Wales has recently (2012) completed an All Wales Coastal Path, which has received fabulous reviews worldwide, due in no small part to its glorious coastline and fabulous beaches. I will attempt to summarise the best beaches in the following review.
The North Wales Coast offers the wide-open stretches of golden sands in Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan. Llandudno in the heart of the North Wales coastline has two beaches, the picturesque estuary beach at West Shore, and the famous North Shore beach set against a backdrop of its grand Victorian Promenade.
Leaving the North Wales coast it is just a short drive across the Menai Bridge to the Isle of Anglesey. The south coast of Anglesey borders the marvellous Menai Strait, famed for its beautiful waters and sea-life, but alas, the strong tidal currents are not beach friendly.
The east coast however boasts family friendly beaches at Benllech and Lligwy, and the massive expanse of sands at Red Wharf Bay.
The pride of the north coast must be the beaches at Cemaes Bay, while nature lovers and bird watchers favour the lagoon and pebble beach at Cemlyn Bay.
Rounding Carmel Head to the west coast of Anglesey we find the popular beaches of Church Bay, Trearddur Bay and Rhosneigr, before we reach two of my favourite beaches, Aberffraw and Llanddwyn Island.
Aberffraw is a picturesque estuary beach backed by sand dunes, while the romantic Llanddwyn Island with its tiny cove beaches is a little piece of heaven dropped to earth!
Crossing back to the Welsh mainland we head west to the Llyn Peninsula, sometimes known as the ‘edge of Wales’. The northern Llyn coast is home to two of Wales’s most picturesque beaches, with both Nefyn and Porth Dinllaen being ‘wonders to behold’.
Heading in a westerly direction, we round the tip of the peninsula and arrive at Porth Iago, where you could be forgiven for believing you had arrived on the shores of a Mediterranean island.
A few miles south of Porth Iago is another of Wales’ wonders – Porth Oer – or as it is more commonly known -Whistling Sands beach - so named after the squeaks emanating from the golden sands.
Rounding the headland close to Bardsey Island we arrive at the first of the south Llyn beaches - Aberdaron beach - a beautiful beach yet just yards from the centre of the village.
Heading east we pass rocky inlets before reaching the fine beaches of Abersoch, Llanbedrog, Pwllheli, Criccieth and the Black Rock Sands at the mouth of the Glaslyn estuary, where the mountains of Snowdonia meet the waters of Cardigan Bay.
Heading south from the Glaslyn estuary we leave the Llyn Peninsula behind and join the crescent shaped Bay of Cardigan proper. From Harlech to Barmouth, some 14 miles, is one huge beach with golden sands, clear blue seas, and all set against fabulous sand dunes and the mountains of Snowdonia National Park.
We cross the Mawddach estuary and follow the sandy coastline past Fairbourne and Tywyn beaches and on to the estuary of the Dyfi, where the beaches follow the curve of the estuary inviting exploration inland. We cross the river Dyfi and follow the coastline as far as Borth where the beaches tail off until we reach New Quay, a seaside resort with both beaches and a picturesque harbour.
This section of the Ceredigion coastline can be short of beaches, the land dips sharply into the sea, but the beaches of Llangrannog and Aberporth are well worth the visit. Llangrannog’s beaches may be relatively small, but they are perfectly formed, and, being one of Wales' most picturesque locations, the beaches are popular with both families and surfers.
Aberporth, a few miles south similarly has two fine beaches with the added attraction of a sailing club and the opportunity to watch the fishermen bringing in the catch.
Leaving Ceredigion but still in Cardigan Bay we reach the rugged coastline of Pembrokeshire, a National Park in its own right, with fantastic beaches at Newport / Parrog.
The North Pembrokeshire coast has a number of rocky coves before we reach the beautiful bay at Whitesands on the west coast.
Rounding the headland at Ramsey Sound, we follow the coastal path circumventing the huge sweep of St Bride’s Bay with the popular beaches of Newgale Sands and Broadhaven Sands.
Milford Haven is not only a haven for sea farers but also offers several fine beaches including Dale, Angle Bay and Freshwater West before we head south east toward Tenby and Saundersfoot with their miles of glorious sandy beaches.
Reaching Carmarthen Bay we are spoilt for choice with both Pendine Sands and the Cefn Sidan Sands bordering the wide sweep of the bay.
Leaving Carmarthen Bay we reach the Gower Peninsula and Swansea Bay with the Gowers’ world famous beaches of Rhossilli Bay, Porth Eynon, Oxwich Bay, Caswell Bay and Langland Bay, leading to Swansea Bay and the beaches of Margam Burrows, Porthcawl and Ogmore.
From here we are close to the end of our coastal trip around Wales with just the Vale of Glamorgan Heritage Coast and the popular beach of Whitesands Bay at the seaside resort of Barry Island in South Wales.
To sum up Wales’ beaches are just wonderful, and although I intended to choose only my best beaches I find that I have so many favourites that the list is endless.