Official name; Praia de Augas Santas, which means the Beach of the Holy Waters but much better known as Praia das Catedrais or Cathedral Beach.
The “Praia das Catedrais Beach” is the most popular beach in Galicia and a photographer’s dream. During Easter, the summer months, and on long bank holiday weekends a permit is required. In the winter you may enjoy your walk at the beach almost alone. The beach and in particular the arches and the cathedral are accessible around low tide only!
Accessible during low tide only. This is particularly the case for the end of the beach where the three well-known arches are located. These arches are accessible during a short time frame roughly one hour before low tide and one hour afterwards. Furthermore, the sea level has a relevant impact on how far you can get and how long you can enjoy your visit.
- Tide Times Cathedral Beach for the upcoming two weeks
Tide Times and permit booking; open the booking system and select a date to get the low tide for your visit. It doesn't exist any other website for low tide data for the entire year.
Avoiding the Crowds
Peak Season (Easter - Summer)
Due to the popularity; well-known from social media, a permit is required since 2015 for Easter and from July to September now to preserve this extraordinary place. August is the worst month of the year. In July 2014 75 thousand visitors came here each week. The reason for the permit system. However, the limit of 5000 people per day is still quite high. To gain access, you even may queue before entering the beach. Cathedral Beach can get quickly crowded during low tide depending on the time of the day. Early morning is much quieter than the rest of the day. If you arrive at the end of the low tide in the peak season signs are put up, and you don’t get access to the furthest part, which is the most stunning and picturesque. It's such an amazing place in winter that it is hard to believe having thousands of visitors here in summer. Consider that booking of at least 30 days in advance is mandatory. The permit is free and easy to book. Tickets Booking Cathedral Beach – Praia das Catedrais
Accommodation rates are the highest, and mostly there isn’t anything available on short notice.
Shoulder Season (Spring - Autumn)
Cathedral Beach is accessible without a permit except for Easter. Though the beach can get a little busy early morning or late in the evening it’s quiet and peaceful. Accommodations are available on short notice although the best rated are already fully booked. The weather can be capricious, therefore, carry a raincoat.
Low Season (Winter)
During winter very few people visit the beach in the morning and also midday is bearable. It’s quiet and peaceful, and you take back home unforgettable memories of this outstanding piece of nature. In our opinion the best time to enjoy this marvellous place in Galicia. You can book a cottage last minute for lower fares. Consider it frequently rains in the winter but you can't get disappointed at this time of the year.
The Cathedral Beach and its famous rock arches and bridges are located towards the north. Getting the right light for a shot may be challenging, but if you come here at sunrise during the wintertime, an atmospheric shot is almost guaranteed.
The north of Spain experiences much more rain than the south. The driest and warmest months are from June to September. Usually, pleasant day temps around 20°C not hot as you would expect in Spain. Night temps can be chilly. Mostly one-digit day temps from November to April. Even if it is cold, foggy or rainy, Cathedral Beach does not disappoint,
Where to Stay
Our favourite cottages are the Villas las Catedrales; fully equipped also with heating which is essential during winter. These villas are newly built, super clean, and Maria is taking care of you. She lives just 100 m before the self-catering cottages. You can park your car right in front of your rental home. Leave your car at your accommodation and take their offered bikes to get to the nearby Cathedral Beach. Especially during the peak season or long bank holiday weekends the parking might be full.
Praia de Illas nearby
There is a variety of self-catering cottages, holiday homes, and hotels nearby. All available accommodations around Cathedral Beach. Bookmark the link for the lowest fares at booking.com. During the summer, advanced booking is necessary. In the winter check the weather forecast first and then book your accommodation last minute as we did. Cathedral Beach is exceptional. We loved to explore this mind-blowing beach and watched the incoming tide afterwards from the cliffs. Stay at least one night to enjoy this place without being in a rush. We spent two nights here and went twice to Cathedral Beach. This place is too amazing to be in a hurry. We enjoyed walking along the beach in both directions, watching the incoming tide. There are more scenic beaches around where we also had a closer look too.
We arrived 2 ½ hours before low tide and enjoyed the stunning walk through the forest, along with a boardwalk until we reached Burning Palms cabins and beach.
