Day four on the Variante Espiritual from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures is a maritime grand finale of this spiritual journey. It is the special boat ride, for which this Camino gets its name, commemorating the Traslatio de Santiago, or the transfer of the body of St. James from the Holy Land to Padrón, and then onward by land to Santiago de Compostela. Please see my Introduction of the Variante Espiritual for more information regarding the history of this legend.
The Traslatio sea route is marked by 17 crosses, but you will see only 12 of them along the way. This Maritime Way of the Cross, or Vía Crucis Marítimo is the only one in existence in the world.
"Being on a boat that's moving through the water, it's so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what's important and what's not." ~ James Taylor
Indeed, the boat ride on the final leg of this journey is special. There is just something about being in a boat, the quietude of the countryside zipping by, the hum of the boat's motor that drowns out other background noise, the crisp salt air and the breeze through your hair that transports you away.
Below is my interactive Google map of the routes for this day. I have placed the sights you will see along the boat ride, and have also included all 17 crosses for your reference.
The journey by boat of 26.5 kilometers (16.5 miles), shown in blue, lasts a full two hours. Along the way, the boat's captain will narrate for you, in Spanish and English, describing what you are seeing. But there are also long minutes of silence to journey inward, if you desire.
If you prefer to walk the 32 kilometers to Pontecesures instead, I have included GPS tracks taken from Wikiloc, in red. Because I have not walked this route, I cannot guarantee the route's accuracy. However, I have utilized all the tools available to make it as accurate as possible from my armchair. I have studied and combined many pilgrim's walking routes, poured over Google street views and gathered information from public sources and forums.
Interestingly, one of the 17 crosses of the Maritime Way of the Cross is inland, and the hiking route passes by it, as you enter Pontecesures. And two more would be accessible along the river's shore, with only a few meters diversion from the Camino path.
The elevation profile of the boat ride is irrelevant. The walking route follows so closely to the shore that it is almost irrelevant as well. I have included it here, for your reference.
As of this writing there are three companies that will take pilgrims on the boat ride from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures. They all pick you up at the maritime station on the waterfront. In no particular order:
We set off for the Estación Marítima (maritime station) in the dark, from our Albergue Turistico A Salazon. (If you are looking for a reservation for accommodation in Vilanova de Arousa, you can also click here.) Sunrise is late in Spain and in late September when we went it wasn't until 0823.
The boat was scheduled to leave at 0800, but that is variable according to the tides. And they usually only sail once a day, in the morning. Check before you go. All of the websites will tell you in advance.
You need to arrive plenty early, because this is the line we encountered for the large 150-passenger Pilgrim's Boat! And the boat was full, or almost full, by the judge of things.
You wait in the line to enter the boat's platform, by one reservation at a time. They check your reservation against their list.
The boat left promptly at 0800! It was quite romantic to see the sunrise and the twinkling lights of Vilanova de Arousa as we sailed away. We were sitting in the top seats, near the back and the Spanish flag flew in the breeze. It was quite fresh in the open air before dawn! You may wish to dress warmly! I was glad I did.
Vilanova de Arousa is known for its mussel rafts or "bateas" that dot the Arousa estuary, accentuating the importance of mussels to the local economy. All of the boats will slow down to see the harvesting process close-up, if it is happening.
In the next photo, you can see the boat arriving at the first mussel rafts.
We were lucky enough to have our journey timed just right to see the harvest. It is quite the fascinating process!
We learned by observation, that the advantage to the smaller Traslatio boats is not only are they faster and complete the journey in less time, but they can zip around and get up close to the sights. I was zooming in with my camera for most of these photos.
After the boat moved onward from the mussel harvesting, I sat back and turned my attention eastward to the rising sun and its changing light show! It was wonderfully beautiful and peaceful.
And now, to the most significant aspect of the journey for the entire Variante Espiritual: La Ruta Xacobea de la Traslatio, or the Jacobean Route of the Transfer.
The first Jacobean cross, or "Cruceiro Xacobeo," on the east bank, where the Traslatio boat arrives, is #5, the Punto Grandoiro, pictured below.
For a full Guide to Crosses on the Maritime Way of the Cross, click on this link. Unfortunately, it is in Spanish and I couldn't find a similar one in English. However, scroll down to see the crosses and the photos, which may be enough to enrich your experience of this Maritime Way of the Cross, or Vía Crucis Marítimo on day four of the Variante Espiritual from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures.
On the west bank is the next Cruceiro Xacobeo #6, the three crosses of Punto Patiño, known as the "Calvario." These three crosses commemorate Santigao and his two favorite disciples Anastasio and Teodoro, who were responsible for organizing and leading the maritime journey of the Traslatio. I was just mesmerized at how the sunlight lit these crosses in the early morning light.
This Maritime Jacobean route crosses under many viaducts and bridges, and this is the first one. Cruceiro Xacobeo #7, Outeiriño is actually in this photo by the white building, but you can't see it. The boat didn't go close enough and I was shooting into the sun.
