Harbour Lights, Sandy Beaches
The mountains have to end somewhere – in our case, along almost 200 miles of seashore. Wooded estuaries and big beaches, wild western cliffs and sheltered harbours, sandy resorts and secluded bays – they’re all here, on a coastline that, from north to south, begins at one spectacular estuary (Conwy) and ends at another (Dyfi). In between you’ll find the sheltered waters of the Menai Strait, the lovely Llŷn Peninsula (an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’) and mountain-backed Cardigan Bay.
That’s the big picture. To give you a fuller, more intense flavour here are sandy snapshots from just three of the many places to stay.
First impressions. One of our most scenic resorts, perched on the edge of the Mawddach Estuary where mountains tumble into the sea. The huge, sandy beach and sheltered harbour are busy with families and watersports fans.
On the beach. There’s all the space you need for family beach games. Crab fishing from the harbour wall is another favourite. All amenities – car parks, shops, cafés, etc – are close to the beach.
Did you know? The National Trust was born here – yes, honestly. Dinas Oleu, the headland above the harbour, was the first piece of land to be acquired by the Trust in 1895. From little acorns…
Anything else? For yet more sand catch the ferry and narrow-gauge railway across to Fairbourne.
First impressions. It’s fashionable, it’s trendy. It’s great for watersports and people-watching. Abersoch is a modern resort, a winning combination of beach and buzzy village centre with shops selling traditional seaside wares, funky fashion and outdoor gear, and over 10 restaurants. It rides a wave of popularity that came with the renaissance of British seaside holidays – and it’s also a thriving sailing and watersports centre.
On the beach. Young families like the spacious sands, shallow gradient and great views. Powered craft can’t use part of the beach, providing a relatively safe area for bathers.
Did you know? Wakestock, Europe’s largest wakeboard music festival, is held here each summer. It’s also got a famous landowner, Bear Grylls, who bought St Tudwal’s Island West.
Anything else? The challenging surfing beach of Porth Neigwl is just a few miles away. Its alternative name, Hell’s Mouth, says it all.
First impressions. North Llŷn’s most popular spot, with beautiful beaches and a traditional taste of the seaside. The community, a stronghold of the Welsh language, comes in three parts. The villages of Nefyn and Morfa Nefyn more or less merge. Beyond, there’s Porthdinllaen, a coastal hamlet owned lock, stock and barrel by the National Trust.
On the beach. Two miles of sandy beach link the three places, strung out on a pair of horseshoe curves. Porthdinllaen, in particular, is a gem, its perfect crescent of sand sheltered by a protective headland.
Did you know? Things might have been oh so different if 19th-century plans had gone ahead to make this a major Irish Sea port. Instead, they chose Holyhead.
Anything else? Learn Welsh and more about our culture and traditions at Nant Gwrtheyrn Welsh Language and Heritage Centre. Play golf at the famous 27-hole Nefyn course (linked to the coast path) and pay a quick visit to the Tŷ Coch Inn on the beach.
Beauty and the beach.
There are beautiful beaches all along our coast. Here’s a brief run-down of some, from north to south:
• Penmaenmawr – long, sandy and gently sloping beach popular with families and sailors
• Llanfairfechan – another long sandy beach at this small, family-friendly seaside resort
• Dinas Dinlle, near Caernarfon – vast beach with vast views, good for walking, windsurfing and power kiting
• Porth Oer, near Aberdaron – perhaps better known as ‘Whistling Sands’. The granules really do squeak underfoot
• Aberdaron – furthest point west, an ideal base for exploring the Llŷn Coastal Path
• Pwllheli South Beach (Marian-y-De) – south facing, sandy and almost three miles long, backed by dunes
• Morfa Bychan (Black Rock Sands) – spacious beach popular with families and watersports enthusiasts
• Harlech – make sandcastles on the big beach in the shadow of the real thing, medieval Harlech Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
• Shell Island, Llanbedr – sand, dunes and, of course, shells
• Tywyn – big, west-facing sandy beach and promenade with spectacular views
• Aberdyfi – gorgeous beach in a gorgeous setting on the mouth of the Dyfi Estuary
Slip sliding away.
For information on slipways, boat launching and marinas contact the Maritime Unit on 01758 704066. For harbours and maritime information in the Conwy area call 01492 596253.
Walking your dog on our beaches
There are over 35 beaches along our 200 miles of coastline, which includes the Llŷn Peninsula and Cambrian Coast. Dogs are allowed access to walk along the majority of them. Sections of certain beaches have Dog Exclusion Zones to manage their use and keep them clean and safe. For the latest information please contact Tourist Information Centres (see back cover).