Pristine coastline, sea-view hiking and quintessential Welsh cuisine – what's not to love about Rhossili Bay? Helen Scarr heads to the UK's 'best beach'
Rhossili was voted the UK’s 'best beach' in Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice awards earlier this year – but it's more than another pretty Welsh beach. The accolade is quite a claim to fame, but it's not hard to see why this windswept corner of Wales (a mere 30-minute drive from Swansea) is so popular.
Welcome to the Gower
In 1956 the Gower Peninsula had the honour of being crowned the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AoNB) in the UK – as if being home to award-winning Rhossili Bay wasn’t enough. A leisurely drive from Swansea along the Gower’s narrow country lanes is a great way to approach the award-winning coastline.
Numerous quaint Welsh villages interrupt the rolling marshland. Keep an eye out for the wild-looking horses which roam the area (they're actually mostly owned by local farmers, but they certainly look wild!) If you would like to learn more about the history of the local area, the Gower Heritage Centre
in Parkmill is worth a visit.
Taking in Rhossili
The best way to view the full majesty of the bay to take a walk on the Rhossili Downs peninsula. The stone path is easily accessible from Rhossili village and it’s the perfect place to get perspective on this incredible piece of coastline. It is possible to continue your walk across to Worm’s Head (a National Trust-owned site), an offshore rocky outcrop named for its serpent-like appearance. The bird-watching here is fantastic. Be aware of the tide times, though, as Worm’s Head is cut off from the mainland at high tide.
Scramble down the cliffs north of the village to stroll along the three mile stretch of clean yellow sand that is Rhossili Bay. Look out for the eerie remains of the famous Helvetia shipwreck, and take in the view to remind yourself that you're on the 9tb best beach in the world. The Gower coastal walk continues all the way to Swansea and encompasses beaches, nature reserves and Wildlife Trust areas. Whether you walk one mile or ten, it’s definitely worth the exercise.
Surfing is the favourite watersports activity in Rhossili Bay. Thanks to a favourable Atlantic swell the area has been well-known among the surfing community for decades, with the best waves generally to be found at Llangennith towards the north of the bay. Windsurfing and paragliding are popular along the breezy coastline. Horse riding is also available.
Where to sleep and eat
To wake up with a view of the UK’s best beach there’s no better location than the Worm’s Head Hotel. Every bedroom in the place boasts a sea view. For those more inclined to get back to nature, camping is an excellent option. Hillend Caravan and Camping
at Llangennith is excellently placed for exploring the Rhossili coast. The Three Cliffs Bay
campsite situated about halfway between Swansea and Rhossili is a great base for exploring the Gower’s beautiful beaches. King Arthur Hotel
in Reynoldston is an excellent place to stop for a decent pub meal and a pint of local ale. Its name is derived from the nearby Arthur’s Stone, an ancient burial tomb which has been linked to the famous British legend. If you’re looking for a bit of luxury during your visit to Rhossili Bay try five-star establishment Fairyhill
, situated near Reynoldston. This beautiful Georgian country house hotel is also home to an award-winning restaurant. Tuck in to regional specialities such as salt-marsh lamb, lobster and laverbread to get the full Welsh experience.