Banana Beach, Greece, DimExcuses Beach Guide. It is all Greek to me 3. Zante 2015.

Banana Beach Zante

This is my third post in my it is all Greek to me series, documenting my recent time on the Ionian island Zakynthos otherwise known as Zante, Greece. You can read posts one (Dawn Rocks) and two (Jump in the Pool) here.

Casa Playa Banana Beach

Banana Beach is the first international beach to feature in my DimExcuses beach guides.

Banana Beach

Banana Beach is to the north of the island in a traditionally Greek village called Vassilikos. You need to get the free bus that collects from the tourist centers of Kalamaki and Laganas, which then takes you on a secluded road cutting through a pine forest before taking you straight to Casa Playa, the large beach bar that dominates Banana Beach.

Casa Playa

Banana Beach is 12 kilometers from the airport and 10 kilometers from Zante Town. It is a blue flag standard beach, described as having “golden silky sand that is certain to deliver that relaxing paradise you’ve been dreaming about” by Casa Playa Beach Bar.

Palm Beach Zante Style

They don’t exaggerate, it is fantastic, total luxury. The bars plays the best blissed out Ibiza tunes over the boardwalk keeping your feet off the hot white sand. You can then rent a sunbed under a straw sunshade as you order cocktails via waiter service. Or you could just go the whole hog and get a four poster double sunbed!

Banana Beach Sunbed

The sea is the closest the Mediterranean comes to surf with a tiny swell making bathing fun. Banana Beach is water sports central and you can end up doing all sorts of crazy things tied to the back of a speed boat. We risked spinal injury in a big rubber ring, but walked away laughing.

Surf Zante

The water is very clear on the whole of Zante, but it was even clearer at Banana Beach.

Banana Beach from the Sea

This Beach is all about the luxury laze. It is a far cry from the wind swept Gower walks Molly, Sharon and I usually get up to, though Sharon wasn’t complaining.

Sharon Banana Beach

Casa Playa is the perfect dream bar, and provides showers and toilets, so no need to worry about any alfresco rest stops.  I could stay there all day and time flies when you are relaxing, but the return bus pick up is 4 pm.

Boardwalk

I could get used to this luxury lifestyle.

DimExcuses Banana Beach

Danielle I think was starting to call it her spiritual home.

Danielle Banana Beach

I love the orange sunbeds under the straw sunshades.

Banana Beach Sunbeds

I loved this beach and its Casa Playa beach bar.

Casa Playa

Pure chilled out luxury. It was the real highlight of our trip, which was literally all Greek to me, DimExcuses.

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Pwll Du Bay, Gower. DimExcuses Beach Guide

Pwll Du

This secret South Gower beach is a locals’ favorite. In a picturesque secluded cove the beach is dominated by its huge storm beach of limestone pebbles. There have been many Pwll Du Posts on this blog.

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Pwll Du Bay is quite difficult to find and walk to. It does not have good access and isn’t suitable for wheelchairs or children’s buggies, yet the people who live in the white cottages still get down there in their land-rovers. It is great for a family day out, but take what you need as there are no facilities of any kind.

Molly Climbing

Nestled along the All Wales Coastal Path, Pwll Du can be found between Brandy Cove and Hunts Bay, when travelling west from Caswell, Langland and Mumbles.

Pwll Du Molly

It can be accessed from East Cliff in Pennard and through Bishopston Valley via Pennard Church or the ford under St. Teilo’s church in Kittle. All those routes are difficult to follow and long, with the potential for getting lost. The best way to get there is to park off Pyle Corner in Bishopston (Grid Ref: SS580882). This is a residential area, so please park respectfully (Postcode SA3 3HA). There is also a bus from the Quadrant in Swansea to Pennard that stops in Bishopston.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du

There is a good twenty minute walk down Pwll Du Lane to get to Pwll Du Head. Do not try and drive down there, it is a dead end with no parking and barely any turning.

Brandy Cove to Caswell Bay

There is a great view from Pwll Du Head over both Pwll Du and Brandy Cove. There is then a rocky lane down to the beach.

Pwll Du Ford

The beach itself can be accessed by crossing the ford or taking the bridge and entering the beach between the two houses.  The river they cross is the bravest river run in the Darth Mannion Beach & River Challenge.

River Run

As well as being a river run, Pwll Du is also perfect for sensible running or a proper good old fashioned Gower walk.  It is a haven for boats in the summer, and people stay the afternoon on the sand after coming in from boats moored in the bay.

