Much of Snowdonia’s 200-mile coastline is protected as national parkland, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Heritage Coast. Snowdonia has a coast? You bet! When you visit Snowdonia, don’t forget to pack a swimsuit as well as walking boots…
Snowdonia boasts almost 200 miles of glittering coastline. Some of it’s rocky and wild; other stretches, with their golden sands and picturesque views, are among Britain’s most idyllic.
Whatever you look for in a beach – clean, safe bathing, thrilling watersports, sandcastles and rock pools, or simply somewhere to relax and watch the world go by – you’re bound to find a beach that fits the bill, somewhere along the Snowdonia coast. Here are ten of the best Snowdonia beaches.
The Blue Flag beach at Barmouth is vast. Framed by the forest-fringed hills lining the Mawddach Estuary, Barmouth beach is one of those truly British seaside resorts we all know and love. Ice creams, trampolines and the steam train chugging over the bridge across the estuary make Barmouth a very popular resort with families.
2. Aberdovey (Aberdyfi)
Picturesque with its slate roofed cottages and dramatic views of the mountains, Aberdovey is popular with sailors, wind surfers and water-skiers. That’s not to say there’s no fun to be had here if you’re visiting in a family group; crabbing off the quay, donkey rides through the dunes and the possibility of seeing bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the bay make Seaside Award-winning Aberdovey a popular family destination too.
3. Shell Island
There are four beaches at Shell Island, each popular for different reasons. The beach that’s really popular with families though is the one that gives Shell Island its name. Here you’ll find more than 200 varieties of seashell, including cowries which seem to be highly coveted by shell-seekers. At low tide St Patrick’s Causeway – a glacial moraine reef – can be seen reaching 12 miles out to sea.
The beach at Harlech has won both the Green Coast Award and the Seaside Award, so it’s pretty special. This vast beach is popular with families, who tend to gather at the town end. Venture towards the southern end and it’s quieter, with great rock pools and plenty of peace and quiet. You’ll enjoy stunning views in all directions at Harlech beach, including the Rhinogydd mountain range, Harlech Castle and the Llyn Peninsula.
Once one of North Wales’ busiest ports, these days picture-perfect Porthdinllaen looks as if it belongs on a postcard. The beach, the village and even the waterfront inn are protected by the National Trust. Access is by foot only, but don’t let that put you off; it’s worth the walk to find yourself on that perfect sandy crescent.
6. Porth Oer
Known locally as Whistling Sands, Porth Oer is a beautiful sheltered cove surrounded by steep cliffs. Why ‘Whistling Sands’? Stamp while you walk across the sand and you’ll hear it squeak. There’s a car park at the top and a steep walk down to the beach, where there’s a cafe-cum-shop that sells everything you’ve forgotten to bring with you. Porth Oer is popular with families, body-boarders and peace-seekers alike.
The Blue Flag beaches at Abersoch are separated by the harbour and headland. A popular spot for watersports, Abersoch is a leading wakeboard centre and home to the Wakestock festival, Europe’s largest wakeboard music festival, held here every July. It’s not all about watersports, though; Abersoch is great for families, boasts soft sand and outstanding views, and there’s plenty to do in the town, too.
8. Morfa Bychan
The beach at Morfa Bychan is perhaps better known as Black Rock Sands, a beach so vast you can park your car on it. This two mile stretch of soft sand is great for kite buggies and kite surfing, and kids of all ages love the caves and rock pools at the western end.
9. Dinas Dinlle
The Blue Flag beach at Dinas Dinlle is great for swimming. The sandy beach is dotted with rock pools, which children love poking around in with nets they’ve bought at one of the gift shops along the promenade. The beach is dominated by the Iron Age hill fort at one end; at the other is Caernarfon Air World, where you can take a pleasure flight and see the stunning scenery from a different perspective.
10. Porth Iago
Finding Porth Iago is not always easy, but it’s always worth the effort. If you take a wrong turn along the way, the worst that’ll happen is you’ll find yourself standing on one of the Llyn Peninsula’s other stunning ‘Porths’. To get to Porth Iago you’ll have to drive through a farmyard and then through a campsite, but the ‘wow factor’ when you reach your destination will make it all worthwhile. This stunning, sheltered cove is considered by many to be the Llyn Peninsula’s finest beach, yet even on the hottest days it’s practically deserted. Once found, never forgotten – that’s Porth Iago!
About this post
This post was inspired by an article in the 2011 Snowdonia Mountains and Coast brochure, written by travel writer Chris Haslam. In the article, Chris talks about the fun he and his young family had exploring the beaches of Snowdonia, when the Sunday Times sent them on an epic six-week journey around the British coast in a camper van.