14 Best Beaches in North Wales
Author Anietra Hamper and photographer Ian Henderson spent several weeks visiting the beaches of Wales in the summer of 2022.
The beaches of North Wales are some of the best in the entire country given the unique rugged landscape and biodiversity of the region. The northern coast is defined by breathtaking, jagged cliffs; tall sand dunes protecting rare plant and animal species; Atlantic winds; hillside castles; and the mountains of Snowdonia National Park, all of which you can enjoy with a day at the beach.
While the deservingly popular beaches in Barmouth and Llandudno are stunning, there are many others that showcase the natural beauty of Wales couched in scenery like black rock sands and tree-covered mountains.
Given the landscape in this part of Wales, be prepared to park and walk a fair distance to some of the beaches, sometimes on footpaths through farmers' fields and occasionally over a stretch of cliffs. Your reward for the effort is unforgettable views and some of the most stunning beaches you have ever experienced.
Before you pack your sunscreen and beach bag, review our list of the best beaches in North Wales.
1. Barmouth Beach
Barmouth Beach stretches for several miles and is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Wales. This sandy oceanfront is likely to be where you spend a lot of time if you are visiting the port town of Barmouth.
Also known as Traeth Abermaw Beach, Barmouth Beach has a wide coastline, so even on busy days, it never feels crowded.
The water at this beach is great for swimming, and when the tide is out, the tidal pools left behind in the sand make nice shallow swimming spots for children. Water sports are also popular at Barmouth Beach, from boogie boarding to jet skiing.
While this is a great beach for walking, sandcastle building, and flying kites for the day, it's also an idyllic beach to sit under an umbrella and just enjoy the coastline, defined by mountains and cliffs.
Behind the beach are tall sand dunes separating it from Barmouth and the pedestrian promenade. This walkway runs the length of the beach and provides quick access to the cafés located near the harbor. There is easy parking in town located close to the beach.
2. Morfa Bychan Beach (Black Rock Sands)
The majestic Morfa Bychan Beach, or Black Rock Sands, is notable for its packed sand, which allows for cars on the beach; easy access to public amenities like restrooms; and its scenic views.
It is in the village of Morfa Bychan and has one of the only drive-on beaches in the UK.
The water is ideal for swimming and water sports like kitesurfing, with a designated section for water bikes and boats. This is a popular beach because it is so versatile and accessible, but there is plenty of space for spending a full day, even with cars on the beach.
Morfa Bychan Beach is also rated as a "European Bathing Water" beach, meaning it meets rigorous water quality standards.
Morfa Bychan Beach is surrounded by black rock outcroppings, dunes, cliffs, expansive sand, and estuaries. This section of the Gwynedd coastline is an important and growing ecosystem for grasses, sea holly, and habitats for plant and animal species.
Keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins, seals, and porpoises, which are known to frequent the water at this beach.
3. Llandudno North Shore Beach
It is no surprise that part of the reason Llandudno is a popular tourist destination, and has been one since the Victorian era, is due in part to its beaches. While there are several to choose from, the most popular is Llandudno North Shore Beach because it is in the heart of town, located next to the Llandudno Pier and the activity on the promenade.
The North Shore Beach is perfect for families and has everything you need for a full day by the water. There is even a small paddling pool just for children located above the beach on the promenade level. The calm water washing ashore is nice for swimming or sitting partially submerged in a comfy beach chair with a good book.
The scenery, both man-made and natural, make this an exciting beach. Cliffs surround both ends of the beach, with the Great Orme presiding over the water. When you want to enjoy some entertainment or a bite to eat, head up to the pier, or just take a stroll on the pedestrian promenade.
Prince Edward Square is the best spot to find public parking, with quick access to the beach.
4. Benllech Beach
The waters and atmosphere at Benllech Beach make this hands down one of the best beaches in Anglesey. The C-shaped coastline is surrounded by tree-covered mountains and cliffs. This is a fabulous family beach, as there are regular activities like sandcastle-building competitions and free programs, especially in the summer.