Pwll Du Beach

It is very sheltered and a real suntrap on a sunny day. A real gem hidden on the South Gower coast. A definite essential Gower visit next time the sun is out, DimExcuses.

Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire

With a massive expanse of sand, Llansteffan is one of the best dog walking beaches in South Wales.

Llansteffan, DimExcuses Beach Guide

It is a short drive from Carmarthen through Johnstown. There is free parking, public toilets, a small cafe and a fish & chips vendor. There are views across the estuary to Ferryside and the Arriva Wales train can be seen as it takes it coastal route towards Swansea.

All the gang, Molly, Rocky & Sadie.

The geology is striking with alternating layers of sedimentary rock showing deposition in reducing conditions to create grey layers often interchanging to oxidising conditions to create contrasting red layers. Or in less technical terms rocks that look like streaky bacon.

Bacon Rock

These pictures courtesy of @lizzieLoubi on twitter.

Red & Grey Layers

There is a holy spring that feeds into a river that enters the bay. It is a great rehydrating spot for thirsty dogs.

Llansteffan River

Molly has to go further into the archway than anyone else.

Molly tunnel explorer

Molly and Sadie the springer love this river. It is a real cooling stop.

Molly and Sadie in the river.

There is plenty of room at Llansteffan to run a pack of dogs. Our little pack of Molly, Sadie and Rocky love it there.

The Carmarthen Pack

When not running on the beach they are exploring the rocks.

Molly and Sadie

Llansteffan beach is an essential stop on a visit to Carmarthen, especially if you have a dog. Try it next time you are heading to Wild West Wales, DimExcuses.

Pobbles Bay, Gower, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

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Pobbles Bay is one of Gower’s lesser known beaches, but has a very fond following from locals and visitors. It is the home beach of Pennard Village and it is an important part of the village activities.

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It is a South Gower beach that is immediately east of Three Cliffs Bay. The two beaches form one massive expanse of sand as the tides fall and can form a great big super beach with Tor Bay and Oxwich in the west on a particularly low tide. That can make for an epic walk from Oxwich Bay to Pobbles and is a major section of the DimExcuses Big Gower Walk.

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Pobbles can accessed from Pennard Cliffs if you park at the National Trust car park in Southgate. It can also be accessed by a small path running down from Pennard Golf Club, but then there is the issue of no parking. Pobbles can be accessed by clambering over the rocks through the cave in Three Cliffs itself but that takes a little dexterity. Even rock scrambler Molly needs some help through.

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All routes to Pobbles require walking over uneven terrain and would be difficult for a push chair or wheel chair.

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Pobbles Bay is a rugged Gower bay with no facilities at all, but once loaded up with supplies it is a perfect family summer day out.

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It is surrounded by limestone cliffs and limestone is pretty much the only rock type in the Bay, apart from the odd mudstone layer. There is a substantial storm beach at the top of the beach. This is made up of again mainly limestone pebbles, but you can find local Old Red Sandstone and Millstone Grit with a bit of rock hound hunting.

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There are a wealth of rockpools and a rockpool safari will find velvet swimming crabs, hermit crabs, goby fish, shrimps and even sea mice if you are very lucky.

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Further down the beach are rock gullies covered in seaweed. These form a sort of reef to the west of the bay under a very imposing cliff headland called Shirecoombe. The very impressive last house on the walk down from the golf club is also called Shirecoombe. Molly is standing in front of Shirecoombe headland in this photo.

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As well as the rock pools Pobbles Bay has plenty of yellow Gower sand for building sandcastles or more elaborate sand sculptures. If the tide is right you can build a sand boat to face the incoming tide, reinforcing the walls with frantic digging as the water levels rise. You won’t win.

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Pobbles is often calm and ideal for sea swimming. As as always respect the sea, know your limits and be aware that the water will be pretty cold even in summer. Swimming out past Three Cliffs when the tide is in is not recommended as the river still runs under the water and will quickly take you out to sea. It can be a beach for surfing if conditions are right, but that is another story.

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As my home beach growing up I am very fond of Pobbles Bay. I walk the dog there regularly (there are no restrictions all year) and still spend the odd sunny day there in the Summer. It is a great beach and will keep the whole family amused for the day, so pack a rucksack and discover it yourself, DimExcuses.

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Three Cliffs Bay

Britain’s first area of outstanding natural beauty, and the most painted and photographed view in the UK are two claims to fame for one of Gower’s most dramatic beaches, Three Cliffs Bay.

