Nestled at the end of the Llŷn Peninsula, Abersoch offers a great day out for the whole family. Steve Goodier reports.
You will find the seaside village and holiday resort of Abersoch on the east-facing coast of the south end of the Llŷn Peninsula. It is serviced by the A499 and is the southern terminus point for this road. Close by, across a narrow neck of land you will find the awesome beach and bay of Port Neigwl or ‘Hells Mouth’ as it is more usually called.
I mention this because the first time I stayed in this area was when I was borrowed a caravan from a friend who loved it here. It turned out to be a memorable weekend as my wife and I arrived on the site mid-Friday afternoon and discovered only two caravans there. Following the instructions (rather hastily) given we soon unlocked the door of a very luxurious van and were soon happily ensconced in the luxurious living room enjoying the view of Hells Mouth and a glass of wine and wondering how my friend could afford such a holiday home as he was not known for his reliability in turning up for work. It was at this point that the true owners turned up demanding to know why we had ‘broken’ into their pride and joy and threatened to call the police. It all got sorted out and we embarrassingly were shown to the correct van which was old, grubby and leaked… the key we were given opened both caravan doors but knowing my friend we should have realised from the start!
However, despite all this we had a great weekend in and around Abersoch and have returned to the place many times since often taking our children to the beaches there or to walk on the low hills and cliff paths that rise above the sea.
From humble origins as a little fishing port Abersoch has developed into a vibrant holiday resort that has somehow managed to retain its ‘small village’ charm despite making up part of the so-called ‘Welsh Riviera’. Abersoch is about seven miles south west of the other holiday resort on this area of The Llŷn Peninsula, Pwllheli, and attracts visitors in car loads on hot summer weekends. The village has an enviable position overlooking the waters of Cardigan Bay and directly across it from Harlech and the rugged looking Rhinog mountains which look great when viewed from the cliffs and the beaches. The biggest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, is also visible on clear days.
Although Abersoch only has around 1,000 regular residents the numbers swell through the holiday season as the bed and breakfasts and surrounding campsites fill up. It’s an outdoors location and much loved by water sport enthusiasts who flock to the coast here to windsurf (the wind blows ‘cross-shore’ and is ideal for it), jet ski and even surf with the aforementioned bay at ‘Hells Mouth’ being a very popular focal point for surfers to launch their boards.
On a sunny day with clear skies and sparkling blue water, you could be excused for sitting at the elevated café by the main beach and thinking you were in some Mediterranean resort as you watch the holiday makers relaxing on the beach.
Car parks can fill up very early on days like this, and as people arrive and leave the local roads can seem almost too small to accommodate all the traffic. It’s a great place though with a real carnival atmosphere that seems to prevail from March to September.
Abersoch was named one of ‘the best places in Wales to live’ in 2017 (see www.walesonline.co.uk) and, if you are a regular visitor, you will know why.
Even getting here is a great adventure for most tourists who tend to come down the A55 and continue along the A499 along The Llŷn Peninsula passing the impressive Rival Mountains and keeping going beyond. It can seem a long way the very first time you do the drive and, for impatient children, it feels like they are being taken to the ends of the earth. But this is all part of the attraction and if the phrase ‘the end justifies the means’ fits anywhere then it does for travellers heading for Abersoch.
Let’s take a look in more detail at some of the facilities available. The main beach is very sheltered and ideal for swimming and is considered safe for bathers with no severe currents or rip tides under normal conditions and there is a motor boat (the area is popular with power boats) exclusion zone where you can swim. International sailing events are held off this beach and if you happen to be there when they are on they are wonderful to watch. To make things even more ‘traditional seaside’ the beach café can hire you a beach hut by the day or the week if you fancy one.
The village also has The Harbour Beach which is smaller and straddles The Aber Soch (from which Abersoch takes its name) – this is less popular, quieter and located between the outer harbour and Warren Beach.
Tourists have been coming to Abersoch for well over a hundred years, and although much has changed since those long ago times the little village is at peace with its mixture of ‘old and new’. It has a rich maritime history and has had a lifeboat station since 1869.
Central Abersoch boasts a variety of small shops, bars, restaurants, cafés and hotels and has a busy bistro culture. After a day on the beach or in the sea the hungry and thirsty fill the facilities and the good-natured atmosphere goes on into the evening.
For tourists who are not sporty but want to get out on the open sea, there are boat trips from the harbour around nearby St. Tudwal’s Islands (Ynysoedd Sant Tudwal) to see the seals and the birds.
Abersoch is an outdoor lovers Paradise and apart from the beaches and the sea the area offers an attractive mix of unspoilt countryside, good walking (there are six listed circular walks to do ranging from a mile to nine miles) and lovely lanes to explore. If you want a good base for the southern end of The Llŷn Peninsula you could do far worse than base yourself here.