The famous and popular Figure 8 Pools are safely accessible around low tide only! The tides and swell must have a low level without strong wind to enjoy the amazing pools without an accident. Many people got injured by sudden waves just for a perfect selfie. Check Official National Park Website - Alerts
Update Feb 2019: Safety First! A young international student got washed off the rocks on Monday 25th. 9 people died in the Royal National Park along the coast since 2016. Don't come here during high tide. Check the National Park Alerts first and the wave status. Two young men got hit by an extreme wave and one drowned. Want to be on the safe side? Book a tour with the only licensed tour operator for Figure 8 Pools (these guys are excellent): Figure 8 Pools Photography & Hike Tour from Sydney (via Viator - TripAdvisor Experience)
Tide Times and Swell (Safety)
Again, it's only safe to be at Figure 8 pools during low tide, low swell and without very strong wind or storm! What you should know:
- What does low tide mean? Like in most other coastal areas, you'll experience two tidal cycles over the course of one lunar day. Which means, each day there are 2 high tides and 2 low tides. However, due to park opening times (read below) you can only be there during one of the two low tide periods on a single day. Plan your visit accordingly: Garie Beach Tide Times and Heights.
- When to arrive at Figure 8 Pools? Plan to be at Figure 8 Pools about 1-2 hours before the lowest tide time. Example: Low Tide at 3 p.m. means you should arrive between 1 and 2 p.m. You need to take into account the drive from the park entrance to the parking lot (about 20 minutes) and the hike from the parking area to Figure 8 Pools (another 1 ½ hours or less). Read below for more details.
- Is it always safe during low tide? No! Keep in mind, that even at low tide it can be dangerous during critical ocean conditions when big waves reach the rock shelf. Check the official Figure 8 Pools Risk Forecast. When it's set to 'Extreme', don't go. You'll find the same information at the visitor centre when entering the park. However, we went despite of a 'High Risk' forecast (one level below extreme) and it was fine. But still, we were very careful. Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any injury, death, or consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided here. This is just our experience!
Opening Times (Royal National Park)
You can only get to Figure 8 Pools, when the park is open of course. The opening times are from 7 a.m. to 8.30 p.m (Visitor Centre from 8.30am to 4.30pm daily. The only day when it's closed is on Christmas Day). However, the park can be closed at times because of severe weather conditions or fire danger. Also, plan your way back: You have to hike back to your car and after that, drive back to the entrance/exit. That's a total time of about 2 hours. If you stay too long and get back too late, you might be stuck in the park. They always close the gates at 8:30 p.m.
Getting to Figure 8 Pools
To get to the Garrawarra Farm car park it’s a long drive through the park on sealed roads, only 1.5 km is gravel.
Space is limited, and you are not allowed to park the car somewhere else. The entrance fee is 12 $ per car if you don’t have a multi or annual park pass for NSW. The gate closes at 8.30 pm and opens at 7:00 am. The hike to Figure 8 takes a maximum of 1½ hours, and the trail is 3.5 km long one way. No worries the trail is well marked, and there is no need for a map.
Avoiding the Crowds
The park is mostly super busy during the summer holidays (mid-December to January) and weekends as well. There is a lot of traffic, and the car parks fill up soon. Come early in the peak season; the car parks get closed when they are full. Traffic jams occur pretty often at this crazy time of the year.
The area around Sydney experiences hot summers with average daytime temps of almost 30°C and mild winters with an average daytime temp of about 20°C. There isn’t a wet or dry season, but droughts happen more often nowadays. On average rain occurs throughout the year with more precipitation from January to June with its peak in March.
- From May to November you may spot whales along the coast.
- The Visitor Center at Audley is open daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
From July to November more than 700 different plants are in bloom on the plateau.
The Alice Lake Provincial Park was established in 1956 located 5 km north of Squamish close to the Sea to Sky HW 99. The park offers picnic areas and hikes in a beautiful scenery.
Alice Lake Provincial Park Squamish is pretty busy during summer and popular for camping. The Four Lakes Trail can be done all year and is beautiful with sunshine and during fall. It’s permitted to swim in these lakes therefore in summer bring your swimming clothes and a towel in your backpack.
Arrive early during summer; the car parks fill up fast due to the many activity options and the beautiful location. There are several car parks in the park. The last one at Alice Lake is the quietest, less busy and located close to the trailhead with a nice and clean picnic area. The best choice is camping at Alice Lake, but reservations have to be done in advance for summer. May, June, and September are still crowded but mostly not fully booked.
The trail is popular for hiking, biking, and running among tourists and residents. Mid-week fewer people are on the dog-friendly trail. Around 40.000 people hike this trail each year.
Weather / Climate
Squamish has a high amount of rainfall throughout the year with its peak from October/November to February/March. Summer is the driest season of the year, but rain can occur so be prepared while hiking. From May to September the temps are pleasant for hiking, in summer around 20 °C / 68°F but can be hot as well with temps over 30 °C / 86 °F. Nights are cool even in the summer with a maximum of 10 to 13 °C / 50 to 55 °F. Due to the Howe Sound, it's freezing cold during the winter only.
