Beaches are one of the main attractions of the Llyn peninsula in North Wales, and it can offer something to everybody: from families looking for safe sandy spreads to those into sailing, surfing, windsurfing or wakeboarding.
The Llyn has almost 100 miles of coastline. The south coast of Llyn, often nicknamed the Welsh Riviera, offers more developed resorts with service facilities and quieter waters (it faces the Cardigan bay). The north coast as well as the very tip of the Llyn, around the west-facing headlines has more remote coves, some rugged, bordered by high cliffs, with rocky islets out in the sea, rocks, and secluded coves.
This article looks at the best and most popular beaches, but there are many more, most easily accessible provided you have your own transport.
Black Rock Sands, one of the most famous Llyn beaches is located
between Glaslyn Estuary near Portmadog and Criccieth. This is a vast, fairly sheltered, sandy beach with excellent views along the coast and south to Harlech and the Rhinog Mountains. There are some facilities like toilets especially at the Criccieth end. Access by car is via two roads from Morfa Bychan.
Criccieth has, strictly speaking, two beaches separated by the outcrop on which the castle is sitting. The East Beach is adjacent to (though separated from it by a rocky outcrop and only connecting at low tide) the Black Rock Sands. This is the main town beach, and rather crowded, with mostly shingle at the top and sand appearing at low tide.
The West Beach is the nicer of the Criccieth beaches, with more sand (although it still has quite a lot of pebbles). The beach is cut across by wooden wave-breakers and at low tide quite a few interesting rocks appear from underneath the sea. A promenade runs at the top of it, with parking at Maes Aberiested as well as along the promenade and by the castle at Marine Crescent.
Abererch beach is a nice albeit open stretch of fairly steep beach, a mixture of sand and shingle.
The main beach at Pwllheli, the South Beach, is a three-mile long stretch mixing sand and shingle, fairly steep and unsheltered from the south-west. There is a good access from town, with plenty of parking.
The beach at Llanbedrog is rather lovely, and well sheltered by the huge Mynydd Tir-y-Cwmwd headland. It's a mixture of sand and shale, and with a sprinkling of rocks in the water. This is a National Trust beach, and there is a paid car park as well as a cafe and public toilets.
Abersoch has two beaches, of which the small Harbour Beach near the mouth of the River Soch is nothing to write home about but exposes large are of sand at low tide and can be less crowded in high season.
The main beach at Abersoch huge, sheltered and very popular. There are brilliant views towards the islands in the bay as well as the mountains of South Wales when the visibility is good and there is no dangerous currents. The beach is very popular with boaters, but there is an exclusion zone providing safety for swimmers. The wind conditions make the beach great for windsurfing, but it's not suitable for surfers.
Dogs and cars are banned from some areas but allowed on others. The beach is lined by beach huts which can be rented. All in all, it's a good universal beach, and with some facilities (toilets, cafes, stalls and water sport equipment hire) along most of its length. A moderate walk along the length of the beach will take you away from the worst crowds.
Beyond Abersoch, the Llyn coast turns west and loses the shelter of the coast and islands in the Cardigan bay. The beaches get wilder, less cultivated and more interesting.
Porth Ceiriad is just a few miles south of Abersoch and is a stunningly beautiful stretch of sand bordered by high, rocky cliffs. It's not connected to any noticeable settlement, and the access is not particularly obvious, leading through narrow country lanes, and at the very end, a precariously steep stretch of the road. The access through Nant y Big which provides a car parking space. To reach the beach, you need to negotiate a fairly (but not ridiculously) steep flight of steps down the cliff-side, so leave the pushchair in the car. This is a relatively quiet beach, although peak seasons sees an influx of visitors. Surfing is possible here, as is play in the good, smooth sand and exploring rock pools.
Porth Neigwl (Hell's Mouth), a four-mile long stretch of sand facing north west is exposed to the open surf from the Atlantic. It is the most popular surfing beach in the area, and as it has very little in the way of facilities it can be a good place to get away from the crowds - though both swimming and unstable cliffs are dangerous here. The access is at the southern end of the beach, from a car park about 500m walk from the beach across the dunes, half a mile from the village of Llanengan.
Aberdaron beach is a perfectly good one if you are staying in the village anyway, mostly sand with some large rocks. It's suitable for surfing in right conditions and as access is easy and facilities available nearby in the village, it's a good family beach.
On the north coast of Llyn, the most popular and arguably the best beach is at Porth Oer. Known popularly as Whistling Sands, due to the squeaky noise the sand makes as you walk on it (it's supposed to be a very rare effect, but in all honesty I have been on many Baltic beaches that have exactly that!), it is an absolutely gorgeous cove, surrounded by grassy cliffs, with several good rocks in the water and by the eastern end of the beach. There is plenty of fine, white sand (it's the kind of sand that tends to squeak in my experience) and a cafe/shop/toilets near the entrance to the beach. The beach is owned by the National Trust, so there is a substantial but paid for car park, about 300 yards from the beach. You can walk from the car park straight down to the cafe, or you can take a cliff-top path which gives nice views from the top, and then walk down wood-bounded steps to the southern end of the beach. The slog back up from the beach is a drag, but the path is wide and easy, suitable for pushchairs - just tiring.
Traeth Penllech (also known as Port Colmon) is a quiet, secluded beach with no facilities - ideal for a true "wild beach" experience. The beach almost disappears at high tide, but forms a pretty big expanse of sand at low tide, so it can be a great experience if you come at the right time. There are also good rocks and rock polls to explore. The access is from the harbour at Porth Colmon or from a footpath to the car park about half way along the beach (this is about half a mile walk).
Nefyn and Morfa Nefyn are two beaches separated by a small headland jutting out. Both offer nice sand for families and are good for water sports though rarely get big enough waves to attract surfers. Easy access from car parks at Nefyn and Morfa Nefyn and some facilities (shop/cafe/toilets).