Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: The Complete Guide

A beautiful beach along the coast from Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

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Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Address
United Kingdom
Phone +44 1646 624800

Wales' Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a particularly unique national park, as nowhere in the park is more than 10 miles away from the coastline. It's home to dozens of beaches, including Whitesands and Tenby North, and there are over 186 miles of coastal scenery to explore. The coastline is also home to the famed Coastal Path, one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales. There's a lot to see and do in the region, whether you prefer outdoor activities or you want to explore cultural and historical attractions. The seaside towns make for excellent stops along the way, either to stay overnight or for a quick meal. Here's everything you need to know about visiting Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Things to Do

Nature lovers will be at home in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which boasts tons of walking trails, beaches, wildlife viewing, and fishing. Many people come during the warmer months to surf, kayak, or swim, and the wild puffins on Skomer Island are a big draw in July. History buffs should visit Carew Castle, Castell Henllys, and Preseli Hills (a collection of ancient stone circles connected to Stonehenge), a few of the historical sites around the national park. There are also numerous family-friendly activities and destinations, including Folly Farm, which has a zoo and fairground, and Oakwood Theme Park, the biggest amusement park in Wales.

There are many idyllic villages and towns along the coast, which can be great for shopping, seafood, and walking along the beach. Some of the most popular include Tenby, St. Davids, Little Haven, Solva, and Newport. Farther inland, Pembroke boasts Pembroke Castle and the Bosherston Lily Ponds, part of the National Trust. Explore the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, Haverfordwest Town Museum, and the Chapel Bay Fort & Museum.

Best Walks & Trails

There are over 600 miles of public trails and footpaths in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Many of the walks are circular, making it easy to walk in a loop. Visitors are expected to follow the countryside code, which means leaving no trace and respecting people's property as you pass through. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and obey all posted signs.

  • Pembrokeshire Coast Path: This 186-mile long trail, one of the few National Trails in Wales, is the most popular route in the national park. The walking trail can be done in either short or long stretches, with some visitors opting to follow it for several days. It's divided into several sections, so plan your stroll based on where you want to end up and what you want to see along the way.
  • Saundersfoot to Tenby: See the seaside towns of Saundersfoot and Tenby on a circular walk that lasts about 8 miles. It passes several beaches and ventures inland through Twy Cross and New Hedges.
  • Skomer Island: Home to hundreds of puffins, Skomer Island is accessible by ferry. Visitors can stroll in a circular route around the island, about 3.5 miles. Look out for other wildlife along the way, including sea birds, seals, and rabbits.
  • Stackpole: Follow a trail from Stackpole Quay through one of Wales' richest nature reserves, Stackpole National Nature Reserve, which features many opportunities to spot wildlife. It's a moderate walk that lasts 6 miles.
Views of Dinas Head

 Richard Baker / Getty Images

Biking

Although walking is the most popular outdoor activity around Pembrokeshire, cyclists have many opportunities to explore. The national park features numerous cycling routes, which follow along both roads and trails. Look for various bike rental shops in the area if you need to rent a bike and gear.

  • Brunel Trail: This 19-mile trail follows an old railway link, passing through Bolton Hill Woods and Brunel Quay. It's a moderate path with a few stops for refreshments along the way.
  • Medieval Mystery Trail: Travel for 14 miles in a circular route that traverses both coastline and countryside, with sights of Lamphey Palace and Manorbier Castle as you go.
  • Havens Trail: Havens Trail starts and finishes in Haverfordwest, taking cyclists on a 22-mile journey that includes a long stretch of coast on St Brides Bay.
  • Coast and Borderland Trail: From Tenby, travel through Amroth, Wisemans Bridge, and Saundersfoot on a 45-mile route. The routes circles around to return you to Tenby, but be prepared for an active all-day ride that includes some climbs.

Fishing

Fishing is serious business in Pembrokeshire, thanks to its coastal location. Visitors can take advantage of sea fishing and freshwater fishing farther inland. Fishing trips are available to book from Tenby, Saundersfoot, Dale, or St. Davids, while game fishing spots can be found along the Teifi, Eastern, and Western Cleddau rivers. Look for fishing charters and clubs here.

Fishing in canoe at Barafundle Beach, Pembroke, Wales.

Mark Jones Images / Getty Images

Boating and Water Sports

Because Pembrokeshire is located primarily along the coastline, there are numerous places to go out on boats or try your hand at surfing. Kayaking and canoeing are especially popular, and many visitors opt to rent sea kayaks to see the coast's caves and wildlife in a new way. There are a lot of surfing spots on the coast that have big waves throughout the year, including Broad Haven South, Freshwater West, and New Gale. Several beaches have seasonal lifeguard cover, which is a big plus for safety. Look for a list here. Check out Outer Reef Pembrokeshire for surf lessons, paddle boarding, and equipment hire.

