Hit the waves in Abersoch

by Ben Johnson

Abersoch - a traditional fishing village in Wales that is riding the crest of the surf culture wave

Abersoch, a vibrant village tucked away on the North Wales coastline could be described as a "little Newquay".

It's a town of surf culture, which as you approach it on narrow winding roads, appears out of nowhere among the otherwise quiet and family-orientated tourist destinations on the ruggedly beautiful and sandy Lleyn Peninsula.

Essentially a traditional fishing village which has adapted with the rise in popularity of modern water sports, Abersoch boasts a busy and friendly community set among scenic bays of bobbing, moored boats complete with coloured beach huts and beaches which meet family and surfer criteria alike.

As a modern seaside resort, its geography is very much to thank for the lively atmosphere that it hosts today, drawing visitors to its variety of seaside activities. Situated on the easterly edge of the Lleyn Peninsula, which juts daringly out into the Irish Sea, on one side Abersoch’s bays are hidden away from the waves, making them calm, lapping and sandy with a tranquillity only broken by the occasional hum of a jet ski engine. While only a short drive away from the village centre is an infamous cove facing northwesterly into the open sea. This expanse of beach is known as Hell’s Mouth, or Porth Neigwl, where the Irish Sea drives home renowned surf breaks which lure professional surfers, body boarders, kite-boarders and fun-seeking surf amateurs from across the country. When you see Hell’s Mouth you can understand why water sports enthusiasts return; hilly sloping banks on either side make it feel hidden and almost private. It is powerfully beautiful and its sheer scale means it never adopts the busy, crowded feel that other popular UK surf spots can sometimes assume.

The surf has allowed Abersoch to become a hub for watersport-based culture and activity in North Wales, with jet skiing, surfing, wind-surfing and wake boarding all on offer. Wetsuit and surf/body board hire is easily found in the village centre, I have used both West Coast Surf and Abersoch Watersports before now. Both were great shops with friendly staff, and throughout the village you can expect to pay approximately £10-£15 per day for both suit and board hire.

Perhaps Abersoch’s most famous attribute is the Wakestock festival, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2009. This annual summer event has now firmly established itself on the UK festival calendar and draws sizeable crowds to this normally bustling but peaceful village. With music, camping and professional wakeboarding, the Wakestock weekend will certainly be fun-packed, but is probably not the best time to try and visit Abersoch for other reasons, as it will be at its busiest.

A popular summer camping destination, a tent is certainly a great option for accommodation when visiting Abersoch, with many campsites on offer. I personally have visited Bryn Bach more than once, simply for the views from its position on the hillside above the town. The view down onto the bay from this peaceful campsite is certainly something to behold, especially at night under a clear star-lit sky. To get your tent closer to Hell’s Mouth then you can always try Rhydolion. Other campsites in the area can be easily located with a simple web search, but be warned that many accept families or couples only. It is important to make a few phone calls before you leave and get booked in, especially if you are visiting as a bigger group.

For those wanting to stay in more luxury there are hotels and a multitude of guesthouses situated in the village. To find out more about the options on offer I would recommend a quick visit to the Abersoch tourist website www.abersoch.co.uk. The site contains a wealth of information about what’s on in the village and includes listings of all types of accommodation, with a section for larger groups.

Dining options are certainly plentiful, from wholesome pub grub to Indian and Chinese cuisine on offer. There is fantastic fish and chip take-away located on the high street, which I have visited each and every time I have been to Abersoch. Being from Manchester there really is nothing like proper fish and chips from a seaside resort. And fear not, for those of you who want to relax after a hard day in the surf then there are many modern pubs and wine bars to visit. The atmosphere is always great, if not slightly pretentious with lots of fashion-conscious surfers, but this has indeed become the nature of Abersoch, a fabulous surf spot with more than enough entertainment for a short or extended stay.

Ben Johnson

I grew up in a small town called Oswestry which is situated on the North Wales border. It’s a fantastic area to come from, very rural with country side all around, great scenery and fantastic opportunities for outdoor activities, my preference being hiking and mountain biking. I currently live in Manchester, a fantastic creative city, working for a publishing company as an editorial researcher – my first editorial role after Uni. I am looking to write as often as possible, Simonseeks being a great way to do so! After my degree in Literature and Film I spent two memorable winter seasons working and snowboarding in the Alps, followed by a long summer in 2007 working in Annecy, France trying to get a better grip on the language. I travel as often as finances permit, dying to see more of the East, Japan being high on the list.