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The best beaches in Pembrokeshire

This Welsh county has some the finest shores – from popular holiday spots to lesser-known wonders – on the British coast

Chris Wilson
Friday 16 February 2024 10:58 GMT
Some of Pembrokeshire’s beaches have been voted among the prettiest in the world
Some of Pembrokeshire’s beaches have been voted among the prettiest in the world (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Pembrokeshire is the perfect choice for a summer holiday on the coast, surrounded by the sea on the southwestern tip of Wales.

With tranquil beaches, rugged cliffs, serene countryside and charming towns, the area is a destination that lures nature lovers, adventurers, and even those just wanting to relax – really, anyone who wants to experience a quintessentially Welsh county.

From St David’s, the UK’s smallest city, to Haverfordwest and Pembroke, the region has plenty of towns to explore, as well as 186 miles of coastal walking paths and 240 square miles of National Park.

The coastline offers beaches with expansive views out to sea, long stetches of golden sands and, when the weather is fine, clear azure waters.

With summer holidays firmly in sight, now’s the time to be getting ready for feet-in-sand fun on the Pembrokeshire seaside. Here’s our guide to the best beaches you can visit in this corner of Wales.

Barafundle Bay

Barafundle Bay is among the most scenic beaches in the entire UK (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Often described as the “Jewel in the Crown” of Pembrokeshire’s coast, Barafundle Bay has previously been named among the best beaches in the UK and the world. A small bay backed by pine trees, grassy areas and sand dunes, it’s surrounded by rugged cliffs that offer spectacular views of the sea and the bay itself. The turquoise waters are great for swimming, while picnics on the sand are popular (which makes sense, as there are no facilities nearby).

With a backdrop that you’d expect in a Caribbean island, Barafundle is also among the county’s best-kept beaches. The bay can only be reached by a half-mile path starting in a car park in the village of Stackpole (or a 1.3-mile path from Broad Haven South), but fortunately the lack of easy access has helped keep the beach and surrounding area pristine. Stackpole and Stackpole Quay are where you’ll find basic amenities, cafes and quaint pubs.

Where to stay

If you want to be as close as possible to Barafundle Bay, your best bet is probably the Stackpole Inn. Just five minutes away (by car) from the aforementioned car park, the accommodation is a laid-back, charming option for your stay with well-decorated rooms and a restaurant serving local produce.

Double rooms from £130;

Read more on UK travel:

Freshwater West

Freshwater West is around 1km wide (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

One of Pembrokeshire’s best surfing beaches, Freshwater West is located on the southern tip of the county, near the villages of Newton and Castlemartin. This expanse of sands has been used as a filming location in several movies (including the Harry Potter films), and is part of the county’s Hollywood Trail. Rocky reefs can be found at the southern end, while the northern section has a few quiet bays where you can watch the surfing in peace.

Though strong currents and high waves make for great surfing, be aware that they can make swimming (and indeed surfing) difficult, so don’t venture too far unless you’re experienced. Remember to also check tide times if you want to make the most of the beach; if you do arrive at the wrong time, the popular Cafe Mor can be found in the southern car park.

Where to stay

There aren’t many hotels in the area, so the best idea is to stay in the seaside village of Angle, less than 10 minutes away by car. A small village on the Milford Haven Waterway, there is access to other great local beaches, such as West Angle Beach. The Globe Hotel will provide a good base; set inside a 20th-century castle-like building, its traditional interiors are reminiscent of those found in many Welsh seaside hotels.

Whitesands Bay

Whitesands Bay looking glorious in the sunshine (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Supposedly named after the “sparkling clean sands” that adorn its shores (and look decidedly golden in photos), Whitesands is another popular surfing beach located on the western tip of the country. The break (at the northern point) is also popular with canoeists and bodyboarders, so the beach can get very busy at the height of summer. For those who simply want to enjoy doing very little, there are bays on the opposite end of the beach. While the presence of a lifeguard and first aid facilities are a welcome addition, be aware of currents.

The bay is overlooked by Carn Llidi, a 181-metre hill that makes a great hiking route and showcases sweeping views over the Irish Sea. The city of St David’s is just two miles away, home to the John Nash-designed cathedral as well as several popular pubs, restaurants and shops.

Where to stay

Crug Glas is a large country house in St David’s that gives guests an eclectic mix of vaulted ceilings, old-fashioned decor, antiques and small contemporary touches. The restaurant offers home-cooked dishes, and the property produces all its own energy from a nearby wind turbine.


