by Menai Holidays
It is not just the blaze of natural colours on the Llŷn Peninsula that makes autumn a treasured time outdoors. September to November is when our seas are at their warmest. This is when mid-Atlantic storms pump more swell onto the beaches, and the Llŷn Peninsula becomes a haven for surfers who make the trip from near and far to take full advantage of the quiet beaches, and if they are lucky, some great waves.
With nearly 100 miles of coastline, beaches abound on the Llŷn Peninsula. With the pull of renowned seaside towns such as Abersoch, Llanbedrog, Pwllheli, Porthmadog and Nefyn, to name but a few, the beaches in these spots attract locals and tourists in their thousands.
The south coast of Llŷn is often referred to as the Welsh Riviera, with its long sandy beaches and calm seas. The north and western coasts are more rugged, with towering cliffs, offshore islands and hidden coves. The world famous Ty Coch Inn at Porthdinllaen, named as the third best “beach bar” in the world, has put the beach scene on the Llŷn Peninsula well and truly on the map.
The joy of visiting at this time of year is the opportunity to have the whole beach to yourself. I have spent the last 12 years married to a local surfer and so have spent many an afternoon chasing waves around the autumnal Llŷn. This experience introduced me to beaches that are slightly more “off the beaten track” and whether it requires a slight walk or scramble, and the packing of a picnic, these hidden gems are worth making every effort to visit.
My top 6 beaches on the Llŷn Peninsula are:
Porth Ceiriad is a National Trust beach. It is sheltered by high cliffs used to access the beach, that drop away to reveal the stunning golden sand. On the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula, this south facing beach is a real gem that gets the sun all day long.The joy of Porth Ceiriad is that even though it’s only a mile from the centre of Abersoch, the beach itself rarely gets very busy and its sheltered location, between two high sandstone headlands, make it perfect for sunbathing or trying something more active. It also sits on the Wales Coastal Path route. For Parking either you can leave Abersoch following the road to Sarn Bach. Turn left signposted Bwlchtocyn. Follow this road for three-quarters of a mile and then take the right turn (near Cim Farm) which is signposted to Porth Ceiriad and Traeth/Beach. Car parking is in a field. They operate a Pay and Display system, which uses CCTV and the charge is £3. There is a half a mile walk to the beach.
Or you can park at Nant y Big Farm and Campsite, which is a little further on from the turn off for Bwlchtocyn. It is marked on the left with a “no through road” sign. Turn down the lane and follow the bends to the barrier. Parking costs £3 per vehicle.
A quick walk down the sandy dunes takes you to the golden, sandy cove of Porth Iago, one of the prettiest beaches on the Lŷn Peninsula. Porth Iago is a well-kept secret. Situated on the northern coast of the Llŷn, sheltered by two grassy headlands, with crystal clear, blue water and fine, golden sand. It is perfect for families, bathers, kayakers or paddleboarders.
The horseshoe-shaped cove of Porth Iago site between the headlands of Dinas and Graig Ddu looks like a Mediterranean escape on a sunny day. Rarely busy, the beach is perfect for a relaxing day on the sand. Families with young children will love the sheltered bay as it’s great for swimming and paddling. There are nearby points of interest including the rocky cove at Porth Ferin. Look closely between the rocks in the cove and you can see evidence of the old rusted pulley systems and chains that once served to drag in fishermen’s boats up in the cove for shelter. Fishing was such an important part of life on the Llŷn Peninsula.
Above the beach is car park from which you get to by taking a farm track through Ty Mawr farm. You will need to pay for your parking as there is a Pay and Display machine.Take the road out of Aberdaron on the B4413, take the sharp left just before Pen-y-Groeslan, signposted Whistling Sands / Porth Oer. After 1 mile turn right at the crossroads. Follow this road for about 1.5 miles to a junction. Turn left, then right and, after 500m, left down the Ty Mawr farm lane that leads to the car park for Porth Iago.
The tiny village of Aberdaron sits on the western corner of the Llŷn Peninsula, with a stunning bay and on an expansive sandy beach. This is the perfect beach for a day out with young children. The rock pools provide hours of entertainment and for the geologists amongst you, there are some great rocks types to be found. Beach combing is a must as the swell direction brings in some great shells and other finds. The village is situated right on the back of the beach so local services are not far away. Dogs are allowed on the part of the beach to the left of the slipway that runs down to the beach next to the Tŷ Newydd Hotel. Around the bay to the right of the sea front is Porth Meudwy where the boat sets off for Ynys Enlli (Bardsey) from. Walking down the bay to the far end of Aberdaron beach will reveal a glimpse of Enlli around the headland. The charming village is tiny, but houses two fantastic pubs, a great fish and chip shop, a National Trust visitor centre (that is a must see) a couple of picture perfect tea rooms along with an ice cream and sweet shop. What more could you ask for!
Have you been tuning in to The Last Kingdom on BBC 1 this autumn? If so you will see Celts on horseback galloping along this stunning stretch of sand. Even though it is slightly off the beaten track, Whistling Sands has to be one of the most noteworthy beaches on the Llŷn Peninsula as the sand here does actually “squeak” under your feet! This is due to the shape of the sand particles and only one other beach in Europe has this same quality! There is a great cafe on the beach and the National Trust car park is located up a steep little hill. When the wind is onshore on the southern coast, head here for the day. This beach is popular with surfers if conditions are right and there are plenty of good walks along the coastal path and into the surrounding countryside from here.
The pretty fishing village of Borth y Gest is often overlooked in favour of its larger neighbour Porthmadog. This small harbour overlooks the Afon Glaslyn on the northern side of Tremadog Bay. It isn’t as off the beaten track as some on the list. However, it has a nostalgic look and feel and the village retains much of its Victorian charm with its sheltered sandy bay, featuring a horseshoe shaped promenade of brightly coloured houses. On a clear day, the views over the estuary to Snowdonia are stunning, and the first dustings of snow cap be seen on the mountains at this time of year. Situated on the hillside above Borth y Gest is Parc y Borth Nature Reserve, a perfect spot for the twitchers amongst you. The seafront is home to some great bistros and cafes, the perfect place to watch the world go by. Facilities at the village include a free car park, roadside parking and toilets.
Porth Colman is not only a paradise for children, with plenty of rock pools to explore, but for fishermen and sailors, who can happily while away their day fishing from the rocks or on a boat in the sheltered bay. Porth Colman is a wonderful sandy bay on the northern coast of the Llŷn Peninsula between the headlands of Penrhyn Melyn and Penrhyn Colman. The beach is a wonderful and quiet place to explore with a gentle, laid back ambience. The main beach here is called Penllech, but most visitors refer to it as Porth Colman. It does get quite busy here during the school holidays but there’s plenty of space if you keep walking along. It is a great spot to get youngsters on a board as the waves are prefect for body boarding. On windy days some shelter can be had in the little rocky bays at the top of the beach. The beach can be accessed by car or on foot.
Get your coat and boots on, pack up the car and enjoy exploring some of these beaches on the Llŷn Peninsula. We offer a great range of holiday cottages around the Llŷn, all perfectly located for taking advantage of these stunning stretches of sand. We have cottages near Porthmadog, Pwllheli, Criccieth, Borth y Gest and Nefyn. To view all our holiday cottages on the Llŷn Peninsula click here.
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