Who said man made the best cathedrals? This coastline proves nature does a fine job of it. While officially it’s called the Praia de Augas Santas or “Beach of the Holy Waters” it’s known to the locals as Praia das Catedrais or “Cathedrals Beach.”

The raw power of the Atlantic Ocean and the relentless wind has carved sea caves, caverns, and arches all along this Galician coast in northwest Spain. This stretch between the beaches of Augas Santas and Carracelas is a natural work of fine art whose giant flying buttresses are as exquisite as any cathedral hands have built. Some of the arches are over 90 feet tall, and what seem like small cracks are actually entrances to vaulted sea caves carved out from the rock.

There’s just one catch: the sandy processional through these monuments is only accessible when the tide is out. At low tide, you’ll have 1400 meters of beach and caves to explore, but when the waters rise, the opportunity to wind your way through the coastline disappears.

In recent years this geological wonder has received a bit of press, so to preserve the pristine nature of the place, the government has limited the number of people on the beach per day in the summer months and over the Easter holiday. Reservations are free, but required.

How to get there

Cathedrals Beach is in the Lugo province 10km from the city of Ribadeo. If you’re on the Cantabrian Motorway (A8), it’s on the 516 exit. Coming from Ribadeo you can take the A8 or the N-634 towards A Rochela. It’s about a 10 minute drive. Alternatively, map it here.

What to consider

  • Be back to the main beach before the tide rises, which can happen rather quickly.
  • Reservations are free but are required to access the beach during the summer months and over Easter.
  • Only 5,000 people are allowed to visit per day.
  • You can book your reservation through the Galician regional government website but you must do it more than 30 days in advance.
  • Arrive a couple hours before low tide to give yourself adequate time to explore.
  • There is a boardwalk on top of the cliffs that makes for a nice stroll.
  • If you don’t like crowds, visit in winter or shoulder seasons (fall/spring).
  • You can check the exact tides on the booking page (even if you’re going in months that don’t require booking, go to this page to check the tides).
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