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.

Dunraven Bay

Also known as Southerndown Beach, this place 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

Ogmore-by-Sea

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.

Ogmore by sea.

Ogmore-by-Sea

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, however 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.

Penarth

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

Penarth beach

While strong currents mean the sea here isn’t a spot for swimmers, it’s perfect for a stroll along the pretty promenade or down by the water on the pebble beach.

If you’re in town, don’t miss Penarth Pier. Once a ballroom, the stunning restored art deco Pavilion now holds live music events and cinema screenings, as well as a sea-view cafe serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.

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 in land.

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

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

Penarth Pier

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

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.

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? Not during the summer months (between 1 May – 30 September).

View overlooknig Barry Island.

Whitmore Bay, Barry

Jackson’s Bay

Jackson's Bay has a smaller beach and is 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 – but the beach is an ideal destination for those looking to ramble. Join the Clements Colley Walk at the end of the beach for a great view of Whitmore Bay, or tackle part of the Wales Coast Path which passes through the area.

Facilities: There are public toilets near the beach.

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

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.

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.

Related stories