Oxwich National Nature Reserve, near Swansea

What's here


Oxwich National Nature Reserve is situated on the south coast of Gower, just 11 miles from Swansea.

The reserve is made up of a bewitching mix of beach, sand dunes, lakes, woodlands, cliffs and salt and freshwater marshes – in fact, it’s rare to have so many different habitats in such a relatively small area in the UK.

Oxwich Bay is one of Gower’s most visited beaches, especially during the summer and this long sandy beach has twice been recognised as the UK Beach of the Year.

Many visitors are drawn by the wonderful beach, but walk a little way inland from the beautiful beach and you’ll be rewarded with a wildlife oasis in the dunes

Thanks to its variety of habitats, Oxwich is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including rare creatures and colourful wildflowers..

Visiting Oxwich

The main access to the Oxwich National Nature Reserve and car park is owned by the Penrice Estate.

The estate owns part of Oxwich beach and provides visitor facilities including toilets and beach shops.

There is also a beachfront restaurant near the car park.

See the Penrice Estate website for the latest information about the  car park and visitor facilities.

Walking trails

There are two circular waymarked walking trails. Both take you through the dunes, where ponies graze all year around.

Beach and Dunes Walk 

3 miles, 4.8km, moderate

This trail starts near the kiosk at the car park entrance. It follows part of the Wales Coast Path through the sand dunes – look out for orchids and wildflowers in the summer. It returns along the sandy beach. 

Nicholaston Woods Walk

2½ miles, 4km, moderate

This trail starts from a small layby at the entrance to the woods, or you can join it by following the first part of the Beach and Dunes Walk. There are breathtaking views of Oxwich Bay from this peaceful old woodland which is carpeted with flowers in spring. The path is narrow and steep in places, with uneven surfaces and steps on the steepest areas.

Other routes

To reach the bird hide, look out for the Whitestones panel inside the reserve. From here, walk for about 100m to a kissing gate and cross the road. Go through another kissing gate onto the boardwalk which takes you over the freshwater marsh and reedbeds to the hide.

The Wales Coast Path passes through the dunes and the edge of Nicholaston Woods.

What to see on the National Nature Reserve

Oxwich is a National Nature Reserve.

National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features.

The landscape and wildlife varies depending on which time of year you visit – here’s what to look out for.


Wild orchids can be seen in the dunes in late May and June. Crushed shells from the beach blow inland and provide them with the chalky soil they prefer.

In the slacks (the damp hollows between the dunes), look out for the rare dune gentian and other uncommon plants such as round-leaved wintergreen.


The wealth of wildflowers at the reserve supports many butterflies and other insects.

There is a nationally recognised population of the small blue butterfly.

Other rare species include the beachcomber beetle and the hairy dragonfly which lives in the marshy area.


The lakes and marsh at Oxwich are a haven for birdlife.

The lakes provide overwintering habitat for wildfowl and the occasional migrant such as bittern.

Look out for ducks, water rails, little grebes and moorhens from our lakeside bird hide at Whitestones, accessed by a boardwalk over the freshwater marsh and reedbeds.


The combination of marsh, lakes and woods means good roosting places and rich pickings for bats.

At dusk and dawn there is a spectacular display of bats in the woodlands as they hunt for insects.

National Nature Reserves in Wales

There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales

Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Visiting safely

We want you to return home safely after your visit here.

You are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of any children and animals with you during your visit.

Please note:

  • Do not dig holes or tunnels in the sand dunes – sand can collapse and su­ffocate you.
  • Waves can be strong at times – take care while swimming or using inflatables.
  • Be aware of soft sinking mud/sand and do not go out onto the estuary – the incoming tide can quickly cut you off­.
  • Check tide times.
  • Do not touch any military debris – it may explode! Report any suspect objects to the Police by calling 999.

For advice and tips to help you plan your visit here go to Visiting our places safely.

Seasonal dog restrictions

Please keep dogs on a lead:

  • from March to July to safeguard shore and grassland nesting birds
  • during late autumn and winter around the lakes and marsh to protect wintering wildfowl.

Opening times

​The car park, toilets and visitor facilities are operated by the Penrice Estate.

Go to the Penrice Estate website for the latest information about the visitor facilities.

Changes to trails

See the top of this webpage for details of any planned closures or other changes to the trails here.

For your safety, always follow instructions from staff and signs including those for trail diversions or closures.

We may divert or close trails whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations and we may need to close other visitor facilities temporarily.

In extreme weather, we may close facilities at short notice due to the risk of injury to visitors and staff.

How to get here

Oxwich National Nature Reserve is 11 miles west of the city of Swansea.


The postcode is SA3 1LS.

Please note that this postcode may not take you to the car park if you use a sat nav or navigation app.

We suggest you follow the directions below or use the Google map on this page which has a pin on the car park’s location.


Take the A4118 from Swansea towards Gower and Port Enyon.

Continue through Penmaen and Nicholaston and turn left after the church, next to a ruin, down a minor road signposted to Oxwich and Slade.

The large car park will be on the left. 


View this place on the What3Words website.

Ordnance Survey

The Ordnance Survey (OS) grid reference for the car park is SS 503 864 (Explorer Map 164).

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway station is in Gowerton.

There is a bus service from Swansea bus station and railway station.

For details of public transport go to the Traveline Cymru website.


The car park is owned by the Penrice Estate.

It is open seasonally and the charge varies.

See the Penrice Estate website for information about parking and access for camper vans, boats and jet skis.

Contact details

There are no Natural Resources Wales staff at this location.

Contact our customer team for general enquiries during office hours, Monday to Friday.

Related document downloads

Oxwich leaflet PDF [17.9 MB]

Other places in South West Wales

Last updated