From the sandy beaches of Anglesey and the religious sites of Holy Island to the thriving birdlife of Ramsey, discover six of the most beautiful islands to visit in Wales.
With its own unique language, hearty cuisine, national parks, a bustling capital city and stunning scenery, you might never want to leave the Welsh mainland. But the beautiful islands of Wales, of which there are 50, are well worthy of a visit.
Located off the north coast of Wales, Anglesey is the largest island in Wales and the most popular island to visit amongst the Welsh. Set apart from the mainland by the Menai Strait, this Welsh island has plenty to offer. Known for its picturesque beaches, walking trails and historical sites, a visit to Anglesey is a must for anyone visiting Wales.
Visit the iconic Beaumaris Castle, built as part of Edward I’s campaign to conquer North Wales. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is considered one of the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe. Spend the day at one of the island’s beautiful beaches such as Benllech Beach or Llanddwyn Beach. Or why not go on an adventure and do the 130-mile Anglesey Coastal Path long distance walking route?
An important site for pilgrimages in the Middle Ages, Bardsey Island has a long and spiritual history. Known as the ‘Island of 20,000 Saints’, it is believed to be the resting place of the many monks who inhabited the island for centuries. With no hot water, cars, electricity, showers or Wi-Fi, head to Bardsey if you are looking for a digital detox. Famous for its wildlife and rugged scenery, expect to see many species of bird, grey seals, dolphins and porpoises.
You can visit Bardsey Island on a day trip or rent one of the tourist accommodations on the island. Passenger ferry services operate from Porth Meudwy and Pwllheli.
Skomer Island is an island off the coast of Pembrokeshire. Similar to the other Welsh islands, it is well known for its wildlife. Around half of the world’s population of Manx shearwaters nest on the island and the Atlantic puffin colony here is the largest in south Britain. The island is also known for its archaeological sites, with hut circles, cemeteries and field systems waiting to be explored.
You can reach Skomer by boat from Martin’s Haven on the mainland during the summer months. However, only 250 visitors are allowed to visit the island per day. There is also a self-catering hostel on the island which you can book for overnight stays.
4. Holy Island
Located on the western side of Anglesey, Holy Island, or Holyhead as it’s also known, gets its name from the high number of standing stones, burial chambers and other religious sites. Stunning beaches flank its coast, such as the vast expanse of Trearddur Bay, or the sheltered sandy beach of Port Dafarch. Visit the Penrhos Feilw standing stones, admire the South Stack Lighthouse, partake in some wildlife watching or go hiking in Breakwater Country Park.
The island is connected to the Isle of Anglesey by two road links. There is also a ferry port which serves as a principal crossing to Ireland.
5. Caldey Island
Another one of Britain’s holy islands, Caldey is a small island near the beautiful town of Tenby in Pembrokeshire. First inhabited in the Middle Ages, the island has been home to various religious groups since the 5th century. The island currently has around 40 permanent residents, as well as the monks who inhabit the Abbey. Besides from visiting the historic and religious buildings, sandy beaches, hidden coves and beautiful scenery await you on Caldey Island.
The usual access to the island is by boat from Tenby, which runs from Easter until October.
6. Ramsey Island
Yet another wildlife spotting haven, Ramsey Island is located about 1km from St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire. Owned by the RSPB, the island has spectacular cliffs which provide the perfect place for breeding seabirds. Home to just two permanent residents, the island is open to day visitors throughout the summer months. Look out for the Atlantic grey seal colony, one of the largest in Southern Britain!