resort is still a popular choice for fans of the North Wales Coast. Llandudno is home to a great town beach. The crescent-shaped beach begins at Great Orme, a large mass the peak of which stands at 200 metres above sea level. There is also a traditional seaside pier where you can take a stroll, eat mini-doughnuts, or play arcade games. The town beach is also traced by a promenade where you can enjoy sea views and hire deckchairs. If you are holidaying with children, Llandudno is a great chance to revisit your own childhood and show them what a British seaside holiday is all about. The north coast is punctuated with a string of resorts that were once like Llandudno, but many have been extensively modernised. Travel to Llandudno if you would love to experience an ‘old school’ family holiday full of quality standards like fish and chips, penny arcades, seaside strolls, deckchair snoozes, sandcastle building, frisbee games and lots of paddling about. Llandudno is close to many of North Wales best visitor attractions like Conwy Castle, the 4000-year-old Great Orme Mines, the railway over the peak of Great Orme, and the dry ski slope near town.
Our map pinpoints the locations of all of the beaches in this guide:
Wales is home to so many beautiful beaches, it would take a lifetime to sunbathe on each one. If you are feeling inspired to visit Wales soon, we have holiday accommodation all along the coastline ranging from fisherman’s cottages, family farmhouses and seaside apartments to secluded romantic boltholes for couples. Choose Wales for your next beach holiday.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.