Rest Bay has established itself as one of the best beginner surf beaches in Wales, with regular swells rolling in to test keen riders. If there’s no surf, you can still enjoy stand up paddleboarding or kayaking. The state-of-the-art Rest Bay Watersports Centre allows visitors to rent surf equipment and book lessons with expert guides. You can also choose from a wide variety of bikes to hire, including beach wheelchairs, e-bikes and California Cruisers, in order to explore Porthcawl promenade and the wider Wales Coast Path.
Pink Bay is a quieter beach which is named after the unusually pink hue of its stones and pebbles. Another option is Sker Beach, the most westerly of Bridgend County’s beaches and can only be accessed via a scenic amble through Kenfig National Nature Reserve.
From the thrills and spills of Coney Beach Pleasure Park to the iconic 1930s Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl promenade was built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and has been a staple of countless seaside staycations for generations. Today the traditional amusements, cafes and ice cream parlours sit beside top-notch restaurants and bustling bars - where surfers, cyclists and adventure seekers rub shoulders with families of holiday makers and locals.
At one end the recently renovated Jennings Building plays host to popular eateries Harbour Bar & Kitchen and Double Zero Pizza, both of which overlook the harbour. At the other sits the Seabank Hotel, one of Porthcawl’s most prominent landmarks, and the route towards the sands of Rest Bay.
Wonderful Welsh wildlife
Kenfig National Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest thanks to its wide variety of wildlife and insects, not to mention the Fen Orchid - one of Britain’s rarest plants. Merthyr Mawr Warren National Nature Reserve is another coastal wildlife haven where you can stand atop (before sledding down) the mighty ‘Big Dipper’, Europe’s highest sand dune.
Further inland Parc Slip Nature Reserve offers up 300 beautiful acres of grassland, woodland and wetlands - all restored from what was once an opencast coal mine. It’s also home to a 2.5 mile (4km) stretch of Sustrans National Cycle Route 4 and over 6 miles (10km) of well-maintained walking trails. Kids will love exploring Bryngarw Country Park’s 100+ acres of parkland.
Regularly included amongst the best courses on the planet and host of numerous professional tournaments, Royal Porthcawl offers golfers the chance to gaze out over the sands of Rest Bay while they play. Just a short hop from Royal Porthcawl is Pyle and Kenfig (otherwise known as ‘P&K’), with equally awe-inspiring views and a back nine to test even the most seasoned golfer.
In addition to Bridgend County’s famous coastal links courses, parkland courses such as Coed y Mwstwr and Maesteg allow you to swap seaside vistas for rugged Welsh valleys. Less famous than their coastal cousins, these courses have helped establish Bridgend County as a top all-round golfing destination.
In addition to the surfing, stand up paddleboarding and kite surfing adventure on offer at Rest Bay, there's plenty of action to be found on land.
Mountain bikers should head up into the Garw valley to seek out the two Darren Fawr mountain biking trails which, when combined, offer a thrillingly scenic 6km descent. For something completely different, rent yourself a fat-bike and challenge yourself against the coastal dunes - a unique biking experience like no other!
Fabulous food and drink
Bridgend County’s culinary offering has gone from strength to strength in recent years. In Laleston, eateries such as The Black Rabbit and the Great House Hotel’s award-winning Leicester’s Restaurant have helped this small village to establish a big reputation as a foodie hotspot.
In Bridgend Town Centre there are both new and established restaurants that any foodie city would be proud to call their own. La Cocina Tapas is renowned for authentic, Spanish-inspired dishes while neighbouring Cane & Rye offers an extensive cocktail menu. Morgan’s Bistro & Cocktail Bar is a great option for traditional French cuisine. If you’re sticking to the coast, top Porthcawl-based restaurants include the Cosy Corner Lounge and Dockside Bar & Grill. If you like your food with a side of history, the Old House in Llangynwyd was founded in the 1100s, making it one of the oldest pubs in Wales, and it is said that past patrons have included Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and David Bowie.
Dust off your blue suede shoes and prepare to get all shook up - not only is Porthcawl Elvis Festival one of the world’s best-loved Elvis themed events, but also one of the biggest. Each year, over 30,000 Elvis aficionados come together for several days of music and other Elvis-themed madness - this really is a festival fit for The King!
Designed to reconnect young people with music, art and natural science, Between The Trees Festival is a great option for families and takes place in secluded woodland next to the Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve. Or for something altogether spookier, visit between Christmas and New Year to experience the unique Welsh tradition that is the Mari Lwyd!
Read more: Things to do in The Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend
You can find out more information on the Visit Bridgend website.
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