When it comes to best beaches Wales has an incredible choice. From surfer waves and family-friendly coves to ones close to hiking and cycling trails you'll find a beach here for any occasion. Plus the Welsh coastline also offers plenty of glorious places to go green off-the-beaten-track.
its brutish waves and powerful Atlantic swells are not for the faint-hearted – so it’s understandable you’ll find surfers rather than swimmers here. Be warned that the path down to the beach is very steep.
Where to stay on the Gower Peninsula
For cosy stays: The historic King's Head Inn dates back to the 17th century. All bedrooms have underfloor heating and the restaurant specialises in locally sourced ingredients.
For surf stays: The Bake House holiday home is perfect for surf breaks and only a few minutes' drive from Rhossili Beach.
For pet-friendly stays: Western House B&B sits in the heart of Llangennith village. It's an easy drive to the beach, several rooms have sea views and dogs are welcome.
Backed by dunes and with Gower Peninsula on the horizon, Wales’ longest beach is an eight-mile-long dog walkers’ paradise. Roughly translated from Welsh as "silky back", at low tide the wet beach really does sparkle. Part of the Pembrey Country Park, there are nature trails and cycle paths to explore inland.
This village beach in Anglesey is known to adrenaline seekers (who come out to play in all weathers) for its windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing – surfboards can be hired here too. For those seeking a less frenetic activity, at low tide there are lots of lovely rock pools to explore.
Where to stay in Anglesey
For family stays: Pass the Keys is a bright, modern beach house with three bedrooms, patio, balcony and fabulous views.
For beach stays: Set almost right on the beach, two bedroom Sandy Toes is fresh, comfortable and pet-friendly.
For village stays: Pedwar Gwynt Fourwinds sits in Rosneigr village and withing walking distance of the beach. As well as three bedrooms it has a pretty, private garden.
This beach, run by the National Trust, is on the more bucolic south coast of Llyn Peninsula. Sheltered by the headland of Mynydd Tir-y-Cwmwd, the calm waters are perfect for splashing about with the family.
There are seventy colourfully-painted wooden beach huts which add to the laidback and friendly vibe. Well behaved dogs (and owners) are also welcome. If you want to know more about the Llyn Peninsula take a look at our five eco-friendly holiday ideas in Wales.
Where to stay on the Llyn Peninsula
For independent stays: There's many different holiday homes to choose from, try the Holiday Home Darris for a lovely patio and garden views.
For family stays: Glyn-y-Mor sits close to the beach in Llanbedrog and offers three bedrooms, living room, kitchen and large, enclosed garden.
For authentic stays: A charming restored tradtitional cottage, Galwad-Y-Mor is a short drive to the beach and has its own courtyard garden.
The beach is a bit of a walk from the car park but its pristine sands and crystal clear waters really are worth the trip. Ramp up the temperature gauge a bit and you might well mistake it for the Caribbean…
Where to stay in Pembrokeshire
For historic stays: A former medieval coaching inn, The Coach House Hotel is in Pembroke, close to the castle and a short drive from Barafundle Bay.
On the northern Lleyn coast, the white sands here are famous for the squeaking sound that is made as you trample the dry sand underfoot, giving them the nickname "Whistling Sands". The picturesque, crescent shaped beach has rugged headland at either end and the water here is popular with swimmers and surfers.
Where to stay in Gwyned
For quirky stays: The Piggery is a quaint little one bedroom holiday home packed with unusual features, surrounded by a large garden and a short drive from the beach.
For boutique stays: Just six minutes walk from the beach, The Summer Room is a stylish B&B with wonderful views, a pretty garden and sun terraces.
For beach stays: This three bedroom apartment is so close to the sea, it's actually called 10m From The Beach. If you don't feel like walking it also has a balcony with sea views.
There are four miles of coastline from Tywyn all the way to Aberdyfi, an idyllic coastal village at the mouth of the River Dyfi. The beautiful estuary beach has the foothills of Snowdonia as a backdrop and is a well known spot for stunning sunsets.
You can follow the old "Roman Road" (actually built in the 1800s) for a lovely walk beside the water and stop at one of the village pubs for a bite to eat and a pint of ale.
Where to stay in Aberdyfi
For romantic stays: Only a few minutes from the beach, this pretty, restored Shepherd's Hut is deceptively spacious, with separate living and bedroom and a woodburning stove.