Three Cliffs

This is favorite beach to visit when walking my dog Molly. You can see our favorite walk to it here, it is a great circuit. Otherwise it can be accessed from the west at Penmaen and Parkmill Villages, or from the east from Pennard and Southgate Villages. It is difficult to park and the National Trust car park might be the best bet or you could try this variation on my usual route. Getting there is going to involve some walking over uneven terrain, this isn’t the best beach visit for the less able or people with wheelchairs or pushchairs.

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The limestone geology of the bay is striking and three cliffs of limestone hooking into the east of the bay give it its name.  There is a cave through Three Cliffs to Pobbles Bay, but this is only accessible at certain times of the tide.

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But sometimes it is better when the tide is in.

Molly & Sharon Three Cliffs Bay

It is the interaction of the tide (the second largest tide in the world) and Three Cliffs themselves that makes the icon view that is so painted and photographed. There is website where you can post your Three Cliffs photos – 3cliffsbay.co.uk.

Three Cliffs Bay

It is my favorite beach for walking Molly in winter, and it is an incredible place if you are looking for somewhere to do a cross country run. You will find lots of sections on strava where the regular runners have set personal bests. It is also just a great beach for summer water sports. Be careful of the Three Cliffs bit at high tide, the river is still there and can pull you out to sea even though you can’t see it.

Pobbles

Enough beach you say, where is Molly…

Three Cliffs Molly

…here she is and she says get down South Gower and discover Three Cliffs Bay, DimExcuses.

Rhossili Bay, Gower, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Rhossili Bay, Gower, DimExcuses Beach Guide

Voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the World, Rhossili Bay is standing toe to toe with Three Cliffs Bay in the fight for the title of the best view in Gower.  This Welsh beach is an essential tourist visit.  The West Coast of the Gower Peninsular is one massive beach with miles of sand between the village of Rhossili in the South and the village of Llangenith in the North.

Walk Rhossili Bay

Rhossili and Llangenith are often considered separate beaches even though they join in the middle and are essentially the same bay.  This is because it is so difficult to get between the two villages. Rhossili is the culmination of the South Gower Road (make sure you turn off at Scurlage, or you will end up in Port Eynon), and Llangenith is the culmination of the North Gower Road.  You have to drive back into the middle of Gower to get between the two.

DimExcusesSurf

On foot getting between Rhossili and Llangenith is a forced march across the beach or a trek over Llanrhidian Down.  It is the remarkable contrast between the beach and Llanrhidian down that makes the spectacular view. I took all these pictures this Surftember (as I am calling it as we had great swell after great swell sculpted by off shore winds). This is probably the best I have seen Rhossili Bay with blue line after blue line of perfect surf coming in like corduroy.

Blue Lines Rhossili

Rhossili is often overlooked as a surf beach, because basically people are lazy! It is one hell of a trek down, and more importantly back up from that beach. Throw in a surfboard to carry and it is quite a challenge. Not a beach for carrying your Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board!

Rhossili Bay Path

The excuses start with claims that Rhossili will be half a foot smaller in terms of surf compared to Llangenith. I think this is a sacrifice worth making for a better shape wave and an escape from the hardcore paddle out Llangenith is famous for.

Surf Rhossili

What makes Rhossili fantastic is that it is a great day out for all the family. You can drive right to the top of the beach. This makes those views accessible to people of all ability and mobility. The coastguard station is a short flat walk and gives you great views of Worms Head.

Worms Head, Rhossili Bay

There is everything you need on the cliff without the tough trek to the beach. There is the Worms Head Hotel, a pub that does great food and has some local real ales for enjoying in the beer garden, or there is the Bay Bistro too if you are more latte than lager.

Bay Bistro

There is a public toilet and even showers for after you have surfed. Though the showers are always ice cold, they are a great facility to make sure you get all that sea salt off you and your wetsuit. Here are some more pictures.

So there you have it, the DimExcuses Beach Guide to my favorite surf beach and adopted local break, Rhossili Bay, Gower. Well worth a visit, DimExcuses.

Sandbanks, Dorset, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Sunny Sandbanks

It is that end of summer time of year, and time to do a little UK travel.  So Molly, Sharon and I got packing ready to leave Wild West Wales for some South of England adventures, culminating in surfing Bude, Cornwall in an epic swell, but first stopping off in Sandbanks, Dorset for a DimExcuses Beach Guide. Some were more helpful with the packing than others.

