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Updated 2019.Pembrokeshire is a County in South West Wales, it’s home to a National Park, many towns and is very well known for its award-winning Welsh beaches and coastline.
Pembrokeshire’s Coastline is actually 186 miles/299km long and it is estimated that it would take between 10-15 days to walk and the ascents and descent are said to be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest; 35,000 feet! I quite fancy giving that a go one day!
Wales is a great destination for a road trip because it’s relatively small and there are so many places to visit, the famous ‘best places in Wales’ to visit, but there are also plenty of hidden gems in Wales too!
One area of Wales that is great to road trip around is Pembrokeshire which I say from experience. I spent one day in Pembrokeshire driving and walking along it’s coastline beach hopping and within that day I managed to:
- Visit 5 beaches.
- 1 of which has been rated one of the best beaches in the world.
- Do a coastal walk to Tenby (x2 as I walked there and back).
- Watch a magnificent sunset in Pembrokeshire.
- Not spend a huge amount of time in the car.
Sound like the perfect day to you?
Here’s how I spent my one day in Pembrokeshire Wales seeing some of Wale’s best beaches by car!
I fully recommend following the itinerary I have detailed below as my day flowed so smoothly and to help you plan your trip to Pembrokeshire I’ve added things like postcodes and where I stayed to help you out even more!
I started my day in Saundersfoot which is on the edge of Pembrokeshire. I had been staying in Carmarthen the night before which is a perfect base town in Wales as it’s pretty central to everywhere in South Wales – Swansea, Pembrokeshire, the Brecon Beacons.
There are 2 main car parks for Saundersfoot, the main one in the harbour and another one the other side of the beach by the Crown Beach Restaurant. I just happened to come across the Crown Carpark first so pulled in and I’m glad I did as it enabled me to walk right along the beach to the town and I didn’t have the stress of driving through the small roads of the town. The postcode for this carpark is SA69 9AJ and the parking cost at Saundersfoot was £4.00 for the whole day which I’m glad about I did as I didn’t return until 5 hours later.
The tide was quite far out when I arrived in Saundersfoot mid morning so I was able to walk right a long the beach and breathe in the fresh sea air. I then headed into the town to have a look around and was greeted by the British sea-side smell of doughnuts and chips! I checked out the harbour which had no water in it due to how far the tide was and then I started my Coastal Walk to Tenby from Saundersfoot.Tenby is the next beach town a long the coast, to the West.
The walk from Saundersfoot to Tenby is marked as 3 miles on google and is said to take just over 1 hour however I would say that it took me about 1.5 hours and I walk pretty fast (although I did stop a lot to take photos!). The walk starts by taking the main road that goes through the town around the back of the beach and down a side street before you then reach a woodland track.
It is a pretty tough walk to Tenby with a lot of steep inclines and declines and the majority of the walk is through woodland rather than a path right next to the ocean as I had expected. It is a great walk though and must be one of the best coastal walks in Pembrokeshire and it does give you plenty of glimpses of the ocean.
My favourite part of the walk to Tenby were the parts where I was walking through a field of lush green grass but I could also see the ocean. Toward the end of the walk I could also see the town of Tenby in the distance, every time I saw it I couldn’t stop taking photos, the church spire, the beach and colourful buildings looked so picturesque.
After a good, sweaty hour, maybe a little longer I reached a road which lead me into Tenby. I was in love with the buildings even more as I came up close and I realised just how big the beach was too. There were plenty of people out on the sand and in the sea and even a number of volleyball games.
Tenby is a very popular Welsh seaside town, even more so than Saundersfoot as it is a bit bigger and more well known for it’s colourful buildings!
It’s home to a harbour, a castle and 2 beaches either side. Fish and Chip shops are everywhere, as are shops were you can get the good old bucket and spade. Boat trips are offered to find near by wildlife, there is a good sized high street packed full of pubs and cafes with tables spilling out onto the streets and generally it is a very pretty, quaint and happy place to be.
There is a main car park in Tenby so whether you drive there or walk there I would highly recommend going!
Of course seen as I had left my car a 3+ mile walk away in Saundersfoot, I had to go back and get it. I did briefly look for a bus stop to get the bus from Tenby to Saundersfoot but the town was very busy and I had enjoyed the walk over so decided to just walk back. My legs were pretty tired by the time I got to the other side but a soft scoop ice cream quickly got me back on track!
All in all I spent about 5 hours walking from Saundersfoot to Tenby and back along with spending some time in each town, so make sure you do give yourself enough time.
The next beach on my list was Freshwater East. I did get a bit confused with Freshwater East and West thinking that East was where Harry Potter was filmed, however Harry Potter was filmed on Freshwater West Beach in Pembrokeshire but more on that later.
