Boat tour comments

1-hour commented tourist tour, sailing through Santoña Bay with views of Laredo beach and commenting on the stories and legends of these fishing villages. Leaving the estuary towards the Cantabrian Sea.

Then we go to see the famous horse lighthouse, the caves and the cliffs, and, returning through the area of the forts, we enter the natural park of the Santoña marshes.

A beautiful route with spectacular views of this area of Cantabria, seeing the mountains and mountain ranges in the background.

Ideal for taking beautiful photographs of the landscape from the boat, the color changes between the water, the green of the mountains and the color of the sky.

A route cataloged by tourism agencies as a reference boat trip in Cantabria.

Boat tour comments
recorrido comentado, excursion en barco al faro del caballo


Welcome to the boat and this maritime excursion, we hope you have a very pleasant boat trip. For one hour they will visit this area of northern Spain. You will see the famous horse lighthouse, which is one of the 10 essential places to visit in Cantabria, you will also see the cliffs, the bay, the forts, the Laredo beach, the port and the Marismas Natural Park, internationally protected natural spaces. .


Before continuing with the explanations of the tour, we inform you that we have on the boat, below the stairs, ladies’ and men’s toilets.



2 – ESTUARY – Audio

At this moment we are in a place that looks like a lake, but it is the mouth of a river, whose name is Río Asón. The river is born in those mountains that you see in the background, 40 kilometers from here, in a natural waterfall with a drop of 60 meters. This mouth of the river into the sea is an estuary,  and, in this case, it is the main wetland in northern Spain, it is a protected area and special monitoring of migratory birds from Europe to Africa. In case you don’t remember, an estuary is an area where the tide rises and falls, but in general, they are areas protected from the strong impact of the waves on the coast, which is why sediments that come down from the mountains accumulate in these places and are deposited. organic nutrients that give a lot of life to this ecosystem.

To the right you can see the beach of the town of Laredo, a long beach almost 5 km long, which on this back side has a river mouth that is fresh water, and on the other side where the beach is, it has salt water, corresponding to the open sea, the Cantabrian Sea.

This beach in Laredo is protected from the force of the sea, since the island of Santoña, where we left, protects this area from the storms of the Atlantic Sea, which is why it is a quiet beach, in a semicircle and one of the most beautiful in the north from Spain. It is known as a children’s beach for its safety. 90% of the year it always looks like a swimming pool.


3 – WAY OF ST. JAMES – Audio

Since the 9th century, this beach was a stopover for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (St. James Way). It was said that these waters cured the feet of pilgrims (salt water), tired of walking the road from Europe to Finisterre or the End of the World (Galicia, northwest Spain).

Galicia is the place where the bones and remains of Saint James, the apostle of Jesus Christ, who proclaimed the faith of the gospel throughout Europe, were found in the year 800.

The reason why European Christians came on pilgrimage through the Spanish north. This northern area, between the Basque Country and Asturias, was not invaded, conquered, by the Muslims, who dominated Spain for 8 centuries when they conquered this country in the year 711 after Christ. But, this uninvaded area was the one that Christians used to avoid conflicts with the Islamic religion. For this reason, you have seen this strait of sea, more than 20,000 pilgrims cross it every year, maintaining that primitive tradition of walking, making a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the place where the apostle’s tomb was found. They crossed a small boat to avoid making a huge turn until they reached Santoña.



Laredo was one of the most important towns in northern Spain years ago, it was the port of Queen Isabella the Catholic in the 16th century, called Puerto de Castilla. Her daughter, Juana la Loca, left by boat from here to Holland to marry Philip the Fair. In 1501, Catherine of Aragon also left from here to marry Henry VIII, and became Queen of England. The great emperor of the world Charles V of Germany was also here in 1556, when he began to be sick and tired due to his age, abdicated power to his son Philip II, and retired to die in Spain. . He returned to this port of Laredo by boat from Germany, since he wanted to know the port where her mother Juana left by boat to marry her father Philip of Burgundy. The fact that this great emperor of the world, Charles V, had been in Laredo, It made this fishing village a place for commercial exchanges by sea between Spain and other European countries. Laredo is classified as a town of kings and queens from that time in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.



Laredo is currently the summer tourist town, with a quiet beach where thousands of tourists come to enjoy their vacations. 11,000 people live in Laredo, but in summer we reach 90,000. This has the importance of being an ideal beach for families, it is very flat and does not generate waves. That is why it is also known as a children’s beach for its safety. It is large and has no capacity problems.

The largest medieval old town in Cantabria is in this town of Laredo, and it is a very beautiful place to visit, in addition to the church of Santa María de la Asunción which is Gothic. You also see from here, the mountain that is in front of the port, (where the stone wall is), and that mountain is the remains of a volcano that, curiously, is crossed by a 220-meter tunnel that can be visited, and reaches the other side of the mountain that is open sea. It is the only place in the world of volcanic ash that has such a long tunnel underneath.



We are now heading to the open sea, to the Cantabrian Sea. If you look shortly, to the right 8 km from here you will see a rock coming out of the water in the shape of a whale, it is known as the whale of the northern Spanish coast, behind that rock in the shape of a whale is the city of Bilbao.

