A guide to Wales’ most epic coastline: From Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to Ceredigion

Whether you’re a road tripper, trail walker, bird watcher or beach hopper, Pembrokeshire’s rugged and unspoilt coastline has something for almost everyone…

Hazel Plush
19 November 2019

If you want to slip away from real life for a while, Pembrokeshire is the place to do it. On the far south-west coast of Wales, this region is surrounded by sea on three sides – a wave-crashing, seabird-swooping coastline that’s mostly encompassed by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It has a savage, hardy beauty – where golden sand beaches stretch for miles, and clifftops give way to endless sea views. 

It’s an adventurer’s paradise, with opportunities for hiking, climbing, kayaking and so much more. The coast is dotted with towns and villages where Welsh culture thrives – such as Newport,  where you can shop for antiques and art, and get stuck into the local food scene. St Davids is the UK’s smallest city, surrounded by beaches and clifftop meadows, with a magnificent cathedral at its heart. 


Driving through Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (Shutterstock)

Getting to Pembrokeshire Coast  National Park 

Coastal adventures in Pembrokeshire (Crown Copyright)

The easiest way to access Pembrokeshire’s wildest corners is by car – and the region’s countryside-flanked roads are a driver’s dream. That said, once you’re here, the local bus network is very handy for hikers: you can walk in one direction, then simply catch the bus back to your starting point. There are five coastal bus routes, including the Poppit Rocket (between Cardigan and Fishguard) and the Celtic Coaster (along St David’s Peninsula). In summer, they run every day; check here for details. 

The best time to visit Pembrokeshire 

Every season brings new beauty and adventure to the Pembrokeshire coastline. Spring and summer are glorious for outdoor activities and wildlife watching – with flowers blooming and birds fluttering throughout the national park. Autumn is quieter, and the changing seasons turn the treetops into a riot of colour. While winters can be cold and stormy, they’re also dramatic – with huge coastal swells, moody skies, and snow-capped hills inland – perfect for captruing stunning photographs. 

The best 9 coastal adventures in Pembrokeshire 

1. Diving 

There’s so much to discover beneath the waves of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: from deep shipwrecks teeming with wildlife, to drift dives with lobsters and octopus. Don’t miss The Smalls, a cluster of rocks populated by playful seals – where the visibility is excellent too. Check out local scuba specialist Dive Pembrokeshire for details.


2. Birdwatching 

Sea birds far outnumber people on Pembrokeshire’s wild, windswept islands: you’ll spy storm petrels, gannets, puffins and razorbills – and barely need to lift your binoculars to your eyes. Ramsey Island is an RSPB nature reserve, while Stack Rocks is bustling with guillemots, kittiwakes and more. 

3. Sailing 

Slip your moorings for a while and embark on a sailing adventure. The Pembrokeshire peninsula offers waters for every ability: from sheltered estuary and tranquil bays, to round-island jaunts and picturesque open water. For information about sailing courses and tuition, contact RYA-certified Pembrokeshire Cruising.

The coastal road leading to Newgale (Dreamstime)

4. The Witches’ Couldron, Pwll y Wrach 

The Stack Rocks in Pembrokeshire (Shutterstock)

On the north Pembrokeshire coast lies an emerald lagoon, surrounded by rocks and a small shingle beach – a spectacular spot for a dip. It’s connected to the sea by a hidden cavern, which wild seals (and experienced kayakers) sometimes squeeze through too. You can reach the lagoon easily on foot: follow the 700m path from Ceibwr Bay, near Moylegrove.

Pembrokeshire’s wild horses (Shutterstock)

5. Coasteering 

The view from the top of Carn Llidi (Shutterstock)

Sign up for a coasteering adventure and you can splash, swim and dive your way along the national park’s rugged coastline. You’ll wallow in wild rock pools, brave the high-jump from lofty sea cliffs, and plunge into turquoise waters. 

A puffin on Skomer Island (Shutterstock)

6. Rock climbing 

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, Pembrokeshire’s rock climbing is second to none. All those sea cliffs are like catnip for adventurous souls, and nothing clears the mind quite like getting hands-on with ropes and rock. For all the thrills (and no spills), book a guided adventure with the likes of TYF Adventure.

7. Dolphin watching

Pembrokeshire’s waters are teeming with marine life, including some rather special surprises: bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins can be spotted on boat trips along the coast, while fin and minke whales often make an appearance too. You can get up-close on a boat trip (summer is prime time), or spot harbour porpoises from land. 

8. Beach hopping 

Pembrokeshire has miles of soft sandy beaches – from secluded coves lapped by crystal-clear shallows, to vast sands that stretch as far as the eye can see. Freshwater West is a haven for surfers, while Whitesands Bay is surrounded by rolling countryside. Barafundle Bay is a 1.6km walk from the nearest car park, so you can enjoy the golden sands in peace and quiet. 

9. Hiking 

Lace up your walking boots for the 299km Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which reaches from St Dogmaels and Amroth. It’s part of the huge Wales Coast Path (a mighty 1,400km route), but locals will assure you that this is the most spectacular stretch – and we reckon they might be right. While you can spend two weeks hiking the Pembrokeshire trail, there are plenty of rewarding day walks too: such as Porthgain to Whitesands (for high cliffs and ancient ruins), and Deer Park to Dale (for puffins and island views). Read this guide for more details. 

Is this the best road trip in Wales? 

Wales’s Coastal Way road trip spans from St Davids in Pembrokeshire all the way up to the Llŷn Peninsula, a 290km route that encompasses beautiful beaches, charming villages, stunning seascapes – and much more. To really do it justice you’ll need at least a week, but the Pembrokeshire coastal section crams maximum adventure into a three-day jaunt. 

Start in the National Trust beauty of Stackpole, then head northwards to Cardigan – stopping for coastal walks, wild swims and welcoming B&B accommodation along the way. You’ll find great pubs in the pretty seaside town of Newport, while Fishguard is a great spot for joining dolphin-watching tours. This is a road trip you’ll want to savour. 

 4 of Pembrokeshire’s most photogenic spots

These striking coastal locations will set your Insta alight

1. Stack Rocks

Whipped into shape by wind and waves, these twin pillars are hopping with sea birds in spring and summer.

2. Pembrokeshire ponies

Roaming free in the fields around Newport Bay, these tousled beauties are always camera-ready.

3. Carn Llidi

Looking out towards Ramsey Island, this clifftop view is a feast of lush fields, sparkling waters and golden sands.

4. Skomer Island

With its wild flowers, rugged cliffs and characterful puffins, there’s no such thing as a bad angle on Skomer Island.

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