The fabulous Cíes Islands
The Romans called the Cíes Islands in Galicia, 'the islands of the Gods', and to this day they are an idyllic paradise in northern Spain where you can enjoy nature and the sea. When you see them for yourself you'll understand why their main beach was chosen as the best in the world by The Guardian newspaper. Heaven on earth? If not, then this is close.
Crystal-clear intense turquoise waters. Beaches with incredibly fine white sand. A lake whose transparent surface enables you to see the wide variety of fish that live there. The tropics? No, the Cíes Islands, in northwest Spain. There are three, and you'll find them in the Rías Baixas estuary in Galicia, opposite the coast of Vigo. This archipelago, besides being a fairy-tale setting, is also of great ecological importance. Its stunning landscapes form part of the Islas Atlánticas National Park, outstanding for its rich seabeds and some of the most important colonies of marine birds in the world. The Atlantic Ocean, sand dunes, pine forests, cliffs… Come and see for yourself –the Cíes Islands are home to incredible landscapes worthy of the gods.
How to visit
Their peace and quiet and purity are further qualities that make these islands so outstanding. To protect the environment and avoid mass tourism, access to visitors is limited to 2,200 people per day. During Easter week, at weekends in May and throughout the summer, there are regular boat services from Vigo, Baiona and Cangas de Morrazo.
If you want to stay the night in the Cíes, you'll find a campsite with 800 places that opens in Easter week, and on subsequent weekends until June, and then regularly between June and September, providing the weather conditions allow a regular boat service. The maximum permitted stay in the campsite is one week. In order to make use of its facilities, you'll need to book via the Internet on the reservations website or in the office at the park on the day of your visit. When you buy your boat ticket, don't forget to show your camper's card, otherwise you'll only be sold a day return.
A perfect day at the beach and more
The first thing you'll notice as you approach the Cíes Islands is the stunning sandy Rodas beach, which links the islands of Monteagudo and El Faro. This is not the only beach on the eastern side of the archipelago, however: Figueiras beach –popular with nudists– and Nosa Señora beach are two more examples. What's more, you'll have access to a full range of services to ensure a perfect day at the beach: bars and restaurants, toilets, lifeguards, healthcare facilities…
If you prefer sporting activities, hiking is an excellent way of exploring the Cíes Islands. There are four established itineraries you can take to explore the forests, Los Niños lake, bird watching observatories, a pre-Roman settlement, and wonderful views of the cliffs in the western part of the islands from their lighthouses. The Visitor Centre is located on the site of the remains of the old San Estevo monastery, and can provide you with information on the different routes, the importance of the natural environment and the norms to be observed.
Scuba-diving and sailing are also permitted off the Cíes Islands, with authorisation. This can be obtained by applying for a permit on the National Parks reservations website. Remember that once on the islands you'll be asked a photocopy of your identity document, your scuba-diving certificate, and insurance.
Come and discover the Cíes Islands and you won't be disappointed. You'll see that words alone are insufficient to describe 'the islands of the gods'.
Spanish National Parks reservations website
Rías Baixas tourist office. Cíes Islands
Ministry of the Environment. Islas Atlánticas National Park
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