14 Best Beaches in South Wales

Written by Anietra Hamper
Feb 3, 2023

Author Anietra Hamper and photographer Ian Henderson traveled throughout Wales in 2022 in search of incredible beaches while on assignment for PlanetWare.

The south coast of Wales has some of the most spectacular beaches in the country, with hundreds to choose from. Do you like small bays? Busy beach social scenes? Quiet coastlines? The beaches in South Wales have all these options, along with the quintessential seaside villages that make visiting them so enjoyable.

Marloes Sands Beach
Marloes Sands Beach | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

This is why areas like the Gower Peninsula, sections along the Glamorgan coastline, and the southwest coast of Pembrokeshire are top picks when it comes to beach vacations in Wales. Take your pick from a relaxing day sunbathing and soaking in the views of the cliffs and calming blue water, or an ocean adventure surfing the waves or trying your hand at wild swimming while taking advantage of the rugged natural coastline.

Whatever your beach pleasures, start your itinerary with our list of the top beaches in South Wales.

1. Rhossili Bay

Aerial view of Rhossili Bay
Aerial view of Rhossili Bay | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

One of the most popular beaches in South Wales and in the Gower Peninsula is Rhossili Bay. The water is prime for surfing, kitesurfing, and swimming, and the coastline has epic views, especially at sunset.

Rhossili Bay has a perfect balance of both an active beach scene and tranquil natural beauty which is likely why it is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in Wales.

Surfing: Water sports rentals for boogie boards and surfboards are available on-site with local outfitters set up near the carpark. If you want to learn to surf, it is easy to hire a local instructor at the beach who can provide everything that you need for surf lessons.

Rhossili Bay is a dog-friendly beach that is popular with the pups. If you time your visit just right, you can add in some adventure by walking to Llangennith during low tide. Just be sure to time out your return, so you are not stranded when the tide rolls back in.

Beach Access and Amenities: A paid carpark is available by going through the nearby caravan park with beach access on footpaths through the sand dunes. There are also amenities like restrooms and a restaurant available near the beach.

2. Oxwich Bay

Oxwich Bay
Oxwich Bay | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

One of the premier beaches in the Gower Peninsula is Oxwich Bay, which is surrounded by the natural landscape of the Oxwich National Nature Reserve.

This is an easily accessible beach, especially if you are coming from outside the Gower Peninsula and planning to just spend a day.

Things to Do: This is a wide, sandy beach, with enough to do to accommodate every type of beachgoer, from families and dog-walkers to swimmers and sun-bathers. The water is calm enough for wading, swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling, with occasional swells suitable for surfing and windsurfing. Take a break from the water to walk on some of the trails that meander around the sand dunes in the nature reserve.

Parking & Amenities: There is plenty of paid public parking and bathrooms available. There are also several restaurants and bistros near the beach. During the high tourist season, you will find additional food trucks near the beach serving ice cream and refreshments.

3. Rest Bay Beach

Rest Bay Beach near Porthcawl
Rest Bay Beach near Porthcawl

Rest Bay Beach, located near Porthcawl, is a popular beach for water recreation, especially surfing.

Activity Zones: This is a large beach, with various zones for surfers and watercraft in one area and swimmers in another. Look for the flags when entering the beach area. There is a separate area for kite flyers at the western end of the beach.

Other Things to Do: This is a versatile beach that is also used by people who are fishing, kiteboarding, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, kitesurfing, and bodyboarding. You do not need to worry about space on the beach because there is plenty of it, with water sports rentals and surf lessons available from the Porthcawl Surf School located right on the beach.

Pack your hiking boots if you want to hit the nearby coastal path on the cliffs; benches overlook the water.

Amenities: One of the reasons Rest Bay is popular is because of its convenient location in Porthcawl and all the public amenities in one place, like parking, food, bathrooms, picnic areas, food vendors, and a surf shop for sundries.

4. Tenby South Beach

Tenby South Beach
Tenby South Beach | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

Tenby South Beach is one of several beaches accessible in the resort town of Tenby, and it's a popular vacation destination in southwest Wales.

Activities: This is a busy beach with plenty of space to spread out and relax. It is popular for swimming and beach walking on the mile-and-a-half-long, wide stretch of sand. When the tide is right, the waves here are great for surfing and bodyboarding, windsurfing, and fishing — especially in the early morning hours.

