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Visiting Las Islas Cies in Galicia

A sailing trip out to Las Islas Cies from the coastal city of Vigo is a must to check out one of the arguably most beautiful beaches in the world.

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Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

Las Islas Cies, or the Cies Islands, were once named as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by The Guardian newspaper. And after a recent sailing trip to the three islands near Vigo, we definitely agree that the beach is stunning.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

Las Islas Cies

Las Islas Cies is made up of three islands, Monte Agudo, O Faro and San Martiño, and are situated at the entrance to the Ría de Vigo off the coast of Vigo in the northwest of Spain. While a protected National Park, you are allowed to wander around on the islands of Monte Agudo and O Faro.

Although the only way to make it out to Las Islas Cies is to sail.

In summer a number of companies operate regular services, but due to the islands popularity, there are only a limited number of visitors allowed to step on to the pristine beaches everyday. And a maximum of 800 people per night are allowed to camp on O Faro Island in summer, so bookings are essential!

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

Sailing out from Vigo harbour.

On one of our mornings exploring Vigo as part of their new #VigoAlive campaign we joined the Sailing charter company Sailway for a relaxing cruise out to Las Islas Cies. Climbing aboard one of their 10m yachts we set out for the hour long trip across the harbour.

Spending the day sailing past the mussel farms and old light houses standing sentry along the shoreline is the perfect way to see more of the Galician coastline.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

The only place to land at Las Islas Cies is on the island of Monte Agudo and as you get closer to the shoreline you begin to realise just why it was included as one of the top 10 beaches.

Walking up the gangplank you get your first proper look across the islands. Sunlight filters through the clouds and reflects off the white particles of sand and tufts of coarse grass protect the fragile dunes from eroding into the Atlantic.

Rodas Beach, the beach proclaimed as one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches, actually joins the two islands of Monte Agudo and O Faro islands via its curving length of golden sand. While the water was freezing in October, it is possible to swim and snorkel straight off the beach in the height of summer.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

At each end of Las Islas Cies there are lighthouses which are easily accessible on winding walkways for the more adventurous explorers.

Strolling along the gravel path across the artificial roadway to O Faro Island we made our way up the zigzagging paths. Between breaks in the trees we could catch glimpses of the protected island of San Martiño to the south. On which only the remains of a few abandoned houses crowd the shoreline from a time when you were allowed to live there.

Now no one except for the Park Rangers are allowed to disturb the native birds nesting on the island.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

Views from O Faro Island to San Martiño Island

Pausing for breath at the top of Faro Island, we watched the birds cartwheel through the skies along the rocky outcrops. A sense of insignificance settled upon us as we gazed across the icy Atlantic Ocean. If you decided to dive in here and start swimming, then the next outcrop of land you stumbled upon would be somewhere in North America.

With so much empty space between the two continents you can only imagine how the waves have changed the landscape over the past millions of year. And how it will change in years to come as the deep turquoise water still churns to white around the base of the three Islands.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

View from Faro Island back across 

As the sun swept low across the ever darkening sky we raced the rain back to the shelter of boat.

The sky began to drizzle and a rush of adventure and excitement filled us as the increasing winds snatched at the sails. The weather threatening to send us on a wild journey should we loosen our hands on the wheel.

But as we drew closer to Vigo and back to civilisation it seemed the further we were from relaxing. I could definitely get used to wandering the deserted paradise of Las Islas Cies and becoming the next Robinson Crusoe.

Expert Travel Information for Las Islas Cies:

Where to stay?

Check out the AC Hotel Palacio Universal if you would like a relaxing Hotel in Vigo. Nice and close to the harbour to visit Las Islas Cies easily.

What to do?

Sail out to the gorgeous Islas Cies of course! Check out the Sailway Facebook page if you want to learn a little bit more about them.

How to get there?

Unfortunately Vigo airport is quite small. But there are lots of flights into Madrid which is only a 50 minute flight from Vigo.

Helpful Travel Guides to use in Vigo and Spain:

Disclaimer: We were guests of the Vigo Tourism Board on the trip to Las Islas Cies. Although our photos and thoughts are always our own.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    October 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    The Jandals as castaways…I can see it!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      Should be some sort of reality TV show about this 😉

  2. Oriana

    October 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    Nice post Cole! I had never heard of these islands, and now you made me want to go, it looks so peaceful and uncontaminated! Do you know whether you are allowed to sail there by yourself (I mean privately)?

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      Definitely can sail there privately. Just not sure how they enforce who is allowed to stop on the Island. Just get there nice and early 😉

      • Oriana

        October 31, 2012 at 11:01 AM

        I see, thanks. Will suggest it to my dad and his sailing-buddies then!

