Monday, 8 September 2014

Cíes Islands, the Islands of Gods

Have you ever heard of the Islas Cíes or the Cíes Islands? Interestingly not even the Spanish themselves seem to know about this gorgeous place. I stumbled upon it by chance last year when I found a picture in my Spanish course book. All the students wanted to know where was the photo taken and after class I jumped on Google maps to find the place. At that time Galicia was waaaaaay out of reach however as I was planning to finish the Camino Portugués in that region I thought I could reward myself with a beach day.

Why are the Islands so amazing? This beach paradise with its crystal clear gorgeous green-blue water is Spain’s biggest secret and definitely amongst the most beautiful places I have seen in the country (and considering how much I have already seen of Spain this is saying a lot!). Even the Romans appreciated their beauty and called them ‘the Islands of Gods’. Even though nowadays people aren’t as dramatic when giving names they still call them the ‘Spanish Caribbean’ or the ‘Galician Seychelles’.

The Cíes archipelago is made up of three islands, Monte Agudo, O Faro and San Martiño. They form part of the Atlantic Islands National Park and are highly protected. Thanks to this they managed to retain their natural beauty and have stayed as unspoiled as they possibly can. You are warned not to take anything from the island (not even shells) and asked to carry your rubbish back with you when you leave. There is only one restaurant, one bar and a small supermarket on the island and not much else.

The only way to get to the Islands is by boat which leaves from the towns of Vigo, Cangas or Baiona. From Vigoit it takes about 40-45 minutes and at the time of writing a daily return ticket costs 18.50 euros per person. (OR you can come with your own yacht, you know the one that’s in your garage, but you need special permission for that.)

You will see many people getting of the boat, flopping down on the closest free patch of sand and staying there for the rest of the day, for example this little girl who geared up for the day to come carrying no less than three (3!) spades with her! Her day is sorted.

Apart from lying on the sand there are other things to do here, too. There are a few short, easy hiking routes that will take you to great viewpoints to admire the view. Don’t be surprised if people do this in their bikinis and flip-flops, the routes are that easy!

Due to its location the Islands are popular with birdwatchers, too. Throw in your snorkel and flippers, too, if you want to do some snorkelling. As 86% of the National Park is underwater there’s great diving to be found around however scuba diving is strictly controlled. If you’re interested, try

Due to the Islands’ protected status the amount of people who can visit one day is limited to 2200. It sounds a lot and as the Islands are not that well known it is usually not a problem to get tickets on the day however it’s better if you book a few days in advance with the boat companies (there are quite a few).

You won’t find hotels or apartments on any of the islands, staying here is only possible in a tent and only for one night. It is possible to hire one that’s already set up or bring your own stuff. Booking is essential. For more info check out this website.

Finally a word of warning, nudism seem to be the norm here (although it seemed to be pursued only on the smaller beaches) so don’t be surprised by uncovered bodies running up and down on the beach in front of you!

1 comment:

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