The clear, calmer waters at Benllach Beach make it great for swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing. The scenic stretch of coastline is popular for beach walking. It is a Blue Flag Beach, with panoramic views of the coast, and restaurants and toilets easily accessible nearby.
Even when the tide is low, this is a fun beach to visit and look for shells, or explore the tide pools around the rocky edges. For those who like to hike, you can access the Anglesey Coastal Path above the beach on the clifftop, with great views below and miles off into the coastal distance.
5. Llanddwyn Beach
From the minute you arrive in Llanddwyn Beach on the southern end of Anglesey, it's evident that this is someplace special. The Blue Flag Beach is about a mile long and couched within the Newborough National Nature Reserve, giving beachgoers so much more to do beyond just enjoying the water.
Llanddwyn Beach is wide and sandy, surrounded by tall sand dunes with undisturbed natural landscape and Welsh mountains in the background. It is a perfect beach for families for swimming and sandcastle building, and there is plenty of space for dogs to run.
You will drive through the reserve on the way to the beach parking lot. You are also surrounded by dunes and forest pines as you make your way down the public footpath to the beach.
Plan to spend a full day at Llanddwyn Beach by packing food to enjoy at one of the public picnic and barbeque spaces.
When you get tired of sitting in the sun, you can go for a hike in the shade of the trees. There are many types of walking trails through the Borra Forest. There are specific trails for children, like the animal puzzle trail, and even a red squirrel walk ranging from 1.5 miles to almost seven miles.
6. Harlech Beach
Harlech Beach welcomes you through a sandy footpath from the car park through towering sand dunes before revealing its stunning coastline. The four-mile stretch of beach sits among the Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve providing a pristine landscape and important biodiversity for plants and animals in the region.
This is a fantastic swimming beach, and it is nice for families, as the walk is not too far from the parking lot. When the tide is right, you are likely to see surfers enjoying the waves. Dog walkers also like this beach given its expansive sandy footprint.
The scenery is part of the bonus at Harlech Beach. Enjoy the views of the Snowdonia Mountain range and Harlech Castle, a 13th-century fortress on the hillside.
The active dune system at the beach is also worth exploring, where you will see unique habitats for rare flowers, like the three-colored dune pansy in the spring and summer, and orchids. You might spot rare insects and birds, like the ringed plover, which is often spotted on the beach between March and July.
7. Criccieth Beach
The charming Criccieth Beach is two beaches separated by a medieval castle perched on the hill between them. The beach is made up of more pebbles than sand, but it has calmer water and picturesque views of the Snowdonia mountains and Cardigan Bay.
The east side of Criccieth Beach has shallow water and is an ideal swimming spot for children. There is also plenty of space to play.
The western side of the beach has a combination of sand and pebbles and is preferred by walkers.
These are nice areas for paddling activities, like stand up paddleboarding. Just above the beach is an elevated walkway that has some of the best ocean views. Beach access is easy, with paid parking areas nearby, and you can walk into the village for food.
8. Dinas Dinlle
Set in the northwest part of Wales, Dinas Dinlle is a fantastically long beach characterized by a mix of sand and pebbles. The firm sand on this beach makes it great for early morning or sunset strolls along the coast. If you enjoy water sports like jet skiing and windsurfing, this is a great beach to do that. This is also a popular departure point for scuba divers.
The water is great for swimming, but be sure to take notice of any warnings for riptides that may be posted. Access to the beach is easy, with nearby parking, bathrooms, and a café.
Dinas Dinlle sits on the western coast, which has some of the most rugged natural habitat and wild ocean views. On most days, you can see to the Llŷn Peninsula and Anglesey from the beach. This area also attracts many types of birds given its natural habitat.
9. Colwyn Bay Beach
There is always a bit of activity at Colwyn Bay Beach in Colwyn, as it has developed into a popular family beach. There is a large beachfront of golden sand backed by a promenade with food and ice-cream stands.
This is a Blue Flag Beach, so it meets high standards and has everything you could need for a day at the ocean. The blue water is great for swimming and beach activities, like frisbee and kite flying.
