Image of Three Cliffs Bay Gower Wales UK

Visiting Three Cliffs Bay

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 isolated location meaning that it is not one of the more accessible Gower Peninsula beaches.

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

The small river – Pennard Pill – savours its final few meanders as the valley opens out into a vast sweep of glorious golden sands. The three cliffs that give the beach its name are 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 Cliffs Bay seen from the east approach from the National Trust car park
Image of Pennard Castle Three Cliffs Bay Wales
Pennard Castle and Three Cliffs Bay

The section of beach to the east of the famous three cliffs is known as Pobbles Bay or Pobbles Beach to locals.

The limestone cliffs themselves are very popular with rock climbers. There’s also a cave beneath them through which you can walk.

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 on the edge of Pennard Golf Club, a fine scenic links course high above the sandy beach with spectacular views along the coast.

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 high ground on the path up to the Three Cliffs Bay campsite. This is a great spot, with fantastic panoramic views when you unzip your tent door in the morning.

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, this 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 strong tides.

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. This is close to the bottom of the track down the hill from Penmaen.

Three Cliffs Bay Wales is on the south coast of the Gower Peninsula, on the Bristol Channel. This body of water has the second-highest tidal range in the world.  Three Cliff Bay is also the estuary of the short but powerful Pennard Pill stream.  The currents there are very strong, so 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 visitors. This is one of several reasons why Three Cliffs Bay will never attain Blue Flag status!

It is possible to visit Three Cliffs Beach 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. There are three main access points.

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 beach is a short walk away from these.

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 steep sand dune.

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 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.

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.

Image of Arthur's Stone burial chamber Gower PEninsula Wales
Arthur’s Stone: any idea where I can get a drink around here?

It’s also well worth venturing inland on Gower. One of the best things to do in the Gower is the short walk across Cefn Bryn hilltop to Arthur’s Stone.

This Neolithic burial chamber (upwards of 4,000 years old) has been rumoured to pop down to the coast at night for a drink!

Map of Three Cliffs Bay & places to visit near Three Cliffs Bay

I created a map in google maps to show you the location of Three Cliffs Bay and all the places I talk about in this guide.

This is an image of a google map showing the location of Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsula in Wales and places to visit near Three Cliffs Bay

To use this map, simply use your fingers or mouse to zoom in and out, and click on the icons to see more information about each location.

Three Cliffs Bay Beach Guide – Final Words

I hope you have found my Three Cliffs Bay guide helpful.

The Gower Peninsula is one of the most beautiful areas to visit, and I’ve written several more articles on the area.

The Gower beaches are the most obvious starting point – you can actually walk to two of them, Tor Bay and Oxwich Bay, at low tide.

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. Rhossili Beach is also the setting for one of the best sunsets in Europe, particularly in winter but also at the height of summer. 

There are many wonderful Gower walks along the coast and inland, including the superb Port Eynon to Rhossili hike.

There are also plenty of things to do in the Gower away from the coast. The castles on Gower are among the most intriguing Castles in South Wales. And one of the most romantic Welsh castles, Carreg Cennen Castle, is an hour’s drive inland.

And if you’re keen to explore more of the Welsh coast, take a look at my guide to the Best Seaside Towns In Wales. It’s full of places to visit all along the South Wales coast.

Also check out my Pembrokeshire Road Trip itinerary, and my complete guide to the best Tenby Beaches.

Image of David Angel found of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

David Angel is a British photographer, writer and historian. He is a European travel expert with over 30 years’ experience exploring Europe. He has a degree in History from Manchester University, and his work is regularly featured in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sunday Times.  David is fluent in French and Welsh, and can also converse in Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech and Polish.

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