Kayaking the Camino de Santiago

With white sandy coast, natural rock structures and dunes, it all feels a bit more Caribbean than Camino.
For kayakers, paddling is nearly always a bit of a pilgrimage. Certainly close to a religious experience anyway, from the moment you push out from the shore and retreat into the soothing sounds of lapping waves and seabirds, following a peaceful journey where you have time to contemplate landscapes and life. If this idea appeals to you, you may want to consider kayaking a section of the Camino de Santiago, clinging to the gorgeous shores of Galicia.
Following a Camino trail known quite simply as ‘The Sea Route’, this is not just a gimmicky add on to the already famous Camino De Santiago walking routes. It follows the coast between San Vicente do Grove and Padrón which is said to have been the route taken by disciples Athanasius and Theodore returning the remains of their beloved Apostle Saint James, or Santiago. Following the coast of Arousa Bay and then heading inland up the Ulla River to Padrón, the remains would then have been carried overland to Santiago de Compostela, and pilgrims can follow this exact route to the great Cathedral today.

How long is the Sea Route?

It takes about a week, with the first four days spent paddling 77 km through the Sea of Arousa and also along the River Ulla. The Sea of Arousa is pretty sheltered and doesn’t suffer too badly from adverse weather conditions, making this a kayaking trip that is easy for beginners. From here you swap water shoes for walking boots and spend a day walking 25km to Santiago de Compostela. You will meet plenty of other walkers on this final stretch as you join up with the last of the Camino Portugués. This is one of the Camino trails that starts in Lisbon, although many opt for the two week version that starts in Porto and roughly follows the Atlantic coast up to Santiago de Compostela for 241km.

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Kayaking the Camino de Santiago sea route, Spain

Kayaking the Camino de Santiago sea route, Spain

Experience the Camino de Santiago in Galicia by Kayak!

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protected parks

Paddling through protected parks

This stunning coastal route takes in some idyllic islands, islets and coves, with a chance to visit two important marine protected areas. First is Carreiron Natural Park which is on the southern end of Arousa Island. Paddle in peace around the shallow waters where pine trees line the white sandy coast, natural rock structures and dune landscapes. It all feels a bit more like the Caribbean than the Camino.
Next is Cortegada Island which is part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park located in the River Ulla’s estuary and linked to the mainland by a tidal causeway. This is Galicia’s only national park and it is made up of four neighbouring islands, namely Cortegada, Sálvara, Ons and Cíes. Only Ons and Cíes can be accessed by visitors, so as you kayak around Cortegada you won’t see a soul. You may see some dolphins though, if you are lucky.
Where do we stay?

Where do we stay?

This is a very tranquil way to pay homage to St James, staying well away from the crowds until the last leg. A small group guided tour will organise wild camping for you along the way, providing tents, sleeping bags and mattresses as well as food, which you will carry in your kayaks. Be ready for food heaven on this spiritual trip; Galicia is all about gastronomy, especially seafood.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Spain Is More] [Top box: Spain Is More] [Paragraph 2: Spain Is More] [Paddling through protected parks: Feans] [Cortegada Island: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga) ] [Where to stay: Spain Is More] [BANNER: Spain Is More]