14 Best Beaches in Wales
Author Anietra Hamper and photographer Ian Henderson traveled along the entire coast of Wales in 2022 to seek out the best beaches, from secluded bays in the north to the Wild Atlantic coastline in the south.
Few places in the world have beaches with such a dramatic natural allure and sense of magic as Wales. From idyllic beaches tucked within protected landscapes and nature reserves to expansive coastlines bordered by jagged cliffs, the beaches are a highlight of Wales.
Each beach, or traith in Welsh, is unique, and there are hundreds to choose from throughout Wales, from the northern areas like Anglesey and Aberystwyth and along the southern coast to regions like Pembrokeshire or the Gower Peninsula. There are even some beaches, although not many, that enable you to drive your car right onto the sand.
Most of the beaches in Wales offer added experiences because of the surroundings, from hiking and cycling on the footpaths and routes along the cliff sides to learning a new activity, like surfing the Atlantic waves that wash upon the rugged coast.
As you plan your route for sand and sun, review our list of the best beaches in Wales.
1. Barmouth Beach
One of the must-visit beaches in Wales is Barmouth Beach, located in the quaint seaside village of Barmouth in northern Wales. The beach is several miles long, with a wide sandy footprint, so even during the height of tourist season in the summer, it never feels crowded.
Barmouth Beach, also called Traeth Abermaw Beach, is a perfect swimming beach and a just-sit-in-the-sun beach to enjoy. It is popular for water sports like jet skiing and playing on boogie boards. Given the long stretch of sand, this is an ideal beach for walking and enjoying the sunsets.
Even when the tide is out, there is plenty to do. There are natural shallow swimming areas left behind that make great, safe swimming spots for children, and tidal pools that are prime for exploring what the sea has left behind.
One of the reasons Barmouth Beach is so popular is because of the quaint village surrounding it and the pedestrian promenade with quick access to public parking and cafés.
Read More: Best Beaches in North Wales
2. Rhossili Bay
The spectacular Rhossili Bay, which commands the coastline in the Gower Peninsula is tops for its views and iconic beach experiences.
Getting here is half the fun, with a required walk over a cliffside path.
Swimming is the top activity here in the tranquil blue water, rivaled only by the opportunities to just sit beneath a beach umbrella in the soft sand, spending hours soaking in the coastal views.
With a three-mile-long stretch of coastline and panoramic views, Rhossili Bay is a popular walking beach, but it is also great for water sports, with a rental shack on-site with surf and boogie boards available. Kite surfing and surfing are popular, and you can even hire a surf instructor for lessons.
The other reason Rhossili Bay is one of the best beaches in Wales is because it is also one of the best surfing beaches, with its southerly location attracting the swells of the Atlantic.
The scenic views here are unmatched. Look for the famous Worms Head tidal island in the distance marking the southernmost point in the Gower Peninsula.
Access to Rhossili Bay is easy, with a paid carpark nearby and footpaths leading to the beach along the sand dunes. Food and bathrooms are available on-site. Plan on a hearty walk to the beach from the carpark, and pick up refreshments in the village before you go for the day.
Read More: Best Beaches in South Wales
3. Llanddwyn Beach
There are no other beaches in Wales that give you the same experience as Llanddwyn Beach on the isle of Anglesey. As you drive through the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve just to get to the parking lot, you experience some of the most unique protected natural resources in Wales.
One of the best beaches in Anglesey, Llanddwyn Beach is surrounded by towering sand dunes, accented by Welsh mountains in the distance and a windswept undisturbed landscape.
Your day here will be filled with so many things to do beyond enjoying the pristine waters and wild coastline. Bring everything you need to relax for the day and set up on the wide sandy beach to enjoy building sandcastles, swimming, and flying kites. Or you can do nothing at all except curl up with a good read and admire your backdrop of forest pines, blue ocean water, and cliffs.
You can take advantage of some of the walking paths through the shade trees of the Borra Forest or take the kids on a family-activity path like the animal puzzle trail. When you're ready for a picnic you can enjoy one of the public barbecue spaces and tables.
4. Barafundle Bay
The deep blue water at Barafundle Bay and beach is some of the most outstanding you will find on the Pembrokeshire coast. The beach is in Stackpole, which is a 2,000-acre naturally preserved landscape owned by the National Trust.
