To truly experience a country, I need to get intimate with the land. Taking in the aroma of blossoms and pine needles. Listening to the soft crunch of leaves underfoot, and the wild roar of the ocean. Touching craggy boulders strewn along my path or rough bark in dense forests. Tasting the salt spray from a turbulent surf on my lips. Here's are some activities that will bring you up close with the varied landscapes found in Wales.
Along the Gower Peninsula with its soaring cliffs and its sweeping sandy bays, you'll find fine quality waves, especially and consistently along the beaches of Llangennith. Beginners will be comfortable here as well as skillful surfers. But, either way, you can rent all your equipment from PJ's Surf Shop.
Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking
Thrill seekers will find plenty to get their adrenalin levels skyrocketing in the north of the country at the National WhiteWater Centre along the River Tryweryn, which is a dam-release waterway. Here you'll be able to negotiate Class III rapids whether via kayak, canoe or inflatable raft. Or sit it out and watch one of several competitions regularly held here.
The network of trails networking the conifer-laden forests of Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park make for a premium mountain biking venue. They're graded similar to ski trails, with the green ideal for novices and the black reserved for those who are fit and fearless. (A trail named the Beast of Brenin is self explanatory.) Bike rental is available at Beics Brenin.
Wales is plenty bicycle friendly with many traffic-free trails (whether rails-to-trails or forest paths) linked together as part of the National Cycle Network. On one of these, the Lon Geltaidd Celtic Trail East, you'll be able to pedal almost 200 miles from Fishguard, a town on a scenic headland that's noted for its music festivals, to the Severn Bridge in the south of Wales. And the vast majority of the time, you'll be on paths that are car free.
Walking and Hiking
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, in the eponymous national park, sticks mostly to the clifftops along its sea-hugging route for most of its 185-some-mile length. Whether spotting seabirds or sunbathing seals, you'll be traversing a path that you can stroll for an afternoon or a couple of weeks. If you're in Fishguard, you'll be able to access the path that runs through old ports; or the precipitous section of the path where seabirds may be your only companions above St. Davids Head.