It’s a curious fact that in Mediterranean Spain the locals call their coasts Costa del Sol (Sun Coast) or Costa Blanca (White Coast) that are designed to appeal to savvy, sun-seeking tourists, while Galicia features a coastline with a rather more grizzly but intriguing name – Costa da Morte (Coast of Death). But fear not intrepid traveller. For while it is fair to say that its name is unlikely to conjure up images of fine beaches and a stunning shoreline, this largely unspoilt coast is everything but as foreboding as the name suggests.
In fact, the Costa da Morte boasts beaches, dunes, steep cliffs, meadows, bays, coves, rivers and an extraordinary variety of flora and fauna. As you can imagine, this makes the coast a paradise for those who enjoy a spot of surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, fishing, mountain biking, hiking and even dolphin watching, not to mention lying on the beach and soaking up the sun. Running from the villages of Finisterre in the west to Malpica in the east, the coastline earned its menacing moniker as a result of the large number of ships that have been sunk on its rocks over the centuries. It’s been reported that in earlier times of poor maritime navigation, the area became the largest maritime graveyard in the world.
The coast itself is an alluring assault on the senses and although it is often overlooked by tourists, its rural charm along with scenic coves, sleepy fishing villages and lush green landscapes make this a must visit to those who want to wander off the beaten track. The easiest way to visit is to hire a car and take your pick from the many villages and bays along the famous coast.
Nowadays, in the postcard perfect port of Finisterre, the Cap Finisterre Lighthouse not only serves as a beacon for boats, but it also heralds the end of one of the world’s longest pilgrimages – the Camino de Santiago. Every year thousands of pilgrims arrive from all over the world and congregate at the harbour for the final walk towards Cap Finisterre. It’s here that tradition dictates they burn their hiking gear as a symbolic act of leaving their old life (and sins) behind – in order to start a new one.