Beautiful Rhossili Bay in the Gower Peninsula, Wales
Photograph: ShutterstockBeautiful Rhossili Bay in the Gower Peninsula, Wales

The 11 best beaches in Wales

Does it get any better than lazing by the sea? The best beaches in Wales for offer just that. Or windsurfing, obvs...

John Bills
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The best beaches in Wales are very much up there with the best in the United Kingdom, although that isn’t a huge surprise. Wales is a special place, after all. The parts of the country where sand meets sea are stunning. What’s more, Wales has a coastal walking path that means you can literally walk the entire coast. Wear some comfortable boots, obviously.

It doesn’t get any better than lazing by the sea in Wales no matter where you are, from Anglesey down to the Gower. Grab a towel and a good book, it is time for tranquillity.

Best beaches in Wales

1. Barafundle Bay

If you close your eyes and imagine the perfect secret beach, you might conjure up an image of Barafundle Bay. This Pembrokeshire pearler isn’t easy to get to, but it rewards those willing to make the effort, with golden sands and some of the clearest waters in Wales. The nearest car park is half a mile of difficult climbing and traipsing away, so you can guarantee that Barafundle will be somewhat quiet when you visit. Don’t forget to check the tide times, though, lest you be swept out to sea. That would be unfortunate. Stackpole is the nearest town, some two miles away.

2. Rhossili Bay

They don’t hand out ‘Best Beach in Britain’ awards for fun, you know. On the beloved Gower Peninsula, Rhossili Bay is one of the most idyllic beaches in all of Wales. It isn’t the easiest to get to, but those making the steep climb down (and up, don’t forget up) will be rewarded with stunning views and gorgeous walks to go with the sunbathing and relaxing. Rhossili Bay has been referred to as the ‘supermodel of British beaches’, and we aren’t going to disagree.

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3. Llanbedrog

There’s something about a row of colourful beach huts that tugs at the heartstrings and the charming tranquillity of Llanbedrog serves up a decidedly Welsh take on the theme. The beach is a mile long and remains the most sheltered in North Wales, offering a sense of serenity that is missing from more popular spots in the area.

4. Marloes Sands

With epic views of Skokholm and Gateholm Islands, it isn’t difficult to understand why Marloes Sands is one of the most popular beaches in Pembrokeshire. Keep an eye out for the famous Three Chimneys: three vertical lines of sand that used to be a quartet but was reduced by the undefeated hands of time. Will three soon become two?

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5. Porthdinllaen

Don’t rub your eyes, this is not a mirage. When it comes to Porthdinllaen, seeing really is believing. A National Trust property since 1994, what was once a small fishing port has become a beloved beach and popular filming location (and undoubtedly one of the most photogenic stretches of sand in Wales). History, aesthetics and the wonderful wild collide here with breathtaking results.

6. Pendine Sands

Pendine Sands is all flat sand backed by the imposing comfort of the dunes, with plenty of room for all who flock to this delightful part of Carmarthen Bay. The length and topography of the beach made it an obvious location for attempts at the land-speed record, with a series of famous records being broken in the 1920s. The Pendine Museum of Speed pays homage to these daredevils.

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7. Abersoch

The Llŷn Peninsula is Wales as its most secluded and most magnificent, yet that hasn’t stopped Abersoch from making the transition from a sleepy fishing village to a popular beach holiday spot. Unofficially the Welsh capital of sailing and watersports, Abersoch has developed a year-round calendar of events that bring people to its sheltered sandy beach. It’s a Blue Flag affair, of course.

8. Harlech

Harlech’s famous castle overlooks its not quite as famous but equally impressive beach, making for an all-in-one setting that is the cream of the North Welsh crop. The four-mile beach is also well known for attracting wildlife in the warmer months, with leatherback turtles arguably taking the prize for the most exotic. More often than not, the sands are home to sun worshippers and sea-hungry folk looking for serenity and intrigue in equal measure.

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9. Benllech

Arguably Anglesey’s finest beach, Benllech is one of the best-equipped in Wales. The place is notoriously calm and thus attracts bathers of all ages, while the disability access is among the most impressive in the UK. This is the sort of beach that goes on as far as the eye can see, with magic and mystery waiting around the corner. Well, more beach really, but the point stands.

10. Mwnt

Cardigan Bay might not jump out as the most obvious place in the world for a spot of dolphin-watching, but Wales has always been a specialist in surprising people. Mwnt is the place to go with binoculars in tow: it’s a hidden cove of golden sand and wildlife-spotting opportunities. The beach is five miles from Cardigan and is just off the Wales Coastal Path.

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11. Freshwater West

If you find yourself recognising the sands on Freshwater West beach (near Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire), don’t be surprised. The beach was used to depict the French Invasion in the 2010 version of Robin Hood, while it also had an important role to play in the last two Harry Potter movies. Don’t expect it to be filled with movie stars at all times, as the beach is more likely to be hosting would-be surfers; this is the premier surfing destination in Wales, after all.

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