With the recent spell of hot, sunny weather, there’s nowhere better than Snowdonia’s mountain lakes, rivers and 200-mile coastline to keep cool and have some watery fun. Here are our top ten destinations for watersports in Snowdonia.
The days are growing longer, the air and sea are warming up, swallows are frolicking in the sky, and the countryside is teeming with life, having awoken from its long winter slumber. That can only mean one thing… summer is on its way!
If recent temperatures are any indication, it’s going to be a long and hot one. And the mountains and coast of Snowdonia are where you want to be during a hot summer, because our rivers, coastal waters and mountain lakes are where you’ll find all the most fun ways of keeping cool and refreshed when the sun is beating down.
From swimming and surfing to sailing and white water rafting, in Snowdonia you’ll find a huge range of watersports suitable for all experience levels. There are so many fantastic spots for watersports in Snowdonia, it would be impossible to tell you about them all… so here’s our top ten.
Bala is home to the largest natural lake in Wales – Llyn Tegid or Bala Lake – a fantastic spot for sailing, canoeing, fishing and windsurfing. You can hire equipment there or bring your own – pick up your boating and fishing permits from pay and display machines or from the warden’s office. And if any member of your party isn’t too keen on watersports, they can enjoy stunning views of the lake from the comfort of the steam train that runs around it.
Not far from Bala is the National Whitewater Centre at Tryweryn, where you can take part in white-knuckle watersports like whitewater rafting and kayaking. Don’t worry if it’s your first time – the centre caters for visitors of all levels of experience.
3. Llyn Geirionydd
Llyn Geirionydd is one of a hundred mountain lakes in Snowdonia… but it’s the only lake in the region to allow powerboats and water skiing. Set in the beautiful Gwydyr Forest around Betws y Coed and Llanrwst, Llyn Geirionydd is a popular spot for watersports and, according to legend, it was the home of the 6th century bard Taliesin.
Abersoch is one of Snowdonia’s most popular watersports destinations, and its beautiful sandy beaches are perfect for surfing and windsurfing. Abersoch has a harbour, a yacht club and a hovercraft centre, so the emphasis in Abersoch is very much on enjoying the sea. But it’s also a popular family seaside resort, with plenty of great shops, pubs and restaurants – and stunning mountain views.
5. Plas Menai
The National Watersports Centre at Plas Menai, near Caernarfon, provides courses in a wide range of watersports including dinghy sailing, canoeing, powerboating and windsurfing. The Centre is close to many top tourist attractions including Caernarfon Castle, Segontium, the Fun Centre and Crug Farm Nurseries, where you can buy exotic plants to take home with you as a permanent memento of your visit to Snowdonia.
6. Capel Curig
At Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre in Capel Curig you can take part in a combination of outdoor activities including orienteering, rock climbing, hillwalking – and of course watersports, like kayaking and canoeing. The scenery here is among Snowdonia’s most dramatic, so make sure you pack your camera!
Padarn Watersports Centre is set among the beautiful countryside of Padarn Country Park, Llanberis – one of Snowdonia’s top activity centres. Enjoy watersports like canoeing, kayaking and raft building, or take your own (non-motorised) boat onto Llyn Padarn Lake – permits are available from the warden’s office. Or if you want to enjoy the lake somewhat more effortlessly, take a cruise on the Snowdon Star and relax while you take in the beautiful views.
Another town that’s famous for its watersports, Pwllheli is home to Wales’ largest and most modern marina, the 400-berth Hafan Pwllheli. Bring your own craft or go on one of the many organised boat trips; dolphin-watching tours are very popular, as are fishing trips. Pwllheli is also a popular family seaside resort, with wonderful sandy beaches, amusement arcades and a small funfair that will keep your little ones entertained for hours.
9. Tal-y-Llyn Lake
Set at the foot of Cader Idris in some of Snowdonia’s most spectacular countryside, Tal-y-Llyn Lake is a popular spot for fly fishing, and home to salmon, sea trout and brown trout (Fly Fish Wales says the brown trout is “second to none”). You can hire a boat and tackle – and buy a permit – from Tynycornel Hotel on the lake’s shores.
With its slipway, quay and huge Seaside Award-winning beach, Aberdyfi is popular for sailing, sailboarding, rowing, canoeing, fishing and surfing. Take a boat trip and enjoy the clear blue waters of Cardigan Bay, or watch one of the many yachting regattas or other water-based events that take place every summer.
Download Snowdonia Beach Chart (PDF – opens in a new window/tab)