With three sides of this beautiful county bordered by the sea, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why Pembrokeshire is such an acclaimed holiday destination.
Yet, remarkably, the acclaim is seldom matched by popularity. Both more affordable and quieter than neighbouring North Wales and the West Country, shorts breaks or holidays in Pembrokeshire are still something of a well-guarded secret.
Covering 240 square miles of craggy cliffs, exposed golden sands and wide-open spaces, it is a county bursting with natural attractions. About a third of the county is taken in by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Britain’s only entirely coastal National Park.
Protected by the Authority all year round, the beaches here do not disappoint, and the jewel in Pembrokeshire’s coastal crown is undoubtedly the wonderfully-named Barafundle Bay. Accessible only on foot, this enchanting, almost Mediterranean beach is routinely showered with accolades and awards.
The Good Holiday Guide named Barafundle the best beach in Britain in 2004, and later in the same year it secured a spot in the world’s top 12.
Two years later, Country Life magazine voted Barafundle as the best picnic area in Britain, beating off the likes of Royal Ascot.
Yet, despite the plaudits, Pembrokeshire remains one of the least crowded coastlines in the country. Perhaps it’s the far-flung location, who knows, but those in the know would certainly prefer to keep it this way.
The official coastal path is, however, renowned among the walking community and represents a popular challenge. An epic 186 mile trek, it takes in a variety of terrain and offers some of the most breathtaking views in Britain.
The area’s biodiversity of course lends itself to a spectacular wealth of wildlife, but not every coastal stretch can boast inhabitants of the cetacean variety. The deep recesses of Pembrokeshire’s waters provide a perfect environment for whales, dolphins and other similar species. Over a hundred Bottlenose dolphins reside in these waters permanently, and in the summer vast pods of visiting dolphins can often be spotted.
One of Pembrokeshire’s not so well kept secrets is Tenby, the charming seaside resort. An old-fashioned walled town of quaint streets and reminders of its medieval past, it is popular without being overrun – Blackpool it ain’t – and it certainly deserves more attention. With three beautiful beaches – each of them Blue Flag – and multicoloured pastel-painted Georgian houses overlooking the prettiest of harbours, this exquisite little town is picture-postcard personified.
The Home of Coasteering
As well as playing host to your regular adrenaline-fuelled watersports, Pembrokeshire is the home of a relatively new outdoor phenomenon called Coasteering. Originating here in the mid-80s and developed into the 90s, it has since emerged all over the world. Coasteering is an extreme activity which involves making your way along the coast line at sea level. Naturally, this entails swimming, climbing, abseiling or just plain old scrabbling across whatever gets in your way.
Now the country’s fastest-growing adventure sport, it should under no circumstances be attempted willy-nilly. A host of activity centres in the area provide organised, guided sessions where you will be kitted out with all the necessary equipment.
With such an array of fantastic attractions for thrill-seekers and the genteel alike, Pembrokeshire ought to be a throbbing swarm of hustle and bustle. But it’s not, and frankly it’s all the better for it.
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