Visiting As Catedrais beach
The famous beach of As Catedrais with its dramatic rock formations was something that had been on my radar for a long time! I’m not a big beach person, but dramatic cliffs are something that I do like.
The only thing is, it takes some planning to visit, especially during the summer because you need to make reserve a free ticket in advance, because they limit the number of people who can visit on any one day. I believe the limit is 5,000 per day, so it’s not exactly an exclusive experience, but something to keep in mind.
On the site where you make the reservation, the calendar also shows the times of the low (bajamar) and high tides (pleamar) in order to plan your visit. It says here that they recommend a visit two hours before and after low tide. You can only access the beach during low tide, and high tide is when you can observe the cliffs from above, with the beach submerged.
With this 4-hour recommended visit in mind, I then set out to plan my arrival and departure from the beach. On the day of my visit, the low tide was at 10:42am, so I needed to be at the beach around then to walk on the beach. There is a FEVE narrow-gauge train station relatively near the beach, called Esteiro, and from there I wanted to take an 11:42am train to my next stop, O Barqueiro, in order to arrive there by lunch time.
At first, I was thinking of taking a 6:55am train from Ribadeo, so that I would get that chance to see the beach at high tide. But 6:55am is way early, and I found out that the FEVE train station was actually a 15 minute walk outside of town, so I’d have to wake up before 6am.
I consulted with my Airbnb landlady, who said that while it’s nice to see the beach before and after low tide, that 1 hour should be fine since it’s a small beach.
With that, I decided to take the bus that runs from the Tourism Office of Ribadeo to As Catedrais during peak seasons. It left at a much more reasonable 9:15am, arriving at the beach about half an hour later. The beach is actually not that far away, but we did make a stop at the Ribadeo long distance bus station in between. Now, I could have gotten on there, because it was much closer to my Airbnb, but since there was no departure time published for that stop, and I wasn’t sure if the bus would be very crowded, I decided to walk the short distance to the Tourism Office to be sure to get a seat.
The Tourism Office faces this very pretty town square, which was nice to see during the daytime.
There were quite a few people on this bus, but it was far from full so I could have gotten on at the second stop with no problems. Here we are getting off the bus amidst the corn fields next to the beach.
From the drop off next to the parking lot, I sped-walked to the entry point, where a long line had developed for the ticket checkers. You could either print out or show the QR code on your phone. From the entrance, they recommend you visit the right hand part of the beach first, because that’s where the famous stone structures are. And then if there’s time before the tide comes in, you can visit the left side.
Keeping in mind all of the reviews of As Catedrais during the peak summer months saying that there were a TON of visitors which ruined the atmosphere, I was expecting wall-to-wall people. But I really wasn’t bothered by the quantity of visitors on the beach.
Usually I could just wait a bit to get clear shots without people in it.
And here are the famous arches! I was walking and walking, and thought I had missed them, but they are at the very end of the beach.
The left side of the beach also has some cool rock formations.
From start to finish, I spent pretty much exactly 1 hour on the beach itself, and honestly I thought it was plenty of time. I didn’t feel like entering any of the caves - and a lot of them were roped off, because a tourist had died from falling rock the year before. I think I would have been very bored if I had waited around for the tide to come in, just to see the same beach submerged. So it was just as well that I went off to catch the train to O Barqueiro for lunch.