Molly Packing

Leaving Wales it was very evident that Newport is the venue of the NATO Conference this week.  Preparations include this very serious security fence on the M4. I think they have borrowed it from Jurassic Park.

NATO Fence Newport

Sandbanks is a peninsular on the Bournemouth side of Poole harbor. It ends at a chain ferry that ferries cars back and forth from Swanage.  Known as ‘Millionaires Row’ it is famous for its expensive properties and famous residents. As you drive into the peninsular you have all these fantastic properties on your left and the massive expanse of Poole harbor to your right. This part of the harbor is consistently deep throughout getting not much deeper than chest deep at high tide, making it perfect for kite boarding.

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Sandbanks beach itself runs the whole length of the other side of the peninsular. Faced with the threat of erosion, the beach is divided into small beach coves separated by rock boulder groynes. This gives the beach a fantastic character.

Sandbanks Groynes

Most of these photos were taken early in the morning when I was taking Molly for her first walk. This means there was no one about and the light and sky were fantastic.

Sandbanks Morning Light

The life guard hut gives Molly a real Baywatch moment in the next picture.

Sandbanks Baywatch Molly

Sandbanks has a legion of beach cleaners and litter-pickers making sure the beach looks pristine when the premiership residents get up. Mechanical sand raking is also still undertaken on this beach, giving Molly a early morning blank canvas.

Sandbanks Raked Blank Canvas

The beach is very popular with dog walkers, swimmers, kite flyers and fishermen. There is a gallery of further images below. It is a very glamorous beach, so if you fancy a sunny moment, enjoying the sand on Millionaires Row get down there, DimExcuses.

Caerfai Bay, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Caerfai Bay

It is all about the jet stream. The fast passage of air that ruined summer two years ago. Well it is due to move south and when it does this sun will go and in comes the rain. So make the most of South Wales beaches while you can. Take advantage of this second DimExcuses Beach Guide and discover Caerfai Bay, St. Davids, Pembrokeshire.

DimExcuses Walk Caerfai Bay

If you park at the visitor centre as you enter the ‘City’ of St. Davids, you can take the 10 minute walk down the road between the visitor centre and the car park to Caerfai Bay which is a sheltered bay just South West of St. Davids.

Caerfai Cove

You can just sit on the headland and drink in the picturesque blue bay or walk down to discover this tranquil cove.

Blue Caerfai Bay

The beach is not on the Pembrokeshire summer dog ban list. so this a great bay if you are visiting wild West Wales with your dog. Our surf French Bulldog cross, Molly loves Caerfai Bay.

Adventures Of Molly

She was straight in the sea with a gang of newly found mates.

Molly Caerfai

Caerfai Bay is a very sheltered and calm bay so is ideal for water sports. The walk down is tricky so maybe it isn’t ideal for getting your kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) down there. But it is ideal for snorkeling. I as always imagine there might be some perfect waves if the right storm comes in, but I always think that of every bay. Maybe a blog post in the future.

Snorkeling

So what are you waiting for? Get ahead of that rain and discover a Wild West Wales beach tomorrow, DimExcuses.

Abereiddy Bay, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Wow what a hot week! I really should have been hard at work writing my DimExcuses Beach Guides so you would know where to go this weekend. Well better late than never, here is my first DimExcuses Beach Guide, Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

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On the all Wales coastal path, Abereiddy Bay is just North West of St. Davids. You can access the bay from a country lane that ends at the beach car park. It is a distinctly black sanded beach from the slate geology that makes up the bay. Molly, some friends and I explored Abereiddy back in June, on a sunny Saturday. If you follow the path at the North tip of the Bay you can walk around to the famous Blue Lagoon (Blue Pool), a flooded slate quarry loved by divers.

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Molly’s friend Bailey, the chocolate Labrador, is no diver but he was straight in Blue Lagoon to cool down.

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After Bailey’s dip we walked back around to Abereiddy Bay itself. Which raised the question – ‘which way to the acorn?’:)

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The black sand of Abereiddy Bay is a natural heat source in the sun, and the sheltered nature of the bay is a sun trap. Molly basked in the sun watching Nicola and Mark launch their Kayaks.

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Abereiddy Bay is perfect for water sports. Apparently it can get a surf-able wave. Now that I would like to see! This weekend the conditions were ideal for the Kayaks.

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Definitely a bay for people who like to get in the water or at least skim pebbles.

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So there it is the first DimExcuses Beach Guide, watch out for more to follow. Get out and explore them, DimExcuses.