Wild, windy and at times desolate, the Costa da Morte, west of A Coruña, is often passed over by tourists heading south to the beaches of the Rías Baixas. But while the Costa da Morte lacks both the climate and the infrastructure for large-scale tourism, it’s not nearly as overdeveloped as the regions to the south, while boasting similarly beautiful coves, tiny fishing villages huddled against the headlands, and forested mountain slopes aplenty.
Its fearsome name, which means Coast of Death, stems from the constant buffeting the shoreline receives from the Atlantic waves. The most notorious of the countless shipwrecks that litter the sea bed is the oil tanker Prestige, which snapped in two following a ferocious storm in 2002. Although 77,000 tonnes of crude oil were released into the ocean, barely a trace of oil remained just twelve months later.
The coast from Camariñas to Fisterra is the most exposed and westerly stretch of all. Ever since a Roman expedition under Lucius Florus Brutus was brought up short by what seemed to be an endless sea, it has been known as finis terrae (the end of the world), and it is not hard to see why. This is prime territory, however, for hunting percebes (barnacles), one of Galicia’s most popular and expensive seafood delicacies, which have to be scooped up from the very waterline. Collectors are commonly swept away by the dreaded “seventh wave”, which can appear out of nowhere from a calm sea.
Even where the isolated coves do shelter fine beaches, you will rarely find resort facilities. While the beaches may look splendid, braving the water is recommended for only the strongest of swimmers, and the climate is significantly wetter and windier here than it is a mere 100km or so further south.Read More
Famed until the time of Columbus as the western limit of the world, the town of FISTERRA (Finisterre) still looks like it’s about to drop off the end of the earth. On a misty, out-of-season day, it can feel no more than a grey clump of houses wedged into the rocks, but it puts on a cheerier face in the summer sunshine.
Just beyond the southern end of Fisterra’s long harbour wall, a tiny bay cradles an appealing beach, overlooked by the pretty little eighteenth-century Castelo de San Carlos. Originally an artillery post, this now holds a museum of fishing (May–Aug daily 11am–2.30pm & 4–8pm; Sept–April Tues–Sat 10.30am–1.30pm & 3.30–6.30pm, Sun 10.30am–1.30pm; €2). Beside the road south out of town, Santa María das Areas is a small but atmospheric church. Its beautiful carved altar, like the strange weathered tombs left of the main door, is considerably older than the rest of the building.