You are currently viewing McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

  • Post category:Places
  • Reading time:9 mins read


Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Spot type:

Super exposed, west facing beach boasting a high quality reef break and not too shoddy beach break wave. Very rippy with strong currents when a decent swell’s running but for the experienced paddler challenging and fun surf. During flat water times (mostly in summer) Freshwater West can be a good touring/adventure SUP spot with the chance of potential spotting seals and dolphins.


When there’s a pulse of swell heading in from the Irish Sea Freshwater West can be an awesome location to snag the wave of your life. It’s a quality break, with the right forecast, and serves up fast, reeling lefts and rights that’ll propel any confident, experienced SUP surfer along at warp speed. It should also be noted, however, that the sand bar beach break wave can snap boards as it has a tendency to unload with power in the shallows.

For anyone thinking about tackling the reef certainly give appropriate consideration before putting in. The wave, during certain stages of tide, can resemble a slab i.e. breaking in minimal water depths> whilst this can give exceptional rides you and your equipment need to be up to the challenge. We know of at least one experience paddle surfer who broke his back having been chucking into the shallows here. Not to scaremonger but Freshwater West reef isn’t for the inexperienced.

Small wave SUP cruising at Freshwater West, Wales.

With swell AWOL there’s a fun, if quick, paddle route down to the headland on the right. Gin clear water makes this particular pleasant and easy on the eye. Expect to see a few others paddling during high season when it’s flat also.


The waves themselves can be a hazard if you don’t know what you’re doing. And don’t think that just because it’s sandy you’d get off later having been pounded by the surf. Freshwater West’s seabed can be just as hard packed as any rocky bottom…

The reef is also worth keeping in mind. Whilst you don’t surf across the seabed, and reefs are regularly taken on, it does need to be a consideration that it’s hard rock you’ll be riding over. On clear days you’ll see the bottom, but mostly you won’t. It could be worth scoping out the reef at low tide first to get a feel.


It’s a fairly simple journey getting to Freshwater West. Once on site there’s a free car park with a coffee/tea/bacon/sausage butty van there for after sesh refreshments. Whilst the car park is fairly big it does get full early when there’s ridable surf.

View from the shallows – Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire.

Popularity (1-10):

5 on non-swell days with sunshine increasing to around 8 if the waves are good. This’ll mostly be surfers, however.


The aforementioned greasy spoon van is on site and ready to provide nourishment after you’ve been in the water. A toil block also sits just inside the car park. There’s not much else at Freshwater West, however. Unless you drive a little. Angle Bay village is a short hop away and you’re not too much distance from Milford Haven.


Freshwater West is an iconic surfing destination to be found along the ancient coast of Pembrokeshire. The area’s jewel in eth crown serves up a punchy beach break – that’ll test most stand up paddle surfers on solid swell – as well as the revered reef break to the left. If you fancy taking this on then you’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate board, able to cope with hollow surf, as well as having the skills and ocean know how to deal with a spot like this. You’ll also need to be comfortable in a crowd as Freshwater West does attract all the area’s local rippers when it’s on.

Freshwater West’s sandy beach – perfect for kids to play.

When it’s smaller there’s plenty of scope for accomplished SUPers (in waves) to practice their skills in conditions that aren’t quite as full on. For instance, 2-3ft can be super fun, testing enough yet very doable to any stand up paddler with experience.

If the waves recede, and leave a flatter sea (which is often the case in summer), Freshwater West is a lovely, picturesque location for a spot of touring, Paddling to the right you’ll eventually come to Gravel Bay and the headland. Following its base there’s another couple of small coves to investigate (East and West Pickard Bay). A number of other little coves are dotted along here until you reach the point and Sheep Island. If you were to carry on round (which is possible during the right forecast) You’d eventually end up at West Angle Bay – another picturesque Pembrokeshire beach that is close to the mouth of Milford Haven.

Heading in the opposite direction there are a few expanses of sand before you get to Linney. After that, the coast becomes extremely cliffy without any particular get out (unless you have your climbing gear with you!). So whilst touring opportunities are available you’ll be reaching a point where ultimately you have to turn back.

One of the nicest things about Freshwater West is not having to pay for parking. The double edge sword element to that is everyone knows – as they do about the beach’s surfing potential – so the carpark gets busy on good swell forecasts. Still, you may get lucky or could always park along the road if there’s space. Following your session grab a cuppa or bite to eat at the food van, also found in the car park.

If you’re heading to this part of Pembrokeshire you should definitely pay Freshwater West a visit – even if you’re not intending to enter the water here. Being such a picturesque spot it deserves a look. And for those not fancying tackling the waves of Fresh there’s always a beach stroll or hike along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, established in 1970 as a 186 mile long route designed to take in the stunning views of Pembrokeshire and its ocean setting. Also, whilst you’re in close proximity you may consider a visit to the harbour town which has a quaint waterfront featuring bars, restaurants and artisan shops. All in, not a bad place to spend a few hours in between paddles…

Don’t forget to check out more travel guides via the links below –

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