- Stump Lake is covered with yellow pond-lilies which looks gorgeous.
- Between mid- and late August swarms of toadlets (frogs) move from their birth lake to their home in the forest. They are very small and it's difficult to see them. Be careful while hiking.
Good to Know for Biker:
The bike trail is closed to cyclist from May to mid-September.
The park is called after the first European settlers Michael and Barbara Pfeiffer who built a house in 1869.
If visiting for hiking start early morning to beat the midday heat during summer. We even spotted a gray fox close to the Lodge although they are nocturnal. Foxes, skunks, and raccoons can be seen during the night. The Pfeiffer Falls are very popular either hike to them in the morning or late afternoon. They were not accessible in 2017 closed due to the powerful storms that flooded the Big Sur Coast with nearly 100 inches / 2540 mm of rain and remain closed. Opening was planned by February 2019 but it looks like they won't be open before mid-June 2019. Check closure
Nearby along the Highwy One are the famous McWay Falls which can be already seen from the road
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches/ 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from the evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.
If you like camping under the amazing redwood trees book the tent or RV site in advance at least 3 months before for the summer holidays even 6 months. Within the park are several campgrounds offering 189 tent and RV sites in total for $ 35-50 each night which includes the State Park fee of 10 $ (2019). From mid-June until September are two group campsites available which can accommodate up to 35 people. Reservations can be made six months in advance on the first day of the month. The campground is extremely popular even in the winter due to the mild climate. Click here for campground reservation
Best Accommodations at Big Sur
- There are cozy little cabins and a campground as well just close to the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground. The Riverside Campground and Cabins offers well equipped cottages with a kitchenette and bathroom and some share the facilities with the campground. It's beautiful located under redwood trees and an excellent alternative if the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is already fully booked,
- Our luxury top tip is the Ventana Big Sur - An Alila Resort situated in a breathtaking scenery. The food at the on-site restaurant is incredible. You can really forget about everything except your time. Don't come here in a rush. You will love this cozy place and regret it if you stay here just for one night.
- Excellent located at the park entrance is the Big Sur Lodge. The rooms are heated up with a cozy fireplace. The on-site restaurant offers tasty meals. Start your hike directly from the lodge and afterwards enjoy the outdoor pool during your stay.
The name originates from three bridges in the early 1900s. The inner and outer arch are collapsed and only the middle one remained which is an Arch Rock now.
Popular small beach frequently with lifeguard during the day in summer. Less busy and even more beautiful in the evening at sunset and low tide. Tide pooling during the day is much fun for the younger ones at low tide. The Natural Bridges State Beach is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. The visitor center is open from 10 am until 4 pm. The State Beach vehicle fee is 10 $ a day.
There is limited parking in front of the State Beach allowed for 20 minutes only. Plenty of parking lots close to the visitor center, shoulder parking direction the entrance kiosk, and outside the State Beach. Anyhow, on weekends in summer it gets quite busy.
Walking through the bridge is possible at spring tide only a couple of times a year. It occurs in spring and fall when the full or new moon is closest to the earth. Tide times Natural Bridges
- On the second Sunday in October the monarch butterfly is welcomed from 11 am until 4 pm. It's an amazing festival for the whole family.
- The second Saturday in February is dedicated to the whale migration.
The park is a temporary home for thousands of Monarch Butterflies during the winter. They migrate from the cold Rockie Mountain Valleys. The mild climate and the eucalyptus trees provide a safe place for them. They feed on the nectar of the milkweed. The butterflies arrive around mid-October and stay until late January to mid- February. Guided Monarch Butterfly Tours are offered in fall and winter at 11 am and 2 pm.
During spring wildflowers are in bloom.
Weather and Water Temperature
During the summer from June to August, it's dry, and drought occurs. The average day temp is 17°C / 62°F, but 30°C / 86°F can happen as well. Water temp in summer around 16°C / 61°F only. Most precipitation in winter from December to February with its peak in February. Average day temps are around 10°C / 50°F.
Natural Bridges Park Map and Brochure including wheelchair accessibility
The guided kayak trip takes up to 2 ½ hours in small groups. You get a brief explanation how to paddle and steer. Even for beginners, it’s quite fun and a workout.
The trips are offered from March to October; at the peak season in summer up to 4 times and in the shoulder season twice each day.
The morning tours are slightly quieter, and it’s less hot in summer. We preferred the afternoon trip to get the best light for taking pictures. Usually, the sea is calmer in the morning and a bit rough in the afternoon.
Some providers offer sunrise and sunset trips in summer.
Less busy during the shoulder season. The sea is still a bit cold in May and June, September is great.