Beach access is easy from town, where there is public parking and many restaurants, cafés, and shops.

Tenby South Beach
Tenby South Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

The views from Tenby South Beach are unforgettable, with Tenby Castle on one side, cliffs on the other, and the colorful buildings of the seaside town above the golden sands of the beach.

When the tide is low at Tenby South Beach, you can access St. Catherine's Island and the small cove of Castle Beach, which is inaccessible at other times of the day.

If you are in Tenby for several days, you might also want to check out Tenby North Beach on the other side of Castle Hill, which is also accessible from the town.

5. Llangennith Beach

Llangennith Beach
Llangennith Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

A hot surf spot on the western end of the Gower Peninsula is Llangennith Beach. It is located just a half mile from the village of Llangennith, where you can find lodging and restaurants. For a more rustic experience, you can stay at a nearby campsite.

The beach landscape here is a mixture of sand and rocks, with a backdrop of steep sand dunes.

It is a prime spot for surfing and enjoying the ocean landscape. Even if you do not surf, this is the place to come to watch some of the best execute perfection on the large waves that wash in here.

Beach access is easy with a public carpark available and a short walk through the picturesque sand dunes.

6. Broughton Bay Beach

Broughton Bay Beach
Broughton Bay Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

The landscape around Broughton Bay Beach on the northwest edge of the Gower Peninsula is more suitable for observing and enjoying the views versus swimming and water sports.

The bay, while stunning, is known for its strong currents, high tides, shifting banks, and powerful waves coming from the Loughor estuary.

This is a popular beach for beachcombers, who scour the coastlines for relics that often appear with the changing tides and the consistently shifting sand. Some of the finds over the years are believed to be relics from Paleolithic inhabitants in nearby caves, and Roman settlers.

This is a great beach to consider for a sunset stroll; a romantic picnic; or even a proposal surrounded by the coast, cliffs, dunes, and wild Atlantic backdrop.

The coastline is backed by dunes that shift, which makes the landscape always appear different. The dunes are inhabited by many plants and animals, including the mining bee, which has over 20 species living in the area.

Parking is limited near this beach, and it can be accessed from a single-track road and designated footpath.

7. Barry Island Beach

Barry Island Beach
Barry Island Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

Barry Island Beach is a fun family beach in South Wales. The body of water at the beach is called Whitmore Bay, but the area itself is known as Barry Island for its full range of beach day activities, from sand and sun to rides, games, and entertainment on the public promenade.

The beach is a large crescent-shaped swath of sand with plenty of space to spread out for the day. The water is nice for swimming and for long walks on the coastline.

This is a relaxing space, with beach huts available for rent and public amenities that are easily accessible, like parking, food, and bathrooms.

You cannot visit Barry Island Beach without taking in some of the family amusements at the Barry Island Pleasure Park located behind the beach. It has been a vacation staple since the 1800s, with fun attractions, vendors, and old-school games that are memorable for the young and old.

8. Ogmore By Sea Beach

Ogmore By Sea Beach
Ogmore By Sea Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

Ogmore By Sea Beach sits on the western end of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast near the village of Bridgend.

Beach Activities: Its vast stretch of sand, especially when the tide is out, seems to go on for miles, which is why this is a great beach for walking and dog-walking. This is a nice swimming beach with ideal water for kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and fishing. Given the large sandy landscape, it is also perfect for building sandcastles and beachside games.

The cliffs surrounding Ogmore By Sea carry remnants of three geological periods, which is why fossils are often found in the area. The scenery and history here, with large sand dunes, castles, a golf club, and the River Ogmore, adds to the enjoyment of visiting.

This is an ideal beach for families or anyone looking for additional activities to add to a day by the water. You can hike on several local trails for a better perspective of the natural scenery or plan a visit to Ogmore Castle that was built by Norman invaders.

You can round out your beach day with a stop at Bridgend, which has shopping and restaurants.

9. Caswell Bay Beach

Caswell Bay Beach
Caswell Bay Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

Caswell Bay Beach is a small beach in terms of space but one of the best in South Wales when it comes to beauty and water recreation. It is located near the village of Newton in the southeast of the Gower Peninsula.

It is common to see surfers practicing their skills here or learning the ropes from the surf school on-site.

This is a Blue Flag Beach, so it meets rigorous standards, and it is convenient for setting up your spot for the day in the soft sand. A public carpark, bathrooms, showers, and refreshments are all located near the beach.

