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.
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.
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.