10 of the most beautiful beaches in Wales

written by Intrepid Travel October 7, 2021

Shimmering water, salty sea air and sandy toes. Life’s just that bit better at the beach, right?

What springs to mind when you think about Wales? If you pictured daffodils, leeks, castles and lush countryside filled with sheep, you’re not entirely wrong. Hats off if you also thought about its stunning coastline. And if you didn’t, you’re in for a real treat. Wales is home to some of the UK’s most beautiful beaches, from vast and rugged stretches of sand to secluded coves that rival those in the Caribbean (we’re not even joking).

The most famous beaches are down south in Pembrokeshire, but there are loads of hidden gems up in North Wales if you’d prefer to venture away from the crowds. If you’re thinking about where to go on your next coastal adventure, Wales is calling.

1. Barafundle Bay

People enjoying the sunshine on Barafundle Beach
  • Where: Stackpole, Pembrokeshire 
  • Best for: swimming, relaxing, walking
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Facilities: No – closest facilities are located at Stackpole Quay 
  • Lifeguards: No

Sandwiched between sweeping sand dunes and swathes of pine trees, Barafundle Bay is nothing short of gorgeous. It’s perfect for sea swimming. The water is crystal clear, tranquil and brilliantly blue thanks to its secluded location. One of the best things about Barafundle Bay is the walk there. As you approach the beach you’ll see a sham castle wall (a wall designed to look like the entrance to an impressive medieval fortress) that makes you feel like you’re walking into some sort of fairytale. On a hot summer’s day, you could easily think you were on some beach in the French Riviera (really). Although you’ll soon be reminded you’re in Wales when you dip your toes in the water! Barafundle is ideal for sprawling out on a blanket, enjoying a picnic and embracing that beach bum life. 

2. Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs Bay in Swansea
  • Where: Swansea 
  • Best for: walking, relaxing 
  • Wheelchair accessible: Partial – the minor road from Southgate to Pwll Du Bay and a small section of the access road from Southgate to Three Cliffs Bay are accessible 
  • Facilities: No – nearest facilities are in Holiday Park, Parkmill or Pennard
  • Lifeguard service: Limited – weekends and public holidays in May and June; full-time in May half term and June to September 

With a name like Sea Cliffs Bay, you can imagine there are some pretty epic clifftop walks around here. The beach is surrounded by three rugged limestone crags, windswept dunes and lush salt marsh. Unfortunately you can’t swim at Three Cliffs Bay due to powerful tides and currents. But, if you’re feeling up to it, you can scramble up the bay to the romantic 12th-century ruins of Pennard Castle. It offers sweeping views over the coast. and if you can make it up here for sunset, boy is it special.

3. North Tenby Beach

North Tenby Beach in Tenby
  • Where: Tenby, Pembrokeshire 
  • Best for: relaxing, swimming, paddleboarding 
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes – concrete ramp to the beach and beach wheelchair available to hire 
  • Facilities: Yes – above the beach 
  • Lifeguard service: Limited – June to September only 

There’s a reason why the charming town of Tenby is featured on so many postcards. Wedged between steep headlands to the right, Tenby’s colourful harbour to the left and the striking pinnacle of Goskar Rock in the middle, it’s easily one of the most picturesque beaches in Wales. The water is calm and great for swimming, but the laid back vibe here is what’s it’s all about. Pick your sandy spot, throw your beach blanket down and get comfy with a good book. When you’re all beached out, head up to one of Tenby’s excellent restaurants or pick up some fish n’ chips for dinner on the beach. 

4. Porth Wen

  • Where: Camaes Bay, Anglesey 
  • Best for: historic ruins, swimming, walking, fishing  
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Facilities: No
  • Lifeguard service: No

Porth Wen is a bit of a hidden gem in North Wales. It isn’t your typical beach. For a start, it’s secluded and you’ll need to do a fair bit of walking to get there. If you don’t fancy the walk, you can admire the bright shingle shoreline and turquoise waters from the coastal path. It’s worth going down, though… especially if you’re interested in history. The cove is home to an old Victorian brickworks that was closed when World War I broke out. You can wander around abandoned factory buildings, beehive kilns, tall chimneys and rusting machinery. The atmosphere is a little eerie, but it makes for some very Instaworthy photo opportunities. When you’re finished exploring, scramble down to the rock pools where you can see crabs and starfish or go for a swim under the natural rock arch. 

5. Marloes Sands

Marloes Sands Beach in Pembrokeshire
  • Where: Near Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire 
  • Best for: walking, wildlife, surfing 
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Facilities: Toilets only – closest facilities are in Milford Haven
  • Lifeguard service: No

Rated as one of Britain’s top beaches, Marloes Sands is brimming with untouched beauty. In fact, you might recognise it from blockbusters including Snow White and The Huntsman and The Lion in Winter. The vast golden sands gain an extra mile at low tide and transform into many separate little bays filled with rock pools and marine life. Keep your eyes peeled for seals that often hang out around the rocks on the western side of the bay. It’s also home to Britain’s largest breeding colony of puffins and there are plenty of walks with amazing wildlife spotting opportunities. Strong swell and large breaking waves make it a great spot for surfing, but beware of rip currents if you go swimming. 

