In northern Spain, in Galicia, there’s a special beach. A beach that gets overcrowded during the summer and that might be dangerous to visit if you don’t know what you are doing. Cathedral Beach or Catedrais Beach is truly a jaw-dropping place. However, if you are out of luck – like we were, you might be here for a while without seeing the magic and not even getting close. This is our story!
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Cathedral beach – A brief introduction
Playa de las Catedrales (the Spanish name) is what the tourism industry calls this beach. In Galician, the real name is Praia de Aguas Santas which translates to Beach of the Holy Waters. This is by far the most popular beach in northern Spain. Each year thousands upon thousands of people flock here to get the perfect picture to post on social media. Yes, that’s a big part of the popularity of this place.
Pictures are overtaking the internet with the beautiful arches that have been created by the ocean with the help of time. Located outside of Ribadeo, this place has been declared a natural monument. Be prepared to adjust your visit due to the tides. It’s important to know when you are able to visit the Cathedral-looking rocks that leave you with a lasting impression.
Cathedral beach during summer
During spring and summer is said to be the best time to visit the beach. But, with that said – this is the time when this place gets super crowded and it gets hard to take some great pictures because there are people everywhere. To keep the beach nice, the government has enforced some rules for visitors during the summer. There’s a maximum of 5,000 people that are allowed to visit the beach each day.
If you want to come here during summer, you must make a reservation using this site. If you want, you can also book a guided tour. This is actually something that we recommend you to do if you don’t have previous knowledge about the tides and how quickly they can change. Make sure to follow the crowd if you decide to visit on your own. Don’t be the last one to leave. Be part of the herd and follow the flock!
Cathedral beach during winter
Since the beach is only reachable during low tide (otherwise it’s covered with water and you can’t walk there), you need to be prepared and time your visit well. During the winter, there’s no need for reservations and you can come whenever it pleases you. Chances are even that you might be here alone since there aren’t many tourists here during wintertime.
On the downside, the weather is not always that great during winter, and high waves can make the beach unreachable even during low tide. This is something that we encountered firsthand during our several attempts to visit Cathedral Beach. Bad weather but fewer people during the winter so it’s up to you when you want to plan your trip to this special place in northern Spain.
The best time to visit cathedral beach
We believe that this is totally up to you as a visitor to decide when the best time to visit is. If you have enough time and can spend several days waiting – winter is better because there are fewer people there. At the same time, it’s more accessible during the summer and you also have safety in numbers. If you see hundreds of people walking the beach to the cliff parts, you can likely follow them there.
Either way, we recommend you download an app or check some sights for information about the tides during your planned visit. Mini’s dad always says that you should have respect for more water than you can drink and we tend to live by that. If you come here during winter or summer, spring or autumn, be careful and enjoy the magic of this beach because it’s stunning!
Keep an eye for the tide
The most important thing to make this a memorable visit is to watch out for the tide. Mini used an app called Tides Planner that is free to download to your phone. It shows you in real time what’s happening with the water. If you want, you can also check out a website that shows the tide charts. Safety is most important and you need to make sure that you are safe at all times.
If you want to see a video on how much water goes in and out in a small fishing village, check out our post and watch the video about the fishing village of Carrasqueira. If you feel the least unsure, book a guide to take you to the beach, and don’t attempt to go there by yourself. Start your trip in good time. If you start too late, you might get stuck and have to swim your way back or worse. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be safe!
Cathedral beach with a motorhome
You can park your motorhome or car with ease near the beach. We ended up staying here several days and only needed to move once due to the wind. When the wind picked up, it felt like the motorhome was about to overturn and we moved. We arrived on November 21st and we ended up staying until the 25th. In the end, we ended up not getting the pictures that we wanted but we also felt like we needed to move along to the next location.
If you arrive during winter, there’s no problem to spend the night in your motorhome at the parking. During summer, that will not be possible since this place gets super crowded. From the parking lot, it’s only a short walk to the stairs that take you down to Cathedral Beach. Now, here is our experience of this place!
Our visit to cathedral beach
As I mentioned, we arrived in the evening on November 21:st. Mini was super excited and we were both eager to go to bed – ready to visit Cathedral Beach the next morning. Ok, said and done we set off to the beach around nine o clock the next morning. The weather was pretty bad but we thought we would make it since the rain wasn’t constant. We came down to the beach and just as we started to walk the rain came pouring down.
We found some shelter inside a cave and were still happy and anticipating what was to come. After a while, it stopped raining and we continued our walk. The next obstacle was the water. Even if we were here during low tide, the waves were ravishing the beach and after waiting for some time we felt defeated and returned to the motorhome. Better luck tomorrow we thought.
Rain can cause pain
The next day, we woke up and felt that we might make it all the way to the cathedrals this day. We managed to miss the rain but the wind was terrible. After waiting for the tide to go back, Mini said that we weren’t gonna make it that day either. While walking back, we met a group of tourists with a guide. The guide told us that if we waited for another ten minutes, the water would be pulled out at sea and we would be able to pass.
Ten minutes later, the guide said that it would be impossible to get to the cathedrals that day and that it was dangerous to stay since the water level was getting higher by the minute. Another two days passed as we sat in the motorhome, waiting for the weather to change. The rain and wind were whipping our butts off as soon as we popped our heads outside of the car.
Droning to get the pictures
After making several attempts, we finally had to see ourselves defeated. The wind had been too rough and the rain and waves too heavy for us to reach the beach. Finally, Mini waited until the wind got a bit better and then he quickly let the drone fly to the beach so that we could get our pictures. Not the perfect way to visit this beach but better than nothing.
So now we have seen the beach and we have kind of been there. Since the weather is very unstable during the winter and according to the prognosis, there was no change in site, so we ended up leaving. Not every adventure can turn out perfectly right. We hope that you will have better luck than us when visiting Cathedral Beach. Don’t forget, stay safe!