Legend has it that when God had created the world, he rested his hands on Galicia and thereby made the estuaries. In this route along the estuary of Arousa, we will have the chance to discover an area full of legends of Moors, pirates and mermaids that blend into a magical environment, inviting us into a dream.

O Sálvora, o San Vicente
O Sálvora, farewell Mourente,
O Sálvora, eyes of the estuary
for good lasses in Vilagarcía
     Popular Galician Song
 
Go and bathe in nine waves
before the day comes up
and take with you
the nine leaves of the olive tree.
      Popular Romance 

Day 1

We start the first day of this route at one of the key points on the beautiful coastline of the estuary of Arousa: in the municipality of Ribeira. One of the natural jewels of Galicia awaits us - the Natural Park of Corrubedo. Before feeling its impressive dunes, the first star on our journey is the great sentry of the Atlantic, Corrubedo lighthouse, which has been working since 1854. Its front is semicircular towards the sea and rectangular towards land, in order to mitigate the effects of the violent storms that tend to affect the area. From there, you can enjoy the power and intensity of the Atlantic, the only thing between you and the New Continent.

The initial purpose of this lighthouse was to draw attention to the high risk of the rocky areas that abound on this shore, although it did not always fulfil its purpose. Over many years of activity, the lighthouse has witnessed various shipwrecks. The sinking of the ocean liner Santa Isabel opposite the island of Sálvora, probably due to confusion between the lighthouses of Corrubedo and Sálvora, led to the light being changed from white to red, which earned it the nickname of the “communist lighthouse”.

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Leaving this spot behind, we head off on our way to the next destination. We exchange paved roads for wooden and sand pathways, coming into the Natural Park of Corrubedo. There, camouflaged among the wild environment of the area, you will find the Casa da Costa Interpretation Centre (CIELGA), an educational space that features exhibitions on this unique ecosystem. The real pearls of the site are the dunes of Corrubedo and Carregal and Vixán lagoons, which cover an area of 1,000 hectares between the parishes of Corrubedo, Artes and Carreira. Ask biologists any questions you may have and then put what you have learned into practice by exploring and leaving your footprints on the white sand beaches of Vilar and Ladeira, inside the Natural Park. You should also visit the spectacular strand formed during a slow process by a dam which gave shape to Carregal lagoon. The wind allowed the development of several other dune strands, many of which have been stabilised by vegetation, but also a mobile one, the largest in the northwest of the peninsula.

Legend has it that the town of Valverde is submerged in Carregal lagoon, where the Moors defeated by Charlemagne lived. Traces of this legend can be seen in the footprints of the horse of Roland, nephew of Charlemagne, engraved in a rock by the lagoon when he asked, after sunset, for one more hour of daylight to destroy his enemies. This is why there is still one more hour of daylight after dusk.

Following the thread of this legend, we head towards the port of Aguiño so that a boat can take us to the mysterious island of Sálvora. According to the story, Roland, doubtless wounded, managed to escape from the battle of Roncesvalles and take refuge on this island in Arousa. One day, while he was walking along the beach, he came across a beautiful girl who came out of the sea, and fell hopelessly in love with her ... and she turned out to be a mermaid! So great was his love for Mariña (as he himself named her) that they had a son, the origin of the Mariño family line. As a result of this mythical story, you will find a stone statue of a mermaid welcoming you to the island and pointing out the stone path that leads to the lighthouse of Sálvora, the sentinel of the estuary of Arousa, together with San Vicente in O Grove.

Day 2

And from one island ... to another. On this second day we leave Barbanza behind us to take the road to the island that gave its name to this famous estuary: the island of Arousa. During the nineteenth century, it was an important canning centre; in fact, here is where one of the first factories in the modern era was built. The main activity on the island was, and still is, the sea in all its aspects. We dare you to discover the full variety of water sports, and the jewels of cuisine cooked in the local style.

We start the visit at the lighthouse of Punta Cabalo, built in 1852 and functioning since the following year. It was attended at first by two lighthouse-keepers, and after various successive reforms, has now been turned into a restaurant. This lighthouse, which emerges from among the rocks, is a perfect place to enjoy the sunset after an intense day of activity in nature. Sitting on one of the large rocks that are right in front of the lighthouse, caressed by the soft marine breeze, we catch a glimpse of the majesty of the estuary of Arousa: from the islands of Areoso and Rúa to the mouth of the Ulla. In this stretch, thousands of shellfish rafts lulled by the sea lead to the greatest production of mussels in the world.

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The entire island is a haven of peace, but Area da Secada is a very special place - a natural beach of white sand set in a still unspoilt forest environment. We come to the beach through a lush pine forest on a wooden walkway. The only sound you will hear is the relaxing breaking of the waves and the chirping of birds in search of food. This is a calm water beach, ideal for relaxing water sports. Dare to hire a kayak to sail among the mussel rafts and every now and then, curious dolphins. A mistake you must not make is to leave the island without enjoying a good dish of octopus, cooked in the typical island style.

Back on the “continent” we now visit O Grove, lying at the entrance to the estuary of Arousa; were it not for the sand bank of A Lanzada, it would still be an island. Internationally known for its cuisine, O Grove holds the delicious seafood festival in October - you should not miss it if you are in the area.

If you wish to enjoy a superb panoramic view of the estuary, climb up to the peak of Mount Siradella. The effort that climbing up to its 167 metres above sea level implies is more than compensated by the breathtaking views over A Lanzada isthmus and the Umia and O Grove intertidal complex, with the Atlantic in the background. Now that you have come, make the most of it to visit the Nature Interpretation Centre, where the educational material will help you understand the importance of taking care of the delicate ecosystem of the area.

For a finishing touch to the tour of the wild coast, there is nothing better than visiting one of the best-known beaches in the Rías Baixas, A Lanzada. Open to the Atlantic, it is ideal for practising sports such as surfing and windsurfing. There is over two kilometres of fine white sand, which together with the quality of its waters make it worthy of all its fame. This reputation also comes from the legends which endow the sanctuary with magical powers. Tradition has it that going for a swim in nine waves at midnight on the local saint’s day, the last day of August or on Saint John’s night, cures infertility. Another version maintains that women who wish to become pregnant should lie down on the Virgin Mary’s crib in the chapel of Nosa Señora da Lanzada. The sanctuary is a Romanesque church dating from the late twelfth century, from where we can contemplate one of the best views of the beach.

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