A Brief Guide To Barry Island's Great Beaches

Wales has a stunning coastline and with the near completion of the Wales Coastal Path, you could hike the whole way or parts.

My sister and I grew up spending holidays with our grandparents, who lived in the town of Barry on the South Wales Coast. We spent a lot of time at Barry Island and the beaches there, even if the weather wasn't ideal for being at the beach – we didn't care, we were having fun!

There are several places to explore once you get to Barry Island. There is a large car park, which charges by the hour to park and it gets very busy in the summer season. A regular train service runs from Barry town to the Island, if you don't drive.

Barry Island

This place has attracted visitors since around the 1870's. Families came from the mining communities in the Rhondda Valleys for a day of fun at the Pleasure Park, the amusement arcades and the golden sands of the beach – Whitmore Bay is its official name.

The promenade runs the whole length of the beach. There are places to get a bite and a drink, a climbing wall for children, various stalls selling the usual seaside paraphernalia. Dogs are only allowed on the beach from October until April, although there are plenty of dog friendly cafes open all year. We tried Coffee Cove on the Esplanade. There is also Cadwaladers and K9 Plus 1 to choose from.

Jackson's Bay

This a smaller bay to the East of Whitmore Bay. You can walk around the headland on the coast path, which is a fairly easy 15 minute walk on a paved path. On a clear day you will get views across the Bristol Channel to Somerset and Devon. This is a dog friendly beach and is popular, although far less crowded, with far fewer facilities than Whitmore Bay, so you might want to take something to drink and eat if you are planning on spending time there. You'll find public restrooms at the start of the harbour wall.

Watch Tower Bay

In the opposite direction to Jackson's Bay from Whitmore Bay, you will find Watch Tower Bay, this is generally the quietest beach. When the tide is out, it goes out a long way, so it's great for walking and yes, dogs are allowed. It’s worth checking the tide times if you intend walking here for a length of time

Cold Knap Beach

This is a long pebble beach, which shelves down, and reveals bit of sand at low tide. You'll find this a bit quieter as it's about 1 mile West of the main beach of Whitmore Bay, although it gets busy in summer. Dogs are not allowed during the summer season. If you are interested in geology you can see some good examples of horizontal sedimentary strata in the cliffs on the Western edge of the beach. There are good facilities nearby with Romillys coffee shop (dogs are welcome in the courtyard area) and Mr Villas Fish & Chip Restaurant & Oyster Bar – I can highly recommend their fish and chips!

Porthkerry Country Park

This is a bit further over to the West from Cold Knap beach – it’s a great place for dog walking and exercise and a mix of countryside and coast combined. It's a natural and unspoilt place, good for a visit anytime of the year. There are two parking areas. The Viaduct Cafe serves food all day, and is very reasonably priced. You'll find restrooms there too.

The summer of 2018 has a hot one and visiting the coast whenever we could was great. My overriding memory of being at Barry Island this year was seeing a girl of 5 or 6 wearing a unicorn swimming ring, carrying a green fishing net, running across the sand to the edge of the sea – pure joy!