The next Jacobean cross that I included here was #8, the Cruceiro Xacobeo, Illota Telleira, Catoira. It is difficult to see in the photo below, but this cross was on a small island, and the large boat did not get very close.
Long before you come to the next attraction on the east bank, the Torres do Oeste, you will see a highway bridge in the distance. Look out for this Catoira Bridge, because the ruined Western Towers are practically underneath it!
This is an attractive place, with the small Ermida de Santigo inside the towers. I would have liked to explore this on foot. Perhaps you can, if you choose to walk this route. There is a footpath from the overland pilgrimage route to this site.
You can almost hear the historical whispers of these ancient stones! Seems like this little church needed a whole lot of protection to survive!
This lovely little cross, #9 - Cruceiro Xacobeo de Illa do Rato, Catoira, is also on its own little island. The sun glowed upon it as we passed close by to this one.
#10 - Cruceiro Xacobeo, O Texar, Catoira is on the east bank.
#11 - Cruceiro Xacobeo de O Cordeiro, Valga is also on the east bank, and it is the last one you will see on the Traslatio Boat ride.
I don't often take or include photos of the two of us. But when another pilgrim couple wanted theirs taken and offered to take ours, I agreed. I was glad I did. We look very happy, don't we?
Sit back and enjoy the rest of your ride, up the river and into the harbor of Pontecesures.
While difficult to see in the background of the photo below, once the Roman bridge comes into view, your Ruta Xacobea de la Traslatio journey has come to an end. It takes a while for the larger boat to turn about and moor at the landing shown in the photo to the right.
Immediately upon disembarking from the boat landing and onto the adjacent street you are greeted by this 28-kilometer waymark at the squiggly sculpture!
Even without the waymark, it is easy to find your way. Just head for the Roman bridge, straight ahead. It was a bit disconcerting for me to wait and pile out of the boat with 150 other pilgrims at the same time! Then we all headed like a stampede to the bridge! Ha! And so it is...
And the final "cross," Cruceiro Xacobeo #13, Apóstol Santiago, isn't even a cross at all, but a sculpture of Santiago. From the boat, when you get to the end of the road that intersects with the Roman bridge, look to your right, and by the dentist clinic, "clinica dentista," you will see Santiago.
I inadvertently took this photo below, approaching from the south, to show the intersection, and captured this cross #13. Even though I doctored up the photo, it's hard to make out St. James, but he is there, on top of the post.
And now your Variante Espiritual from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures has truly come to an end. Breathe, continue to feel the spirit of the Traslatio as you continue onward on the Central route of the Portuguese Way to Santiago de Compostela. You could make it on the same day, if you wanted or needed to push it. We chose to go as far as Milladoiro.
If you wish to follow my journey, it picks up on day twenty-four.
It is difficult for me to say which of the days on the Spiritual Variant were the most significant or rewarding. The Traslatio boat ride was without a doubt the most unique, and one I wouldn't have wanted to miss.
However, the entire journey on this special spiritual route was enchanting to me. I can't wait to do it again, but this time, I may walk from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures. I may poke around the shore line and visit the crosses and the ancient stones of the towers from the land, to see the whole picture.
I say this, because this day four was special, different than I imagined, with more pilgrims than I could have possibly imagined, yet it retained its "spiritual" character. The crosses and the ancient stones spoke their historical whispers to me, capturing my heart and the spirit of this camino. It was the most wonderful and lovely maritime journey!
May your own Variante Espiritual from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures, on the Ruta Xacobea de la Traslatio, be the pinnacle of your experience for your journey. May you experience the historical whispers, the mystery, the traditions and the legends as you glide across the water. And may "everything fall into place in terms of what's important and what's not." Ultreia!
Many readers contact me, Elle, to thank me for all the time and care that I have spent creating this informative website. If you have been truly blessed by my efforts, have not purchased an eBook, yet wish to contribute, I am very grateful. Thank-you!
Follow Me on Pinterest:
Follow Me on Instagram:
Find the Pilgrimage Traveler on Facebook:
Like / Share this page on Facebook:
***All Banners, Amazon and Booking.com links on this website are affiliate links. As an Amazon associate and a Booking.com associate, the Pilgrimage Traveler website will earn from qualifying purchases when you click on these links. We sincerely thank-you as this is a pilgrim-supported website***
PS: Our guide books are of our own creation and we appreciate your purchase of those too!!
Feb 24, 24 07:43 AM
Feb 13, 24 04:22 PM
Feb 06, 24 03:56 PM
Need suggestions on what to pack for your next pilgrimage? Click Here or on the photo below!
Carbon fiber construction ( not aluminum) in a trekking pole makes them ultra lightweight. We like the Z-Pole style from Black Diamond so we can hide our poles in our pack from potential thievesbefore getting to our albergue! There are many to choose from! ( See more of our gear recommendations! )