Porthcawl was originally a port for the iron and steel industries and still has some interesting features from that period including the oldest maritime warehouse in Wales, an attractive harbour and the last coal and gas powered lighthouse in Wales.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century it was transformed into an attractive seaside resort which continues to delight the visitor. At the western end of the resort is the world famous Royal Porthcawl golf course, the finest course in Wales and one of several courses in the area. A rocky promontory with spectacular sea views separates the golf course from the main part of the town including the harbour and the expansive sandy beach to the east.
Coney Beach, a fairground with a variety of rides and amusements was named as a tribute to the famous New York amusement park on Coney Island. The town has an attractive high street with numerous shops and the fascinating Grand Pavilion offers theatre and a pleasant bar. There is good bathing from several beaches and the Atlantic swell ensures there is often excellent surfing.
During the summer months the pleasure steamers 'Waverley' & 'Balmoral' leave Porthcawl's harbour for cruises along the Bristol Channel and over to Lundy Island. Nearby Bridgend offers additional shops and a cinema. In the summer, Porthcawl hosts several festivals including the annual Porthcawl Carnival, Sea Festival, Porthcawl International Jazz Festival and Wales' biggest Celtic Festival of music and dance.
Porthcawl is surrounded by places of natural beauty including Kenfig National Nature Reserve, one of the most impressive conservation areas in Britain. Porthcawl is just 20 miles from Swansea and 35 miles from Cardiff, making it a superb location from which to explore the rich history and breathtaking beauty of south Wales.
Porthcawl's town centre is mostly pedestrianised and enjoys a good range of shops, restaurants and cafés. At its seaward end lies the famous Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl's popular seafront theatre, with its octagonal dome and striking frontage.
Sandy Bay and Trecco Bay are both backed by the Coney Beach Pleasure Park, whilst the quieter Rest Bay boasts a European Blue Flag award. Visitors to Porthcawl's beaches will find plenty on offer, including yachting, kayaking, surfing, scuba diving, windsurfing and kite surfing, a local speciality.
Activities and Attractions
Tel: 01656 786639
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
Tel: 01656 782251
The club was once described as 'one of the twelve finest courses in the world' and is a regular host of some of the most prestigious tournaments in the golfing calendar.
Grove Golf Club
Tel: 01656 788771
This popular 18 hole course nestles in rolling countryside with spectacular views across the Bristol Channel.
Southerndown Golf Club
Tel: 01656 880476
Famous for its year round golf and natural conditions.
Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club
Tel: 01656 783093
Just 5 minutes from the Seabank Hotel, this 24 hole course lies in sand dunes next to Kenfig Nature Reserve.
Porthcawl Grand Pavilion
Tel:01656 815995 (Box Office)
Built in 1932, The Grand Pavilion, with its octagonal dome and striking frontage dominates the Porthcawl seafront and is one of the area's top entertainment venues, with a range of top-class entertainment including comedy, musicals and theatrical productions.
Parc Tondu Historic Ironworks
This former Victorian ironworks is a unique legacy of South Wales' industrial revolution; visitors can explore the Scheduled Ancient Monument, learn about iron making and enjoy the natural woodland and landscaped parkland setting.
Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Tel: 01656 743386
Situated just 10 minutes from Porthcawl at Kenfig Pool, Glamorgan's largest lake, Kenfig is home to many endangered animals and plants including the rare Fen Orchid.
Tel: 01656 783310
South Wales' premier water sports facility offers tuition in a range of watersports, including scuba diving and kayaking.
Outdoor Activity Centre
Tel: 01656 782300
The centre provides facilities for all ages and abilities.
Coney Beach Amusement Park
Tel: 01656 788911
Established for over 90 years, Coney Beach was modelled on New York's Coney Island and offers many facilities including rides, restaurants, cafés, arcades and shops. The amusement park is on the edge of a sandy beach, where there are trampolines and donkey rides.
Tel:0870 013 8600
Cardiff's superb stadium is just 35 minutes' away and hosts spectacular sporting and musical events.
