Our world has never been as accessible as it is today – we can spin the globe, pick a spot and jump on an airplane to any distant destination. Faraway lands that decades ago were reserved for pioneers are now within our reach. That does not mean we cannot find places where we can still feel like explorers.
When we think about hiking, we tend to picture mountain ridges, forests and lakes. But have you ever considered taking your hiking to the coast? Dramatic shorelines, suspended footbridges, boardwalks, streams and waterfalls, jungles and pristine beaches with awesome surfing… you can have all that and more when embarking on the world’s most spectacular coastal hiking trails!
1. Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, Wales, UK
Distance: 186 miles (299 km)
Duration: 10 to 15 days
- Whitesands Bay and its water sports;
- Barafundle Bay Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world;
- Freshwater West hosts frequent Welsh surfing contests and is the top surf break in South Pembrokeshire;
- Green Bridge of Wales rock formation;
- The towns of Tenby, Solva, St Davis and Newport.
Best time: June to August
Rated one of the top three long-distance walking routes on the planet, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in southwest Wales connects St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south through a walking route along Britain’s most spectacular coastline. With 58 beaches and 14 harbors, numerous estuaries, coves and intricate rock formations, historical castles and forts, it’s no wonder that Pembrokeshire was referred to as a ‘Land of Mystery and Enchantment’ in folk tales some 1,000 years ago.
Summing up 35,000 ft (10,668 m) of ascents and descents, walking the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. Are you up for the challenge? If it seems too much, don’t worry – you can easily break it down into smaller sections. And if it seems like an easy task, then you’ll be glad to find that, in 2012, the hike has been included in the Wales Coastal Path, the world’s first uninterrupted route along a nation’s coastline, covering 870 miles (1,400 km)!
The trail is the best way to experience the sheer beauty of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Great Britain’s only coastal national park and the second best coastal destination in the world according to National Geographic. Furthermore, the coast’s wildly beautiful beaches provide the perfect setting for trying surfing for the first time or having a shot at some powerful, hollow and uncrowded waves.
Surfing in Pembrokeshire
Notable surfing spots in Pembrokeshire include:
- Poppit Sands Beach – a beach break with rivermouth peaks;
- Whitesands Bay – a reliable year-round destination for all levels of surfers;
- Freshwater West – known as the most consistent surfing spot in Wales, the fast and powerful waves here are for experienced surfers only; Freshwater West is also one of the top surfing spots in the UK;
- Newgale – great for beginner surfers;
- Manorbier Beach – for intermediate to advanced surfers;
- Tenby South Beach – due to the treacherous shallow reef, this one’s for advanced surfers only.