The Cíes Islands, a treasure in the Vigo estuary. Located in the province of Pontevedra in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, is part of the Galician Rías Bajas, in Spain. They belong to the Terrestrial Maritime National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia together with the Islands of Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada, and form a natural barrier between the estuary and the sea. The archipelago consists of three main islands: Monteagudo or North, Montefaro, joined to the first by the sand of Rhodes and San Martiño or South.
A natural environment, full of paradisiacal beaches, the richness in fauna and flora and its incredible landscapes, make this place an important cultural and natural enclave. We must also say that in addition to talking about Cíes as pure nature they offer a good sample of cultural heritage: ruins of monasteries, castros, salting factories and warehouses of the carabineiros.
A paradisiacal enclave just 50 minutes from Vigo. The Cíes Islands have something special, a unique landscape, a peace that captivates you and even one of the best beaches in the world. An ideal destination if you are planning a getaway after completing the French Camino de Santiago.
If with all this you are not convinced to know this small paradise located in Spain, then we will give you all the details about the Cíes Islands that will make you think no more and want to visit them.
HOW TO GET THERE?
At the beginning of this post we talked about where they were, so we will take as a reference the city of Vigo. Although they are associated with this city, it is possible to arrive from other ports such as Baiona or Cangas, but the shortest route is from Vigo.
How do I get to the Cíes Islands? To go to the Cíes Islands is only possible by boat, there are three options: travel with one of the passenger transport boats that depart from Vigo and Cangas, hire an organized excursion or request a permit to anchor on the island and go there with your own boat. These three options are possible during the summer, during the low season that takes place in the coldest months of the year it is only possible to go to the Cíes Islands contracting an organized trip that has an express authorization from the director of the Natural Park. On these ferries you can get directly to the islands of Monte Agudo and O Faro. The third island, San Martiño, can only be reached by private boat, which is also the only way to access the archipelago all year round.
This is a national park and after the saturation suffered in 2017, there are more tourist restrictions to visit them. Access is limited to 2200 people per day, so it is advisable to reserve your permit in advance before deciding to go. The Xunta de Galicia has set up a specific website in order to acquire this permit. A maximum of 45 days in advance can be applied for and up to 25 permits can be obtained on the same application. All permits are personal and nominative, so it is necessary to enter the names of the people who are going to visit it.
SLEEP IN CÍES. A NIGHT IN PARADISE
Most of the people that visit the Island, do it in the same day and they return. But if you want to sleep there and wake up watching the sunrise surrounded by nature and beaches of fine sand and crystal clear water, forget hotels.
You can only sleep in the Cíes Islands in the camping tent. If you want to see the sunset and sunrise on the islands, it’s your only option. We advise you to book in advance because there are limited places for it.
WHAT CAN BE DONE IN THE ISLE OF CIES?
Talking about Cíes is talking about nature, so in all the activities we do there, nature will be the protagonist. From visiting its beaches of fine sand and crystal clear water, to observe its fauna and flora or for the more adventurous and active, make some of their hiking routes.
If we want to do all these activities, one day may not be enough and we recommend reserving two or three days to be able to enjoy to the maximum.
The Cíes Islands have nine beaches of fine white sand and crystalline waters that allow you to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of its landscapes. Natural enclaves where the traveler can isolate himself from the world and find an incomparable peace. Rhodes, Figueiras and San Martiño are the largest beaches, but there are numerous coves such as Areíña, Bolos, Cantareira, Margaridas, Muxieiro and Nosa Señora de Carracido, where we can also escape and get lost. You can’t leave there without visiting the most important ones.
The most visited beach in Galicia and considered by the British newspaper “The Guardian” as the best in the world for its waters of that turquoise blue so characteristic, its fine white sand and forests that end up reaching the sands of the beach. It is the largest and most important beach in the archipelago, and its conditions and services make it ideal for spending the day with the family.
The beach of Figueiras, also called “of the Germans”, Located in the Island of Monteagudo (North), is the ideal place for the nudist collective, intimacy and freedom characterize this beach. It has very white sands, very crystalline water and offers a dream landscape.
San Martiño Beach
It is located on the South Island, and access is only possible by private boat. An extremely majestic landscape with an impressive quality of beaches, very calm waters and white sand.
Hiking around the Cíes Islands is the best way to get to know this natural paradise, integrate into the environment, watch birds, appreciate its flora and fauna and have the best views from the cliffs and viewpoints. Just like on the Way of St. James, nature will take over us and make us forget everything.
Going through one of the four routes you will be able to immerse yourself in the environment and fall in love with this magical corner of Galicia.
Monte Faro Route
This is the most famous and longest route of all. The route is 7’5 kilometres long and is of medium difficulty due to the unevenness. From the wharf of Rodas we will depart and travel most of this route through the island of O Faro until we reach the lighthouse of Cíes. When we arrive we will contemplate the impressive views given to us by its two viewpoints, as well as the dune systems, Lake dos Nenos or the Nature Interpretation Centre.
Alto do Príncipe Route
The whole route will be crossed by the Island of Monteagudo, by a land surrounded by trees. Its length is much shorter than the previous route, only 3`5 kilometers. It is therefore the shortest route and allows us to enjoy both the views and the significant contrast of the two sides of the island. On your way along this route you will find some points of interest such as the Figueira Muxieiro dune complex, the remains of the Ancient Cuncheiro or the peculiar formation in the rocks of the Queen’s Chair.
Door lighthouse route
A different point of view, the South Island. This route will run along the southern coast of Lighthouse Island. A route with a distance of 5´2 kilometers, of little difficulty in which we will find O Castro das Hortas.
Route of Monteagudo
Equivalent in distance to the route do faro da porta, consists of 5´6 kilometers of distance. It offers marvellous views of the estuary from the Faro do Peito. From that same point we can see the archipelago of Ons, Cabo Home or Costa da Vela. On your way you will come across the remains of the Old Cuncheiro, Figueiras Beach or the Bird Observatory.
If we still feel like more, these islands never cease to surprise us and continue to offer us an endless number of activities. All of them different and that will leave us a magical memory of the Cíes.
Due to its low light pollution, the national park has been selected as a starligth destination, a designation given to those sites with certain characteristics. It is possible to make a night excursion in organized groups in which a monitor will accompany us and give us a brief description of the main constellations, planets, etc…
We can not forget that being surrounded by water, you can not miss water sports and activities. Among them the most remarkable is diving. The diving club Illas Atlánticas proposes you to discover the seabed of the National Park. Live the experience and immerse yourself in waters that are home to more than 100 different marine species. There are other activities such as snorkeling or kayaking, for this it is necessary to contact some of the companies that offer them.
A postcard landscape, the best beach in the world, a natural park practically intact, a dream getaway, what are you waiting for to visit the Cíes Islands?