The best beaches in Aberystwyth

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Aber makes a cracking base for striking south to explore the rugged, cove-necklaced Ceredigion coast. In less than an hour’s drive, you’ll hit seasidey New Quay, where Georgian houses in ice-cream pastels cluster above a harbour and sheltered sandy beach. Pods of bottlenose dolphins frolic offshore. SeaMor runs conservation-focused boat trips with marine biologists and in-the-know skippers. Go at sunset to glimpse the dolphins are at their most active. If you fancy more seclusion, you can charter a skippered boat to pin down a cove for a snorkel and picnic. If you prefer to go it alone, Cardigan Bay Watersports rents out kayaks and paddleboards.

Otherwise, hike over cliff and stile to Cwm Silio on a six-mile circular walk, looking out for seals, dolphins and seabirds like guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. A waterfall cascades over cliffs to this remote thumbprint of sand at the foot of a wooded valley. From here, the trail whips south to Castell Bach, a rocky cove topped off by an Iron Age hill fort, and pebble-and-shingle, rock pool-splashed Cwm Tydu, where smugglers once hid their booty in caves and where now seals pup in autumn.

Llangrannog beach from above, Ceredigion in west WalesHeidi Stewart / Alamy Stock Photo

Further south, cliff-clasped Llangrannog draws families with its generous golden sands and cave-honeycombed cliffs. At low tide, neighbouring Cilborth appears like a magic trick – a beautiful crescent of sand backed by caves and rock formations. Walk up to Ynys Lochtyn headland for a soul-stirring view across Cardigan Bay. Seals, and in September and October their fluffy pups, often haul out on rocks below.

More fabulous beaches unfurl further south. Loveliest of the lot is National Trust Penbryn, where ferny, waterfall-draped beech woods ripe for a fairy tale spill down to a mile-long sweep of sand hemmed by dunes and cliffs. But don’t stop here: follow the coast path north to cut-off Traeth Bach. A quick scrabble down the rocks reveals this castaway fantasy cove, with its crumbling cliffs and sea arch.

Where to eat south of Aberystwyth

Try the harbourfront Lime Crab in New Quay for fish and chips and seafood bites. Overlooking Llangrannog bay, The Beach Hut serves classic fish and chips and summery lunches like a heritage tomato salad with feta and pickled walnuts and Tuscan fish stew. Lodged in a converted cart house at Penbryn, The Plwmp Tart is a treasure, with organic and garden-grown ingredients pepping up cakes, quiches and tarts.

Where to stay south of Aberystwyth

Tag on an overnight stay for more beach time. Just north of New Quay in pretty Aberaeron, the Harbourmaster is a rustic-chic boutique find, with sea views and outstanding food. A 10-minute walk from Penbryn is a dairy farm turned luxe glamping escape Fforest Coast, with log cabins, geodesic domes and a Georgian farmhouse in wild surroundings.

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