Bordering the Bristol Channel on the south side, Somerset is not renowned for its beaches. Although some have a sandy upper shore, the lower shore is treacherous mud and the sea water is a muddy brown colour. Inland, the scenery is good, and there are some quintessentially English villages with ancient churches, pubs and tea-rooms. It's good walking territory.
Across the channel into the Vale of Glamorgan, some of the eastern beaches are muddy at low tide, but west of Barry the only mud to be found is in the proximity of river estuaries. The best beaches are Ogmore and Southerndown in the west of the county. Inland the landscape is generally flat, making it popular for cycling and walking. The small islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm lie in the Bristol Channel, and boat trips operate during the summer, departing from Weston-super-Mare and Cardiff Bay respectively.
Between Glamorgan and Swansea are the counties of Bridgend and Port Talbot where the shore is low-lying, backed mostly by dunes and generally good for surfing.
Further west is Swansea and the limestone peninsula of Gower, which has some of Wales' best beaches. It's a popular area for water-sports, walking and caving.
Carmarthenshire lies west of Swansea. The straight-line distance of its coastline is only 24 miles, but its section of the coastal path is 68 miles, having to make lengthy inland detours around the estuaries of the Taf and the Towy. Pembrey is easily its best beach, and is backed by Pembrey Country Park - a good choice for a day out. It's not worth exploring inland Carmarthenshire, as its footpaths are generally in a deplorable condition.