Three Cliffs Bay – A Guide To This Breathtaking Gower Beach

Three Cliffs Bay – Everything You Need to Know

Stunning Three Cliffs Bay is one of the best-known Gower beaches, and yet it’s something of a secret world unto itself. It’s one of the most picturesque – yet also one of the wildest – beaches of Wales, its location meaning that it is not one of the more accessible Gower Peninsula beaches.

Three Cliffs Bay beach is one of the most enchanting places in Wales to visit – and it’s not just about the beach. 

The whole setting is breathtaking – if you approach from the north, a small valley opens out beneath you, overlooked by a medieval castle surrounded by sand dunes.

The small river – Pennard Pill – savours its final few meanders as the valley opens out into a vast sweep of glorious golden sand, with the three cliffs that give the beach its name to the left of the scene.

We’ve written this Three Cliffs Bay guide to show you this slice of paradise, and how to make the most of your time there. We also tell you everything you need to know about access and tides, so that you know exactly what to expect when you visit.

Read more: A guide to the beautiful Gower Beaches

What To See At Three Cliffs Bay

Image of Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay Gower Wales
Three liffs Bay seen fgrom the east approach from the National Trust car park
  • The section of beach to the east of the famous three cliffs is known as Pobbles Bay – to locals, anyway
  • The cliffs themselves are very popular with rock climbers – and there’s also a cave beneath them through which you can walk
Image of Pennard Castle Three Cliffs Bay Wales
Pennard Castle and Three Cliffs Bay
  • Pennard Castle, to the north of the beach, is one of the most romantic castles in South Wales, a crumbling 800-year-old ruin with sand dunes encroaching from all angles
  • It’s the focal point of several great Gower walks – one of my favourites is across the Bay from Pennard, up the hill to the dunes at Penmaen Burrows, and on to the sublime Tor Bay Gower beach

Image of Three Cliffs Bay at low tide
The classic view of Three Cliffs Bay at low tide
  • If you’re planning on photographing Three Cliffs Bay, the classic shot is from the path up to the Three Cliffs Bay campsite
  • One of the best things to do in Three Cliffs Bay is to pack a picnic, as we did the first time we visited together – given the lack of food options close by, thisd is the best way to enjoy a day out there

Three Cliffs Bay Gower Peninsula Top Tips

Essential Information Before You Go (And Why It Remains Relatively Untouched!)

Image of Three Cliffs Bay beach Wales at high tide
Three Cliffs Bay at high tide – note the difference from the shot above
  • The first thing to bear in mind is that 3 Cliffs Bay is very much affected by the tide
  • At high tide, much of the beach is submerged by water, and it’s impossible to cross from the east side (Pennard) to the west side (Penmaen) until the tide retreats sufficiently
  • There is one crossing place on the beach – a series of stepping-stones on the north side of the beach, close to the bottom of the track down the hill from Penmaen
  • Three Cliffs Bay Wales is on the Bristol Channel, the body of water with the second highest tidal range in the world, and the estuary of a small river, so the currents there are strong, and swimming is very much discouraged
  • Access from all three directions is down fairly steep hills, with paths down sand dunes – sadly there is no wheelchair access, and getting back up the hill can be difficult for some
  • It is possible to visit Three Cliffs at high tide – as part of the beach isn’t submerged
  • There are no facilities, including toilets at Three Cliffs Bay
  • The nearest toilet – apart from the car parks – is at Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park, which is a 500-metre steep uphill walk from the beach

Where Is Three Cliffs Bay?

Image of Three Cliffs Bay near Swansea Wales
Three Cliffs Bay loking west

Three Cliffs Bay is eight miles (13 km) west of the city of Swansea, the second largest city in Wales. It’s on the south Gower coast, with the magnificent curve of Oxwich Bay immediately to the west.

How To Get To Three Cliffs Bay?

Image of Three Cliffs Bay from the air
Three Cliffs Bay from the air – pristine coastal scenery
  • Three Cliffs Bay can be reached by car or by bus – either way, you’ll have to do a fair bit of walking to get to the beach itself.
  • If you’re driving, the A4118, the main Gower road, passes to the north of Three Cliffs Bay, and two of the three car parks are along this stretch of road.
  • The closest Three Cliffs Bay car park to the beach is at Penmaen, up the hill just beyond the village of Parkmill. The car park is spread across both sides of the road, and the 117 and 118 buses also stop here. The stop name is Penmaen House. From here, it’s no more than a 10-minute walk down the hill to the stepping-stones and beach.

Image of Three Cliffs Bay from the sand dunes
Three Cliffs Bay from the sand dunes
  • There is more Three Cliffs Bay parking back down the hill in Parkmill. The car park outside Shepherd’s Stores is run by the Gower Heritage Centre. From here, you need to walk 200 metres along the main road (back towards Swansea), turn right over the bridge, then go right again, doubling back on yourself and following the path left above the valley. This takes you past Pennard Castle and down the hill towards the east side of the beach.
  • The main National Trust Three Cliffs Bay car park is in the nearby village of Southgate, next to where the number 14 bus from Swansea terminates. It’s at the end of Southgate Road – from here, turn right and walk along the path running next to West Cliff and follow the footpath – mainly along flat ground – from here towards the east end of the beach and the descent down the dunes. It’s a good 20-minute walk to the beach from the NT car park.

Places To Stay Near Three Cliffs Bay

Image of Three Cliffs Bay near Swansea Wales
Sand ripples at Three Cliffs
  • There are surprisingly few Gower hotels, and one of the best of these is the Oxwich Bay Hotel, 4 miles (6 km) away from Three Cliffs Bay, overlooking Oxwich beach.
  • Many visitors opt for local B&Bs or, more commonly, Gower Airbnb rentals.
  • Gower campsites are hugely popular, and the closest of these has one of the best views you could ever see. The Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park is at the top of the hill above the beach, and the view over one of the best beaches in Wales is breathtaking.

What To See Near Three Cliffs Bay

Image of the Helvetia shipwreck Rhossili beach Wales
Sunset behind the Helvetia shipwreck and Worm’s Head, Rhossili

Another of the beaches Gower is known for the world over, the vast sweep of Oxwich Bay begins to the west of Three Cliffs and its neighbour Tor Bay. The family-friendly – and much more accessible – Port Eynon beach is a 3 to 4 mile (5 to 7 km) drive beyond Oxwich.

The most famous Gower Peninsula beach of all is Rhossili Bay, a gorgeous three-mile (5 km) swathe of pristine sand at the westernmost point of Gower. We – and a great many others. – rate Rhossili among the most beautiful beaches in Europe, something that could also be said of Three Cliffs Bay.

In the opposite direction, we also recommend trying part of the Gower section of the Wales Coast Path. Heading east, you’ll pass Pennard Cliffs before eventually reaching Pwlldu Bay and Brandy Cove, and the busier Swansea beaches of Caswell Bay and Langland, further to the east.   

Read more: Rossili Bay – one of the most beautiful beaches in Wales

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David Angel
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.