Packed with some of the UK’s most beautiful beaches and often without the crowds of Cornwall and Devon, Marc Rowley of Blast Kiteboarding in Porthcawl guides us round some of his favourite local session haunts.
As you head into South Wales, the small coastal town of Porthcawl is the first real kitesurfing beach and probably the main hub of kitesurfing, with lots of nice pubs and restaurants along the seafront. It also offers plenty of accommodation options from campsites to hotels and B&B's.
To get to Porthcawl it's about a 50-minute drive from the second Severn Bridge if you leave the M4 at junction 37. Head towards Porthcawl (only 2miles off the M4), then follow the signs for Nottage/Rest Bay. Park at the 'Pay and Display' area overlooking the beach, which also has a brand new café this season.
REST BAY, PORTHCAWL
The main beach, Rest Bay, faces south-west and directly out into the Atlantic, so receives plenty of swell and is super popular with wave riders. Lots of hard sand appears as the tide drops, making a big playground for land kiters too, but avoid two hours either side of high tide due to rocks.
It's a very popular beach for beachgoers as well as surfers so please respect the zoned areas and make sure you stick to the restricted kite area to the western end of the beach, past the red building to the right (The Golf Club) as you look out to sea.
Rest Beach really comes into its own with a north-westerly wind and a big wave period, giving cross-onshore conditions from the right with big flat water sections between the waves. There are a few other beaches close-by that on their day can be epic, so get exploring on Google maps. There are plenty of accommodation options and a brand new café at Rest Beach for the upcoming season.
CONEY BEACH, PORTHCAWL
Flanked on one side by a sea wall and rocks on the other, Coney Beach faces south and can offer awesome conditions in a south-easterly with big swell. At low tide it can be shallow for a long way out and when the surf is small this is one of the best beaches in the area for flat water.
Kitesurfers set up on the sand at the eastern end of the beach away from the other beach users. Best winds are a southerly or a south-easterly, especially if you’re into wave riding. Avoid any westerlies as the wind will be extremely gusty coming over the nearby town.
Head towards the funfair and there is a car park near the High Tide Inn that overlooks the beach and the iconic harbour wall and lighthouse. When the wind is easterly, generally the best place to stay is the left end by the rocks keeping well away from the harbour wall. Coney beach is close to all amenities, including the old funfair but, be warned, it’s like going back in time at least 40 years...
ABERAVON, NEATH PORT TALBOT
Turn off the M4 at junction 41 and head to Aberavon which is a huge sandy and popular kite beach. Although it has few accommodation options, usually there's always someone out, but keep to zone restrictions and use only the west end of the beach.
The beach faces pretty much the same direction as Rest Bay in Porthcawl, but Aberavon is kiteable at high tide as long as you stay well up to the west end of the beach in front of the sand dunes.
Best winds are anything from a south-easterly to a westerly, on anything from a mid to high tide. Avoid any north-westerlies as the wind will be extremely gusty coming over the nearby hills. A word of warning: this spot is best avoided at low tide when the beach can be covered in a slimy smelling substance, which is hopefully just algae!
The Gower is a beautiful peninsular with many beaches facing most directions meaning if there is wind, a beach will be working somewhere. Accommodation, however, is mainly restricted to either camping or renting a cottage.
Situated at the western tip of the Gower Peninsula, access to the centre of the beach is via a short walk over the dunes from the car park at Hillend Caravan site.
"Gennith" (as it's known locally) is a large, flat, hard sand beach with a small pebble bank bordering the dunes. It gets the largest swell on the coast and can get absolutely huge – sometimes breaking for a good mile or so out the back. As a result, be prepared to deal with lots of white water. There is a basic rule of staying to the north side of the little stream.
The centre of the beach is popular with surfers and beachgoers, so on busy days it’s best to walk further north past the stream and the unofficial kiting area is to the right as you look out to sea. Works best on a southerly or a south-westerly through to a north-westerly, with a good wave period offering plenty of flat water between the waves. Camping is possible right next to the beach and there’s a popular pub in the village, called The Kings Head.
