Whether you're in the mood for a nostalgic family getaway complete with sandcastles, candy floss and Punch and Judy or an active break featuring sailing, windsurfing or hiking, there are beaches and resorts in North Wales that suit your need. Here are some of the best beaches and coastal areas in the region so that you can plan your holiday around the waves.

Rhyl Beach, Rhyl

Rhyl is best known for its seaside charm, which is no surprise given that its beach and neighbouring promenade stretch the length of the town – roughly two miles from Clwyd Estuary to Splash Point. The beach itself is sandy with little rocks. When the tide is out the beach lengthens, so much so that you have a half-mile walk from the sea wall to the waves! A trip to this beach is incomplete without a ride on the Rhyl Miniature Railway and a look around the SeaQuarium.

Family walking along groyne on beach Rhyl
Family walking on beach at Rhyl

Marine Road Beach, Colwyn Bay

Stroll to the western end of the shingle beach that runs parallel to Colwyn Bay's Victorian town centre and you'll find West Promenade and the Marine Road Beach. The waters are flat and wide most of the time, which is good for sailing and watersports. It's not uncommon to see a seal or dolphin when the waves do come up, while wading birds are regulars. For family fun after the beach, visit the Welsh Mountain Zoo.

Barkby Beach, Prestatyn

If you're after the thrill of a ride on a jet bike or in a speed boat, Barkby Beach is the place to go. It has a buoyed channel that makes it possible to get 100m away from the shoreline without interrupting swimmers and little ones playing in the waves. The sand there is golden, but if you're after sand in epic proportions you should continue along the coast to Gronant Dunes, an extensive dune system recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). You might be lucky enough to see Wales’ only colony of breeding little terns there.

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Couple walking near Gronant Dunes

Central Beach, Prestatyn

One of three joined-up beaches in Prestatyn, Central Beach is an award-winning wide beach that is popular with sailors and families spending the day splashing around, walking and cycling the promenade. Seaside cafes and pubs are on hand to fuel you up before a stint at the amusement arcades or crazy golf. Central Beach is a handy point to access walking and cycling routes from as the North Wales Cycle Trail, North Wales Coastal Path and the Offa’s Dyke Path converge there.

Llandudno Pier, Llandudno

Could you get any more 'British seaside' than a lazy afternoon on a traditional pier? We doubt it. The Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno has the longest pier in Wales, stretching 700m into the sea. It was built in the late 1800s out of iron, and now has Grade II listed status thanks to its striking appearance and charm. Along the pier, there are two amusement arcades (bring your coppers!), snack bars, stalls selling vital seaside paraphernalia (buckets, crab-catching lines, sticks of rock), funfair rides and specialist fishing zones. 

View from hill overlooking Llandudno and pier
Llandudno Pier, North Wales

Colwyn Bay Beach (Rhos-On-Sea Beach)

A Blue Flag beach that's perfect for swimming in the sea, adventurous watersports or fishing, Colwyn Bay Beach is a three-mile bay with the harbour wall of Rhos at one end and Colwyn Bay promenade at the other. Loved by boat-owners and families alike, the stretch has sand and shale beach areas, traditional puppet shows at the Harlequin Puppet Theatre, nautical themed crazy golf at Rhos Fynach Mini Golf, a Victorian pier, the green Eirias Park and the Welsh Mountain Zoo.

Trearddur Bay, Anglesey

This village to the south of Holyhead has two gorgeous beaches: Trearddur Beach and Porth Diana. At both, you can swim in protected bathing areas, clamber along the rock pools and play in the sand. Shallow scuba diving is a really popular past-time there, with scuba equipment hire facilities dotted around nearby. Sea fishing is also big, with boat trips available from the beaches. The kayaking opportunities around Trearddur and nearby Holy Island are globally renowned. After you've had your sea fix, you can walk to the famous South Stack, with its lighthouse and RSPB reserve.

Aerial view of South Stack Lighthouse on mountains, surrounded by sea
South Stack, Anglesey

Llanddwyn Beach, Anglesey

Whether you want to sunbathe, splash around, kitesurf, fish or simply walk with nature, Llanddwyn Beach has it all. It's a place for discovery, both of the area and yourself, along the Anglesey Coast Path. Aside from the beach, one of the biggest draws of this area is its Welsh significance. If you take the path that leads from the beach to the wooded and green hills towards the marked nature reserve, you are near Ynys Llanddwyn - a small tidal island where St Dwynwen - the Welsh patron saint of love - is buried. It's a hugely romantic spot, not just for this reason. It's impossible not to fall for views of the Menai StraitSnowdonia and the Llŷn Peninsula.

Abersoch Beach, Llŷn Peninsula

On the south coast of the Llŷn Peninsula is Abersoch, a village where the Afon Soch river reaches the sea. A haven for dinghy sailors, jet-skiers and windsurfers, the former fishing port is now a hub for water-based fun. There are two sandy beaches, the main one being the best for sheltered swimming surrounded by postcard-perfect views. Take a boat trip around St Tudwal's Islands to go wildlife watching, take an epic hike in Snowdonia National Park or simply look at Snowdon in all its glory from Abersoch Bay if it's sunny.

Children snorkelling off beach at Abersoch
Abersoch, Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales

Barmouth Beach, Barmouth

Barmouth beach has one of the most impressive locations in Wales, with the Mawddach Estuary and Cardigan Bay lapping at its toes and the foothills of Snowdonia rising dramatically at its back. With direct trains from Birmingham taking just three and a half hours, it’s been a favourite with visitors from the Midlands since Victorian times. The huge beach is great for family fun, and there are trails around the estuary for walkers, cyclists and birdwatchers to explore.

Aerial view of Barmouth Mawddach Estuary Snowdonia
Barmouth, Mawddach Estuary, Snowdonia