Between May and September, dogs are permitted on the beach and lifeguards are on duty.

Like many of the bay-type beaches in Wales, you can find trailheads to the coastal path for more scenic views.

10. Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs Bay
Three Cliffs Bay | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

The scenic landscape of Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower Peninsula is one of the reasons it is a sought-after beach for those who want to experience the wild Atlantic but with perfect swimming waters.

The dramatic shoreline is backed by three jagged limestone cliffs (inspiration for its name) and sand dunes, which is why it is one of the most photographed coastlines in the Gower Peninsula.

You can swim in the water, and it is a pet-friendly beach, with lots of space, but many people come to Three Cliffs Bay to explore the scenery. Walk along the coastline to see unusual rock formations, salt marshes, panoramic views of the coastline and the many tidal pools that form in the rocky edges.

Amenities: A public carpark and bathrooms are located at the nearby Three Cliffs Holiday Park, and while there is no food available at the beach, you can go into the nearby villages of Pennard or Parkmill for a bite to eat.

A great way to take advantage of your beach visit is by taking a walk on part of the Wales Coast Path, or stopping by Pennard Castle; both are nearby.

11. Dunraven Bay Beach

Dunraven Bay Beach
Dunraven Bay Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

One of the more popular beaches in South Wales is Dunraven Bay Beach near Southerndown in the Vale of Glamorgan.

If you enjoy scouring rock pools with nets and looking for fossils, then this is one of the best places on the southern coast to explore.

The long and sandy beach has plenty of space to spread out, with bay waters that are great for swimming.

The unique sands at Dunraven Bay shift regularly, given the steep cuts through the cliffs created by glaciers, resulting in a coastline that will look different each time you visit.

Given the mixture of the sandy and rocky coastline surrounded by steep limestone cliffs, beachcombing is a popular activity.

It is worth planning a full day around your visit to take in the nearby Heritage Coast Centre, which reveals information about Welsh heritage; the walled gardens at Dunraven Gardens; and the ruins of nearby Dunraven Castle.

Amenities: A public carpark is available, along with bathrooms, picnic areas, and a shop serving food and refreshments.

12. Langland Bay Beach

Langland Bay Beach
Langland Bay Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

One of the great family-friendly beaches in South Wales is Langland Bay Beach in the Gower Peninsula. It is a popular coastal holiday location, so it can get busy during the summer season.

Activities: It has a Blue Flag Beach designation, so the water is not only great to view but ideal for swimming and water recreation. The long stretch of soft, crescent-shaped sand is great for walking, and the bay water is ideal for kayaking, canoeing, and surfing. This is also a great beach to explore rock pools.

Lifeguards are on duty from May to September, but dogs are not allowed on the beach during those busier months.

Amenities: A public carpark, bathrooms, and public showers are available close to the beach. Just beyond the pedestrian promenade are a variety of cafes and shops with food and refreshments that you can pick up throughout the day.

13. Mewslade Bay Beach

Mewslade Bay Beach
Mewslade Bay Beach | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

The wild beach of Mewslade Bay sits in a valley in the Gower Peninsula near the village of Rhossili, making its appearance extra dramatic. Once you follow the narrow lane to the paid public carpark, the beach is about a 15-minute walk.

The award-winning sandy beach is surrounded by steep limestone cliffs that make for a great setting for picnics and relaxing by the water. The beach is popular for surfers and boogie boarders who enjoy the breaking waves that come ashore.

You want to time your visit just right to this beach because there is almost no beach at all during high tide, but it's an epic coastal playground when the tide is out.

Dogs are allowed year-round. This is also a nice area to hike on the cliffs, and you can find trailheads above the beach.

14. Marloes Sands Beach

Marloes Sands Beach
Marloes Sands Beach | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

The mile-long stretch of sand at Marloes Sands Beach in Pembrokeshire is an iconic coastal scene. The stunning blue water appears almost artificial in color, and the accent of the jagged cliffside adds to the beautiful scenery.

If you recognize the location, it is because Marloes Sands Beach has been the backdrop in several movies.

Activities: The calm water at this beach is perfect for swimming and stand up paddleboarding. This is a great beach for families looking for calmer water, a sandy spot to play, and for rock pools that can entertain children for hours.

The carpark is about a half-mile from the beach, and there are no public bathrooms available. You can visit the beach for a few hours then head into the village of Milford Haven for a bite to eat.