For elevated stays: The Look Out sits on a small hill above Aberdyfi beach. Its chalet design is sleek and modern, but the views are what makes this holiday home irresistible.
For town stays: Right in the heart of Aberdyfi, Ty Gwyn is a pretty, traditional townhouse with a freshly designed interior and private garden, just a short walk from the beach.
Wide and wild, with a pretty mix of sand and rocks, Whitesands Bay curves round close to St David’s head. It’s a top spot for surfing, and means you can also try a spot of hiking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. On a sunny day, the sea turns a deep and mesmerizing sapphire blue.
This family-friendly beach has safe swimming and spectacular views out across St Brides Bay. When the tide is right out, the beach is huge, with cliffs at either end. Compared to some Welsh beaches, Broad Haven is positively brash; come here for typical, wonderful, British seaside fun.
Where to stay in Broad Haven
For budget stays: Broad Haven's YHA is set in private grounds, just 100m from the Blue Flag beaches.
For family stays: The Hayloft is surrounded by farmland and a short drive to the beach. With two bedrooms and a pretty garden, it's perfect for kids.
Between Amroth and Laugharne on Carmarthen Bay, this vast seven-mile stretch of beach is famous for the car racing of yesteryear. The "sands of speed" are still as smooth and straight as they were when Sir Malcolm Campbell set the world land speed record here in the 1920s.
Cars are still allowed on the beach, but today it’s the kite buggies that race up and down.
Where to stay in Pendine
For beach stays: The Mermaid's Watch three bedroom apartment overlooks Pendine Sands and welcomes pets.
For family stays: Beachfront in Pendine the Springwell Inn has its own restaurant and bar and offers a range of spacious, well designed family rooms.
For relaxing stays: Minimalist and light-flooded Landsker has stunning sea views which you can enjoy from the hot tub on the apartment balcony.
11. Rest Bay, one of best beaches Wales offers for kitesurfing
Few people know exactly what’s on offer in this friendly little county sandwiched between Cardiff and Swansea. Rest Bay itself is a quiet, sandy beach located a little distance from the centre of Porthcawl.
It’s fast becoming a popular surfing and kitesurfing destination (boasting waves to rival Newquay and Swansea) and is also overlooked by the world class Royal Porthcawl golf club.
Where to stay in Porthcawl
For comfortable stays: Just a short walk from the beach, the Rose and Crown Porthcawl is a traditional seaside inn with comfortable bedrooms and a cosy bar.
For budget stays: Caravan Porthcawl is in Trecco Holiday Park in Porthcawl, close to the beach, it also has access to an indoor swimming pool.
For quirky stays: Choose 19 Mary Street in Porthcawl for its individually designed rooms, friendly atmosphere and short walk to the beach.
The craggy, rock-strewn coastline here is known for its stunning cliffs of grey, gold and purple folds of rock, alternate layers of grey shale and old red sandstone. There are rock pools to explore at the western end of the bay and you should keep an eye out for seabirds and seals.
Where to stay in Marloes
For family stays: The Lobster Pot in Marloes offers great value family rooms only 1.5km from Marloes Sands.
For budget stays: Mill Haven Place glamping yurts come with Victorian cast iron beds, separate kitchen huts and cosy stoves, just minutes from the beach.
For family stays: Four bedroom Collingwood Cottage is a short walk to Marloes Sands and features a sunny garden with a dining patio and lawn.
This five-mile sandy stretch of beach with shingle and breakers is perfect for walking. In low season there’s hardly another soul around and, even on sunny summer days, the beach is too large to get really busy. Lots of life gets washed up at hightide, so it’s perfect for inquisitive dogs and children (though watch out for jellyfish).
Where to stay in Tywyn
For budget stays: The 157 Amour Caravan is a small caravan apartment in Tywyn, with a fully equipped kitchen and two bedrooms, ideal for families.
For pet-friendly stays: Wild Snowdonia Cottage comes with wonderful sea, mountain and sunset views. It's also beautifully designed and pet-friendly.
For seafront stays: Minutes from the beach, The Nook is a lovely bright seaside apartment with its own garden and private entrance.
Another beautiful, sheltered and sandy cove, steep steps lead down to this unspoiled bay, which is owned and run by the National Trust. The Wales Coast Path winds its way along the cliffs above, and from here there are extraordinary views as well as the possibility of spotting dolphins, porpoises and seals.
