This small strip of land, Playa de Las Catedrales, along Spain’s Galician coast is a slice of heaven for admirers of nature’s beauty. By Shrimayee Thakur
Though this beach’s official name is Praia de Augas Santas or ‘Beach of the Holy Waters’, it is more popularly known by the name given to it by the locals: La Playa de las Catedrales, or ‘Beach of the Cathedrals’. Its name is representative of the natural rock formations that resemble the arches found in Gothic cathedrals. What adds to this already incredible natural wonder is the fact that it is only revealed at low tide. At high tide, the arches are submerged.
If you time your visit right, you’ll see the waves recede to reveal natural arches, sea caves and cliffs. The arches stand tall at 90 feet high, and deep caves stretch into the cliffside in the background, making for an enthralling scene straight out of a Gothic novel. Connecting the arches, the caves and the cliffs are patches of sand formed by the schist and slate of the rocks themselves. Playa de Catedrales is a popular spot both for the religious travellers as well as for nature enthusiasts.
Explore the nooks and crannies of the gorgeous rock formations and caves at low tides, but keep an eye on the sea. Due to the region’s planar coastline, the waves can rush in very quickly, and it is possible for visitors to be caught unawares. Once the tide returns, the arches are completely submerged and it is dangerous for anyone in the area. Therefore, it is imperative to stay vigilant. Tides are low usually between 10:00 am to 03:00 pm, but you can check the tide schedule for each day online in order to time your visit better.
From the year 2015, authorities have limited the number of visitors allowed on site per day. This was done after a boom in tourism for the area. The number of visitors allowed per day is less than 5,000. Reservations to visit the beach can be made online. The best time to visit the beach is during spring, autumn and winter, in order to avoid crowds.