Your day at the beach here will consist of so much more than just swimming, which is also fantastic in the calm water. Stand up paddleboarding is also popular around the cliff's edges from the beach. Your day at Stackpole will encompass a walk over scenic cliffs from the carpark, and panoramic views that will most certainly require sitting down on your way to the beach to enjoy them from the higher elevation.
Plan on a full day at Barafundle Bay to take advantage of this unique beach experience, and pack some hiking shoes in case you decide to venture along some of the public footpaths. Keep an eye out for wildlife both in the sky and in the water, as Stackpole has the perfect natural habitat for many kinds of avian and aquatic species.
Amenities: The beach is remote once you leave the carpark area, so pack plenty of snacks and water from the café at the entrance. There is even a small book stand along the beach path where you can pick up a novel for the day.
Broad Haven South Beach is also located at Stackpole and just a short walk away from Barafundle Bay if you want to enjoy another sandy beach in the same day.
5. Tenby South Beach
One of the most popular places to visit in the seaside resort town of Tenby is Tenby South Beach. It is a hub of activity, especially during the summer, and a perfect beach to experience during a visit to Wales.
The mile-and-a-half-long Tenby South Beach is great for walking and enjoying the views. These range from the colorful historic buildings on the surrounding cliffs to Tenby Castle, presiding over Castle Hill and St. Catherine's Island, with accessibility that depends on the tide. Tenby South Beach is also a popular spot for swimming and surfing in the waves, fishing, and windsurfing.
Access: Beach accessibility is easy from the center of town, so you can plan a full day and take a break from the sun for a bite to eat at an outdoor café when needed.
While Tenby South Beach is a prime gathering location, you can also plan time to visit Tenby North Beach and the tiny Castle Beach when the tide is low enough to expose it.
6. Oxwich Bay Beach
One visit to Oxwich Bay beach, and you will see why it is one of the most popular beaches along the Gower Peninsula. The beach is surrounded by the Oxwich National Nature Reserve, making the pristine natural landscape around the wide, sandy beach picturesque.
The calm water at Oxwich Bay is perfect for swimming, wading, kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, and surfing if the waves are right. It's a nice beach to sit and sunbathe on the sand as you watch people enjoying activities on the water.
This is an easily accessible beach that is a good option for families given the calmer water and additional activities that are available in the nature reserve.
You can find plenty of paid public parking, bathrooms, and nearby cafés. During the busy summer season there are many types of pop-up stands offering refreshments and ice cream near the beach.
7. Morfa Bychan Beach (Black Rock sands)
There are very few beaches in Wales that allow cars on the sand, which is one of the perks of Morfa Bychan Beach, also called Black Rock Sands beach. The packed sand makes it easy for vehicles to drive right to their spots for the day, and for beach games like frisbee or tossing a ball with other beachgoers.
This is one of the best beaches in northern Wales, located along the Gwynedd coastline, which has stunning scenic views.
The water at Morfa Bychan Beach is perfect for kitesurfing and other water sports. It has a European Bathing Water designation, meaning it meets quality standards, and the water is ideal for swimming and wading.
If you've ever wanted to try a water bike, there is a designated section of beach for those and for boating.
This is an easy beach to visit for a day, with public bathrooms and food available in the nearby village of Morfa Bychan.
8. Llandudno North Shore Beach
The Llandudno North Shore Beach has been a vacation staple in Wales since the 19th century.
This is a popular family beach that is great for swimming in the calm water or walking to enjoy the views of the cliffs and the Great Orme. There is even a designated paddling pool for children above the beach, which is a unique feature.
North Shore Beach is the center of the action in this seaside resort town much the way is has been since the Victorian-era. The promenade behind the beach is where you will find food and refreshments, entertainment, beautiful gardens, and some of the best people-watching in the town.
What's Nearby?: The Llandudno Pier is also located at the beach, offering a host of other games, rides, and entertainment during your day out by the water.
Amenities: There is plenty of public parking available on the streets around Llandudno, and hotel and resort options if you want to make this a full beach vacation.
9. Benllech Beach
The wide stretch of sand and calm water on Benllech Beach is ideal for anyone looking for an easy beach to visit for a day combining scenic views, great swimming, and access to amenities.
Benllech Beach in Anglesey is a well-rounded beach, especially for families, because of its calm water and many beach activities available.
One of the best beaches in Anglesey, this is a Blue Flag Beach, with soft sand and an expansive C-shaped coastline that has plenty of room, even during the busy days.