This long stretch of sandy beach is on the north coast of the Lleyn Peninsula. The waters are protected by a natural harbour and when the tide is in the little boats bobbing on the calm water are a gorgeous sight. Ty Coch Inn was opened here on the beach in 1842, and is today one of the most famous pubs in Wales, with one of the loveliest settings.
Where to stay in Pwllheli
For beachfront stays: Literally called Beach Front House, this holiday home is steps away from the sands and features fabulous views from its shared terrace.
For family stays: Rooms at Martha Jones is close to the centre of Pwllheli and also just a short walk from the beach. Rooms are deluxe doubles and breakfast is included.
For cottage stays: Fron Heulog looks tiny from the outside but actually features three bedrooms. A pretty garden is another nice bonus here and the beach is only a short drive away.
This beautiful little bay is surrounded by three prominent crags and is best approached from the car park at Southgate, from where you hike for a mile or so west along the clifftops before you can descend – in spring patches of brightly coloured flowers pop up along the path.
Depending on the tide, and your level of fitness, you can clamber up from the bay to the atmospheric ruins of fourteenth-century Pennard Castle.
Where to stay in Swansea
For family stays: Sweet, three bedroom Hael Farm Cottage in Swansea is only a short drive to the beach.
For beachfront stays: The Swansea Marriott sits on the waterfront, a few minutes walk from the beach. Several rooms have sea views and the hotel restaurant overlooks the marina.
For luxury stays: In Swansea's historic Maritime Quarter, Morgans Hotel is a beautiful Victorian building with luxuriously large bedrooms and a stylish restaurant and bar.
Sebastien Boyesen’s statue of St Caranog overlooks the beaches at Llangrannog, partway along the Ceredigion coast path from Cardigan to Ynys-las. Fishing boats and fishermens' cottages back the main cove, which gets crowded on sunny days.
The hidden cove of Cilborth is just to the north. It's accessible from the main sands at low tide and a lovely alternative to Llangrannog when it's too busy.
Where to stay in Llangrannog
For family stays: Set in Llangranog, Parc Maerdy glamping holiday cabins come with their own garden, balcony with lake views and access to a barbecue and terrace.
For cottage stays: Just a couple of kilometres from the beach, The Granary Cottage is a sweet little one bedroom holiday home that's perfect for couples.
For boutique stays: Bryn Berwyn Country House sits 10 minutes walk from the beach and features large, elegant bedrooms with good views, as well as a restaurant and bar.
The name means “estuary of the River Ffraw” and you reach the beach by walking along the sandy riverbank from the village half a mile away. A wide arc of sand backed by dunes, pretty Aberffraw beach is rural and uncrowded.
Sometimes called Niwbwrch (Newborough) Beach, scenic Llanddwyn is backed by Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve and its extensive dunes.
From the beach there are views across to Snowdonia National Park and the Llyn Peninsula, as well as a path that leads to the rocky promontory of Ynys Llanddyn (Llanddwyn Island) and its old lighthouse, which marks the western entrance to the Menai strait.
The beach at the the tiny village of Dale, 14 miles west of Haverfordwest, is mainly pebble and shingle. Surprisingly sunny, its sheltered east facing beach makes it a popular yachting and watersports centre.
The quaint shoreline houses add to the general charm of the place and are evocative of a time when Dale was a smugglers’ village. There’s also a lovely pub overlooking the sands, The Griffin Inn, which specialises in locally sourced seafood.
Where to stay in Haverfordwest
For heritage stays: The College Guest House is set in a listed Georgian townhouse in Haverfordwest.
For romantic stays: The Beautiful Tiny Home has one bedroom, a cute little garden with a sunny patio, and it's a short drive from several lovely beaches.
For pet-friendly stays: The Cabin is a simple and charming one bedroom holiday home in its own grounds and an easy drive to local beaches.
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Rachel Mills is a freelance writer, editor and broadcaster based by the sea in Kent. She is a co-author for Rough Guides to New Zealand, India, Canada, Ireland and Great Britain a contributor to Telegraph Travel, the Independent, AFAR, DK Eyewitness and loveEXPLORING.com and an expert in sustainable, responsible tourism. Follow her @rachmillstravel on Twitter and Instagram and listen to her show Over Here on ramsgateradio.com.