Situated on the southern side of the Gower Peninsula, this is a large, curved bay with easy access at the western end and parking right on the beach. The beach is flat, hard sand with no rocks or submerged hazards. Very protected from any westerlies, Oxwich is best for kiting on a south-easterly wind.
Only the largest winter swells make it round to this sheltered bay, so the worst you’ll usually have to deal with is local wind chop. Also anything westerly as well as high tides.
There are snack kiosks in the car park and a shop near the entrance to the car park. The Oxwich Bay Hotel overlooks the beach and serves food and drink making for a nice retreat post-session.
This spot sits at the north-western tip of the Gower and works best on Northerlies or North East. Access is via the caravan park at Broughton Farm. Don’t be tempted to park amongst the caravans as the farmer will spot you and likes to block your car in with his tractor. He cannot be reasoned with (especially if he has his gun)!
This is a sand beach with sand banks and some shallow, tidal lagoons. As the tide drops back there are numerous, small patches of rocks to watch out for, exposed by the shifting sands. The estuary to the north is renowned for its fast flowing tides, so don’t venture out too far.
Broughton is fairly sheltered from the swell, but when there are waves on a good day, they can wrap around the headland and peel all the way across the bay.
If you like to kite pretty much on your own then this is the beach for you as it rarely gets busy other than with just a few keen regulars. For access drive into the large country park and head to the beach car parks where there are also several snack cafes. Then it's a short hop over the dunes although it can be a very long walk at low tide.
Flat water lagoons can form at low tide and it can be very shallow. Pembrey works best on a south to west-northwest.
Wind, Weather and Water
Peak Season: March - October
Avg Air Temp:25°C / 77°F
Avg Water Temp: 18°C / 64°F
Whilst Wales has a reputation for rain, it mainly falls on the higher ground inland with the S.Wales coast contrastingly often receiving plenty of sunshine.
However, being on the coast the weather can change and the locals like to advise you to just 'wait 5 minutes'. Check the usual weather apps and ideally look for settled weather with winds from a Westerly direction.
The most commonly used kite sizes are 9m-12m with smaller sizes during the winter season and larger in the summer.
Wetsuits are used all year, 3/2mm shortie during the summer with 5/4mm full winter steamer/gloves/booties during the coldest winter months.
BLAST KITEBOARDING operates out of Porthcawl, offering IKO-certified instruction from experienced male and female instructors. They use radio headsets to enhance their lessons, which they can tailor to your needs – whether it be a zero-to-hero course or a foiling masterclass. Blast has also grown into a large online business supplying major brands like North / Ozone / Airush / PLKB / Mystic etc and they run several kiting holidays each year to destinations including Morocco Portugal and Brazil. On-going customer support is offered after purchase.
There are accommodation options to suit different budgets from well set up campsites, to guest houses and small family bed and breakfast offerings. Blast Kiteboarding has a handy list of options to try.
Surfing is extremely popular on most west-facing beaches often with large numbers when the swell is up.
South Wales is not only blessed with some of the best huge sandy beaches, it also has some of the very best Mountain Bike trails in the UK (and Europe) too. Nearby Afan Argoed is one of the longest established MTB centres in the UK but there are many more including the newer and spectacular Bike Park Wales.
The Brecon Beacons are less than 30mins away and offer many hiking opportunities, plus the whole Welsh Coastline has a "National Coast Path".
There are lots of other local activities including horse riding (on the beach near Porthcawl), three Golf Courses in Porthcawl alone, as well as perfect Paragliding in the surrounding hills.
Wales also has an abundance of historic sights well worth visiting including hundreds of spectacular castles.
A car is obviously a necessity to take advantage of the area, but it's an easy destination to reach and explore with super easy access via the M4.
Every town/village has a large number of pubs and restaurants for all tastes. Blast Kiteboarding have a very active kitesurfing scene around Porthcawl with regular events being held locally.
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