Wild Photography Holidays - Photographic Adventure Travel: North Spain Seascapes of Asturias, Galicia and the Basque Country

Waves breaking at Bakio beach

North Spain Seascapes of Asturias, Galicia and the Basque Country

Highlights include…

  • Outstanding seascapes
  • Wild empty beaches
  • Island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
  • Sea stacks and arches
  • Spectacular Catedrales Beach, Galicia
  • Picturesque fishing villages
  • Authentic working harbours
  • Lighthouses
  • Start & finish in Bilbao
  • Scenically located hotels
  • Delicious traditional food
  • Excellent opportunities for long exposure,
 low light & macro photography

Introduction

We have chosen to start and finish this new workshop in the fascinating area of Bilbao as it is well served by direct international flights from many European hubs and is home to some incredible coastal landscapes. Most photographers have a deep fascination and connection to these vast expanses of water that stretch endlessly, seemingly to the edge of the world. This magnetic draw often begins as a child, exploring an exciting world of mysterious rock pools with darting sea creatures, collecting shells, dancing in waves and marvelling at patterns in the sand; it is a totally absorbing activity. The nostalgia, and sense of possibility of the seashore has for many of us a deep emotional pull that can lead us to some tremendously inspired and inspiring images.

Our ten day itinerary includes the best Bay of Biscay locations of the Basque country (Euskadi), Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. North Spain’s coastline has outstanding sea-landscapes comprising wild beaches, fabulous rock formations, sea stacks, arches, caves, fishing villages and turquoise seas. Although this area is very accessible, it is a total enigma outside of Spain. The whole coastline has a gentle simplicity and in many ways seems like a land that time forgot. The local people are kind, laid back and fun loving. English is very little spoken and the Spanish spoken here has either a local dialect or in the case of the Basque country their own unique language. We have chosen four lovely hotels that are very well placed for our best seascape locations. First stop is Bilbao, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city and home to the splendid Guggenheim Museum. Our first two and last night hotel will be in the quaint coastal town of Mundaka just north of Bilbao. On Day 3 we travel west where we base ourselves for three nights in Cudillero, known within Asturias as one of its most picturesque fishing villages. Heading further west we spend two nights in Galicia close to the UNESCO site of the Catedrales Beach. En route back to Bilbao for our last night, we will spend night 8 in a gorgeous hotel overlooking the Bay of Biscay’s La Franca Beach in Cantabria.

Your Tutors

Martin Sammtleben and Geraldine Westrupp have a base in Asturias and together they know North Spain intimately. Their connection with this dramatic coastline goes back more than two decades. They have been running workshops, tours and holidays here for many years. Creating this new coastal workshop has been an absolute joy for them and they are truly excited to share their local knowledge with you.

About the Photography

Macro Photography

There will be great scope for macro photography. In addition to the spring flowers adorning the cliffs and meadows, the beaches are rife with opportunities for macro and creative abstracts. The receding tide exposes a labyrinth of rock pools which are teeming with sea life. Walking over the rocks, you will encounter anemones, starfish, sea snails, aquatic plants, fish, barnacles and more. The strikingly coloured rocks with various coloured strata and smooth pebble beaches provide ample opportunity for absorbing macro photography.

Low Light and Long Exposure Photography

The ebb and flow of the sea is a hypnotic motion. There will be many opportunities to capture the gentle ghostly movement of water that many photographers love. We will teach you how to capture the movement of the sea in a way that is both creative and pleasing to you. The opportunity for low light and long exposure photography will present itself at sunrise, sunset and sometimes cloudy days. We will learn how to effectively compose seascapes, use ND filters and choose appropriate camera settings.

Locations

The following itinerary does not give a day by day account of our photographic locations. We will be very flexible and are to a large extent dependent on the tides, weather, sunrises and sunsets. The timing for when the low tide coincides with sunrise is especially crucial here. Needless to say our main focus as always is lots of photography in as many great locations as possible. There will be quality tuition in the field and help with post processing. We are always happy to return to locations more than once if needed.

Brief Itinerary

For full details please download the trip description PDF

Day 1&2: Arrive and Transfer to Mundaka, Basque Country

Our first meeting as a group for introductions and a trip briefing will be at our hotel in Mundaka at 17:00. The local airport is Bilbao and is well served with flights from Europe. Please contact the office if you require further information. We will include transfers to the hotel meeting flights coming into Bilbao Airport between 10:00 and 16:00 on Day 1. If you choose to stay in Bilbao the night before Day 1, please contact the office for transfer details. If you are arriving outside of these times taxis are available at the airport and cost around 40€.