You will regularly see beachgoers taking advantage of the calmer water for stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, and windsurfing. The scenery is captivating, with surrounding cliffs and mountains and boulders on the beach. This is where you will find some great tidal pools to explore.
If you are looking to add some extra activity into your beach day, pack your hiking boots and try out a section of the Anglesey Coastal Path on the cliffside just above the beach.
Amenities: Public bathrooms and restaurants are located nearby.
10. Three Cliffs Bay Beach
It is always a perfect beach day when you can combine ideal water conditions and scenic surroundings. This makes Three Cliffs Bay, located in the Gower Peninsula, one of the best beaches in Wales.
It offers ideal swimming water and the rugged landscape of the wild Atlantic with the jagged limestone cliffs that give it its name.
In addition to swimming, there is a nice broad coastline for long walks or walking the dog. For those who like to explore a little more, you can walk the coastline to find many tidal pools that form on the rocky edges of the beach, and see salt marshes and many unique rock formations. You can walk a little further to hike a section of the Wales Coast Path or to see the nearby Pennard Castle.
If you recognize this coastline, it is likely because photographers visit this spot as regularly as the beachgoers.
Access & Amenities: The beach and surrounding area are easy to access, with parking and bathrooms located at the Three Cliffs Holiday Park nearby. There are no food facilities on the beach, but you can take food with you, or plan to stop at a restaurant in one of the nearby villages of Parkmill or Pennard.
11. Porth Swtan
The beach of Port Swtan in Anglesey is unique in its appearance and experiences, which is what makes it one of the best in Wales. It is also called Church Bay Beach, as it is located near the village of Church Bay. The small crescent-shaped beach has soft sand nestled within a rocky landscape making for beautiful scenery.
The boulders around the beach are fun for children to climb, serve as perfect shade spots, and fantastic holds for tidal pools. The Blue Flag Beach water is great for swimming, and testing out the boogie boards if a decent wind is whipping up small waves. The beach sand is great for building sandcastles and sturdy enough to anchor beach tents.
Amenities: Bathrooms and refreshments are just a short walk away, with family-owned cafés serving up ice cream and homemade lunch options. This beach also has nearby campsites and vacation cottages available.
12. Whitesands Beach
The sandy oceanfront of Whitesands Beach in Pembrokeshire stretches nearly 700 meters (2,300-feet), making it a popular beach and a fun one to visit in Wales.
One of the best beaches in Pembrokeshire, this is a great recreational beach for swimming and water sports. You will find visitors enjoying a mix of activities both on the sand and in the water, from walking, sandcastle building, and flying kites to trying out surf and boogie boards in the waves.
There is perfect surfing water at Whitesands Beach and surfing lessons available from a local outfitter. Kayaking and kitesurfing are also popular.
Access & Amenities: One of the reasons Whitesands Beach is notable is because it is easy to access, with a designated carpark, so you can bring everything for the day. There are lots of amenities located right next to the beach, including a café for lunch, bathrooms, a facility to buy sunscreen and umbrella rentals.
13. Marloes Sands
The vibrant blue color of the ocean water at Marloes Sands Beach in Pembrokeshire might make you think you are in the Caribbean. The coastal scenery at this beach is iconic, with stunning views of the water and jagged cliffs surrounding it.
The mile-long beach has been the backdrop for several movies because of its rugged wild Atlantic feel but don't let the imagery fool you, because the water is calm, making for a relaxing day, especially for families.
This is a great beach for activities like swimming, wading, and stand up paddleboarding. There are also fantastic rock pools at this beach that are fun to explore.
Access & Amenities: The public car park is located about a half-mile from the beach, and there are no amenities like bathrooms or restaurants. This is a nice beach to visit for a few hours then head into the nearby village of Milford Haven for lunch.
14. Harlech Beach
The four-mile-long Harlech Beach is a Wales treasure for its iconic beach experience, the scenery, and its importance to the biodiversity in northern Wales.
Surrounding the beach is the stunning Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve, so the plants and wildlife seen here are unique. This active dune system is fun to explore on its own as you look for rare flowers and birds.
The beach is perfect for swimming, dog walking, sunset strolls, and surfing when the tide is right. This family beach has a wide shoreline and other activities available, like walking the sand dunes or visiting nearby Harlech Castle, which sits on the hillside behind Harlech Beach.
Access: You can access the beach by a sandy footpath that takes you through steep sand dunes from the public carpark.