Lonely Planet Writer

Wales celebrates its waterways with the Year of the Sea

Following on from the Year of Adventure in 2016 and the Year of Legends in 2017, Visit Wales has launched this year’s country-wide campaign by naming 2018 the Year of the Sea.

Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey
Lighthouse Twr Mawr, Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey, Wales. Photo by: joe daniel price/GettyRF

While Wales is well-known for its vast countryside, mountain ranges and cultural heritage, its watery side is often overlooked. For the Welsh tourist board, this year will be all about drawing a focus on the hundreds of unique coastal areas, lakes and rivers of the country, as well as the produce of these areas and the wildlife that calls them home.

The numbers are pretty impressive for a small country. There are over 230 beaches, with more Blue Flag beaches (the highest recommendation for beaches across Europe) per mile than anywhere else in the UK, 50 islands, the UK’s only coastal National Park (Pembrokeshire) and three coastal Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Gower Peninsula, Llŷn Peninsula near Snowdonia and Anglesey).

Manobier Beach
Surfers on Manobier beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Photo by: itsabreeze photography/GettyRF

For visitors, one of the best places to start is the Welsh Coast Path, the world’s first continual coast path around an entire country. Its 870 miles includes seaside towns, city waterfronts, tall cliffs, Victorian piers, harbour towns, famous castles, an island and more. All along it are coastal communities proud of the local produce, such as mussels, scallops, lobsters, crabs, fish, laverbread (not bread at all but a seaweed-based speciality), sea salt and even seaweed rum.

The Year of the Sea will also see more developments in Wales’ sustainability efforts and the preservation of its marine environments. As a home to dolphins, porpoises, seals, puffins, whales, basking sharks, turtles, otters and many more water-loving species, there is plenty of wildlife to celebrate and see – be it on foot, by boat or by car.

By Amy Pay