According to many a visitor poll, Gower beaches are among the best beaches in Wales, UK, Europe, even the world. If you ever dream up a Wales bucket list – or for that matter a Europe bucket list – some of these extraordinary beaches should be right near the top. The Gower Peninsula, just to the west of the city of Swansea on the South Wales coast, was the first place in the UK to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956.
There are around twenty Gower Peninsula beaches in all, and they’re wonderfully varied. The Gower coast has everything from popular family resort beaches to wild, rocky, remote South Wales beaches, with some of the best surfing beaches in Wales thrown in for good measure. On balance, Gower is probably the best area in Wales for beaches, with perhaps the area around St Davids, the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales and Anglesey running it closest.
I’ve enjoyed discovering Gower Wales beaches over many years. This complete guide takes you to them all, from the vast golden sands of Rhossili Bay, one of the most beautiful. beaches in Europe, to remote tiny coves only accessible on long Gower walks. We start in the east, at Swansea, continuing west to sublime Rhossili and north along the peninsula’s wild west coast.
- 1 GOWER BEACHES – A QUICK GUIDE
- 2 WHERE IS THE GOWER PENINSULA?
- 3 SWANSEA BEACH
- 4 MUMBLES BEACH
- 5 BRACELET BAY
- 6 LIMESLADE BAY
- 7 LANGLAND BAY
- 8 CASWELL BAY
- 9 BRANDY COVE
- 10 PWLLDU BAY
- 11 THREE CLIFFS BAY
- 12 TOR BAY
- 13 OXWICH BAY
- 14 PORT EYNON BEACH
- 15 MEWSLADE BAY
- 16 FALL BAY
- 17 RHOSSILI BAY
- 18 LLANGENNITH BEACH
- 19 BLUE POOL BAY
- 20 BROUGHTON BAY
- 21 WHITEFORD SANDS
GOWER BEACHES – A QUICK GUIDE
Best sandy beaches in Gower
Rhossili Bay, Oxwich Bay, Port Eynon
Best Beaches in Gower for families
Langland, Caswell, Oxwich, Port Eynon
Best Beaches in the Gower for wild coastal scenery
Rhossili Bay, Three Cliffs Bay, Mewslade Bay, Fall Bay
WHERE IS THE GOWER PENINSULA?
Gower – sometimes referred to as the Gower, or Gower peninsula Wales, is situated immediately to the west of the city of Swansea. It’s less than 20 miles (30 km) across, and 12 miles (18 km) north to south.
You have to pass through parts of Swansea to reach Gower. The most commonly used route is the A483 which passes the city centre, eventually joining the main A4118 Gower road. You can reach all of these Gower beaches on day trips from Cardiff, and that includes Rhossili and three Cliffs Bay by bus.
Swansea Bay beach runs from the edge of the city centre towards the beachside suburb of Mumbles, which is also known as Oystermouth.
The Swansea town beach is an enormous expanse of sand, stretching over 6 km (4 miles) from the city’s Maritime Quarter and Marina. The best sand is around the Marina, as far west as the suburb of Blackpill. As the tide retreats, a lot of wet sand and eventually mud.
Getting there: An easy walk from the Marina or city centre, with other access points along Mumbles Road (A4067). Facilities: Spread out along the beach – cafes, restaurants, WC
Mumbles Beach is the continuation of the main Swansea beach. There’s not a lot of it – mainly wet sand deteriorating into mud – but the seafront is one of the best Gower Peninsula walks. Several of the pubs on the famous ‘Mumbles Mile’ are set back a block from the seafront. The walk culminates at Mumbles Pier, a slice of British seaside nostalgia with a grinning plastic gorilla greeting you at the entrance. It’s worth the walk for the view of Mumbles Head lighthouse to the right.
Getting there: By road from Swansea along Mumbles Road. The 2 and 2A buses also run regularly from Swansea bus station.
Facilities: Pubs, cafes, restaurants aplenty. Also WC.
Bracelet Bay beach is just around the corner along Mumbles Road, which can be reached from the Pier by a flight of stone steps. It’s one of the best Gower Swansea beaches with something for everyone. At low tide there is plenty of golden sand. There are also pebbles and rockpools, and a short walk up the hill for a better view of Mumbles Head lighthouse.
Getting there: Along Mumbles Road, by car, bus or on foot from Mumbles Beach
Facilities: It’s a Blue Flag beach, with easy access. There’s a kiosk at one end of the beach and an Italian restaurant overlooking the other.