Since we are on a boat, we are going to remind you of a few sailor terms:

The front part of a ship is called: bow, the back part: stern, the left part of the ship is: port, and the right: starboard. The length of a boat: length and width: beam of the boat.

Unit of distance at sea: nautical mile, (1,852 meters), which is a unit equivalent to dividing the 40,000 kilometers of the earth’s circumference by 360 degrees of a circle. Do not confuse the nautical mile with the land mile (which is the equivalent of 1,600 meters). On the other hand, as a unit of speed we use the knot, which is the equivalent of moving 1 nautical mile in 1 hour.

A ship stays in the sea by Archimedes’ principle. And to be a boat captain, you need knowledge of meteorology, mathematics, physics, navigation, lifesaving at sea, radio stations, maritime signals and laws and regulations.

Now we are going to the other side of Santoña, which seems to be a kind of island separated from the Cantabrian coast, and as a whole, it is a natural park and protected space, up the mountain, there are no houses or roads, there is only life natural, goats, foxes, wild boars, reptiles, birds, trees and vegetation.

Santoña is an island that emerged from under the water 50 million years ago, at a time when the collisions of the continents of Africa and Europe created folds and mountain ranges emerged. Here in front, that plate collision pressure caused the sediments of millions of seashells and remains of mollusks that were there under the water, to emerge upwards, forming this kind of island. That is why the composition of the rock is limestone and as we advance you will see caves and grottoes, formed by the erosion of salt water in this type of rock.

There is a path along the top of the cliff that you see in front of you and from the top there is a staircase of more than 760 steps that goes down to the lighthouse that you see up ahead. Walking from the center of Santoña to the Faro del Caballo takes almost 2 hours and you have to walk through bushes and vegetation for almost 4 kilometers (2.4 miles).

That Lighthouse that you see is visited every year by more than 30,000 people, some doing hiking routes and others to go down to bathe in that area where there are caves and grottoes. The name of the lighthouse is the horse, and if the sea is good, that is where we are going to approach. That lighthouse was built in 1862, where there was a small house in those years where the lighthouse keeper lived, with his wife, and 5 small children. Life then was difficult as there was no electricity or motor boats. If there were storms at sea, they could not travel to the town by boat from there, so in 1880 they used some prisoners from a prison in the port of Santoña to build the staircase that we talked about before, with 760 steps. .

Historically, Santoña was an area of military settlement, due to its strategic position on the coast. Later, when the attack and defense system of the armies completely changed, it became an obsolete plaza (at the end of the 19th century) and was transformed into a port. important fishing port, becoming today the main fishing auction port in this autonomous community of Cantabria, and one of the most important in Spain.

Culturally it has an important wealth, we start from the Church of Sta María del Puerto, a Romanesque temple from the 13th century, whose anecdote lies in the legend that Santiago Apóstol in the year 37, visited this place, giving rise to an ancient church, which Centuries later, the Benedictines transformed it into a monastery. The Palaces are also worth visiting. In addition to the forts and other monuments that we will see later.

The canning industry stands out, the Italian manufacturers who brought salting, known today for one of the exquisite delicacies, the Cantabrian anchovy.

Santoña is also known for its happy and social character, always with popular festivals, the famous carnivals being the most beautiful and important in the Spanish north.




The Horse Lighthouse and its surroundings, its cliffs, its caves, is one of the most beautiful places in Cantabria from the sea.

All national and international guides have awarded it the award of being the most beautiful thing on this coast.

The lighthouse is a place where thousands of people come to visit every year. It is called that, horse, because in the 19th century there were no motor boats and in case of storms at sea, small boats could not be used, for that reason To carry food, utensils, materials and more, horses did so walking along the mountains and cliffs.

That lighthouse was built in 1862, where in those years there was a small house where the lighthouse keeper lived with his wife and 5 small children. That family in those years had a difficult and hard life. Alone and isolated. If there were storms at sea, they could not move from there, so in 1880 some prisoners from a prison in the port of Santoña built the staircase that we have talked about before. That lighthouse was built to warn of the danger of approaching the coast since there is a lot of rock under the water. In those years, a lighthouse at water level meant that ships had to move away from the coast.

As the 20th century advanced, technology meant that boats had engines, and it was no longer necessary to live continuously in the lighthouse because they had their home in the town, and the lighthouse keeper came by motorized boat to the lighthouse. Nowadays it does not work since there are GPS and navigation systems, and it was also obsolete as it was technically difficult to access.

In this place on the coast, most people really like the emerald green color of the water, and in summer, bathe in this place with green waters. Even go into the caves swimming or with small boats. We remind you that what you are seeing is one of the 10 places to visit in Cantabria. And the famous Repsol Guide has cataloged it as such.




If you look at where the mountain ends, to your right, ahead, the corner, where the mountain ends, in that kind of vertical wall drop, looks like a face in profile. Look closely at where the rock ends up ahead, at the limit, at the end of the mountain you can see a kind of chin of a face in the water area, higher up the mouth, continuing up the nose, right between those 2 slits , a little higher up a black eye in profile, the forehead higher up, and the beak looks like the tip of an Easter monk. That’s why it’s called Peña del Fraile.