6. Penbryn 

  • Where: Ceredigion
  • Best for: swimming, relaxing, walking, rock pooling 
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Facilities: Yes – above the beach 
  • Lifeguard services: No

Looking for a traditional day at the seaside without the crowds? Get yourself down to Penbryn on the Ceredigion Coast. To get to the beach you can walk down the wooded lane from Llanborth or stroll through lush sloping woodlands filled with colourful wildflowers. You’ll then be greeted with bright blue waters and a mile of soft sand. When the tide goes out you can explore rock pools and the smuggler’s cave to the far right of the beach. Or, continue around the headland to discover the secret beach (always be aware of tide times so you don’t get caught out). 

7. Whitesands Bay

White Sands Bay in Pembrokeshire
  • Where: St. Davids, Pembrokeshire
  • Best for: surfing, windsurfing, walking, swimming 
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes – there is a concrete ramp down to the beach and beach wheelchairs available to hire
  • Facilities: Yes – toilets and cafe 
  • Lifeguard services: Limited – between May to September only 

Whitesands Bay is one of the top surfing spots in Wales. Located at the bottom of the green patchwork hill of Carn Llidi with a golden beach that curves round to St David’s Head, Whitesands is rugged and jaw-droppingly beautiful. Take a walk around the rocky headland for some fresh sea air and epic views of Ramsey Island and other small islets, or head down to the beach with a deckchair to watch the surfers (hopefully) catch some decent waves. If it’s too busy for your liking, take a 10-minute stroll north on the coast path to the secluded Porthmelgan: a gorgeous cove beach where you’ll find soft white sand, caves and shelter from the wind.

8. Porthdinllaen Beach

  • Where: Pembrokeshire 
  • Best for: walking, swimming, relaxing 
  • Wheelchair accessible: No – but the National Trust has recommended some accessible routes
  • Facilities: Yes 
  • Lifeguard services: No

Porthdinllaen Beach oozes that picture-perfect fishing village charm. Nestled in the Lleyn Peninsula and sheltered by the surrounding harbour, the calm and crystal clear water is a great little spot for splashing around or going for a swim. The quaint village of Porthdinllaen is just behind the beach so you can nip to the shop to get an ice cream or cool drink. When the sun goes down, head over to the Tŷ Coch Inn, one of Wales’ most famous pubs, for some hearty pub food – perhaps some freshly caught seafood that you watched the fishermen bring in earlier in the day. 

9. Rhosilli Bay

Rhosilli Bay in the Gower Peninsula, Swansea
  • Where: Gower Peninsula, Swansea 
  • Best for: surfing, walking 
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Facilities: Yes – toilets, cafe and pub are at the top of the access path 
  • Lifeguard services: No 

You know a beach deserves a place on this list when it was voted the 9th best beach in the world. Located at the most westerly part of the Gower Peninsula with three miles of golden sand, Rhossili Bay is the wild Welsh coast at its best. Powerful Atlantic waves thrash onto the shore, making it a prime spot for surfers. Don’t fancy getting in the water? There are loads of walks around the headlands with panoramic views that stretch across the sea. At low tide you can walk over to Llangennith Beach or out to Worm’s Head. If you’re lucky, you might see dolphins trying to catch a wave in the surf. The only downside of Rhosilli Bay is that you can only access it via a steep clifftop path, which isn’t ideal for pushchairs or wheelchairs. 

Note: always report to the Coastwatch Centre before you set off and be cautious as changing tides can often take people by surprise.

10. Porth Neigwl (Hell’s Mouth Beach)

  • Where: Llanengan, Abersoch 
  • Best for: surfing, walking, relaxing 
  • Wheelchair accessible:
  • Facilities: No – nearest facilities are at Llangenan 
  • Lifeguard services: No

Porth Neigwl is a vast beach shouldered by rolling sand dunes, wispy beach grass and rural Welsh countryside. You’re probably wondering why it’s called “Hell’s Mouth”. Well, it’s one of Wales’ most notorious places for shipwrecks. It was also a hot spot for pirates back in the 17th century and seafarers feared this area of the coast. But you’d never guess its dark history when you visit on a sunny day and see the huge expanse of golden sand and dramatic seascapes. It’s easier to imagine things can get a little rough out there when the swell is big. Swimming isn’t recommended here, but it’s a great spot for surfing, kayaking, coastal walking and a good old fashioned day out at the beach in the summer. You’ll also beat the bigger crowds that hang out at Abersoch’s more popular beaches. Oh, and keep your eye out for bottlenose dolphins and porpoises at high tide!


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