Tenby has four separate beaches (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Tenby itself is a seaside resort town in the southeast part of Pembrokeshire, with a picturesque harbour and a network of cobbled streets that are home to several pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops. The immediate area boasts four impressive beaches: the aptly named North and South beaches are the most well-known, with North sitting in front of the harbour and overlooking Carmarthen Bay. South is the largest, sprawling out over a mile and with views that rival beaches in the Mediterranean.

Harbour beach is a smaller area but has all the charm of an English seaside, while Castle Beach – backed by towering cliffs and stood over by St Catherine’s Island – is great for families, but disappears almost completely hight tide. For something a little different, you can get a boat to Caldey Island (just over half a mile away) at low tide.

Where to stay

The Broadmead Boutique B&B is just half a mile from the centre of Tenby; in other words, close to the action but not too close. The accommodation makes the most of its quieter rural location, set apart from the tourist crowds, with large landscaped grounds and bespoke, contemporary rooms.

Newport Sands

Newport Sands lies at the mouth of the River Nevern (Getty Images)

The largest of Newport’s beaches, Newport Sands stretches for over a mile below the Newport Links golf course. Backed by large dunes and flanked by rocky cliffs, it is another popular area for water sports (including surfing and kayaking) as well as fishing and bird watching. In the summer, there are safe swimming sections at the southern end.

The town itself (not to be confused with the city in the east of Wales) is a bustling seaside settlement, with several nearby alternative beaches (such as Newport Parrog) and a busy centre that’s home to many pubs, cafes and even fine-dining restaurants. Cultural centres and art galleries also line its streets, while several walking and hiking routes (including the Pembrokeshire Coast Path) can take you out if town and into the hills.

Where to stay

Set in an ivy-covered, Grade II-listed Georgian coaching inn, Lleys Meddyg is an elegant option for your stay in Newport. The boutique rooms are stylishly decorated with modern en-suite bathrooms, with a secret garden and 15th-century cellar bar providing unique drinking and dining options.

Broad Haven South Beach

Broad Haven South is one of a number of Blue Flag beaches in Pembrokeshire (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Not too far from Barafundle Bay lies another of Pembrokeshire’s gems. This is beach blessed with dunes and cliff faces along with the tempting sand and water. Moreover, its location near Bosherton Lakes means that the beach is also backed by National Trust woodland and lily ponds, giving different surroundings to other popular beaches in the area. The limestone Church Rock sits 150 yards from the shore; it is a popular landmark to swim to, but be aware of attempting the journey in anything other than calm conditions.

Bosherston itself is one of the closest settlements to Broad Haven South, but this small village only offers basic amenities. Exploring the local nature is the draw, with the nearby Bosherton Lakes and limestone cliffs like Huntsman’s Leap among the most popular sites.

Where to stay

Pembroke makes a good base for exploring this area. The Best Western at Lamphey Court has several acres of grounds, tennis courts, a spa and swimming pool for those days where the beach is less appealing, with restaurants suitable for both casual and formal dining.

Marloes Sands

The path leading to Marloes Sands (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Nestled on the far western edge of the county, Marloes Sands is one of the region’s most remote beaches. It is over a mile long (at low tide, though it can be almost covered when the tide comes in) and is almost entirely backed by rugged cliffs and other rock formations. This is one for nature lovers, with sandstones, volcanic rocks and a range of wildlife making its home here. The dramatic landscape makes for amazing scenery, with most people visiting to enjoy the views and safe bathing opportunities rather than for water sports.

You can get a boat to Skomer Island from Martin’s Haven harbour. Heading away from the beach, several local walks start in the car park, while the villages of Dale and Marloes are also close by.

Where to stay

With a lack of options in the immediate area, staying in nearby Milford Haven is a sensible choice. The Ty Milford Waterfront was an important part of a regeneration project in thw town, with functional, minimalist rooms and scenic views over the water.


The start of a sunset at Newgale Beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Newgale features is two-and-a-half miles of beach, both sand and pebbles. It’s one of 10 Blue Flag beaches in the county, marked for quality, safety and environmental standards, with plenty of facilities: a lifeguard spot, beach shops and more. Water sports are popular here, with the west-facing coast open to winds from the Atlantic, making it yet another good spot for surfing, kayaking and similar activities.

Those who prefer simply lounging can hang around beside the caves and bays at the southern tip of Newgale, while at low tide it’s possible to walk round to another beach at Cwm Mawr (though keep an eye on tide times to avoid getting cut off). Basic provisions can be found in the pretty villages of Newgale and Roch.

Where to stay

For a truly memorable local stay, head to Roch Castle. This 12th-century hilltop castle has a dramatic setting overlooking St Brides Bay, with spectacular vistas from many of the rooms as well as its restaurant.

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