If you are thinking of going for a swim during your visit make sure you are prepared for the rigours of the natural environment such as cold water, unseen currents, and waves. Join a local club or learn from experts before taking the plunge - we recommend using a guide or swimming supervised with a club in open water. Read more top tips on how to swim safely and how to stay safe on the Welsh coast.

The Glamorgan Heritage Coast

This 14-mile section of dramatic coastline stretches from Aberthaw to Porthcawl. With spectacular views from the coast trail, it’s a must-visit for walkers and cyclists.

Rest Bay

The traditional seaside town of Porthcawl is home to Rest Bay - a popular Blue Flag beach with golden sands and great views. It's a top spot for watersports or just chilling on the beach exploring rock pools.

Facilities: Rest Bay Watersports Centre has toilets, a cafe, surf board and paddle board hire, bike hire and beach wheelchair hire. There's a pay and display car park next to the beach, catch the land train or it's around a 30 min walk from the town centre. Seasonal lifeguard on duty.

Is it dog friendly? Not during the summer months (between 1 May – 30 September).

Dunraven Bay

Also known as Southerndown Beach, this beach has some of the best rock pools around and at low tide there’s a large expanse of sand to stroll along. It’s also a great place to fossil hunt – a fantastic day out for any little explorers.

When the tide rolls in, head up to the Dunraven Castle remains, overlooking Temple Bay. The view is breath-taking.

Facilities: You’ll find a car park with toilets above the beach.

Is it dog friendly? Not during the summer months (between 1 May – 30 September).

Southerndown Beach.
Southerndown Beach.

Southerndown Beach, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales


Ogmore Beach is another golden-at-low-tide beach, popular for its rock pools. With a grassy dune backdrop and dog-friendly coastal walks nearby, this beach is ideal for walking, swimming (in summer when lifeguards are on duty) and wildlife spotting.

Facilities: There’s a parking area with toilets, and shops and cafes are only a short walk away in the village.

Is it dog friendly? Yes, dogs are welcome all year round.

Three women on a cliff over looking a sandy beach.
Three women walking on a beach.

Ogmore-by-Sea, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales

Aberthaw Beach

If you’re after a quieter beach walk, visit Aberthaw Beach (also known as Limpert Bay). Surrounded by the coast path, this wide, shingled beach is considered a good spot for fishing. Catch a glimpse of the decommissioned power station that towers above the beach – it’s home to various protected wildlife habitats.

Facilities: If you’re driving, you can park up on site and while there are no facilities, nearby there’s the Blue Anchor - a beautiful historic pub that also serves food.

Is it dog friendly? Yes, dogs are welcome all year round.


Just south of Cardiff Bay, Penarth is a quaint seaside town in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Penarth Beach

Penarth is perfect for a stroll along the pretty promenade or down by the water on the pebble beach. Penarth Beach is Seaside Award beach. It is not life-guarded, but popular with local swimming clubs; strong currents make this a beach for the more experienced swimmer with local knowledge. 

If you’re in town, don’t miss Penarth Pier. Once a ballroom, the stunningly restored art deco Pavilion now holds live music events and cinema screenings, as well as a sea-view cafe serving locally-sourced food and drink.

Facilities: Along the front you’ll find an array of restaurants, parking spots and other facilities. And the pretty picturesque Victorian town centre is just a short walk inland.

Is it dog friendly? During the summer months (between 1 May – 30 September) dogs are not allowed between the Pier and the Yacht club, only the decking. Dogs are allowed between the Pier and Cardiff Bay barrage all year.

Aerial view of Penarth including the waterfront, pier, beach and sea

Penarth Pier, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales

Barry Island

Barry boasts golden beaches, exciting amusements and a family-friendly atmosphere. And as a key location in Gavin and Stacey, it also draws fans of the BBC sitcom.

Whitmore Bay and Jackson’s Bay

Whitmore Bay and Jackson’s Bay are both Seaside Award beaches. The vast stretch of sand and lifeguard-watched waters make Whitmore Bay ideal for both swimming and sunbathing. And the seafront is great for families, with a sweeping promenade lined with cafes, restaurants and amusements. Looking for a thrill? Give Barry Island Pleasure Park a visit – it’s just behind the beach.

Just round the coast is Jackson's Bay. It's a quieter alternative to Whitmore Bay, more popular with locals than visitors. The beautiful, sandy cove has a cliffy backdrop lush in greenery and overlooks the Bristol Channel, with the second highest tidal range in the world. The water’s current can be strong – something to be mindful of with no lifeguard watch. Dogs are welcome all year round so Jackson's Bay is an ideal destination for those looking to ramble.

Facilities: There are facilities along the prom, plenty of places to park nearby and the train station is just a five-minute walk away.

Is it dog friendly? Whitmore Bay - not during the summer months (between 1 May – 30 September). Dogs are welcome all year round in Jackson's Bay.

View from above overlooking the beach at Whitmore Bay and Barry Island.

Whitmore Bay, Barry, South Wales

Cold Knap Bay

Another secluded spot, just over a mile away from Whitmore Bay is Cold Knap; a pebble beach with plenty to explore. Low tide reveals rock pools, and you can hunt for fossils beneath the limestone cliffs at this Seaside Award beach.

If you fancy a stroll, walk from Porthkerry Country Park to The Knap along the Wales Coast Path.

Facilities: A car park runs along the back of the beach and there are public toilets nearby.

Is it dog friendly? Not during the summer months (between 1 May – 30 September).

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 North Wales beaches and West Wales beaches.

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