Everyone has their own idea of the perfect beach, be it a secret rocky cove or a bucket and spade stretch of sand. The stunningly beautiful bay of Carnota in Western Galicia has a playa which must live up to anyone’s dreams. There is something for everyone: sand dunes, rock pools for shrimping and crabbing, huge boulders to provide shelter from the sun, to clamber over, sunbathe on, or just simply to sit on and watch the fishermen netting their daily catch from the colourful boats bobbing about the bay. There is snorkelling, and surfing when the wind is up, an ice-cream stand if the fancy for something cool strikes, and so much space that even in the height of summer you will always be able to find your own patch for beach cricket. On a bright day its seven kilometres of powdery white sand and crystal clear waters could well deceive you into thinking you were in the Caribbean. Playa de Carnota must be one of the best beaches in Galicia – we’re not surprised that it has made it into listings as “one of the best 100 beaches in the world”.
The bay is backed by dunes and marshland, home to a fascinating variety of wildlife, and beyond, set amid tiny fields and vineyards, are the traditional stone villages of Piñeiros, Louredo, San Mamede. They shelter under gorse and heather covered hills, a delight to walk and cycle in.
At one end of the beach nestles little Caldebarcos where you have a choice of excellent family-run fish restaurants. Casa Pili has the prime position, with a magical view of the bay – and they have their own fishing boat so there is no better place to savour the delights of freshly caught fish and seafood. Salads, as fresh as can be, come from local vegetable patches, the bread is delicious and crusty, and all is washed down with a chilled Albariño white or a purply red Ribeira Sacra.
At the other end of the bay lies the small sleepy town of Carnota, whose claim to fame is its Horreo (a granite structure built on pillars to store grain, seen all through the province) – at 35 metres the longest in Galicia! Here you can buy a traditional handmade hat such as the local farm ladies wear when working in the fields with their sickles and scythes, or enjoy the weekly outdoor market in the square – you’ll find wonderful local produce such as the tiny “Russian roulette” peppers from Padrón – some are hot, some are not – or the creamy breast-shaped cheeses from Arzua.
Take a northern Spain touring holiday and discover a different side of Spain!