South Wales, the Gower Peninsula, West and North Wales
The westward-facing peninsula of the Gower is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and rightly so. From the wide, open sandy bay at Llangennith, through the rocky Gower reefs to the Victoria resort of Langland. To the east, Porthcawl, Aberavon and Llantwit offer a mixture of good quality beach breaks with a selection of points and reefs.
The Pembrokeshire coastline was designated a national park in 1952 and has been a huge tourist draw ever since the day the Victorians descended on Tenby. The wild coast, with sheltered bays and windswept cliffs, is a perfect place to explore when the swells kick in. It has the advantage of bays facing virtually all points of the compass meaning that as long as the swell is big enough, you can usually find a sheltered spot somewhere. The huge beach at Freshwater West is southwest Wales’s most consistent swell-catcher.
Pembrokeshire has some of the best-known spots in Wales and numbers have been steadily rising over the last few years to a point where uncrowded sessions are getting rare. The large bay of Freshwater West gives plenty of room to spread out, as does St Brides Bay. Peaks like Broadhaven South and reefs like Manobier are becoming increasingly competitive, but the likelihood of outright localism is low.
North and west wales are fantastic surfing locations, given the right conditions. The beaches around Porth Neigwl are a big draw, and the surf population of neighbouring Abersoch helps give the region a real ‘surf town’ feel. The breaks around the university town of Aberystwyth are also bustling when any kind of swell kicks in. There are points in between that remain relatively quiet, and others that swell with the chart savvy on those rare days. West Wales is a series of long, westerly-facing beaches interspersed with points. As swell tends to come mainly from the southwest, the points tend to produce lefts – some of which can be very high quality. In the north, the Llyn Peninsula reaches out across Cardigan Bay and sits waiting for the swell to hit. Its sandy beaches are exposed to the southwest trade winds but when conditions combine and the wind switches they can have excellent waves.