Tenby is steeped in history and is a fine example of a historic mediaeval walled town.
The castle walls, which have survived intact, were built in 1264 by the Pembrokeshire Earls,
descendants of Norman invaders, to fortify the town from rebellion by the native Welsh, the original
inhabitants of the town and surrounding countryside before the arrival of the Normans.
The old walls include a number of gate-houses and a large barbican on the western wall, now called the Five Arches, probably the best known land-mark in the town of Tenby. The height and depth of the walls were increased for the last time in the 15th century.
Tenby has some attractive, narrow, cobbled streets, lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.
It is a place of great character and too small in which to get lost......unless, of course, you happen to spend too long in one of its many excellent hostelries!
Its location, on a sheltered harbour on Carmarthen Bay, facing eastwards , not west, gives it a very favourable protected situation, away from the prevailing westerly winds and choppy seas, which are not uncommon on exposed parts of the Pembrokeshire coast.
This east-facing location also accounts for much of its popularity as a holiday resort, because it can be degrees warmer on Tenby's beaches, away from cooling westerly winds, than on the North Pembrokeshire coast, not too many miles away.
Tenby is renowned for its beautiful beaches. In 2006, Tenby boasted 3 Blue Flag awards for its clean beaches. In fact, Pembrokeshire had 11 Blue Flag beaches, making it one of the cleanest holiday destinations in Wales and the UK.
Tenby itself has no fewer than four beaches.
Castle Beach is a small beach which lies in the cove between Castle Hill and the East Cliff. At low tide, it is possible to walk out to St Catherine's Island, just off-shore, but care must be taken not to be cut off by the tide. Boat trips to Caldey Island run from this beach at low tide.
Harbour Beach is another small, but picturesque beach, sheltered at the rear of harbour bay. There are steps and paths back up to the town on either side of the beach, plus a raised walkway along the cliff base around to North Beach. Boat trips run from the harbour itself to Caldey Island, at high tide.
Tenby's North Beach is a lovely large, golden stretch of sandy beach, dotted with rock pools and surrounding the very prominent Goskar Rock, which is featured in most post-cards of Tenby.
Situated between the harbour head and the north cliffs, North Beach is
overlooked by a promenade and Tenby town itself. It could not be any closer to the town centre!
Tenby Tourist Information Centre also overlooks North Beach. Here, helpful, friendly staff will tell you all about Tenby, Pembrokeshire and surrounding areas of Wales.
The beach area offers great views across Carmarthen Bay towards Amroth, Pendine, South Carmarthenshire and, to the east, the holiday peninsula of Gower, outside Swansea.
North Beach is extremely popular and can get very crowded in warm weather, especially in August, due to its close proximity to the town.
If it gets too crowded, there is no problem! Just head for the larger South Beach, which comprises 2 kilometres [1.25 miles!] of absolutely superb golden sands , spanning the shoreline from St Catherine's Island to Giltar Point south of Tenby.
The village of Penally overlooks the southern part of South Beach and Giltar Point.
South Beach has won a Tidy Britain Group Seaside Award. It is less commercialised than North Beach, but still boasts several shops and hire facilities at the north end of the beach. It is backed by sheltering sand dunes , which provide hours of fun and fascination for small children, and a place for a quiet snooze in the sun for their parents.
It also faces Caldey Island which lies to the south of Tenby, about a mile off Giltar Point.
Caldey Island is owned and run by the Reformed Order of Cistercian monks, who live a simple life farming the island alongside a small village community.
The monks produce a range of famous home-grown items including ice cream, clotted cream, yoghurt, chocolate and shortbread. They also produce perfumes and hand lotions from wild flowers grown on the island. It is a very interesting, some would say, unique, place.
Boats run to and from Caldey Island every 15 minutes , 9.30am until 5pm , Monday to Friday and on Saturdays from Mid May to Mid September. They land at Priory Beach on Caldey, after a trip of about 3 miles from Tenby Harbour.
It is a short stroll to the village and monastery from the beach. Tours of the monastery are for men only.
Tourist attractions in Tenby include the Tudor Merchants House, which illustrate the lifestyle of a successful Tudor family. It's the oldest furnished residence in Tenby and is owned and run by the National Trust.
There is also the very interesting Silent World aquarium. Just outside Tenby are the popular attractions of Manor Park and Heatherton, whilst just a few miles up the road are the excellent Great Wedlock Dinosaur Park, Folly Farm and Oakwood Leisure Park, with its thrilling roller-coaster rides.
South west of Tenby, along the coast, is the beautiful beach of Broad Haven, Bosherston, which has the colourful Bosherston Lily Ponds nearby. Many walk there along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path from Tenby.
The coast path is part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, popular with walkers and tourists. The path generally follows the coast of Pembrokeshire, but veers inland in several places, where common-sense demands it!
The wonderfully intact Pembroke Castle, birth-place of King Henry 7th , is in the town of Pembroke, a few miles to the west of Tenby. A great place to visit!
The attractive, very popular, seaside resort of Saundersfoot is only three miles north of Tenby, and offers a large, wheelchair-friendly flat area in the centre of the village, around the beach, with plenty of parking space.
A little further afield, near the town of Cardigan, about 40 minutes by car to the north, is the fascinating Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park at Gwbert [see www.cardiganisland.com] on Cardigan Bay.
Here, Atlantic Grey Seals and, very often, bottlenose dolphins, can be viewed in the wild from safely-fenced liff-tops. This farm park also has a range of friendly farm animals plus Vietnamese pigs, emus, rheas, llama,
kune kune pigs and wallabies.
Why not pop up to say G'day.......or even Shwmae!! [That's Welsh for Hello!]?
There are even rare choughs to be seen here, pecking at the cliff-top turf. So it's a great natural day out!
Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park also has a wonderful, large visitor centre, with cafe, Welsh craft shop and some of the best scenic views in Europe ......if not the world!! Highly recommended!!