Scenic Drives

Everywhere you go, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has stunning views, especially along the coast, but several scenic drives are recommended. From Tenby, head west to Barafundle Bay and then onward along the St. Davids coast to see some picturesque coastline. Be sure to stop at the Stackpole Nature Reserve to spot some wildlife or take a walk. Another nice drive is from Saundersfoot along the A477 to Pembroke Dock and then into Pembroke to see Pembroke Castle. Be sure to drive carefully, especially on the narrower roads, and note that there might not be cell service available in all areas, so have a map at the ready.

Where to Camp

A campsite on top of a cliff overlooking the sea in West Wales

Jason Jones Travel Photography / Getty Images

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a top-rated camping destination for those looking for classic tent camping and those exploring the area in a camper van or caravan. There are many options for camping, and it's best to pick a campsite close to your destination of choice, whether that's the beaches of Tenby or something more remote. Many campgrounds ask for reservations in advance, so plan online ahead of your visit. Note that not all are open year-round, so it's best to check each campsite's opening dates.

  • West Hook Farm Camping: Located near Wooltack Bay, West Hook Farm Camping has terrific sea views from its campsites. The family-friendly accommodation has toilets and running water. It's a good location for those visiting Skomer Island.
  • Newton Farm Caravan and Camp Site: Newton Farm welcomes visitors to its scenic campground near Freshwater West. It has toilets, showers, and electric hook-ups, and many of the campsites have views of the coast.
  • Meadow Farm Tenby: Meadow Farm features tent camping and caravan camping and overlooks the town of Tenby and its beaches. There are electric hook-ups for caravans and motorhomes.
  • Dews Lake Campsite: Camp or glamp at Dews Lake, which offers pitches for tents, campervans, and caravans (with or without electric hook-ups). There are also glamping cabins and bell tents for visitors who prefer something more luxurious.

Where to Stay Nearby

There are many accommodation options around Pembrokeshire, primarily in the towns along the coast. Look for small inns, bed and breakfasts, or holiday rentals for something with a local feel. For unique housing options, check out Canopy & Stars, a travel site with interesting properties for rent around the U.K., including in Wales, or Sykes Holiday Cottages.

  • Penally Abbey: Reserve a room at Penally Abbey in Tenby to take advantage of Pembrokeshire's historic properties. The luxury hotel has 12 rooms, a restaurant, and several acres of woodland and gardens.
  • Twr Y Felin: Twr Y Felin, located in St Davids, is a colorful boutique hotel with 41 rooms, many of which have coastal views. It has a countryside feel, but with modern amenities.
  • Slebech Park: This quirky B&B has many unique rooms, including family rooms, and features its own restaurant. The location in Haverfordwest is a great middle point for sightseeing around Pembrokeshire.

How to Get There

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is best enjoyed by car due to the long, winding roads connecting coastal towns and attractions. International visitors can fly into London, Bristol, or Cardiff and then rent a car to drive to the western side of Wales. It's also possible to enjoy the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park via public transportation, although it may take more planning than a visit by car. Trains go to several of the main towns around the coastline, including Tenby and Haverfordwest, located a bit inland. Once in the area, local buses run six days per week, including the Coastal Buses. There are over 40 public parking lots throughout the coastline, which take payment via the PayByPhone app.

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path showing the Newport Parrog

R A Kearton / Getty Images

Accessibility

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park operates an "Access for All" policy, which means visitors of limited mobility can still enjoy the trails and coastline. There are several walks accessible to those in wheelchairs or mobility scooters (or by those with strollers), and the park notes 18 beaches with easy access. Several beaches, including Saundersfoot and Broad Haven North, offer specialty beach wheelchairs for rent. Mobility scooters are free at Carew Castle, Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St. Davids, and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village. Visitors with cars should look out for the accessible access viewpoints shown here.

Tips for Visiting

  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park publishes its own visitor newspaper, the Coast to Coast. The newspaper is available online and features activities, helpful information, and details about the national park.
  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority runs a visitor's center at Oriel y Parc in St. Davids, and there are also information centers available at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village, as well as in several towns like Tenby and Fishguard.
  • Several annual events take place around the Pembrokeshire Coast, including the Really Wild Food & Countryside Festival in May, Pembrokeshire Fish Week in June or July, and the Pembrokeshire County Show in August.
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Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: The Complete Guide