Beach of the Cathedrals: One of the Best Beaches in the World!

Beach of the Cathedrals is one of the best beaches in the world!

The Beach of the Cathedrals (Catedrais Beach) is not only one of the best beaches in all of Spain bbut in the world! No wonder that it’s been designated as a national monument.

Beach of the Cathedrals is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world

This incredible beach on Spain’s northern coast in Galicia near Ribadeo, often appears on the Best Beaches in the World lists. CNN, Bored Panda and the Huffington Post, to name just a few!

It’s also known as the Beach of the Holy Waters (Praia de Augas Santas), and is unlike any other than I visited in Basque Country, Cantabria or Asturias in northern Spain. Its huge eroded rock formations, dramatic arches and hidden caves set it apart from other beaches!

How did Beach of the Cathedrals Get its Name?

Its named after the giant rock formations that resemble the flying buttresses found in cathedrals. On a windy day, you can hear the wind whistling between the huge stones which resembles organ music playing in a church. Nature’s organ music can best be heard at low tide.

Beach of the Cathedrals at high tide

What Makes Beach of the Cathedrals so Special?

It is a spectacular example of the raw power of nature. Natural arches, some as high as 30 metres in low tide, and cave systems have all been formed as the Cantabrian Sea and the wind has carved away the softer parts of the rock. It’s a constantly changing landscape.

Perhaps just as importantly, is how you feel at the Beach of the Cathedrals. Normally when I step onto the hot sand, I think awww, this is relaxing, let the vacation begin. This time, as I stepped onto the sand at Catedrais Beach, I didn’t get that feeling. Instead, I felt that I was part of something bigger. Perhaps the universe was letting me in on one of its many secrets. Despite that I’m not religious, I found it a very spiritual experience. Perhaps enhanced by the fact that I was there in the early morning before all the crowds appeared. It was a peaceful and meditative experience, unlike one that I’ve ever had at any other beach.

When to Visit Beach of the Cathedrals:

You’ll definitely want to go at low tide. That’s the only time when you can see some of the natural arches and realize how giant they are before the high tide dwarfs them. It’s also the only time you can visit many of the cave systems. I went at high tide and while it was still spectacular, I regretted not planning my visit around the low tide. The tide tables change throughout the year. You can find out here when it’s low tide in Ribadeo. A word of warning, if you’re exploring and the tide starts to come in, get out. It’s a flat beach and the tide is known for coming in quickly. You don’t want to put yourself in a dangerous situation.

If possible, try to plan your visit around the low tide at sunset. I’ve read reviews on Trip Advisor that mention it’s spectacular and I can imagine it would be. It’s also often less busy in the evening than it is in the morning at low tide.

If you’re not able to visit during low tide, then try to go off hours to avoid the crowds. While it may be too cool to go for a dip, it’s a great time to explore. I was there at 9:00 a.m. and our group had the entire place to ourselves.

You can see one of my photos taken at high tide below, compared to a photo taken at low tide.

One of Catedrais Beach's famed arches at high tide.

One of Catedrais Beach’s famed arches at high tide during my visit.

Catedrais Beach in Galicia, Spain at low tide.

Catedrais Beach at low tide. Photo courtesy of Pedro Martinez Corada via Wikipedia

Travel Tips for Getting the Most From Your Visit to Catedrais Beach

As you can imagine, the 1328-metre long world-famous white sand beach gets busy, really busy. So busy in fact that from July – September and over Easter week, visitors need a ticket to visit the beach.

Each day 4812 beachgoers are permitted to enter the beach. Tickets are available online up to two weeks in advance. There is no fee, but if you’re going during peak season, you’ll definitely need one. You can get your ticket here.

The tickets help preserve this Natural Monument by limiting the number of people. Plan your visit in advance to make sure that you get the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful beaches in the world!

If you aren’t able to get a ticket in advance, you can still visit the grassy picnic area above the beach which offers a gorgeous view over Catedrais Beach. It’s definitely a consolation prize, but not nearly as good as being on the beach itself.

How to Get to Beach of the Cathedrals:

It’s just under a 20-minute drive from Ribadeo. If you are coming by car the GPS coordinates are: Latitude: 43º 33’ 14’’ N Longitude: 7º 9’ 26’’W. It’s also possible to arrive by bus or train or take a taxi.

Catedrais Beach appears much smaller than it actually is at high tide.

The beach appears smaller than it actually is at high tide.

Where Else to Explore in Galicia

You’ll want to check out Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia. It’s located ~160 km southwest from the Beach of the Cathedrals. I loved walking through the medieval Old Town. Of course, no visit to Santiago is complete without a visit to the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela. It’s the finish point of the St. James Way and the burial site of the  apostle St. James. I especially loved the views from the rooftop, available only by tour.

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela in Galicia

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Panaromic views over Santiago from the top of the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Panaromic views over Santiago from the top of the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

What to Eat in Galcia

Try Caldo Gallego. It’s a white bean soup that is a staple in Galician cuisine. Check out my friend Lauren’s recipe for a vegetarian version of the soup. Be sure to check out my friend Emily’s Food Guide to Galicia.

Caldo Gallego (white bean soup) is a traditional soup found in Galicia.

Caldo Gallego (white bean soup) is a traditional soup found in Galicia.

Disclosure: Many thanks to the Galician Tourism Board, the Spain Tourism Board for the UK and The Travel Mob for making my visit possible. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. beach of the cathedrals in Galicia, Spain

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.

The Beach of of the Cathedrals (Catedrais Beach) is not only one of the best beaches in Spain, but in the world! No wonder that it's a national monument.
2017-10-24T14:06:45+00:00

12 Comments

  1. Claudia August 16, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Lovely post Laurel. I have to agree with you, this is definitely one of the best beaches in the world. And yes, I would agree that it is best to go at low tide!

    • Laurel August 18, 2016 at 11:58 am - Reply

      Thanks Claudia. Good reason to go back to see how different it looks at low tide.

  2. Dave Briggs August 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Never heard of Cathedrals Beach before so your post is very informative for me. I like the way the beach looks and look forward to being there myself.

    • Laurel August 21, 2016 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      @Dave – Highly recommend it. Hope you get the chance to visit.

  3. Jaspreet Singh August 26, 2016 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Dramatic and spectacular beach

  4. Ronaldo César September 2, 2016 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Beautiful pictures, amazing!

  5. Mark @ NW Hotspots September 3, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    What an eye opening post. Great photos too. Give me a minute while I add this to my places to go. 🙂

  6. Faye September 7, 2016 at 4:11 am - Reply

    Great adventure Laurel. This is my first time hearing about Catedrais Beach and it was really spectacular. I’ve got another interesting story again. Your photos are awesome!

    • Laurel September 10, 2016 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      @Faye – I hadn’t heard of Catedrais Beach before either. Thanks for your kind words!

  7. Michael Quesada September 7, 2016 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Love this post. I was wondering though, Is it as isolated as it looks in your pictures? I know you said it was because it was in the morning, but not a single person? That’s amazing, I definitely need to go. The cathedral also looks really cool. I need to get to Spain!

    • Laurel September 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      @Michael – Besides our small group, we only saw 2 other people, but I think it’s because it was so early. I know it would have been packed a couple of hours later. Highly recommend it!

  8. Sanjeet Veen September 7, 2016 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    WoW! What an awesome experience! Beautiful photos too. Makes me want to go there right this minute.

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