Wherever you are on the Welsh coast, you're never far from the opportunity to slink into a wetsuit - and who among us doesn't look utterly stonking in tight neoprene? - and lob yourself into the ocean. Welcome to the wonderful Welsh watersport that is coasteering, and a few operators to help you get started.
Most run courses to suit everyone from total beginners to gung-ho experts, usually from age 8 upwards. Prices start at around £40 per adult (£25 per child) for a half-day session, for which they’ll provide all the essential gear – wetsuit, buoyancy aid, helmet – and a team of cheery outdoorsy types who’ll make sure everyone has a fantastic time and, importantly, stays safe.
Pembrokeshire, West Wales
Coasteering began in St Davids back in 1986, so it’s only polite to give the noble pioneers at TYF Adventure and Coasteering the first shout-out. TYF invented the sport at the Twr y Felin activity centre (now the luxury Twr y Felin hotel) and over 30-plus years they’ve taken more than 100,000 splash-happy punters along the fabulous coast around St Davids. Since then, they’ve been joined by several other operators like Celtic Quest, Preseli Venture and Dragon Activity Guides.
Most of the action happens along the wildly beautiful coastline between St Davids and Fishguard, although it’s spread as far afield as Tenby and Stackpole in the south, Cardigan in the north, and Newgale in the middle. The most popular spot, used by several operators, is The Blue Lagoon at Abereiddi, where a sea-swamped slate quarry provides reliable thrills even when the sea is too rough elsewhere. The 10m leap off the top of the quarry is a rite of passage for any coasteerer.
Gower, West Wales
The south coast of Gower ticks all boxes: an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, high cliffs, big sea arches and a massive tidal range that reveals bags of wildlife. From the gentler sands of Caswell, through the jaw-dropping perfection of Three Cliffs Bay, out to the jagged promontory of Worm’s Head at Rhossili, there’s plenty of superb terrain – and plenty of operators to choose from: Gower Activity Centres, Down to Earth Project, Rip n Rock, Antur Outdoor Adventure and Adventure Britain should have something to (wet)suit everyone.
Anglesey, North Wales
Almost the entire coastline of Anglesey, our biggest island, is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but its best coasteering terrain is around Holy Island. Anglesey Adventures explore the hidden beaches, cliffs and sea caves, with options including the hardcore ‘adventure’ trip and a gentler ‘eco-coasteering’ day to savour the wildlife and geology. They’re based at the Anglesey Outdoors, which does the full suite of wet-and-dry adventure activities. A few other companies worth mentioning: North Wales Active, Seren Ventures and Snowdonia Outdoor Adventure do coasteering and with its sister sports, gorge scrambling and canyoning.
Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales
Take your pick: there’s the sheltered south coast, the more rugged north coast, or the exposed tip of Llŷn that catches the big waves that roll in from the Atlantic. One of the best spots is Morfa Nefyn, where the tiny fishing village of Porthdinllaen makes the most picturesque backdrop - and the Ty Coch Inn the ideal place to have a reviving pint while telling tales of heroism. Local operators include Boulder Adventures and Bach Ventures.
Glamorgan Heritage Coast, South Wales
The multi-layered cliffs of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast are just 30 minutes from Cardiff, and have long been popular with walkers and fossil-hunters. The stretch between Southerndown and Ogmore also lends itself well to coasteering, with several operators working the coastline: try Hawk Adventures and Mountain and River Activities.