This post is the first in a series we’ll be publishing based on stories from a correspondent in the U.K., Kelly Convey. This particular story is based on an article Kelly wrote after a recent trip to Pembrokeshire, in Wales. The story was originally edited by Brenna Holeman, then adapted here in the United States. We are proud to partner with Visit Britain for this series.

When you think of Wales, you might not think of going to the beach. It turns out that Pembrokeshire, a county in southwestern part of the country, is full of stunning beaches that make it a perfect destination from Cardiff or London. Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is easily reachable, being only two and a half hours by direct train from London’s Paddington Station. You can continue on the train to Pembrokeshire or rent a car in Cardiff and drive about two hours to explore Tenby and the surrounding coastal area.

Although England’s Devon is often known for its abundance of beaches and coastal walks, Pembrokeshire has just as many Blue Flag beaches. A Blue Flag is awarded only when a beach meets stringent requirements that measure its water quality, safety, and services of environmental awareness. In other words, the beaches of Pembrokeshire are of top quality. Western Wales prides itself on its array of beaches and I don’t blame them; I managed to see quite a few during my short visit, and each one is more stunning than the next.

Newgale

Newgale Beach was my first stop and it is particularly beautiful, even on a cold day. Parts of the U.K. experienced flooding in 2014, which led to unprecedented high tides in Newgale. When the storm subsided and the tides went out, local residents were surprised to find the petrified roots of an ancient forest that once stood where this Blue Flag beach now presides. I was lucky enough to visit Newgale during a very low tide, so I got some great views of this enchanting place that would have been home to hunters and gatherers more than 10,000 years ago.

The petrified forest wasn’t the only thing to be found at Newgale—there’s also an amazing cave! When the tide comes in all kinds of sea creatures swim around in it, but during low tide the cave is a cool place to have a wander. My dog, Nelson, certainly enjoyed it.

Tenby

Tenby

Tenby is a must-see when visiting Pembrokeshire. A gorgeous seaside town, its coastline is dotted with pastel-colored buildings. I believe it has the best selection of shops and restaurants in the area. When I visited, the whole place smelled of the most delicious fish and chips, which, in my opinion, is how any seaside town should smell! Check out D. Fecci & Sons on Frog Street; they have fantastic fresh fish and gluten-free options, too!

While you’re in Tenby, you can either take a fishing trip from the harbor or take the ferry to Caldey Island. Caldey Island is one of the most unique places I’ve found in the U.K.; inhabited by monks who make chocolate, fudge, shortbread, and perfume, the island is not only beautiful but full of history. Thankfully Nelson had his sea-legs!

Saundersfoot Bay

Another spot worth your time in Pembrokeshire is Saundersfoot Bay. It’s a great seaside town with lots of cute shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s also host to a quaint harbor with boats of all shapes and sizes. I stayed at the incredible St. Bride’s Spa Hotel, which boasts stunning views over the bay and harbor. You can take in the views from its glass-front restaurant, or, better yet, from the infinity pool that is heated and open all year round!

Sunset over Saundersfoot Bay

Other activities

Beach walks and seaside towns are not all that Pembrokeshire has to offer. There also is an assortment of activities in the area, many of which are family-friendly. While many of these diversions run all year long, most obviously are more popular to do in the summer months.

First, try coasteering. This pastime involves donning a helmet and wetsuit and then jumping and climbing from rock to rock around the coastline. I didn’t try it, but I’m sure it’s fun! Next, go horseback riding. Pembrokeshire is the perfect place to go horseback riding on the beach. Check out Welsh pony trekking for a unique experience. After that, check out surfing; many of the beaches have great waves, and a few places offer surfing lessons. Why learn to surf in Hawaii when you can learn in Wales?! Finally, take a tour of some of the neighboring islands around Pembrokeshire. I recommend Skomer, a land of varied wildlife and exotic birds. If you visit during mid-summer, you can see puffins!

Of course if you’d prefer, simply grab an ice cream, take in that fresh sea air, and watch the world go by. The views in themselves are so breathtaking, before you know it, the sun will be setting.

For more travel information and ideas on what to do while traveling in the British countryside, click here.