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Top 10 South Wales beaches

Southerndown Beach - picture by Marion HirtzigThe weather has been pretty good so far this summer in Cardiff, and what better way to bask in the sun than to go to the beach? If you live in Cathays or Roath and want to enjoy nature over the summer holidays, Roath Park is close and has a lovely lake, but it’s not exactly a beach – and we would advise against jumping in the water, it’s safer to rent a pedalo or a boat! South Wales has a lot to offer in terms of beaches, so whether you prefer surfing, hiking alongside coastal paths, going to a pleasure park or resting on the sand, you’re sure to find it within driving distance of Cardiff, just follow our guide! We’ve sorted our Top 10 beaches by distance, starting with the beach closest to Cardiff city centre:

Cardiff Bay beach

Cardiff Bay’s beach may be temporary, but it is memorable, and very easy to get to if you don’t have a car. From 25th July to 31st August 2014, Roald Dahl Plass will be turned into Cardiff Bay Beach, welcoming visitors for a month of beach activities as part of the mouth-watering Cardiff Festival. Perfect for kids… and for the kid in you! If the weather is as hot as last year, expect to see people bathing in Cardiff Bay, on the way to the barrage.

Penarth Marina

Penarth is the closest beach from Cardiff, and is a mixture of sand and pebbles, which is probably why no one really talks about Penarth as a ‘beach’. Penarth Marina, however, is definitely worth a look, and the pier is a great spot when the weather is nice – there is even a small art gallery which opened quite recently within the Penarth Pier Pavilion, alongside a cinema and a café. You can also have lunch in one of the restaurants with views over the Bristol Channel, walk by the sea or just sit on the shore to relax.

Bendricks Beach

Bendricks beach is close to Barry, past Sully Bay, and gained some fame through a BBC documentary which mentioned dinosaur footprints found at the Bendricks - some of which were moved to Cardiff’s National Museum. Bendricks is an interesting rocky shore if you’re into paleontological sites and the Triassic period; if it’s not your thing then it is just a rocky beach, so you may want to try another of our favourite picks.

Barry Island - photo by Marion Hirtzig

Barry Island

Barry Island owes its fame (outside of the Cardiff area) to the Gavin & Stacey TV series which features the seaside resort quite heavily; if you’re a TV buff, you probably know that Being Human is another TV drama that was filmed in the area. If we had to summarise Barry Island in 3 words, it would probably be sand, sea and fun(fair); indeed, it is a typical British resort, with a stunning sandy beach and attractions such as a pleasure park, a mini golf, and the usual arcades with slot machines and shops selling buckets and spades, beach balloons and souvenirs (if you’ve always wanted a mug or t-shirt printed with “What’s occurring?” now is the time!). There is also a pebble beach close-by which is much quieter, in front of the ruins of a Roman villa.


Porthcawl, located 25 miles west of Cardiff, boasts several beaches made of either sand, rocks or pebbles. Seafront beach is a rocky beach with beautiful waves, which makes it a popular surfing hotspot, but beware of the rocks! Rest Bay is a sandy beach with very decent waves so if you’re not an experienced surfer then Rest Bay is probably best for you. If you’re not a keen surfer and would prefer a nice sandy beach, then head to Sandy beach, which has a very appropriate name! Close-by you will also find the Coney Beach amusement park, first set up in the 1920’s and well worth a look, even if it’s out of sheer curiosity - whether you go on the rides is up to you though!

Southerndown beach

Southerndown beach is situated in Dunraven Bay, in the Bridgend area, just before Porthcawl. It’s a BBC favourite when it comes to filming TV shows such as Doctor Who (Whovians know this beach as Bad Wolf Bay, among other things). This beach is quite extraordinary with cliffs rock climbers love, sand, and also amazing rocks shaped by the water, giving it a surreal look.

Langland Bay

Close to the town of Mumbles, home to the fantastic Oystermouth Castle, is Langland Bay. This beach is popular with surfers but also beach-goers and hikers. It’s a lovely walk alongside the coastline from Langland Bay to Caswell Bay, and well worth it.

3 cliffs Bay in December - photo by Marion Hirtzig

Caswell Bay

Caswell is a lovely sandy beach, perfect to soak in the sun or go for a swim – especially if you’re warm after walking from Langland Bay! The beach may look small at high tide but don’t worry it is significantly bigger at low tide!

3 Cliffs Bay

Going further west, past Swansea and the two bays previously mentioned, you will find Three Cliffs Bay, a lovely beach that requires a bit of walking to get to, but will please both hikers and beach lovers with stunning views. We particularly love the three cliffs that make this beach unique and give it some extra charm.

Rhossili Bay

Rhossili BayRhossili Bay is about 60 miles from Cardiff but definitely worth the trip; it was awarded the Travellers Choice Award 2014 by TripAdvisor for being one of the world’s most beautiful beaches (the UK’s No. 1, Europe’s No. 3, and the World’s No. 9!). It is indeed spectacular with a magnificent sandy beach, and beautiful cliffs from where to enjoy the view. If you arrive from the south at low tide you can even walk to Worms Head, a small tidal island – but make sure to come back before high tide!

We hope this little guide will help you enjoy the summer in South Wales, or discover how lovely the region is, and who knows, maybe encourage you to come and live in the Cardiff area! Don’t hesitate to let us know what your favourite beaches on our Facebook, Twitter or Google + pages!

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