Image of middle bay breaking at low tide by Tim Plumb.
One of the most consistent surf breaks in Wales, this beach has it all - reefs, point breaks, sandy beaches, nasty rips and an abundance of wildlife.
A beautiful wind swept, exposed beach, Freshwater West is arguably the most consistent surf spot in Wales, picking up any swell going and holding waves up to around 6-8ft before becoming unmanageable.
When its big, most people tend to surf elsewhere or try the reef in the middle of the bay at high tide. The strong rip currents at this beach are its biggest drawback and it is not always safe for learners unless you are with a surf school.
Many a good day can be spoilt by unyielding rips, dragging you off perfect peaks - so always keep an eye on where you're being taken.
Under currents & rips
A number of people have drowned here over the years, so do not go swimming here. On a calm, sunny day the sea can look very inviting here but strong rip currents lie just beneath the surface.
Tourists often ignore the warning signs and permanent 'red flag' status and as a result there have been a number of near misses, with local surfers often making the rescues.
In 2010 lifeguards were stationed here for the first time ever and are now a permanent fixture during the summer months.
The old seaweed drying hut overlooking Middle Bay
Summer 2010 will see lifeguards on duty here for the first time which is great news. They will be stationed at the beach for around 10 weeks in summer and have already made a number of rescues.
The main beach backs onto sand dunes and is made up of sand and pebbles with waves dumping onto the pebble bank further up at high tide.
World class destination
On its day the surf here can be world class; on a par with some of the best beach breaks in the world. When the sand banks are lined up and the swell and wind are just right, this beach is incredible and there are plenty of barrels to be had.
The Welsh National Surfing Championships are still held here. This event is now mobile and can change location depending on the surf but was held here in 2009 and again in 2010 due to its consistency.
'The Welsh' as it's known is always held on the first bank holiday weekend in May. Arrive early on the Friday if you want to get a decent parking spot for the weekend as it fills up quickly.
Surfers dodging the rocks in middle bay
Rocky point and middle of the beach tend to be the most popular spots to surf but there are good places to surf along the entire length of the beach at low tide.
'Outer Reef' surf school operates from here, so if you're unsure of your ability, it's worth getting a lesson and some local knowledge before heading out.
The north end
The north end of the beach can often provide shelter from the wind but be aware of the rip which carries the unwary out to sea and around the cliffs towards Milford Haven.
There's also very soft, fine quicksand in places that you need to be aware of and the occasional weaver fish in summer that can deliver a painful sting if stepped on.
Weaver fish stings
If you're unlucky enough to tread on one - you'll feel an excruciating burning sensation in your foot. Don't panic, the pain will subside in time.
Apply hot water to the wound (as hot as you can stand) to take the sting out of the poison. Prevention is better than cure though, so you can always wear wetsuit boots.
The water here is in pristine condition and home to many species of bird life including chough and kestrel as well as seal, otter and the occasional dolphin and assorted marine life so please respect the beach.
Remember to take your rubbish home with you - disposable BBQ's, beer cans, bottles etc and avoid walking through the fragile dune system and marram grass which is home to rare wildlife such as the adder.
Facilities & camping
Camping on the beach or sand dunes is strictly prohibited by the Pembrokeshire National Park. The beach is becoming more and more popular and lots of surfers now stay overnight in their vans.
Beach facilities are basic but include toilets, free car parking and there's usually a snack van selling cold snacks & drinks etc .
The nearest camp sites is in Castlemartin up the road near the farm but you can also camp at Angle and a few other places nearby.
Article written by Martin Aaron
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