Spain // Galicia //

The Costa da Morte

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.

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