In 1639 France declared war on Spain, Cardinal Richelieu ordered 70 ships with 5,000 French soldiers to arrive in this area, with the aim of burning a shipyard that was behind Laredo and Santoña where ships that sailed the seas of the world were built. and at that time Spain was the leading naval power, that is why there was a phrase in the 16th and 17th centuries that said: that the sun did not set on the Spanish Empire. Since Spanish rule extended from the Philippines to America. Furthermore, Laredo was the Port of the Spanish Crown in those years of 1,500 – 1,600 and commercial exchanges by sea from Europe with Spain were carried out in the port of Laredo. That’s why Richelieu wanted to block this area. They achieved their objective, since they burned Laredo and Santoña, only 1,200 inhabitants lived,

Now we want to tell you that Santoña has long been classified as the island of Napoleon Bonaparte in Spain. For his interest, in 1800 Napoleonic troops were invading territories in Europe, and if not with wars, Napoleon did so through agreements with countries. We remind you that this emperor had 12 European countries under his command. Santoña was a strategic place in the north of Spain, you can only enter Santoña from where you came by bus, and through that only entrance site in 1812 Napoleon forced a fort to be built to prevent the entry of the Spaniards and enemies, today in day, that fort is a prison jail.

Here to your right you can see that some rocks that were on top of the cliff appear in the water. Napoleon, like a good military strategist, thought that his Spanish island had a problem in the rear, here to his right in 1800 there was a beach easily accessible by boat, so he told the military engineers to use gunpowder to break into the rock to that the beach would disappear and they would not be able to disembark enemy soldiers from ships in this area here. That’s why the rock you see in the water is a small rock. If it had been a natural collapse, it would have been large blocks of stone, but no, they are small rocks because they were drilling for several months until the beach and the danger of invasion here disappeared. Years later, Napoleon lost his empire, and his island of Santoña due to a serious mistake, greed, he became blind with power since he wanted to conquer Russia in winter, and that terrible mistake caused his entire army to be recruited in summer, the Great Navy composed of 700,000 soldiers, and he made them walk from France to Russia, when they arrived in Moscow in winter, they found that it was burned and half a million soldiers died of cold and hunger, it was the decline of Napoleon, he had a war council and they banished him to the island of Elba, and also lost with tears and heartache his Spanish island of Santoña. So don’t forget that this place was a small property of this great character in history.




On the right you see the fort of San Carlos, it was a trap fort, it was built in 1700, it was camouflaged with bushes and vegetation, the enemy saw the fort that can be seen ahead about 800 meters away, and thinking that from the fort there In front they were going to shoot at them, they stopped in this area to avoid being hit by the cannons, and just at that moment some fireballs came out from the right. To your left there are 8 sunken ships recorded in those times of 1720-1730

And later you will see the image of the Virgin of Santoña, it is called Virgen del Puerto, and it is The Virgin of the sailors of Santoña. There is a legend that says that a great sailor from Santoña called Juan de la Cosa, cartographer of Christopher Columbus, and owner of the ship Santa María of Spain’s first expedition to the New World, feared Juan de la Cosa to cross the Atlantic for the first time. Once, he came to his parish of Santoña and took the small image of the Virgin, put it on his ship and crossed the Atlantic to the New World, and returned months later alive and gave it luck, since then the sailors have been faithful to this Virgin of the Port.

Later you will see the San Martín fort that had 40 cannons for defense, and that never a single cannon shot was fired. The ships then were made of wood, and the captains turned around for fear of being hit.

Following this navigation you will see the pier in front and behind it the monument of the man born in Santoña that we mentioned before, the sailor Juan de la Cosa and cartographer of the Atlantic seas, the American lands and the Caribbean islands.




And lastly on the boat tour, we are going to visit the Santoña Marshes, which is a natural park and protected area. International, European and Spanish national laws protect our waters, since it is a transit point for migratory birds from northern Europe to Africa in winter. These waters have a special character, fresh water and salt water are mixed, this mixture makes the water intermediate in salinity (18%), and protects microorganisms and organic waste from the mountains, which together with the micro-plankton of the seabed, They are nutrients and food for the clams, oysters, crabs, and worms that are in the sediments that you see in front of you. And, within the food chain, here they come to eat fish that come from the sea such as sea bass, salmon, squid, etc.

To the right is the Santoña bullring, known throughout the world for being 1 meter from the sea. And behind it is the most important port in this region of Cantabria, the fishing port of Santoña, and a reference point in northern Spain.

Towards the mountains, on the other side, you will see a town, 4 kilometers away, called Colindres, where the shipyard was that built the ship Santa María del Descubrimiento de América, whose shipowner and owner was Juan de la Cosa from Santoña, previously named .


We are already finishing this boat tour, and we thank you for your stay with us, we hope you liked it and enjoyed the beauty of this place.


Thank you so much.