Porthcawl Jazz Festival
Tel: 01656 815995
Held annually at the Grand Pavilion in April a glittering array of Jazz talent.
Tel: 01656 786639
A colourful, themed procession of floats during July.
Porthcawl Sea Festival
Tel: 01656 786639
Held in August this celebration of the Sea has themed displays and competitions. Activities include heritage walks, sand castle building and beach football.
Porthcawl Interceltic Festival
The festival welcomes performers from Celtic nations including Ireland, Scotland and of course, Wales to participate in a celebration of Celtic music, song and dance.
Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Tel: 07711 419736
Held in September, the festival attracts Elvis fans from all over the world who flock to Porthcawl to celebrate the life of the 'King of Rock n Roll'.
Bridgend County Show
Takes place in July and features a host of equine events and trade stands.
For further information about events in Porthcawl and the surrounding area see:
Places of Interest
Tenby has two lovely beaches, a picturesque harbour and atmospheric streets with historic town walls and pastel coloured buildings.
Swansea is just twenty miles away and as well as excellent shopping boasts the National Waterfront Museum and Dylan Thomas Centre.
Mumbles and the Gower
The Victorian seaside resort of Mumbles is located in Swansea Bay and is the gateway to the beautiful Gower peninsula.
Margam Country Park is set in 1,000 acres of glorious parklands with 18th Century Orangery, Victorian Mansion House and famous deer herd.
Enjoy the walled Botanical Gardens, famous for their herbaceous borders which, planted in 1921, were once part of Lord Swansea's estate.
Internationally famous for its superb collections of Rhododendrons, the gardens are set within 50 acres of beautiful woodland.
National Botanic Gardens of Wales
The first National Botanic Gardens to be created in the new millennium boasts a collection of more than 8,000 plant varieties from around the world, as well as themed gardens, the world's largest single spanned glasshouse and a fascinating scientific research facility.
Aberglasney Gardens is reputedly one of the finest gardens in Wales and highlights include an inspirational Cloister Garden and Yew Tunnel.
Laugharne (pronounced Larne) is the former home of poet Dylan Thomas, immortalised in his work 'Under Milk Wood', but it is also interesting as an ancient town with a 12th century castle and quaint winding streets.
Llanelli is home to the breathtaking Millennium Coastal Park; 22km of coastline along the Loughor estuary has been transformed into a unique array of tourist attractions, wildlife habitats and leisure facilities.
Kidwelly, dominated by its medieval castle, is home to a splendid Gothic church and Kymer's canal, the first canal to be built in Wales. The famous Kidwelly Industrial Museum is the site of the second oldest recorded tinplate works in the UK.
The beautiful scenery of the Brecon Beacons offers many delights including the Brecon Mountain Railway and Penderyn Whisky Distillery.
National Mining Museum
The Big Pit is a real coal mine and the museum provides visitors with a real insight into how life was for the miners who worked hundreds of feet below ground at the coal-face.
Cardiff is the cosmopolitan capital of Wales and is full of interest. St Fagans National History Museum, one of Europe's premier open air museums and the most popular heritage attraction in Wales, features reconstructed buildings brought from all parts of the Principality. Another popular attraction is Cardiff Bay - the rejuvenated waterfront development is the largest in Europe and proudly boasts a host of facilities and attractions.
This outstanding Grade 1 listed garden features a stunning collection of garden rooms, formal lawns, an extensive arboretum featuring trees from all over the world and an abundance of exotic plants and flowers.
Barry is a traditional beach resort with panoramic views over the Bristol Channel. It was originally famous for the export of coal but is perhaps currently better known as the setting for the TV series 'Gavin and Stacey'.
Bridgend Designer Outlet Tel: 01656 665700
Nearly 100 brand name stores offering goods at discount prices.
Merthyr Tydfil lies in one of the most beautiful and historically fascinating areas of Wales; nestling between the Brecon Beacons National Park and Cardiff, this area is rich with culture and blessed with delightful scenery in all directions. Once the 'iron capital of the world', Merthyr's Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery, set in 160 acres of parkland, gives a fascinating insight into the social and industrial history of the region.