Sea, sand, surf… Wales may not be the first destination that springs to mind for beautiful beaches, but you’ll find all this and more on a staycation here. From secluded coves perfect for a romantic walk to wide expanses of sandy beach boasting some of the most impressive waves around, come to Wales and check out some of the best beaches for surfing and sunshine this summer.
1. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
This beautiful Welsh bay gives Europe’s best beaches a run for their money, and it rarely gets crowded. Regarded as one of the most family-friendly beaches in Wales, there are towering sand dunes to explore, rock pools to dip fishing nets in, and warm, clear waters to swim in.
Access is via a car park half a mile away, so it’s not the most accessible stretch of sand. But make the effort and you’ll be well rewarded. It’s one of the most spectacular Blue Flag beaches in Wales and a fantastic picnic spot. Our advice? Follow the coastal path to Stackpole Head and enjoy an al fresco lunch high above the pounding waves.
2. Dinas Dinlle Beach, Gwynedd
This easily-accessible chunk of coastline is one of the best beaches in Wales for water sports fans, including divers, jet skiers, anglers, and windsurfers. Nature lovers come here to admire the nearby iron age remains and hilltop fort, one of the most important historical sites in Wales.
Fancy a dip? Head to the roped off area created especially for swimmers. And working out how to get to Dinas Dinlle Beach is easy. There are regular bus services to Caernarfon, or you can drive there yourself in under 15 minutes. But the beach’s fantastic facilities mean you can stay here all day. When hunger strikes, head to the café, famous for its homemade cakes and hearty Welsh breakfasts. There are plenty of fantastic places to stay in Gwynedd. One of the closest hotels to Dinas Dinlle is Bryn Mor Beach Hotel, easily accessible from the beach.
3. Langland Bay, Gower
This beach is incredibly popular with families, thanks to its excellent facilities which include a lifeguard service between May and September, plus toilet and showers. It’s one of the best beaches in Wales for wheelchair users, as the car park is only 100 metres from the sand.
It’s also the ideal base for clifftop walks – tackle the scenic hike to nearby Caswell Bay for breathtaking views of the Gower Peninsula. It’s regarded as one of Wales’s best beaches for surfing and on calmer days, it’s also a popular stand-up paddle boarding spot. It’s conveniently positioned, too, as one of the best beaches near Swansea, five miles away.
4. Llandudno North Shore, Conwy
Llandudno North Shore lies at the heart of one of Wales’s busiest holiday resorts. Visitors come here for its Edwardian elegance, historic Victorian pier, and gorgeous views of the Great Orme headland. Although it gets crowded in summer, an advantage of its popularity is a great selection of hotels. Spend a weekend or a week in Conwy and stay at Cae Mor seaside guesthouse, just a few metres from Llandudno North Shore.
Entertainment-wise, there are traditional Punch and Judy shows and and live music at the bandstand. Or sign up for a great range of excursions, including deep sea fishing trips and speedboat adventures. Fancy something less energetic? Saddle up for a donkey ride along the sand, on one of the best beaches in North Wales.
5. North Beach, Tenby
Kids will love this wide stretch of sand dotted with rock pools, with great views of Carmarthen Bay. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer and the beaches in this area have some of the cleanest water in the UK – part of the reason why Wales’s traditional Boxing Day swim takes place here every year. Three other gorgeous beaches (Castle Beach, Harbour Beach, and South Beach) are within walking distance, as are the pretty pastel-hued cottages of Tenby Harbour.
When it’s time to cool down, head to locals’ favourite Fecci’s Ice Cream Parlour on St. George’s Street for what might be the best banana split of your life. Tenby’s location makes it accessible for all: though surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, it’s easily reachable by road and rail. You’ll be able to get there from Cardiff in under two hours.
6. Oxwich Bay, Gower Peninsula
Wondering what to do in the Gower Peninsula? Start with this beautiful Welsh beach. The wide crescent of sand has fantastic facilities, including cafes, toilets, a car park, and shops. Because of the close proximity of the car park (just metres from the beach) it’s popular with windsurfers and divers, but there’s still plenty of space for a dip or a paddle. It’s one of the many dog-friendly beaches in Wales, although you should keep furry friends on leads when there are children around.
In the height of summer, the western end of the beach can get incredibly busy, so we recommend a stroll east, instead. A 30-minute walk takes you to Nicholaston Burrows, a popular destination for wildlife spotters, and a great place to lay out a picnic.
7. Hell’s Mouth Beach, Gwynedd
We admit the name of this beach sounds a bit frightening, but don’t let that deter you. Hell’s Mouth (otherwise known as Porth Neigwl) is one of Wales’s most family-friendly beaches and one of the best beaches in Wales for surfing. Thousands of surfers flock here every year, and its picturesque position, squeezed between Mynydd Cilan and Mynydd Penarfynydd, makes it one of Wales’s most spectacular beaches. Make sure you pack the binoculars, as it’s also one of the best places to spot dolphins in Wales. If you’re lucky, you’ll also catch a glimpse of the area’s Harbour porpoises.
The nearest facilities are at Abersoch, 2.5 miles away, but don’t let that put you off. Get lucky and you’ll have this beach entirely to yourself, although bear in mind that it can get crowded during the annual wakeboard festival, which takes place in July.
8. Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula
The wild and windblown Three Cliffs Bay has it all: rock pools, towering sand dunes, salt marshes, and limestone cliffs. But proceed with caution, because there are no lifeguards at this beach and rough conditions mean that only expert swimmers should consider swimming here. That said, it’s a fantastic place for an al fresco lunch with a view. Fancy channeling your inner Monet? The unusual rock formations, which curl across the sand, have long attracted local artists.
You can reach Three Cliffs in under half an hour from Swansea, which means some of Wales’s best hotels are easily accessible. But if you fancy staying put, it’s just a short walk to the camp grounds at the nearby Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park – home to what’s regarded as one of the Gower Peninsula’s best campsites, due its clifftop location and breathtaking views.
9. Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire
This gorgeous strip of sand is one of the most beautiful beaches in Wales and one of the best beaches in Wales for surfing. Hike to the top of the rocky promontory at the north end for spectacular views over land and sea, or explore the secluded coves to the south of the bay. The northern section is a great place to learn to surf – with classes held on the beach throughout the summer. However, take a second to brush up on tide times to avoid getting cut off.
If you’re looking for hotels near Whitesands Bay, you’re in luck – the tiny, historic city of St. Davids is close by, home to the charming Grove Hotel. Whitesands is well connected to the rest of Pembrokeshire by a series of coastal bus routes. There’s also the fantastic Puffin Shuttle, a bus service designed specifically for hikers walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
10. Traeth Mawr Beach, Aberffraw
Traeth Mawr, otherwise known as Aberffraw Bay, is one of Anglesey’s best beaches and another great surf spot. This unspoiled, golden expanse of sand is close enough to the car park to make it suitable for families, but far enough away to prevent it becoming too crowded when the mercury soars. The sand dunes behind it are a Special Area of Conservation, and they stretch all the way back to Aberffraw, where you’ll find shops and cafes.
If you fancy hanging ten, head to the northern end, where the river Ffraw flows out to sea, creating a great surf break. Several walking trails pass this beach – we suggest the short walk to nearby Saint Cwyfan church, which dates back to the seventh century.
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