Located some 3 miles south of Cardiff, Penarth has a beach of pebbles and some low-tide sand, backed by a promenade. Being close to river estuaries, the sea water is usually a muddy colour and there are strong currents. The beach looks out across the Bristol Channel to Clevedon in Somerset. Directly out in the channel and about 3 miles offshore, the lighthouse of Monkstone Rock can be seen, whilst to the south are the islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm.
The high cliffs to the north are mostly mudstones and sandstones with veins of pink alabaster, and are one of the best sites in Wales for fossil collecting - common finds being gryphaea and ammonites. As this is an SSSI, extracting fossils from the living rock is not permitted. Further north is the Cardiff Bay Barrage, which can be reached along the shore at low tide.
Roadside parking is available on the Esplanade (which is one-way) and on the hill to the south. Access to the shore is down steps or a slipway, and facilities include restaurants, ice-cream vendors, take-aways, toilets ♿ and a pier. The town and rail station are a 15 minute walk away through the park of Alexandra Gardens.
A dog ban operates on the beach from May to September inclusive.