Behind the beach is a nice promenade and walking and bike path, designated parking, and bathroom facilities. There is generally a lifeguard on duty during the summer season and a first aid station nearby. It is just a short walk into town, where you can find shopping and dine-in restaurants.
10. Traeth Crigyll
The expansive Traeth Crigyll Beach in Anglesey is best enjoyed by making a vacation out of it in one of the nearby caravan parks or holiday homes with direct beach access. If you just want to visit for the day, you can take one of the sandy public walkways over the dunes to the main beach. There is easy access to the beach from the village of Rhosneigr, where you can pick up food and refreshments.
This beach is defined by wide sands and steep sand dunes surrounding it. It is an ideal beach for families or couples who want to enjoy the space for walking along the winding beachfront and playing in the surf.
This beach also generally has perfect conditions for kitesurfing, kayaking, and windsurfing.
Given the wide footprint of the beach, the deep tidal pools that are left behind during low tide are perfect for kids who want to dig in with a net to see what treasures the sea has left behind.
11. Traeth Lligwy
The Traeth Lligwy Beach, located near the village of Moelfre in Anglesey, is enjoyable not just for its swimmable waters but for its scenery and geology. This is a nice beach for families and children, with lots of sand for building castles and moats. Even during the low tide, it is a popular place for games and dog walkers who are out to enjoy the vast space by the water.
This is a calm swimming beach with bright-colored sand given its unique local geology. It is also an easy beach to set up camp for the day and just relax by the water doing nothing but taking in the views.
This area has more than 100 shipwrecks, and while you are not likely to see any of the remnants of those from the beach, you might see some of the local marine life, like an occasional seal in the water.
This beach and region have a lot of history, so if you want to explore more, you can take a walk on the back country lanes from the beach to the village and pass the Din Lligwy ancient settlement along the way. The village has cafés for a bite to eat before or after your visit to the beach.
12. Morfa Nefyn
The two-mile stretch of Morfa Nefyn beach has some of the most scenic beach views in Wales with towering, jagged cliffs surrounding it. This idyllic beach is crescent-shaped, with deep blue waters perfect for swimming.
It is situated at the bottom of a steep hill, so you will want to find parking at the top and walk down to the water.
This is a popular beach with a smaller footprint than some of the others in northern Wales so it can get busy especially during the summer season. One of the reasons for its popularity is because it's a nice beach for families to spend a day, with beach huts available for visitors to use.
There is plenty of convenient food and lodging in the town, and food stands are located on the beachfront.
13. Porth Neigwl
For those who love to play in the water versus just relaxing next to it, Porth Neigwl on the south coast of Wales' Llyn Peninsula is calling you.
The beach, also referred to locally as "Hell's Mouth," has a reputation for harsh waves that are what surfers and bodyboarders come here to experience. The beach extends for about four miles and when the water is calm, it is popular for paddleboarding.
The waves that people come here to enjoy are also the same Atlantic waves that have caused many shipwrecks in the area over the years. Pay attention to any warning signs that may be posted before entering the water.
Besides swimming and water sports, Porth Neigwl is great for walking dogs and strolling along the long stretch of sand. The beach starts out with large pebbles leading into the sand and the water. You will see some of the dunes during the quarter-mile walk to the beach from the parking lot.
For a break from the water and sun, enjoy the walking paths along the sand dunes and observe the natural landscape that the mason bee is known to inhabit.
14. Abersoch Harbour Beach
As its name suggests, Abersoch Harbour Beach is centrally located in the village of Abersoch, right on the harbor. The calm waters make it perfect for stand up paddleboarding and swimming. The beach extends around several sides of the harbor, with a nice walkway above it that goes through the pedestrian-friendly village.
The scene surrounding the beach recalls Abersoch's roots as a fishing village. It is a convenient beach with public parking, food, and lodging nearby.
Abersoch Harbour Beach can be quite busy in the high tourist season, but it has a lively vibe and is a nice beach to enjoy, especially for anyone looking for a more active day by the water.