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Ynys Llanddwyn, which translates as ‘Island of the Church of St Dwynwen’ in English (or sometimes just ‘Llanddwyn Island’), is an island just off the west coast of Anglesey in North Wales.

The island is home to several landmarks including the adorable Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse and the ruins of the Church of St Dwynwen who is the patron saint of lovers.

I recently took a trip to Ynys Llanddwyn and it was one of my top things to do in Anglesey. In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know to get there, including essential things to see and some tips I wish I’d known before visiting myself.

Can You Visit Ynys Llanddwyn?

Yes, you can visit Ynys Llanddwyn. Although it’s an island, there is a causeway to reach the island which is accessible at low tide. The island is part of Newborough Forest Reserve which is owned by Natural Resources Wales, a government-sponsored organisation.

Keep in mind that the causeway to reach the island may be inaccessible at high tide. It’s recommended to leave the island 2 hours before high tide. Check the tide times here.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Ynys Llanddwyn?

There is no cost to visit Llanddwyn Island or Tŵr Mawr lighthouse, however, if you are visiting by car you’ll have to pay for parking at the nature reserve. However, you can also visit the island and lighthouse for free by using the Wales Coastal Path which is a public right of access. However, you’ll need to walk much further.


How To Get to Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse on Ynys Llanddwyn

Here are step-by-step instructions for your visit to Llanddwyn island and the stunning Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse

1. Head to Newborough Forest Nature Reserve

Llanddwyn Island is part of Newborough Forest Nature Reserve. Whilst you can reach it by following the coastal path, the easiest way to visit is through the nature reserve.

Upon arriving at the reserve, you’ll encounter these barriers:

The cost is £2 for the first 2 hours, then £0.40 for each additional 20 minutes, capped at £7 per day. Your registration plate will be captured when you enter and you’ll pay when leaving. It’s possible to pay by cash or card.

2. Park Down at the Beach Car Park

There are several car parks at the nature reserve, the closest one to Llanddwyn Island is the beach car park.

3. Walk Across Llanddwyn Beach to Reach Llanddwyn Island

The signs from the car park are not super clear but you just need to cross the wooden boardwalk and you’ll come to the beach.

Once on the beach, head right. You’ll be able to see Llanddwyn Island and Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse so you can just head towards them.

The beach is a mixture of sand and pebbles so ensure you have good walking attire; you don’t want to be going barefoot across these pebbles. It can get very windy on the beach.

The beachfront isn’t always accessible at high tide so there is an alternative route. However, it’s not advisable to visit at Llanddwyn Island at high tide anyway as you may not be able to cross the causeway.

4. Head to the Far End of the Island to Find Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse

There are two routes onto Llanddwyn Island, one via steps and one via a larger road. It doesn’t matter which one you take, although I prefer taking the steps for a more scenic view.

There’s a circular trail around the island which allows you to see all the main attractions including the lighthouse, pilots’ houses, church ruins, and monuments. Keep reading below to learn more about each of these.


Why Is Llanddwyn Island So Special?

Llanddwyn Island is special because it was once home to St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, who lived in a convent on the Island in the 5th century.

According to legend, Dwynwen was the most beautiful daughter of a Welsh King called Brychan Brycheiniog. She fell in love with Maelon, the son of another King from Wales,  but her father had already arranged for her to be married to someone else.

After an argument, Maelon attacked Dwynwen and was later frozen for his sins.

Shortly after, God or a spirit, appeared and offered Dwynwen three wishes, she chose:

  • To unfreeze Maelon
  • That God would help all true lovers
  • That she would never be married

All of her wishes came true1 (source: BBC), so Dwynwen devoted herself to becoming a nun and established a convent on Llanddwyn Island.

You can find out the full version of the story of St Dwynwen in my guide to St Dwynwen’s Day..


Things to See on Ynys Llanddwyn

1. Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse

Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse (meaning ‘big tower’) was built in 1873 and stands 10m tall. It was built to replace the smaller Tŵr Bach Lighthouse (meaning ‘small tower’) which we’ll mention later. The lighthouse marks the way in and out of the treacherous Menai Strait.

2. Tŵr Bach

Tŵr Bach is a small unlit tower on Llanddwyn Island that stands at just 5m tall. This is thought to have been built in the early 1800s to guide pilgrims crossing between Anglesey’s islands.

However, it’s thought that the tower was not big enough to be seen clearly from the sea (no surprises), so it was soon replaced with the Tŵr Mawr lighthouse.

3. The Pilot Houses and Lifeboat Station

The small row of white houses on Ynys Llanddwyn is where the pilots lived that helped guide ships between the Caernarfon dock and the open sea.

4. The Church of St Dwynwen

The ruins of the Church of St Dwynwen can be seen on the island. This was once an important pilgrimage site. There was a sacred well at the church which contained eels, it is said that they could foresee the faithfulness of a lover.

Due to the large number of pilgrims visiting the church and making donations, it was one of the wealthiest churches in Anglesey and was known to have a very worn doorway due to the high number of visitors.

However, when King Henry VIII split with the catholic church in 1536, it put an end to pilgrimages to the church and the lack of funds meant that it fell into disrepair. Now, just the ruins remain.

5. St Dwynwen’s Cross

The large cross at the head of Llanddwyn Island is known as St Dwynwen’s Cross. It was built in 1897 by F G Wynn, a former owner of the island.

Etched into the cross it says ‘In memory of St Dwynwen, Jan 25 465’ which is the date she is believed to have died.


Can You Walk to Llanddwyn Island at High Tide?

During high tides, Llanddwyn Island can be cut off for a short period so it’s recommended to leave the island two hours before high tides. You can see the tide times for Llanddwyn Island here.


Are There Toilets on Llanddwyn Island?

No, there are no toilets on Llanddwyn Island, the nearest toilets are in the Newborough Forest beach car park so be sure to go beforehand.


How Long Does it Take To Visit Llanddwyn Island?

In total, it takes around 40 minutes to get from the beach car park to the lighthouse at the far end of Llanddwyn Island. This includes photo stops along the way.

Be conscious of how big the island is. Ynys Llanddwyn is about 1.1km long. The path around the island is even longer as it twists and turns. Walking at a moderate pace, it takes around 17 minutes to reach Tŵr Mawr lighthouse from the causeway at the beginning of the island.


Are Dogs Allowed on Llanddwyn Island?

Yes, dogs are allowed on Llanddwyn Island year-round. However, between 1st April and 30th September, dogs on the island should be kept on a lead and must stay on the public right of way due to nesting seabirds on the island.

There are signs at the beach which are very misleading suggesting that your dog is not allowed on the island at certain times of the year. However, note the small print that says ‘Except on Public Rights of Way’.


Related Questions

How Do You Pronounce Llanddwyn?

The ‘dd’ in the middle of Llanddwyn is pronounced like a ‘th’ in English so Llanddwyn is pronounced like ‘llan-the-wyn’.

Watch this pronunciation guide to learn how to correctly pronounce the ‘Ll’ at the beginning as there is no equivalent sound in English/

Is Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse Still in Use?

No, Tŵr Mawr lighthouse was deactivated in 1975.

Which Other Lighthouses on Anglesey Are Worth Visiting?

If this wasn’t enough to get your lighthouse fix, Anglesey has plenty more for you to explore. Some of my favourite lighthouses in Anglesey include South Stack Lighthouse and Trwyn Du Lighthouse.

Kieren is the founder and editor-in-chief of Wales Guidebook. Originally from rural Mid-Wales, he has lived all over the country from Cardiff to Wrexham. A true Welshman, Kieren created this site to share his passion for Wales and help others discover this beautiful country.