“As Catedrais beach” translates as ‘Beach of the Cathedrals’ or Cathedral Beach. It’s one of the highlights of the north coastline of Spain. If you love spectacular beaches, rugged coastline and clifftop walks, this is the place to go. If you love having a beach pretty much to yourself – well, not so much.
This Spanish beach lies about ten kilometres west of the town of Ribadeo which is on the Cantabric coast, in the province of Lugo. It’s a large beach when the tide is out, and very flat. When the tide comes in, there is only a very tiny cove of the sand left, and the rest in both directions becomes inaccessible.
You can only visit the beach and see ALL the amazing sites for around 1 or 1.5 hours (2 is too much) either side of low tide so it is very important that you check the tide times before setting out.
We had planned to get there, stay overnight and visit the next day. As it was we got there 2 hours after low tide quite by accident and without planning, and as the weather was lovely we wandered down for a quick visit.
There were people there but not too many but we couldn’t get to either of the far ends of the beach as the water had already risen too high. If we had just been there an hour or half an hour earlier we would have been able to see most of it. Weekdays are by far the best time to visit – see how in our photos above, there are almost no people. But then….
On the actual day we had planned for our visit we had two problems. It was due to be cloudy, and it was very overcast, but more importantly, it was a Saturday so everyone was there. As we walked down the steps to the beach we were in amongst at least one coach load of people. Down on the beach it was worse. Just look at all those people :-O
The place has become so popular, mainly due to social media, that since 2015 you now have to get an online permit to visit the beach for Easter and from July to September. We visited on the 21st and 22nd of June 2019 so no permit was necessary. Your ‘ticket’ is free but has to be booked in advance and gives you a time when you can enter the beach. No ticket – no entry.
In the month of July 2014, 75,000 people visited the beach each WEEK, that’s an average of 10,700 per day! Not fun! The limit in peak times is now 5,000 maximum people visiting a day. That’s still a lot of people to cram into the beach during the tides – during a 3-4 hour a day period. We were lucky to visit outside the peak tourist times.
If you do want to visit, and we recommend you do, the good news is the permit is FREE and easy to book but it appears you have to book individually (a family of 4 has to book 4 times) and booking 30 days in advance is mandatory. If you want to book you can click HERE.
Even though it was busy we were still able to mess around and do some Instagram type fun photos.
We were able to show off our amazing physical abilities and some of the incredible natural arches, some of which looked to be 100 feet high.
When we were there the yellow flags were up on both days and swimming was not allowed. There were lifeguards around whose main job was to ensure as the tide came in that people were not cut off in the caves and coves.
Wandering all over the top of the cliffs is now not allowed like it used to be.
However, to protect the fragile cliffs tops and the beautiful vegetation from the hordes lovely wooden walkways have been built.
You can still get a wonderful view of the coastline without damaging anything and without plunging to your death by following these well-built walkways for many miles.
We had a great time at Cathedral beach but all along we had been wishing for better weather and for all the other visitors to eff off and leave us there alone!