Ahoy! 2018 is Wales’ Year of the Sea

You know about our mountains. You’ve explored our castles and cromlechs and culture. Now it’s time to discover our coast and sea. Wales’ tourism body Visit Wales will promote our coves, cliffs, beaches and seas as it declares 2018 the Year of the Sea.

But why are the waters around Wales – and North Wales in particular – so special? Here are just some of our highlights:

Variety – from the Costas to breakers in 15 minutes

Wander onto either of Abersoch’s two beaches and – with the right weather – you could be on the Mediterranean Costas. Albeit a beautiful, undeveloped Costa. The sea is blue and calm, and there are palm trees around the village and piles of fine sand in the kerbs. People flip-flop around the place and are never in any rush to do…anything. It’s a holiday place.

Drive for 15 minutes and you encounter Hell’s Mouth (Porth Neigwl), a big Atlantic grin of a beach featuring surfer waves and windswept hair. Even on that same, sunny day, this place feels like it has a different climate entirely. Forget the flip flops, you’ll need a wetsuit or a jacket!

That’s the North Wales coast in nutshell. The Med and the Atlantic, 15 minutes apart. Even then, we can find room for another great sandy beach (Porth Ceiriad) between the two. What a coast walk that will make!

Nought to resort – quiet or buzzing? You choose

Have you found Traeth yr Ora yet? It’s a beach tucked away beyond a spit of land at the western end of Traeth Lligwy, a beach near Moelfre on the Isle of Anglesey. Lligwy has a snack shack in the summer months, making it Monaco compared to Traeth yr Ora.

Traeth yr Ora has nothing, zilch, nought. Except golden sand, islands out to sea, some lovely coastal walks, and the sound of waves and gulls. You have to know Traeth yr Ora even exists before you can walk to it. It’s secret – that’s what makes it special.

If you need more buzz with your beach-going, head for Llandudno. The ‘Queen of Welsh Resorts’ is about as brash as beach resorts get in this part of the world. It’s got a wonderfully wide promenade, a picture-perfect crescent of Victorian architecture, and comes with its own pier and authentic Punch & Judy. More understated is Beaumaris, back on Anglesey, or Caernarfon, or Pwllheli, or…well, we could go on, but best you grab a map and find out for yourself.

Cliffs to watch the wildlife

Puffins at South Stack. Porpoises at Puffin Island. North Wales has vantage points all along its coast for you to walk, sit and watch.

The sea cliffs at South Stack are perhaps our most spectacular, but the Great Orme’s limestone escarpments have a grandeur all of their own. And if you’re lucky you’ll see porpoises and dolphins here too.

Watch oystercatchers eat mussels in the Menai Strait, see fisherman haul mussels from the sea beds by rake at Conwy estuary. There are more cliffs around Anglesey’s northeastern coast and along the north of the Llyn Peninsula. Many are little visited, yet long-distance footpaths provide access to all.

Find your starting point and go and explore – the sea always has something to offer…

Harbours, history, heritage… and sea-view pubs

North Wales’s coasts and seas aren’t just for show. During the Industrial Revolution the area exported slate for roof building around the world, with the seas making such commerce possible. There are harbours built for the slate trade all round North Wales, including Porthmadog, Porth Penrhyn at Bangor and Caernarfon’s Slate Quay.

Amlwch Port shipped copper around the world too, from a mine that once produced more of the precious metal than any other place in the world. In fact, if it wasn’t for Parys Mountain’s copper, Nelson would have had no victorious fleet at Trafalgar – the metal helped build his ships.

Of course, we have fishing harbours too, and clusters of fisherman’s sheds on the Llyn. We have a ring of coastal castles built by the sea to control those on the land.

Wander with the sea on one side and the land on the other and you’ll come across coastal brick works and quarries, barnacled piers and pubs with seaweed in the beer garden – none more famous (and photographed) than Ty Coch at Porthdinllaen.

Around every headland, just beyond the next cove, there are reminders of Man’s endeavours – and pleasures – on our shores. They’re fascinating and evocative places to explore.

And for a bit of fun – watersports. All of them

We’re wracking our brains here to think of a watersport that you can’t do in North Wales.

Mainstream stuff like sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and the like – we’ve got all that. Plas Menai on the Menai Strait is a great place to learn. You can even learn to surf… inland (Surf Snowdonia).

We also do the zany, crazy stuff – coasteering, rafting, kite-surfing, gorge-walking (so some these tend to happen on our inland waters, but we’ll include for completeness anyway). You can paddle board on Llyn Padarn lake (that’s where you stand up on a surfboard and paddle) or wild swim, well, just about anywhere.

Do boating across underground lakes and climbing waterfalls in caverns qualify as watersports? You can do those here too, courtesy of adventurous entrepreneurs at Go Below.

So we’re looking forward to 2018’s Year of the Sea. There’s plenty for us to celebrate, and some secret favourites to share with you. Subscribe to our newsletter for great ideas for coastal-based getaways to our hotel in 2018.

Image courtesy of: sun over the Rival Mountains across the Menai Strait by Phil Thomas.