If you were to walk the 870-mile Wales Coast Path (and please do), you’d find the largest number of award-winning beaches in Britain. That’s a lot of lovely sand and sea to enjoy. We’ve put together some activities you can try on specific beaches – but all beaches in Wales are totally wonderful for simply spending your time well, and having fun rain or shine. Even so, fingers crossed for lots of sun this summer!
Dunraven Bay, Glamorgan Heritage Coast
The Glamorgan Heritage Coast has lots of lovely secluded coves, but the best all-rounder is Dunraven Bay. This crescent of sand is protected by cliffs, and fringed with rock pools that are perfect for the classic pastime of seeing what you can spot within the waters – hermit crabs, starfish, or sea urchins perhaps? There is also a castle ruin to explore, plus this is one of the area’s most popular surfing and body boarding beaches.
Newport Boat Club, Pembrokeshire, takes rock pooling to new levels with fiercely competitive crabbing competitions. Teams of children compete for the biggest haul of little shore crabs, which they catch by the hundred. The crabs are actually edible - although participants seem to prefer the bags of sweets offered as prizes, so the crabs are released back into the waters… at least, until the next competition. If you’re not in Newport, why not have your own crabbing competition on whichever Welsh beach you’re enjoying?
Up the coast further north, Barmouth’s big, sandy, Blue Flag beach is one of southern Snowdonia’s most popular for a reason. It has heaps of space, avoiding any feeling of overcrowding, and activities for all, too, whether you’re drawn to the amusement arcades on the promenade, or fishing trips from the pretty harbour. You can enjoy traditional donkey rides, which are a much-loved attraction throughout the summer, or if you prefer modes of transport with wheels, there’s a land train waiting to show you the sights.
Cefn Sidan Beach, Carmarthenshire
Mary Poppins was onto something when she sang, “Let’s go fly a kite!” Running across a stretch of sand, breathing in sea air and the fun of keeping your kite flying means it’s a fab beach activity. RAF Hercules planes have practiced beach-landings on Cefn Sidan sands, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding kite-flying space here, even if yours is very big. A Hercules’ wingspan is 40 metres, which probably wins! As a bonus, the eight-mile beach sits within Pembrey Country Park, which has hours and hours of family attractions including nature walks and trails, a campsite, adventure playground and horse riding.
The natural wildlife is abundant on beaches in some parts of Wales. Mwnt is already impossibly pretty, and if you climb the headland overlooking the beach, past the ancient white-washed chapel, on to the headland, the chances are you’ll spot something special. Seals, dolphins and porpoises are commonly seen here, although it’s worth the walk for the views alone.
Enjoying our beaches
Sandcastles and shells
Whether Red Wharf Bay on Anglesey, or Langland Bay, Swansea, most Welsh beaches have everything we look for when it comes to hours of sandcastle making fun. Plenty of sand, that’s a given. Occasional rocks, for reinforcement purposes. We need incoming tides, or at least access to the sea to fill a bucket with, for those all-important moats. A sandcastle could also be made extra pretty with some shells for decoration. That’s another way you can have fun with nature on Welsh beaches – see what shells and stones you can collect. You could even take a few home for craft projects, or keep some as a memento of your day.
A haven for shell collectors, Shell Island in North Wales not only has one of the biggest camp-sites in Europe, the winter storms wash up a fresh supply of shells every year. It’s practically impossible to walk on the sands without finding one of the 200-odd varieties that reside here. And even though this campsite has lots of modern amenities, it’s always possible to find a private nook among the dunes, woods and meadows, for that ‘wild camping’ feel.
Brilliant beach games
If you’re looking for some brilliant beach games to occupy the children, here's some suggestions:
- How about boosting their creativity with some drawing in the sand? They could use a stick, spade, or their hands to draw a picture, word or letters, embellishing with beach treasures such as shells they picked up earlier!
- From drawing to building, how about taking winter skills to the beach and making a sandman?
- Skipping ropes can inventively be turned into beach laughs. Two people can wiggle one on the sand to create a ‘snake’ for the kids to jump over. You could set up a tug of war at the water’s edge, or make a limbo contest, lowering the rope height until even the most limber are defeated!
- Beach relay competition? Give the children a cup or spoon each, along with buckets waiting in a line – the competition involves carrying water from the sea and depositing in their bucket. The steadiest hand and fullest bucket wins!
There are lots of ways to make the most of Welsh beaches this summer, and of course right through the year if you’re the intrepid type. Just add some layers and an umbrella if needed! We’d love to see your beach pictures on Twitter and Instagram, please use the hashtags #visitwales and #FindYourEpic. Most of all - stay safe and have fun!