Limeslade Bay is a tiny suburban Swansea beach, mainly frequented by locals. It’s very narrow, barely twenty metres across. It’s a great spot for rockpooling, and much of it consists of pebbles and rocks, with some sand close to the shoreline. Around five minutes’ walk from Bracelet Bay.
Getting there: By road or on foot from Bracelet Bay
Facilities: WC nearby
If you approach by the coast path, a huge open beach opens out before you, mostly sand with a few rockpools exposed at low tide, and a row of bright green and white beach huts along the promenade. Most of the beach is Langland Bay, but the first corner you reach is known as Rotherslade Bay, overlooked by a cluster of beach huts and a takeaway kiosk. At high tide, the two beaches are separated by rocks.
Langland is a short walk over the hill from Mumbles, so is very much a city beach. It’s our pick of the beaches near Swansea. It has been popular since the 19th century, when the Crawshay family who owned the Merthyr Tydfil Ironworks, built themselves a grand holiday home behind the beach huts – it has been converted into luxury apartments.
Langland always draws plenty of visitors in the spring and summer months – mainly to relax on the beach, at the cafes or takeaway, but also to surf.
Getting there: By car via Mumbles, otherwise buses 2A, 2B, 2C and 3A all pass close by.
Facilities: Cafes, restaurants, WC
Caswell Bay beach has long been one of the most popular beaches in South Wales, Its secret? It’s one of the best Gower beaches for families, with acres of golden sand, two beachside cafes and a shop for supplies. It’s packed during the summer holidays and on weekends between May and September, but often quiet at other times.
It’s also the last of the Swansea suburban beaches. The magnificent Gower coastal path – part of the 870-mile long Wales Coast Path – continues west from Caswell, taking us to the next two beaches.
Getting there: By road along Caswell Road, the B4593. The 2C and 3A buses from Swansea pass close by.
Facilities: A Blue Flag beach with easy access, WC, cafes and shop.
Brandy Cove is just a few minutes’ walk away from Caswell beach, but it’s so different in feel. Its name evokes thoughts of smugglers stashing barrels of liquor behind the rocks, and it’s pretty likely they did exactly that, given that they did so elsewhere on the Gower coast. It’s mainly rocky, with a small patch of sand at the shoreline.
Getting there: on the Gower Coast Path from Caswell (5-10 minutes)
Another of the best beaches near Swansea, Pwlldu beach is even more secluded. Its name means ‘black pool’, but you won’t find any towers or illuminations here!
At high tide, the beach is a bank of pebbles. As the tide receded, so the sand is revealed. The coast path walk here is great, but another approach to consider is along the lush green Bishopston Valley, following the course of a stream to the sea. It’s one of the best inland Gower walks, well worth going out of your way for, especially in spring when the woods are full of white wild garlic flowers.
Getting there: On foot from Bishopston village
THREE CLIFFS BAY
Three Cliffs Bay Gower is one of the best beaches in the UK. Somehow – a combination of its location, natural seclusion and lack of development – it has remained one of the most unspoilt beaches in Europe, up there with the Costa Vicentina or beaches of south Crete. It’s a hidden coastal Arcadia, tucked away in a secret valley with sand dunes either side.
A stream, Pennard Pill, meanders its last mile or so to the sea, with a romantic crumbling castle surveying the scene. A long finger of land stretches into the golden sand, culminating in the jagged three cliffs that give the beach its name. The sands stretch in either direction from Three Cliffs Bay, to Pobbles Bay in the east and Oxwich Bay in the west. Three Cliffs Bay Caravan Park, on the hill to the west, offers possibly the most scenic Gower Peninsula camping of all, looking directly down onto this paradise.
Getting there: If you want to get to Three Cliffs Bay, you’re going to have to walk a mile (1.6 km) or more to reach it. The shortest route is probably from Penmaen to the west, though parking here is fairly limited. There are more parking spaces at Parkmill, a village a mile to the north of Three Cliffs. The path gradually climbs to the ruin of Pennard Castle, before descending to the beach.
Otherwise, it’s a longer (25 minute) walk from the village of Southgate. Bus 14 from Swansea stops here (its destination is listed as Pennard Cliffs).
