Barmouth, Southern Eryri (Snowdonia)'s most popular seaside resort, lies on the estuary of the River Mawddach and Cardigan Bay. Despite being a haven for visitors in summer, miles of unbroken sands mean the resort never feels too crowded. There’s a pretty harbour too, perfectly placed on the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary, where fishing trips depart frequently.
If it’s a coastal walk you’re after, you can ramble from Barmouth to Llwyngwril along the Wales Coast Path.
Facilities: Barmouth is complete with all the seaside amenities you could hope for – speciality shops, cosy cafés, amusements and local cuisine that covers all price points.
Is it dog friendly? Parts of the beach allow dogs all year round, but the area between the leisure centre and river are off bounds from 1 April – 30 September.
Llandudno North Shore
Bill Bryson, arguably the world’s most well-known travel writer, took delight in describing Llandudno as 'my favourite of all seaside resorts'. The popular coastal town is famous for its North Shore Beach and iconic 19th-century pier, and an abundance of arty shops and dizzying amusements line its celebrated seafront, making it perfect for families. The resort is gracefully framed by two headlands and the twentieth century Great Orme Tramway travels to the headland’s summit.
Facilities: There are facilities along the promenade and the beach is just a few minutes’ walk from the town centre where there are shops, cafés and toilets.
Is it dog friendly? The western end of the beach doesn’t allow dogs between 1 May – 30 September.
Beaches in Anglesey
Near the village of Llanbadrig on Anglesey's north coast, this secluded pebbled cove echoes with tales of Celtic legends. The crescent-shaped bay is framed by dramatic cliffs, but it’s the inlet’s white quartzite sea stack that most easily identifies Porth Padrig. This 'White Lady' is named after Ladi Wen, a ghost known in Welsh folk legend, evoked to warn children against bad behaviour.
The beach itself is named after St Patrick. At the rear of the nearby churchyard, a stone stile leads to St Patrick's cave, where the saint allegedly sheltered after being shipwrecked on Middle Mouse Island.
Facilities: There’s a nearby car park but not many other facilities around this remote beach.
Is it dog friendly? Yes, dogs are welcome here.
Llanddwyn is home to shingle and sandy beaches, as well as several beautiful coves, all encircled by majestic views of the Irish Sea. The Llanddwyn Island lighthouse, Tŵr Mawr (that’s 'great tower' in English), is the ideal vantage point to spot seals relaxing on the rocks below, dolphins swimming and even the occasional minke whale.
The narrow finger of land is also the perfect picnic spot when the weather’s good, perhaps after exploring a little of the Wales Coast Path. Though it’s equally exhilarating in the winter, offering epic examples of raw natural beauty in every direction.
Facilities: The nearest parking can be found at Newborough Forest.
Is it dog-friendly? Dogs aren’t allowed on the island from 1 May – 30 September.
Morfa Bychan (Black Rock Sands)
Ringed by dark cliffs and impressive sand dunes, Morfa Bychan beach, near Porthmadog, is a heavenly two miles of sand and rockpools to explore. If you're into nature spotting, the sand dunes are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Morfa Bychan Nature Reserve is nearby. It's a popular spot for watersports, with a slipway and separate zones for swimming and boats. If you fancy a bite to eat, the family and dog-friendly Black Rock Beach Club is nearby, or head into Morfa Bychan village for fish and chips.
The best bit? You can drive straight onto the beach.
Facilities: Parking is available on the beach (£5 for the day) between 9am and 8pm in designated areas. Toilets (including a RADAR accessible toilet) are open between 1 April and 30 October. There are places to eat and small shops in Morfa Bychan.
Is it dog friendly? The northern end of the beach doesn’t allow dogs between 1 April and 30 September. The rest of the huge beach allows dogs all year round.
The seaside resort of Abersoch, in the community of Llanengan in Gwynedd, boasts a special combination of great beaches, stunning scenery and internationally-recognised sailing waters, all set in the heartland of the Welsh language.
If you’re more into sand wedges than sandcastles, Abersoch Golf Club is just a five minute walk away. Crowned 2018’s Welsh Golf Course of the Year by Your Golfer Magazine and described by some visitors as 'the friendliest golf club in Wales', the course offers a challenging mix of 18 holes suitable for golfers of all abilities, complete with panoramic coastal views.
Abersoch is also a base for several circular walks; expect spectacular seascapes.
Facilities: There’s a good range of shops, cafés, pubs and other services in the village, as well as toilets and parking.
Is it dog-friendly? Dogs aren’t allowed on the northern part of the beach from 1 April – 30 September.
Petite and perfectly preserved, the Llŷn Peninsula’s Porthdinllaen is an idyllic coastal village. An outstanding wildlife haven that offers stunning views in every direction, its natural beauty has been in the care of the National Trust since 1994.
Historically a traditional fishing village, its cluster of quaint cottages, a waterside pub and lifeboat station make for a postcard-worthy view. Quite literally off the beaten track, with vehicle access restricted to residents only. After a busy day crabbing, paddling or exploring the coast, enjoy a drink on the terraces of the Tŷ Coch Inn. The waterfront watering hole found itself in good company on a recent list of the world’s best beach bars, alongside hot spots from Dubai to Montenegro.
Facilities: You’ll find National Trust parking and public toilets one mile from beach.
Is it dog-friendly? There are restrictions as you enter the beach to the right (towards Nefyn) from 1 April - 30 September.
This sheltered sandy bay on the Llŷn Peninsula’s northern coast enjoys calm, crystal-clear blue waters that make it ideal for safe swimming and kayaking. You can also catch your supper, as the rocks provide a perfect base for fishing, with bass, pollock, plaice and gurnard on the menu.
You can get down onto the beach from the Wales Coast Path. Access is via steep dunes so mind your step.
Facilities: There’s a car park just above the beach.
Is it dog-friendly? Four legged friends are very welcome, just be sure to keep them in the car until you've passed through the farm.
Be AdventureSmart: respect the water
Our top tips for staying safe when sea swimming:
- If possible, choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags, but lifeguard patrols can’t be on every beach this summer so be adventure smart to keep you and your family safe.
- Always swim with other people – the 'buddy system' is best.
- Wear a bright hat (green or orange work well) and use a tow float so that you can be seen by other water users.
- Enter the water slowly and allow time for your body to get used to the cold.
- Check the tide times before swimming in the sea or in estuaries.
- If you are in difficulty in the water don’t panic, stay calm; attract attention by raising your hand and shouting for help.
Visit the AdventureSmart.UK website for more information on how to stay safe while enjoying your Welsh beach adventure.
Work your way around the coast or discover a beautiful beach near you; read our guide to West Wales beaches and South Wales beaches. With the brood? Discover these family-friendly shores.