  3. Stephen Schreck

    October 30, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    You make it sounds amazing and the pictures make it look amazing so I am going to say yes it should be on the Top ten beaches in the world.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      If the water had been warmer and we were able to swim then it would definitely jump on the Top 10 list 😉

  4. Laurie

    October 30, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    The three islands, Monte Agudo, O Faro and San Martiño are great places to visit.

  5. Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog

    October 30, 2012 at 4:37 AM

    Oh no, don’t become the next Robinson Crusoe, although this scenic island is a great vacation spot, because there are so many waiting to read about your adventures 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      Maybe we can get a satellite phone or something to give us WiFi haha.

  6. Turtle

    October 30, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    It is beautiful… but I get the feeling the Guardian editors were being cheap and wouldn’t let their reporters go more than 1000 miles away for research… 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      Haha that is true. I sometimes wonder about the truth behind these “Top 10 Lists”. Obviously never been to the South Pacific!

  7. Laurence

    October 30, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    I can totally see you as Robinson Crusoe. Although what would that make Adele?

  8. Matthew Karsten

    October 30, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    I could see myself sailing to these islands to do some camping. Looks peaceful!
    But 800 campers? That seems like a lot. It must be pretty big…

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      The campground would be packed with that many people as it wasn’t that big. Would spend half your time tripping over the tent flys!

  9. Arti

    October 31, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Looks so pretty!! No wonder it was featured in the top 10!! Would love to spend some time there. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      November 1, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      No worries Arti! Hope you visit the area one day. Little bit harder to get to, but worth it 🙂

  10. Molly

    November 1, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    The undiscovered part of Spain for me, the North. I hope to get chance to visit Vigo, Galicia and Asturias at some part. Thanks for great pics.

    • Cole Burmester

      November 2, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      We need to head south now to find our undiscovered part of Spain! Heard it is a lot more laid back down there? And cheaper too?

  11. D.J. - The World of Deej

    November 2, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Love the view from Faro Island!

  12. Angela

    November 3, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Beautiful views, I could easily spend a month there catching up with proper, much needed relax.

  13. Susan@Travel Universally

    November 5, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    It’s a perfect place for spending and enjoying the time with the dear ones. For Nature Lovers like me, It’s like Heaven. Awesome!

    • Cole Burmester

      November 8, 2012 at 4:40 AM

      Would love to visit in summer when the water was warm so we could go swimming!

  14. Ashley of Ashley Abroad

    November 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    I can’t tell what’s prettier, the sky or the water! GORGEOUS photos. I’ve heard of these islands before but haven’t made it over there yet.

    • Cole Burmester

      November 8, 2012 at 4:46 AM

      Wish we had a chance to dip into the water! Pity it was a bit too chilly for us, but summer is meant to be lovely 🙂

  15. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    November 12, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Beautiful photos. I haven’t had a chance to explore northern Spain and the protected areas of Monte Agudo and O Faro look like a stunning place to explore.

    • Cole Burmester

      November 12, 2012 at 9:01 PM

      Lots of bird spotting up there on the Cies Islands if you guys make it out to Northern Spain!

  16. Ali

    November 13, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Looks gorgeous! Spain is one of my favorite countries, and I’d love to explore more. Never been to Galicia.

  17. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    November 18, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    This looks gorgeous! Although gotta say, I’m actually curious about costs – this looks like it’d be a pretty expensive place to go to and stay in?

  18. Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home

    November 18, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    The clouds in those pictures are fantastic 🙂 I didn’t know about these islands until now.

  19. Muhammad Talha

    December 4, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    You know I love adventure…. Love to see the wonders of the world… btw nice photos.. 🙂

  20. Laura @Travelocafe

    December 4, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    I cannot believe I still haven’t been to Galicia and to Las Islas Cies. How difficult is to get there from Valencia? Your article should finally convince me to make the trip.

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Adventure Travel

Summer Events to check out in Surfers Paradise

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The weather is already heating up on the Gold Coast and everyone is getting ready for some hot days on the beach. Christmas is just around the corner and with it all the big summer events and festivals that happen at this time of year. Surfers Paradise is at the centre of it all and makes a great base for exploring the Gold Coast and attending the events on the Gold Coast’s summer schedule. There is plenty of places to stay in Surfers Paradise, so book yourself a room and check out some of these fantastic summer events.

Australian PGA Championship

Pacific Pines Resort is one of the premier golf courses in Australia. The country’s biggest golf tournament will make its way here from the 30th of November until the 3rd of December, where the best golfers from Australia and overseas will compete for the title. This is a must attend event for golfers, and there will be plenty of food and entertainment on offer across the four days.

Beachfront Markets

The foreshore in Surfers Paradise comes alive every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night, with over 100 market stalls filling up the esplanade. The iconic Beachfront Markets will continue throughout the summer and provides the perfect opportunity to get out and about on those warm summer nights, browse the stalls for some unique buys, and then head out on the town for dinner.

