UK / WALES / SOUTH
SOUTH WALES, UK
Main image: Rest Bay All Photos: Blast Kiteboarding
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.
WHEN TO GO: Peak Season: Bigger Waves - Winter / Warmer Winds - Summer Air Temp: 0 – 30°C / 32 – 86°F Water Temp: 7 – 18°C / 45 – 64°F
Lots of big, flat water sections at Rest Bay
REST BAY, PORTHCAWL 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 sea front. 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. Kitesurfing is restricted 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.
ABERAVON, NEATH PORT TALBOT Aberavon is a huge sandy beach, but keep to 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!
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 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. 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. 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...
Video of Porthcawl, mostly shot by drone, by Blast Kiteboarding:
LLANGENNITH, GOWER This 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 beach goers. 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. BROUGHTON, GOWER This spot sits at the north-western tip of the Gower. 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. Fairly sheltered from the swell but, when there are waves on a good day, they can wrap round the headland and peel all the way across the bay.
Evening surf, Porthcawl
Early spring small wave smashing
OXWICH, GOWER 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. Also best avoided at high tide. 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. The Oxwich Bay Hotel overlooks the beach and serves food and drink, making a nice retreat for any bored partners / family while you are out on the water. PEMBREY, CARMARTHENSHIRE 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. Flat water lagoons can form at low tide, but it can be a very long walk and very shallow. Best on a northerly or a north-easterly.
The nearest airport to Porthcawl is Cardiff (CWL) airport, which is 17 miles away. Other nearby airports include Bristol (BRS) (44 miles) and Birmingham (BHX) (108 miles) RAIL Trains run from Paddington Station in London to Bridgend, which is just over seven miles east of Porthcawl.
SCHOOLS 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. The shop is really well stocked with all the latest gear and on-going customer support is offered after purchase. www.blastkiteboarding.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
OTHER INFORMATION Thanks to Marc Rowley from Blast Kiteboarding for guiding us around the spots The BKSA is the UK's national governing body for kitesurfing and has provided safe guidance for kitesurfers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Click here to open the Covid Protocol info box and find out how the BKSA managed kitesurfing through Covid.