Within a short drive of the Cottages is one of Wales’ best kept secrets; Cardigan Bay has some of the finest coastline in the UK and being still relatively undiscovered, it means that you won’t have to travel far to find a nice quiet spot on the beach, or even a beach all to yourself if you stumble across a secret one. Just make sure you don’t tell anyone…
Mwnt – In 2011, the Daily Mail placed the beach at Mwnt at the very top of its list of “Europe’s top ten loveliest, hidden beaches” and in 2012 it topped Country Life’s list of UK picnic sites – need we say more? Mwnt is about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from Cardigan and is an ideal place to spot bottlenose dolphins, basking sharks and porpoises in the distance. Swimming, body boarding and kayaking are popular.
Aberporth (Dolwen and Dyffryn) – The pretty coastal village of Aberporth overlooks two beautiful, sheltered, sandy beaches (Dolwen and Dyffryn). Dolwen beach is a regular Blue Flag and Seaside Award winning beach and RNLI lifeguards patrol Aberporth’s beaches during the summer months. It is a firm favourite holiday destination for families and is also popular for sailing. Little rock pools are exposed on the beach at low tide and cliff top walks above Aberporth offer extensive views out to sea. Bottlenose dolphins are seen frequently close to shore with orcas and harbour porpoises have been spotted. Sunfish and basking sharks are frequent offshore visitors in summer.
Tresaith – has a fabulous Blue Flag and Seaside Award winning sandy beach and busy sailing club where dinghies and catamarans abound with racing on most Sundays throughout the season. Tresaith beach is also a popular location for surfing – especially in winter, when sets can reach two metres high. Meanwhile the River Saith cascades over the cliffs in a dramatic waterfall into the sea. The village also features a surf shop and pub/restaurant ‘The Ship Inn’, which overlooks the beach.
Penbryn – one of Ceredigion’s most popular beaches. Owned by the National Trust, Penbryn lies between Tresaith and Llangrannog. Penbryn beach is a mile of soft sand, sheltered by wooded slopes, and is a great location for stargazing; featuring as a location for filming James Bond’s romantic assignation in ‘Die Another Day‘ and being number 5 in The Guardian’s ‘Top 10 UK Walks’ in 2010. There are a choice of routes down to the beach from the car park and cafe at Llanborth Farm: you can walk along the lane (turning point overlooking the beach) or take the path through the wood, which is full of flowers in spring. The café is open year round.
Llangrannog/Cilborth – Llangrannog is now one of Ceredigion’s most popular beach destinations for a day at the seaside or a beach holiday and is a favourite with surfers and kayakers. Its lovely sandy beach nestles below the cliffs and it is crossed by the Wales Coast Path. The beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards during the summer months. Cilborth beach is immediately north of Llangrannog and accessed by a steep flight of steps down the cliff or from Llangrannog beach when the tide is low. This fantastic beach is sandy and secluded in a hidden cove. Activities include sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and surfing. Nearby Ynys Lochtyn is a tiny peninsula or ‘island’ off the coast between New Quay and the village of Llangrannog and a good place to spot seals. The village has two pubs, ‘The Ship Inn’ and the ‘Pentre Arms’ (their excellent ‘surf cam‘ means you can check out the waves before you get there!), which both do great food and good ales.
Cwmtydu – a Seaside Award winning beach, is very prettily set with a quiet beach and natural harbour that was once a traditional smugglers’ hideaway. The caves and rocks are known locally as ‘Seals Bay’, with an estimated 5,000 grey seals in west Wales with their pups being born September to December. Cwmtydu’s pebble beach has rock pools and is excellent fishing for huss, dogfish, bass, dabs, codling, flounder, plaice, wrasse, gurnards and the occasional tope. There is parking right behind the beach, with easy access for surfers, body boarders and kayakers. For butterfly lovers, the National Trust do an excellent walk.
New Quay – a popular seaside destination for beach holidays as well as fishing, wildlife and water sports enthusiasts. The golden sands of the town’s three beaches – Traeth yr Harbwr, Traeth y Dolau and Traethgwyn – are amongst the best in Ceredigion. Traeth yr Harbwr (Harbour Beach), a Blue Flag beach, is probably the most popular of the three beaches. The beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards during the summer months. The area is also renowned for frequent sightings of bottlenose dolphins and Dolphin Survey Boat Trips and Dolphin Spotting Boat Trips depart from the harbour to explore the Ceredigion Marine Heritage Coast. We recommend grabbing some fish and chips to eat on the harbour wall while dolphin spotting.
Aberaeron – has two popular pebble beaches with soft sand becoming exposed at low tide. The beaches are located north and south of Aberaeron’s colourful harbour and are perfect spots for gazing out over Cardigan Bay. Aberaeron is also a bit of a foodie town with the Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival on the quayside in July an unmissable opportunity to taste local seafood, fish and local produce prepared by celebrity chefs on the quayside. The Harbourmaster is a popular place to eat and drink and the fish and chips at the New Celtic Restaurant (eat in or take away) are some of the best we’ve tasted!
Aberarth – The pretty hamlet of Aberarth nestles in a quiet, tiny natural harbour popular with peregrine falcon, chough and stonechat birdlife around the beach, which although covered with large pebbles, is very popular with experienced surfers.
Llanrhystud – The pebble beach at Llanrhystud is popular in summer for boating, fishing, water sports, picnics or just relaxing and enjoying the stunning sunsets. The beach is a narrow shingle bank at high tide, but at low tide, it becomes wide and sandy so is ideal for windsurfing, swimming and general leisure activities. You can also park right on the pebble bank behind the beach. ‘The Black Lion’ in the village serves a good Sunday lunch.