Jutting into the Celtic Sea and rated the second-best coastline in the world by National Geographic, Pembrokeshire flaunts 186 miles of magnificent coastline, studded with over 50 beaches, soaring cliffs, mystical sea caves and historic landmarks. Plus, with a wide choice of places to stay by the sea in Pembrokeshire, this stunning destination in south west Wales is one of our favourites for a coastal walking holiday.
Whether you’re seeking a secluded cove or a vast sandy swathe, step out onto its rugged shoreline and feel the briny air on your cheeks on some of these best beaches for wild coastal walks in Pembrokeshire.
With its three miles of golden sands, Freshwater West is a haven for walkers and surfers. Home to some of the best waves in Wales, any stroll will be complemented by a display of wave-riders sliding and gliding out to sea, or running down the silky dunes with boards under their arms. Bound along its sugary sands and fill your lungs with fresh sea air, lapping up the scenery that’s been used as a backdrop in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, as well as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Backed by rolling dunes at the mouth of the Teifi Estuary, we love the vast sandy runway of Poppit Sands, which seems to stretch all the way to Gwbert, on the opposite side of the water at low tide. However, don’t attempt to cross it – the currents are treacherous. Marking the start and finish of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Poppit Sands is a walker’s delight, and there’s also a challenging half-day (15km) inland circular route crisscrossing rugged territory where wild ponies roam.
Stay: Peer out to the coastline from a cosy sea-view cottage for four, perched near Cemaes Head, just five minutes from Poppit Sands.
Blessed with white sands and cerulean waters backed by dunes and pine trees, the secluded Barafundle Bay can only be reached by foot, which deters the crowds at any time of year. Often dubbed one of Britain’s most beautiful beaches, it’s truly worth the half-mile walk to make footprints on its empty sands. And if you carry on east along the coast path, you’ll reach the picturesque harbour of Stackpole Quay, where you can pause and refuel at the waterside café.
Stay: After a day on the beach, cosy up in a traditional farmhouse cottage for four on the doorstep of the Stackpole Estate.
Cwm yr Eglwys
Adventurers, rock poolers and beachgoers in search of calm waters to paddle or launch a SUP, should seek out this divine little cove with a stream running through it. Hemmed by a stone wall on which a chapel is perched, it’s a very sheltered spot, with lots of rockpools teeming with life as the tide ebbs. The sand and shingle shoreline is the ideal terrain for a picnic, and if you clamber over the rocks at the west end of the beach you’ll emerge on a secret low-tide cove.
Stay: Up to eight guests can enjoy the creature comforts and inglenook fireplace of a historic farmhouse, minutes from the beach.
Leap off the harbour wall at high tide or follow the long, narrow beach to the mouth of the inlet at low tide. Solva Harbour is a pretty fishing village enveloped in a natural cove, making it a stunning spot for hours of rock pooling and exploring caves – and one of our favourite beaches for a family walk followed by a hot chocolate in one of the harbour-side cafés. Stretch your legs a little further on a walk to Gribbin headland, taking you along rugged cliffs where you can gaze out to the islands of Skokholm and Skomer, and peer back into the pair of meltwater valleys below.
Stay: Enjoy easy access to Solva Harbour from a luxurious cottage for three, just footsteps from the beach.
Tenby South Beach
For beach lovers, the lively seaside town of Tenby’s got everything from a buzzing harbour and waterside eateries, to miles of beach for bracing dips, catching waves and family picnics. The 1.5-mile Tenby South Beach is the ultimate sandy playground, with plenty of space to scour the shoreline for beach treasures, splash in the whitewater and hunker in the shelter of the dunes for a picnic. If you fancy tackling some of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, it’s also a great starting point for a coastal walk to the 14th-century St Govans Chapel, built into a cave.
With two miles of crushed-shell sands lashed by the surf year-round, Newgale lures storm watchers, surfers, hikers and photographers wanting to capture the wild, far-reaching views across the Celtic Sea. Proof of its exposed location isn’t just in the kitesurfers that congregate here to harness the blustery winds, but also by a long pebble bank that was formed in a huge storm in 1859. Cross the river at the north end of the beach to discover a necklace of low-tide coves, or stroll to the southern end to find a walk-through cave and a smattering of sheltered bays.
Stay: Capture stunning coastal views from an elegant bungalow for five, overlooking Newgale Beach.
Aptly named for its two kilometres of pristine white sands beaten by consistent surf, this breathtaking, vast expanse is bordered by the Atlantic and the River Gwaun. Backed by the craggy hill of Carn Llidi and curving north towards the rocky St Davids headland, you can explore its natural beauty from land or sea. Climb the promontory to take in a gull’s eye view, and don’t forget your binoculars, as this is also a popular spot for birdwatching.
Stay: Walkers and surfers will love the location and ambience of this period farmhouse sleeping nine, overlooking Whitesands Bay.
Broad Haven Beach
While Broad Haven’s wide, pebble-backed sands lure the holiday crowds, it’s one of our favourite beaches for a wild walk on a less-than-summery day. Flanked by cliffs that provide some shelter in stormy weather, as the tide ebbs, there’s plenty of space to kick your shoes off and feel the sand between your toes. Time it right, and at low tide, you can walk around Settlands Bay to the south, then onto Little Haven, hiding behind the next headland.
Stay: Wake up to wonderful sea views in a luxury apartment for four in Broad Haven.
While this isn’t a beach, we really wanted to include the dramatic Strumble Head promontory as an incredible location to take a wild winter stroll with the Irish Sea licking the heels of the cliffs below. Isolated on a tiny isle of the northwest tip of Pembrokeshire is the picturesque Strumble Lighthouse – so take your camera, dress for the weather and tackle some challenging climbs to be rewarded with jaw-dropping panoramic vistas of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Stay: Soak up panoramic sea views from a contemporary hideaway for two near Fishguard.
Book a Seaview Cottage in Pembrokeshire
Inspired to strike out to some of the best beaches for wild coastal walks in south west Wales? Find the perfect base for your seaside staycation from our collection of coastal cottages in Pembrokeshire.