It took me about 25 minutes to drive from Saundersfoot to Freshwater East Beach. I used postcode SA71 5LZ to find the carpark which I found easily enough and paid £1.00 to stay there for an hour.
Freshwater East is a really nice beach. I felt a bit out of place in my gym/walking gear as at the time the beach was full of families playing in the sea and sand and there aren’t many places to walk apart from on the beach however it was nice to visit a beach with no town attached, no shops, no food carts, just a beautiful, quiet Pembrokeshire beach.
I had a walk a long the top of the small sized sand dunes but due to timing I was back in my car and on my way to the next stop!
The next stop being Barafundle Bay! When researching the best beaches to visit in Pembrokeshire I came across Barafundle Bay as it has recently been voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so obviously it had to go on my list of beaches to visit in one day in Pembrokeshire.
Barafundle Bay is a secluded beach and doesn’t have a car park or road leading to it. Therefore to get to Barafundle Bay you need to drive to Stackpole Quay. I used postcode SA71 5LS to find the car park. Be sure to note that before arriving at the car park you pass by a building with a car park and need to follow the road right around the U bend until you reach the main car park (this way you won’t go back and forth 3 times like I did thinking I had missed it!).
It was pretty late in the day by this time and the beautiful blue sky that I had experienced for most of the day was disappearing with grey clouds and rain coming over. I paid £2.00 to park my car, I started walking up the path way that most people were walking down back in my direction and the heavens completely opened!
I was determined to walk from Stackpole Quay to Barafundle Bay to the beach though so I kept on walking. I had read that the walk is just 0.5 miles each way and I found it to be a very easy walk and only took 10 minutes or so. It’s a short walk up a pathway and then you enter a field and walk pretty much over one of the cliffs that separates the beaches. Even in the pouring rain it looked amazing!
Before I knew it I could see an archway, a national trust sign and Barafundle Bay in the background. Due to the cloud the beach wasn’t presented in the best of ways when I got there but I could understand the buzz of it being so beautiful as it really is secluded. The water was a lovely colour and I can imagine on a sunny day its amazing.
It seems like this is a popular place for surfers and kayakers too as there were a lot of people donning their wetsuits and heading up the woodland track towards the beach as I got back down to the car park.
I had booked a guest house in Pembroke Town for the night- High Noon Guest House. I booked it just the day before on Booking.com and got a single room for just £31.50 inc breakfast. It was a cheaper option than staying in the likes of Tenby and it was a mere 15 minute drive from Stackpole Quay so it worked perfectly.
The town of Pembroke was very quiet when I arrived at 6:30pm despite it being a Saturday night. The sky had cleared though and I was still debating whether I could fit in visiting another beach and hopefully a sunset or wondering whether I should leave Freshwater West until tomorrow morning?
I walked past a fish and chip shop in the town, I had decided long ago that I would have chips for dinner as this is what us Brits do by the sea but after arriving in the town of Pembroke I didn’t fancy having them there as there wasn’t much going on.
So instead I made a quick decision to buy some chips, get them well wrapped to keep their heat, get straight in my car and drive to Freshwater West beach from Pembroke Town. It only took 15 minutes and as soon as I left Pembroke and started driving towards the West I could see the sky changing colours and I was so glad that I hadn’t just gone back to my room and did decide to see the sunset!
I used postcode SA71 5AH to find the car park, this is for the main car park however due to the direction I came in I came across a different one situated behind some huge sand dunes. I got out the car with my chips in hand and headed straight for the beach and wow, was I blown away!
Freshwater West is the film location in Wales where The Harry Potter Deathly Hallows film was filmed in 2010. It’s a huge beach and its very exposed with some pretty big waves! The top half of the beach was covered in coloured stones whereas the bottom was all sand. I ate my chips and then had a walk along the rest of the beach.
The beach isn’t perfectly West facing and instead the sun was setting behind the cliff but it was still good enough for me. The sun was due to set at 9:26pm and I must have been on the beach from about 8:15 for a good hour and the whole time the sky turned different colours, the sun appeared and then went behind the clouds creating even more beautiful colours. It was really quiet and calm too, a few people were walking their dogs, one person was surfing, another was fishing and I just felt so happy! It really was the best way to end an already amazing day!
I drove 15 minutes back to Pembroke whilst the sky was turning a beautiful pink colour and I was full of happiness and contentment from my one day in Wales by the ocean and therefore I would highly recommend copying this day and doing it yourself when you visit Pembrokeshire!
Pembrokeshire is a pretty big area and I did only see a small section of it in a day however I think the best way to visit is to focus on an area of coastline with multiple beaches close together rather than trying to jump around the County too much!
For more posts on my Wales see: