From vast belts of golden sand and rolling surf to under-the-radar bays, beaches in Wales are plentiful and delightfully unspoiled. No need to hold out for blazing sunshine: these beauties are spectacular whatever the weather, so long as you’re wearing the right clothing. If you’re looking for the crowd-free Welsh coast experience, traveling outside peak season is ideal.
Ready to kick off your shoes and sink your toes into the sand? Here are some of the best beaches in Wales.
Rhossili Bay, Gower
Best beach for surfers
With a list of accolades almost as long as its shoreline, Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsula is arguably the best beach in Wales. Its broad, three-mile stretch of golden sand and rolling surf – the scale of which is best admired from the surrounding heather-clad cliff tops – is overlooked by the Old Rectory, a pretty, whitewashed cottage owned by the National Trust (good luck getting a lodging reservation). Waves are consistent year-round. Beginners are better off sticking to the slightly sheltered southern end, while more experienced surfers should head north for bigger swells. Swing by PJ’s Surf Shop in Llangennith for board rentals.
Porth Iago, Llŷn Peninsula
Best beach for wild(ish) camping
The narrow inlet and surrounding grassy headlands mean little Porth Iago is well sheltered, with clear and calm waters. Local farmers charge a small fee for parking and camping. Although they’ve upgraded their facilities to include toilets and running water, it’s still a pretty wild place to set up your tent. The beach’s bigger but equally beautiful sister, Porth Oer, is an hour or so’s walk south along the Wales Coast Path.
Barafundle Bay, Stackpole
Best beach for sunbathing
South Pembrokeshire’s most raved-about beach, Barafundle Bay, would be Goldilocks’ dream beach: not too big, not too small, never too hot (this is Wales, after all), with a location that’s juuuust right. It’s only accessible on foot via the Wales Coast Path and a set of steep stone stairs, but the masses still make it their mission to get here come summer. If you want to soak up the scene in seclusion, try visiting on a weekday out of season.
Best beach for dolphin spotting
This “hidden” cove might no longer be a local secret, but time it right (early morning or out of season) and you could still have it all to yourself. Don’t miss a walk up Foel y Mwnt, the conical hill that gave the beach its name, while keeping an eye out for frolicking porpoises and dolphins. During seal-breeding season (August to December), you might even spot some fluffy pups on the sand, but be sure to keep your distance.
Whitesands Bay, St Davids
Best beach for families
Whether you travel with surf-mad teens, sand-eating toddlers, grandparents who love to ramble or all of the above, popular Whitesands Bay has everything you need for a fun family day out at the beach. The slipway is stroller- and wheelchair-friendly, and there are bathrooms and a cafe. Once you’ve had your fill of rockpools and body boarding, hike to the summit of nearby Carn Llidi or take the (seasonal) shuttle bus to St Davids.
Llanddwyn Beach, Anglesey
Best beach for romantics
Llanddwyn Beach (also known as Newborough Beach) could easily be mistaken for a slice of the Oregon coast or a far-flung Norwegian island, thanks to its abundant pines and away-from-it-all feel. Nearby lies Llanddwyn Island, where the Welsh patron saint of lovers St. Dwynwen once lived. When the tide is out, it’s worth walking there with your loved one to soak up the dreamy views or even propose – it’s a popular spot to pop the question.
Castle Beach, Tenby
Best beach for island hoppers
The seaside town of Tenby has three sandy beaches on its doorstep, but compact Castle Beach, flanked by two hilltop ruins, is the most interesting. Time your visit with low tide so you can walk to St Catherine’s Island and wander its eerie 19th-century fort. Boats to Caldey Island also depart from here when the main harbor is dry. When the water’s out, it’s also possible to walk along the shore to the temporarily adjoining Tenby South Beach.
Harlech Beach, Gwynedd
Best beach for solitude seekers
Harlech’s huge beach is overlooked by a Unesco-listed castle (it’s just a quarter-mile walk away) and backdropped by the distant peaks of Snowdonia National Park. The four-mile-long expanse of sand is often empty, and the shape-shifting dunes that trim the shoreline are home to an array of wildlife.
Three Cliffs Bay, Gower
Best beach for photographers
Three jagged limestone cliffs protruding from the sand like shark teeth give this Gower beach its name – and photographers the perfect subject come sunset. Backed by rolling dunes and only accessible by foot, it still feels wild despite its popularity and proximity to Swansea. Resist the temptation to go for a dip in the off-season – the currents are deceptively strong, and swimming without a lifeguard present is not advised.
Cefn Sidan, Carmarthenshire
Best beach for spotting shipwrecks
At eight miles, Cefn Sidan is the longest beach in Wales and is backed by a network of wildlife-rich dunes, a thick pine forest and family-friendly Pembrey Country Park. The flat powder-fine sands are said to hide up to 300 old shipwrecks, some of which can be seen at low tide, including SV Paul, which ran aground here almost 100 years ago.
Llandudno Beach, Conwy
Best beach for a classic day at the seaside
Punch and Judy. Fish and chips. Amusement arcades on the pier. Llandudno Beach (also known as North Shore) is the quintessential retro British seaside resort. When you’re tired of skipping stones and protecting your ice cream from greedy seagulls, make your way to the top of the Great Orme headland for spectacular 360-degree views.