If Tor Bay hadn’t been in such exalted company, with Three Cliffs Bay on one side and Oxwich beach the other, it would be considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Wales. The upshot of that is always fairly quiet, often deserted in the autumn and winter off-season. The Tor after which it’s named is the headland on the east side of the beach.
Getting there: On foot from the car park at Penmaen, which is about 1 km up the hill on the A4118 road from Parkmill.
Ah, Oxwich beach, a rare treasure indeed. It has been voted one of the best beaches in Britain, and so it is. As you look west from Three Cliffs Bay or Tor Bay , the pristine sand arcs away for miles, ending at a wooded headland. It is a truly wondrous place.
The eastern part of Oxwich Bay Gower is also known as Nicholaston Burrows. However, this is really the dunes behind the beach, which are home to rare lichens and pyramidal orchids. This part of Oxwich Bay beach is a 20-minute walk from the nearest car park, so it’s always very quiet.
The western end of Oxwich beach is much busier. The Oxwich Bay parking area is here, and the Oxwich Bay Hotel, a great base for Gower holidays, overlooks the beach. After passing some dunes, you walk out onto acres of golden sand, with an incredible view back to Three Cliffs Bay and further along the coast.
Oxwich village is also worth exploration. There are a couple of lovely traditional thatched cottages close to the beach, and a short uphill walk takes you to the grand Tudor manor house that goes by the name of Oxwich Castle. Also seek out the limewashed ancient church of St Illtyd in the woods just above the end of the beach.
Getting there: by road via the main A4118 road, followed by a left signposted turn at Penrice Castle gatehouse to Oxwich. Bus 117 from Swansea also calls in at Oxwich.
Facilities: WC, cafés, hotel, restaurant, watersports equipment hire
PORT EYNON BEACH
When I was a growing up, Port Eynon was a popular destination among friends for Gower Peninsula holidays. It’s still one of the more popular places to stay in Gower, with plenty of Port Eynon camping options near the village and at Horton, 1 km to the east. The Port Eynon Youth Hostel is also a great option, with views over Port Eynon Bay.
Port Eynon has long had a reputation as one of the best beaches in South Wales. It’s also one of the best beaches in Wales for kids, very user-friendly with excellent access. There’s plenty of sand, and also rockpools to keep explorers interested.
Port Eynon is also the starting point for one of the best walks in Wales, the Port Eynon to Rhossili walk.
Getting there: by road on the main road across Gower, the A4118. Some 117 and 118 buses run to Port Eynon.
Facilities: It’s a Blue Flag beach, so has everything you could want – cafes, WC, a small shop and TWO fish and chip shops.
Relatively few of those who visit Gower make it to remote Mewslade Bay. Whichever way you approach it, you have a bit of a hike and a short rocky scramble to reach it. But it’s worth it: if you can time your visit to coincide with low tide, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best beaches in west Wales.
The backdrop to Mewslade is dramatic, soaring spires of rock and knife-edge aretes pointing skywards. Much of the beach is sandy, though there are plenty of picturesque rocky outcrops as well, Just be sure not to arrive around high tide, when all of this is submerged by the frothy waters of the Bristol Channel.
Getting there: On foot from Port Eynon, Rhossili or Pitton, where there is a small car park and footpath sign. The latter is the shortest route, around 2 km (1,25 miles).
Fall Bay is around half an hour’s walk from Rhossili Bay Beach, yet it has remained one of the best hidden gems of Wales. It’s a small sandy cove with a line of wave-cut rock platforms in front of it, and a line of imposing cliffs leading you back to Thurba Head and Mewslade Bay behind. The longer route there is one of the most enjoyable Rhossili Bay walks, passing path down to the causeway to the Worms Head walk and the medieval strip-field system known as the Vile.
Getting there: On foot from Rhossili car park, either on the coastal route outlined above (up to 40 minutes) or across fields (20-25 minutes).
Rhossili beach Wales has had just about every accolade you could muster. It has been voted best beach in the UK, best beach in Europe, and made the best 10 beaches in the world and best 10 sunset locations in the world many times over. If you only have one day on Gower, Rhossili is where you should spend it, gazing out over, walking along or snoozing in the sun on one of the best beaches in the world. Very few places in the world can compare with this. In Wales, the beaches of Llanddwyn Island and Newborough come close for the sheer grandeur of their setting. In Greece, its closest spiritual cousin is probably Falassarna Beach on the west coast of Crete.
