Freshwater West

Freshwater West - Middle Bay

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

Seaweed drying hut. Image by Bill Webber
Image by Scotty

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

surfers by Martin Aaron
Image by Martin Aaron

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.

Local wildlife

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

Surf spots in Wales

BBC Wales surfing map

Explore the coast

Wales is full of great surfing beaches. Here are the best ones.


A blue Shark

Sharing the waves

Discover which species you're likely to encounter whilst surfing in Wales.


Pembrokshire coast by Tony Llewellyn

Welsh coast

Amazing beaches from around Wales. Add yours to our Flickr group.

Places to go

A fishing boat at Fishguard

See wildlife

Use our guides to get out and about in Wales this summer.

Your current UK location is Cardiff

Multiple locations have been found.

Please refine your location by choosing a place name from the list.

Sorry, no results were found. Please try again.

Weather for Cardiff
Sunday Monday Tuesday
Conditions sunny




sunny intervals

sunny intervals

Max Temperature Max: 16°C Max: 13°C Max: 13°C
Min Temparature Min: 10°C Min: 8°C Min: 6°C

Five-day forecast

Extreme weather

Waves breaking on a beach

Video clips

A collection of archive clips showing extreme weather conditions in Wales.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.