Snowdonia is well known for its mountains, but as the region’s full name – Snowdonia Mountains and Coast – suggests, there are some pretty impressive beaches too. Here’s our guide to Snowdonia’s award-winning beaches.
When visitors flock to Snowdonia from all over the world, more often than not it’s to see the mountains or take part in some kind of outdoor activity (the area is known as the UK’s top outdoor activities centre, after all).
But with a 200-mile coastline and over 35 fantastic beaches, Snowdonia is also a popular holiday destination for families and those wanting to enjoy a coastal break.
Many of Snowdonia’s beaches have received awards based on their cleanliness and water quality. The Blue Flag Award is the highest accolade available to beaches in Europe, while the Seaside Award is given to well-managed beaches with excellent standards of cleanliness and water quality. The Green Coast Award is given to undeveloped beaches of the highest quality.
Not sure which of Snowdonia’s award-winning beaches to visit? Here’s our guide to ten of our favourites.
Aberdaron is a picturesque village on the Llŷn Peninsula with a long history and a beautiful sandy beach that has been awarded both the Blue Flag and Seaside Award. This is a great spot for water sports like surfing, wakeboarding and sailing. The beach boasts fine sand and great views, and facilities include toilets, parking, a slipway and disabled access.
Aberdyfi is one of Gwynedd’s prettiest coastal villages, sitting at the mouth of the River Dyfi. The Seaside Award-winning beach is perfectly sandy with occasional dunes, and stretches all the way to Tywyn. There are strong currents around the estuary so swimmers should be careful. Facilities include a slipway, parking, toilets and disabled access.
There are three beaches at Abersoch – it’s the main beach that holds the Blue Flag and the Seaside Award. The beautiful, shady location makes Abersoch’s main beach perfect for lounging, but also popular with surfers, windsurfers and sailing enthusiasts. Facilities include toilets, a slipway, parking and disabled access.
With a big, sandy beach that never gets overcrowded, no wonder Barmouth is Southern Snowdonia‘s most popular seaside resort. The picturesque harbour, boat trips, watersports and all the amenities and attractions you’d expect from a traditional seaside resort add to the attraction of this Blue Flag and Seaside Award-winning beach. As well as all the in-town amenities, the beach has a slipway, toilets, parking and disabled access.
Green Coast Award and Seaside Award-winning Bennar beach, Talybont, is backed by sand dunes that are of Special Scientific Interest. Visit Bennar Beach for the fine sand, the views, the excellent surfing and fishing – and if you’re feeling brave and fancy some ‘skinny dipping’, head north by about a mile where there’s a special area for naturists and nude bathers. Facilities include parking, toilets and disabled access.
6. Dinas Dinlle
Blue Flag and Seaside Award-winning Dinas Dinlle beach is popular and easy to get to. The pebbly upper shore gives way to masses of sand – great for sandcastles, ball games and sunbathing. This is a great beach for swimming and water sports. There are shops and cafes within a stone’s throw of the beach, as well as a children’s playground. A walk to the top of the Iron Age hill fort will be rewarded with great views. Facilities include toilets, parking, two slipways and disabled access.
The dune-backed beach at Harlech holds the Seaside Award and Green Coast Award. The beach is huge, and a great place for kids to play in the sand while mum and dad sit back and relax. Access to the beach is achieved via a 400-metre path from the car park; it’s all well signposted so the beach is very easy to find. Facilities include parking and toilets.
The setting of Llanfairfechan’s large, sandy beach is pretty dramatic, sheltered beneath Penmaenmawr Mountain. In all other respects this is a traditional Victorian seaside resort – complete with beach shops, a pavilion and a promenade. It’s a popular beach for model boat enthusiasts and bird watchers, and has received both the Blue Flag and Seaside Award. Amenities include parking, toilets, a slipway and disabled access.
9. Pwllheli South Beach (Marian-y-De)
Pwllheli‘s shingly South Beach, which has won the Blue Flag and Seaside Award, stretches from Gimblet Rock towards Llanbedrog. Pwllheli is another of those wonderful ‘typical’ British seaside resorts; it’s a place for enjoying buckets and spades, seaside rock, amusement arcades and even a small funfair. Facilities include toilets, parking and disabled access.
Another big beach with dunes as well as firm sand, Tywyn’s beach is big on sand and small on rocks – making it a great beach for surfing and other water sports. It’s also an excellent beach for spotting Cardigan Bay‘s harbour porpoises and bottlenose dolphins. A promenade and paddling pool count towards Tywyn’s popularity as a family seaside resort, while the Blue Flag and Seaside Award seal the deal. Facilities include a slipway, toilets, parking and disabled access.
For more information about Snowdonia’s beaches, please see pages 6-7 of the 2013 Visit Snowdonia brochure (PDF).