Rhossili Bay Gower is a three-mile (5 km) swathe of glorious golden sand in the shadow of a raised beach and the steep hill called Rhossili Down. It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe, but it’s not exactly a secret: around 500,000 visitors make it to this remote corner of Wales each year. The enormous beach never gets crowded, but the bar at the Worm’s Head Hotel – the one Rhossili pub – can get busy on a summer lunchtime.
It’s at the western end of the Gower Peninsula, with views to Pembrokeshire in the west and out to Lundy Island to the south-west in the Bristol Channel. The tidal island just offshore is Worm’s Head, which looks like a basking dragon. You can access it two hours either side of low tide, and Rhossili tide times are posted on the door of the National Trust shop each day.
Rhossili Gower village is 250 feet (80 metres) above the beach, and the way down is a steep stepped footpath with around 300 steps in total. It can be a bit of a slog down or back up. If you descend to the beach, you’ll see a few wooden timbers sticking out of the sand. This is the famous Helvetia shipwreck, the scant remains of a Norwegian barque washed up on the beach in 1887. The lone white house above the beach is the Old Rectory, which is owned and operated by landowners the National Trust. It’s by far the most popular of the Rhossili cottages where you can stay – it’s often booked up three years in advance.
Getting there: by road on the B4247, which runs off the main A4118 road down to Port Eynon. The regular 118 bus from Swansea terminates close to Rhossili church.
Facilities: Cafes, pub, restaurants all in the village; none down on the beach itself.
Llangennith beach is the northern continuation of Rhossili Bay Wales. The Llangennith end of this stupendous beach has always attracted a different crowd to the Rhossili end. It’s the mecca of Gower surfing, and conditions are better there than at Rhossili because this section of the beach is more exposed to prevailing south-westerlies, which help generate bigger waves.
This end of what is one of the best sandy beaches in wales deserves more exploration than it gets. The tidal island of Burry Holms at the northern end has great views down to worms Head Rhossili in one direction, and around the corner towards north-west Gower in the other. It is also the site of an Iron Age hillfort, and the remains of what is believed to have been a church can also be seen there.
Getting there: On foot from Llangennith – the Hillend car park is the closest, a few minutes’ walk away through the dunes.
Facilities: Cafes, WC, surfing gear hire
BLUE POOL BAY
Beyond Rhossili, Llangennith and Burry Holms island, Gower gets pretty remote. A windswept walk through dunes and marram grasses eventually leads you to Blue Pool, a small bay to which you have to scramble downhill to reach. I’ve never seen anyone else there. At the northern end of the beach, a deep natural rock pool has been carved out by Mother Nature – and this is what gives this secluded beach its name.
Getting there: On foot from Llangennith Sands or Broughton Bay.
Broughton Bay beach is one of the most secluded west Wales beaches. The north-west Gower beaches are much more isolated and exposed to wind than their neighbours to the south. They are on the eastern shore of Carmarthen Bay, where several other vast sandy beaches, including Cefn Sidan and Pendine – have formed.
Broughton – pronounced ‘Bruffton’ – is a massive expanse of sand ideal for walking and beachcombing. A sword handle was once discovered there, sticking up out of the sand. The blade to which it had been attached turned up soon afterwards as well. The swirling currents around the entrance to the Burry Inlet make Broughton a no-go for swimming.
Getting there: by minor road from Llangennith or Llanmadoc – both minor roads lead to caravan parks. Unless you’re staying in either, there is very little parking available.
The last of our beaches on Gower is remote Whiteford (pronounced Witford) Sands, also sometimes referred to as Whiteford Burrows. It’s a dune and pine plantation stretching to the north-western tip of Gower. It’s a great area for birdwatching, and a few hardy photographers have been known to make the long trek out to the cast-iron lighthouse at Whiteford Point al low tide. We haven’t, but can testify that it’s a striking photographic subject.
If you look east from Whiteford, you’ll see the Gower north coast and Loughor estuary, also known as the Burry Inlet. There are no more Gower beaches to be found here – this area is a mixture of salt marsh and tidal mud flats. Nonetheless, if you’re spending your holidays on Gower, it’s well worth exploring, from the isolated Weobley Castle overlooking Llanrhidian Marsh to the Britannia Inn in Llanmadoc, one of our favourite Gower pubs.
Getting there: Via a minor road from Llanmadoc, passing the few houses of Cwm Ivy on the way.