Harlech Beach provides a four-mile stretch of pristine golden sand, with stunning views of the Snowdonia mountain range. The beach is backed by grassy dunes.
The Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve at the north end of the beach is Wales’s only growing dune system and provides a good example of the effects of longshore drift. To the south lies Shell Island, a promontory which, as the name suggests has an abundance of shells.
During the summer months leatherback turtles migrate from warmer climes to feed off jellyfish in the waters off this part of the coast. In 1988 a record-breaking 916kg leatherback was washed up here after becoming tangled in fishing equipment.
Swimming in the clear waters here is generally safe although there is no lifeguard presence and at times jellyfish can be found off this part of the coastline. The beach is popular with families and dog walkers, although there are restrictions on dog walking at certain times of the year.
13th century Harlech Castle lies around 1000 metres behind the beach. This imposing structure was built as a stronghold by Edward I and played an important role in The War of the Roses and the English Civil War. It is open to visitors throughout the year. When it was first built the castle stood immediately next to the sea, but over the centuries the coastline has shifted significantly.
To access the beach take the Ffordd Glan Mor road from the village of Harlech past the Min-y-don Holiday Park, beyond which is a pay-for car park. From here a 400 metre path leads down to the beach
Type of beach
Dogs friendly beach?
A small section of beach immediately in front of the holiday park has a dog ban between April 1st and September 30th. The rest of the beach is dog-friendly year round.
OS grid ref.
SH 5684 3145
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Harlech Beach Reviews
Beautiful beach, fantastic views, plenty of space to find a quiet spot. There is a short but pleasant walk through the dunes to get there with great views over to the mountains. It’s a big sandy beach with plenty of space to play. At low tide you can find some shallow pools left on the sand which are nice to play in for the little ones. Only drawback is that each time I have been the currents have been a bit strong and swimming has been tough. I am a weak swimmer, though. Last time I went I found some hermit crabs in the surf. Great beach!
On visiting Harlech beach the car park is very expensive, we paid and found that we could not access the beach because of having to scale a huge sand dune, the toilets were filthy and the litter bins overflowing. Not a very nice experience will never go there again. I just hope the emergency services are never needed on the beach as they would not be able to access it.
It used to be fantastic
VisitorJun 10th 2021
Harlech beach and car park used to be a super day out or holiday but no longer, the car park is very expensive, the toilets are dirty and the litter bins are overflowing with rubbish. Access to the beach is difficult if not inaccessible by the elderly young children or disabled people as one has to scale a huge sandune probably about 10 to 15 ft high where the path has been covered by sand it used to be cleared at one time but alas no more.
One thing for certain is that we will never visit Harlech again.
First trip after lockdown
David LathamJan 30th 2021
I’m sat at home remembering what life used to be like - and Harlech beach, hardly anybody there, miles of sand and gently sloping seabed, on a hot day. Views of the castle one way and the mountains the other. It’s a beautiful memory. One day Mrs L and I will be there again after a year working in care. The thought helps keep me going.
No longer a frequent visitor
Access to Harlech Beach is difficult for families with children or the elderly due to the path through the sand dunes not being cleared as it used to be. Building up the dunes means the access path through the golf course disappears and the public have to climb up a steep dune which is sometimes very steep, up to 10 foot high or more.
Fabulous quiet beach!
Annie O'BrienAug 28th 2019
Four miles of golden sand, gently sloping for safe bathing. Not crowded because a ten minute walk through the line of sand dunes is needed for access. Clean beach, clear water, idyllic !