There’s this place in Galícia that is just so achingly beautiful that once you see it you’ll always want to go back. It is the Playa de las Catedrales, the Beach of the Cathedrals.
The beach got its name from the rock formations that stand like arches one after another in a row. These are however hidden from prying eyes as they can be only seen during low tide. As the surface of the beach is almost horizontal the tide moves very quickly leaving only a few minutes to enjoy it at its full beauty. The difference between the lowest and highest point of the tide is 4m.
Well, I don’t actually know how to tell you this as you will probably be very disappointed but … we didn’t actually see the arches. We left Oviedo in the afternoon and only had one evening there. The weather that weekend was typically Asturian: gloomy, gray and rainy. As that was our last weekend in this region we still went on a weekend trip as we were desperate to see a few more treasures. One of these was this beach.
We had two chances to see the playa, late afternoon and the next morning and the forecast said rain for both occasions. When we got to Ribadeo, the town on the border of Asturias and Galicia it was raining cats and dogs. The beach was just about 10km from the town and our hotel was halfway. The low tide was said to be at 18.30 but due to the weather we couldn’t go and see it. As soon as the sun broke through the rainclouds, though, we jumped in the car and drove down to the beach.
We got there around 19.00 and by that time the tide was coming in. We saw a few tourist buses in the car park and there were quite a lot of people there even at the end of September. We walked down the few steps on the stairs and this was the view waiting for us.
The beach is surprisingly big and took us a few minutes to actually find the arches themselves, tucked away at the end. By then the water was high enough that we didn’t want to risk walking into it.
We noticed with amusement that a couple were having their wedding photo shots taken in the sea. We had the same idea for our wedding photos but instead the cold waters of the European seas we did them in the warm tropical water of the Philippines. We didn’t have a photographer, Paul took all the shots. Have a look if you’d like. I kind of felt sorry for these guys as we were all wearing jackets and they had to roll around in the cold sea in their wedding outfits.
And it started to rain. Not a real rain, only that soft drizzle that here in Asturias they call ‘chirimiri’. Lots of people turned back but we didn’t give it up and soon the sun came up and shined through the rain.
As we were walking around the beach a rainbow appeared then soon another followed! All the three photographers of the couple suddenly livened up and ordered them around. Some wedding photos with a double rainbow!
It was such a special time, the rainbows made our time on the beach magical. The tide however was coming in very quickly and we decided to go home.
Next morning however we woke up early to see the playa again. The low tide was again 6.30 but the sun came up at 8.15 so there was no point getting up too early, we wouldn’t have been able to see anything. We got there when the sun was just about to come up and this time we were the only people on the whole beach.
Again, by the time we got there the arches were already under water but we still had an amazing time enjoying the view, just the two of us.
The Playa de los Catedrales is in Galícia but very close to the border of Asturias, so whichever region you are in you can get there easily. If you´d like to see the famous arches make sure you go there during low tide however if you have a chance, visit during high tide, too, to see the difference. Here is the page of the daily, updated tide timetable.