Every zone of the rugged Cantabrian coast has been utilized by its people to build sea ports for fishing. From Roman times until the late 20th century, the inhabitants of the area were mainly engaged in whaling, a cetacean that generated enormous benefits for the crews. Since the early twentieth century, the addition of motorized boats has allowed fishermen to go out fishing from tiny ports to now better fishing grounds that shield the boats from dominant north and northeast winds. Most of these tiny ports in the Bay of Biscay have never had official supervision from authorities. So, sometimes, they have become employed for contraband activities. We will make our journey from the east to west coast.
In Gipuzkoa, there is the beautiful and popular tourist resort of Zarauz. The town was built during the Middle Ages dedicated to hunting whale, an animal that appears on its provincial shield. To the west of the town, at the end of its extensive beach and sheltered by the mountain, there is a tiny port that is used during the summer by the local youth for cliff jumping. In this port, there are some dredges for txalupas (small sailboats boats of about 4 or 5 meters) from where the fishermen go out to fish squid by the coast.
Bizkaia is a town almost impossible to imagine. It is extraordinarily narrow and shaped around the river Ea. The river channel that gives name to the locality is more of a sea inlet (product of the tide) than river (because of low tide, except in times of intense rain). Its tiny port is only operational during high tide hours, during off hours a few boats are stranded in the sand for most of the day. It is common for seafarers not to be able to arrive back in time to return from fishing and to find themselves stuck, without enough water to dock. So they must leave their boat stranded in the sand at the tiny local beach till the next high tide. Here you can prepare your short break in Ea.
There are two marinas in Algorta (municipality of Getxo). There is the so-called Puerto Viejo as an annex to the houses of fishermen located under the cliff (it was in these houses where the world-famous kalimotxo was invented). Until the end of the nineteenth century, that was the port where the rowers came out with a pilot to offer themselves to the ships that approached the perilous bar of sand, the Portugalete. The bar is a changing obstacle where since the roman times there have been many shipwrecks.
The beautiful and elegant Cantabrian town of Comillas has all kinds of attractions. One of them is its port. Its busy beach is one of great importance to the small town. At the west end of the beach there is a dam that protects it from the prevailing winds. Attached to the dam is a small port used by local fishermen to protect traditional boats with which they go fishing in the vicinity. Here you have got to prepare your visit to Comillas.
The small and typical Asturian village of Tazones is very close to the stately Villaviciosa. The natural park of Tazones’ has an estuary, Punta del Olivo, and a lighthouse. Both serve to protect and signal the tiny port of Tazones. Its smallness is not insignificant, for it is believed that Prince Charles of Ghent (years later Emperor Charles V) landed on September 19, 1517 to take charge of his peninsular heritage. During the month of August, the locals recreate this landing festively, although the chronicles of the time indicate that they were poorly received believing they were pirates. It is an excellent place to eat and a cheap area to tour.
In the eastern region of Galicia, known as the Navy Lugo, is the port of Rinlo. Located between the imposing Cathedrals beach and stately Ribadeo village, Rinlo is a very small group of shelters built between rocks on a ledge; only consisting of a small dock with a crane. Unfortunately, this did not prevent whaling in the city’s past. However, the contraband activities lasted until the twentieth century.