Wales; a country full of beauty, wildlife, history, and of course some of the best beaches in the UK. If a staycation is on your agenda this summer and you’re interested in taking a trip to South Wales, this article will make planning your visit a little easier by covering the top 10 best beaches in South Wales.
Whether you are an avid surfer who’s looking for strong waves or if being by a busy and entertainment-filled seaside town is your top priority when deciding where to go, this article will help you decide which beach is suited to you and your family. So here’s our list of the top 10 best beaches in South Wales:
1. Rhossili Bay Beach
First on our top 10 best beaches in South Wales is Rhossili Bay. The first beach to be awarded Britain’s Best Beach by TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice for the second year running and described as ‘the supermodel of British beaches’ by The Independent, Rhossili Bay is a must-visit. The beach lies at the western end of the beautiful Gower peninsula and you can easily cross over to Worm’s Head. At low tide there is a huge expanse of beach and even at high tide there is always some sand so you can enjoy a leisurely walk with your dog or build a sandcastle with the little ones. The beach is also very popular with surfers and on the cliffs which surround the bay there are many different birds nesting so whether you’re a water sports or wildlife enthusiast there’s something for everyone. However, there is a very steep walk down to the beach so be aware if you have difficulty walking.
2. Barafundle Bay
Located on the south coast of Pembrokeshire, this small bay is backed by dunes and pine trees and boasts golden sand and crystal clear waters. As with Rhossili Bay, this bay has also won awards for being one of the best beaches in the UK and it is no surprise why as it is often likened to a beach in the Caribbean! Barafundle Bay is somewhat isolated and you cannot actually drive to the beach itself, instead you will have to park at the nearest car park at Stackpole Quay. Access is only on foot via the Coast Path either from Stackpole or Broad Haven South and to get onto the beach there are steps down. Be aware that there aren’t facilities on the beach so best to take everything you need with you and just a 10-minute walk away you will find plenty of cafés such as The Boathouse Tea-room. If you are interested in visiting Pembrokeshire, click here for a Mini Travellers review of Arch Barn cottage.
3. Ogmore by Sea Beach
One of the most loved beaches along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast is Ogmore, which is a sand and shingle beach with the sandy part exposed at low tide and the mouth of the River Ogmore running into the sea over the beach. This beach has a reputation as being one of the cleanest in the region and attracts tourists and locals wishing to walk, sunbathe, swim, surf or fish. The beach also looks out towards Tusker Rock which is a popular place for diving. Ogmore offers a large parking area and toilets, and there is a coastal walk which passes the car park and offers beautiful views out to sea from above the cliff-tops. Activities at this beach include kayaking and canoeing, snorkelling, rock pooling and surfing, and dogs are allowed all year round.
4. Penarth Beach
Just south of Cardiff is Penarth Beach which is formed of mostly pebbles however towards the sea it becomes more sandy and so at low tide plenty of it is exposed. Although swimming is rather popular here, be aware that due to the proximity of various river estuaries, there can be strong currents and the water can often become a murky brown colour, so just be cautious. From the beach you can spot great views across the Bristol Channel towards Weston-super-Mare and the islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm are also visible from the beach. The beach also boasts an esplanade, where you will find parking spaces, some restaurants, toilets and a pier which is home to a small cinema theatre and café and is also a popular place for fishing.
5. Rest Bay Beach
Number five on our top 10 best beaches in South Wales is this gorgeous beach in Porthcawl with miles of fine quality golden sand and rock pools backed by low cliffs. Rest Bay is one of several beaches stretching from Sker Point through to Ogmore in the seaside resort of Porthcawl which is between the towns of Port Talbot and Ogmore by Sea. There is a promenade in Porthcawl which offers many cafés, bars, restaurants and hotels where you can see spectacular views across the Bristol Channel. There is also a water sports centre which overlooks the Blue Flag Rest Bay beach where you can take surf lessons or hire stand up paddle boards. At this beach you will find toilets, a café bar, parking and lifeguard service between 10am and 6pm from the end of May to September. Be aware no dogs are allowed from May to the end of September.
6. Dunraven Bay
Also referred to as Southerndown Beach taking its name from the nearby village, this beach is much loved by locals and attracts many visitors every year. Just up from the beach you can find the beautiful Dunraven Gardens and Dunraven Castle so if the tide is in you can visit these attractions and take in breathtaking views. Dunraven Bay is said to be a great place to fossil hunt and has some of the best rock pools along the coast. It also has a great sandy beach so if you’re fancying a leisurely walk, or your children want to build a sandcastle, take a trip to Dunraven Bay- just make sure the tide is out first. And at the end of the day if you fancy a tasty ice cream, you’re in luck as there is a little shop here for drinks and snacks.
7. Whitmore Bay Beach
Next on our top 10 best beaches in South Wales is Whitmore Bay which is situated on Barry Island, a location at the very southern tip of Wales which has attracted visitors for decades. The beach has gorgeous golden sand which is flanked by a wide promenade, and along this promenade you will find 24 vibrantly coloured beach huts available for hire. There are also plenty of cafés and restaurants along the seafront, beach wheelchairs available to loan, beautiful landscaped gardens and amusements for children such as a climbing wall and adventure golf. This beach is known for being clean and a great spot for sunbathing and swimming, and if you’re a Gavin and Stacey fan, you may recognise this filming location! There is a seasonal lifeguard service provided here and be aware dogs are not allowed between May and September.
8. Three Cliffs Bay
There is no way we could list the top 10 best beaches in South Wales without including Three Cliffs Bay. This beach, located at Gower in Swansea, is beautiful with a vast stretch of sand and a shoreline of sand dunes, salt marsh and rock pools, backed by three limestone cliffs. This spot is excellent for any photographers looking to capture the beauty of Wales with panoramic views from the cliffs and Pennard Pill stream running through the beach. Be careful at Three Cliffs though, as there can be strong tides and currents here so best not to let your little ones go for a swim alone. Also be aware that the walk up and down the sand dunes from Pennard and Penmaen is very steep. There is car parking 400 metres away, toilets in the nearby Holiday Park and dogs are allowed on this beach all year round.
9. Aberavon Beach
One of Wales’ longest beaches, Aberavon is situated at Sandfields in Neath Port Talbot and has a promenade that overlooks Swansea Bay. The northern end of the beach is used by sand yachting enthusiasts and kite surfers and is also a popular area for fishing. This beach is ideal for families as you can partake in water activities such as kayaking or swimming and there is also a skate park, aqua splash playground and children’s play area here. Each year there is a very successful and popular free beach festival here too which features craft and foot stalls as well as family entertainment and fairground rides. Port Talbot is the nearest large town to Aberavon Beach and there you will find several cafés, restaurants and pubs along the promenade. RNLI Lifeguard service is provided here from May to September between 10am and 6pm and during this time, no dogs are allowed.
10. Freshwater West Beach
If surfing is your thing, this may be the beach for you. Located in Pembrokeshire, Freshwater West Beach is a breathtakingly beautiful surfer’s paradise but be careful as it is said to be only for experienced and strong swimming surfers due to its strong rip currents. The south-westerly facing beach is wide, sandy and backed by dunes which are fragile so no camping or barbecues are allowed here. This beach has actually featured in two films; Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where it was used as the backdrop for Dobby’s Shell Cottage. Freshwater West Beach also has a wealth of rock pools which we’re sure your children will enjoy exploring and spotting some marine creatures. There is a lifeguard service here from June to September between the hours of 10am to 6pm, and dogs are allowed.