Following our introductory meeting we will go out locally for sunset followed by dinner in a restaurant. Huge swells roll in from the Bay of Biscay and slam into the rocky coastline of the Basque Country. The estuary at Mundaka has created a perfect sandbar which forms a famous world class surfing wave that can be watched from the town’s harbour wall. Our hotel is in one of the prettiest areas of of Mundaka, the old port area with colourful traditional Basque houses, small fishing boats, a lovely little sandy beach and a great tidal estuary.
Hotel 2 nights (B,L,D)

Day 3–5: Cudillero

The day will begin with a sunrise location followed by breakfast. Afterwards we will set off to Cudillero. We will take in a couple of locations en route and enjoy a picnic lunch on a beach. Cudillero is known within Asturias as one of its most picturesque fishing villages. Colourful houses are squashed together and piled on top of each other. Topped with rust coloured terracotta roofs they are built on a mishmash of steep terraces that tumble down to a tiny harbour with turquoise water and bobbing boats. Many of these traditional Asturian houses are crumbling and abandoned. Essentially a fishing town, late afternoon the boats come back in with their catch and they head to the market to auction them off. Along the walls by the harbour we sometimes find lines of fish called ‘curadillos’ stretched and hanging in the sun to dry. The village is famous for eating fish and drinking Cider. Our small traditional hotel is right here in the midst of the village just a stones throw from the harbour. We spend three nights here as it is a very short distance to many high quality coastal locations. We are also very well placed for good photography in and around the village itself. Close by are several seascapes for us to visit and photograph including Luarca with its busy working harbour fish market and the close by Campiecho Beach where we have literally spent hours exploring. The most striking features are natural caves, pointed sea stacks and fabulous rock pools. Playa de Silencio is maybe the most dramatic of all with its close neighbour the rocky and little visited beach of Gueirúa, a truly fabulous sunrise location.
Hotel 3 nights (B,L,D)

Day 6&7: Catedrales Beach Galicia

This morning we travel for around 1 hr into Galicia with a possible stop at the lively port town Ribadeo. The Ría de Ribadeo separates Galicia from Asturias. The old town of Ribadeo between Plaza de España and the harbour is an attractive mix of handsome old galleried and stone houses. Praia As Catedrais ten kilometres away, is one of Galicia’s most spectacular strands. It has been described as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We time our visits here to avoid the tourists. Our modern hotel sits atop a small cliff and overlooks a lovely beach. Each of our rooms will have a terrace looking out to the sea. It is just a five minute drive from our hotel to the main attraction which is the rock formations on As Catedrais beach. The weird and wonderful rock formations are magical and they do resemble Gothic cathedrals. Our photography here will be to a certain extent dictated by the tides. We have chosen neaps moving into springs allowing us some good photographic windows at the right time of the day. Wellingtons (waterproof boots) will be a must. We have enjoyed photographing from both the beach and from the cliffs above.
Hotel 2 nights (B,L,D)

Day 8: La Franca Beach Cantabria

This morning we will start our journey back west towards Bilbao with a night by the beach of La Franca. This is only a couple of hours journey with photographic stops en route including, Playa de Sablón, Cuevas del Mar and the Río de las Cabras o Bedón where we find the isolated monastery of San Antolín de Bedón located close to yet another fine beach. Our hotel tonight overlooks the beach of La Franca where we will enjoy sunset photography before an evening meal at our hotel.
Hotel 1 night (B,L,D)

Day 9: To Bilbao

Following sunrise photography and a leisurely breakfast we will head west to Bilbao. This is a journey of just under two hours. There are several locations fairly close to our hotel that we may visit for the afternoon and sunset including the island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe which looks like it’s straight from a movie set and indeed it featured in Game of Thrones. Whether you are a fan of the series or not, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe will dazzle you with its unique situation. The island is connected to the mainland by a man-made stone bridge. The bridge transitions into a narrow path that contains 241 steps and zigzags its way back and forth to the top. These steps have even been recognised as one of the world’s grandest staircases.
Hotel 1 night (B,L,D)

Day 10: Bilbao

This morning our trip finishes after breakfast. Your return flights will probably be at different times today. You will be free to leave at any time after breakfast although there will be an 11:00 AM checkout from the hotel. If you have homeward flights morning/early afternoon we will transfer you to the airport. If not then you will need to get a taxi. It is worth considering an extra night in Bilbao to explore this famous and unique Basque city. The dining and tapas bars are world famous as is the Guggenheim museum. We would be able to drop you at a hotel leaving you with the day and evening to explore.
(B)

Accommodation

We stay in small scenically located coastal hotels with single/double rooms and private bathrooms.

Joining Arrangements and Transfers

The local airport is Bilbao, which is well served with flights from many international hubs. Please contact the office if you require further information. We will provide transfers to the hotel meeting flights arriving between 10:00 and 16:00 on Day 1.
If you are arriving/departing outside our official transfer times, taxis will be available at both the airport and the hotel. They cost around 40€ each way.

What’s Included

  • 9 nights accommodation
  • 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners
  • Airport transfers

What’s not Included

  • International flights
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Extra snacks, soft drinks and hot beverages
  • Travel insurance

Complete Itinerary and Full Details

This page is only a brief summary. A complete itinerary and more details can be found in our trip description PDF
It is important that you read this full day-to-day description and further information for this holiday before making your booking.