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 there’s a wildlife oasis just waiting to be explored a little way inland.

Walk a little way inland from the beautiful beach and you’ll be rewarded with a wildlife oasis in the dunes.

In summer, many kinds of chalk-loving wildflowers bloom here, and the air is alive with the buzzing of insects.

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 two shops selling refreshments, beach toys and equipment.

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 at the reserve

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


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

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

Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Opening times

Please check the top of this page for any changes to these opening times.

The car park and toilets are owned by the Penrice Estate and are open seasonally.

The beach shops are open from April to September.

The beachfront restaurant is open all year.

​The car park and visitor facilities are operated by the Penrice Estate - see the Penrice Estate website for the latest information about the visitor facilities.

Closures and diversions

Please note:

  • Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work
  • Occasionally we may have to close a site in extreme weather, such as high winds or snow and ice due to the risk of injury to visitors or staff
  • Please always follow any instructions onsite and make sure you follow any temporary diversion signs in place

How to get here


Oxwich National Nature Reserve is 11 miles west of Swansea, just outside the village of Oxwich.

It is in the county of Swansea.

Ordnance Survey map

Oxwich National Nature Reserve is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map 164.

The OS grid reference SS 501 865.


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. 

Public transport

The nearest train station is in Gowerton.

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

For details of public transport visit the Traveline Cymru Website.

Car parking

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

Tel: 0300 065 3000

Email: enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

Related document downloads

Oxwich leaflet PDF [17.9 MB]

Other places in South West Wales

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