Christmas in Surfers Paradise

Experience Christmas in true Aussie style by attending the popular Christmas in Surfers Paradise event that fills up Cavill Mall from the 13th – 24th of December. The entire mall is transformed into a festive wonderland, Surfers style. Even Santa himself will be wearing boardies and travelling in a surf boat sleigh. The kids will love getting to visit Santa in the mall, and the whole event ends with the popular Carols on the Beach on the 23rd of December. Where else in the world can you experience Christmas Carols on the beach on a hot summer’s night?

New Year’s Carnival

Surfers Paradise is one of the best places to celebrate the New Year in the country. The New Year’s Carnival happens on the foreshore of Surfers Paradise across five days from the 27th of December until the 1st of January. It will be one big celebration with lots of rides and fun filled activities, music and more. On New Year’s Eve, you can enjoy massive fireworks displays over the water, with three different displays lighting up the skies above the Gold Coast. There will even be an earlier fireworks display for the little ones. This is definitely the place to be to bring in the New Year.

Magic Millions Carnival

One of the first big events to check out in 2018 will be the extravagant Magic Millions Carnival. On from the 7th until the 13th of January, the Magic Millions Carnival is the premier event of the summer horse racing season. This is a $10 Million horse race and it is sure to be a huge event, with all the glitz and glamour and socialising that goes with it. On the 9th of January, head to the Surfers Paradise Foreshore for the Barrier Draw, where you can watch the horses on the sand and enjoy food and beverages from the stalls. The big race day will be held on the 13th of January.

Burleigh Pro

Surfing is huge on the Gold Coast and one of the best surf spots is at Burleigh Heads. The Burleigh Pro has grown to become one of the biggest surfing competitions in Australia and will see some of the world’s top surfers compete for the title. Local surfers and visitors should definitely attend this one. The Burleigh Pro will be held from the 25th – 28th of January.

Sand Safari

One of the more unique and interesting events to check out this summer will be the 2018 Sand Safari. This arts festival focuses on Australia’s talented sand sculptors, who will compete in the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships. These sand artists carve out incredible, often life sized sculptures entirely of sand, and you will often be truly awed by what they are able to create. The main sculpture competition takes place on the beach along the Surfers Paradise foreshore, however this is a big event from the 2nd to the 25th of February, and you will be able to find special sand sculpture exhibits all over Surfers Paradise.

Summer of Surf

The Summer of Surf is a massive event which will see the country’s best Ironmen and Ironwomen compete in a gruelling six discipline event across six rounds, including the highlighted IronMan and IronWoman competitions. These athletes are the epitome of endurance, and the competition will hit Surfers Paradise for round five of the competition on the 3rd and 4th of February.

The Village Markets

Burleigh Heads is one of the most picturesque and laid back places on the Gold Coast and well worth heading to for a few hours. A good time to visit is during the twice monthly Village Markets which have become an integral part of the Burleigh atmosphere. This popular and laid back market has a beachy, artsy feel to it, and you will find all kinds of unique buys here from the many stalls on offer. Street food stalls are also a big thing here so you can sample some delicious delicacies while browsing the stalls. Finish the day by relaxing on the beach, or sit down for a drink at the Burleigh Surf Club.

Whether you’re looking for a destination for a family holiday or just wanting a quick getaway to unwind this summer, Surfers Paradise is a great choice. With so much happening from cultural night markets to world class sporting events, you are sure to find something of interest in this iconic Gold Coast location.

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Adventure Travel

Top 5 Adventure Activities for a Vacation to Las Vegas

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Mention a vacation to Las Vegas and one of the first things people think about is the hotels and gambling.  And while these are major attractions to the city, they aren’t the only things you can do in and around Las Vegas.  Here are five ideas for fans of adventure holidays.

Helicopter trips

One of the best ways to see Las Vegas from the air is from one of the helicopter trips on offer around the area.  These offer a unique view of the city and its startling hotels.  It is also a great way to see more of the surrounding area – the Grand Canyon, the red sandstones at the Valley of Fire State Park and even the Hoover Dam.  Helicopter trips are great fun and often come with extras such as rafting tours along the floor of the Grand Canyon or exploring the area on an ATV.

Hiking

Las Vegas may be a largely desert area and pretty flat, but it is surrounded by mountains and that makes for great hiking opportunities.  Mount Charleston is just to the west of the city and has some great locations to hike including Mary Jane Falls for beginners or Mummy Mountain for more experienced hikers.  Look out for Raintree, the 3,000 year old Bristlecone Pine that is believed to be the oldest living thing in the state.  If you want to upgrade the experience, look out for the rock climbing schools around the city that offer climbing for all levels.

Kayaking

As well as kayaking as part of a helicopter tour, you can go for a more comprehensive kayaking experience in a number of spots around the city.  The Colorado River is one where you can visit spots like Emerald Cove that really lives up to its name.  Lake Mead is another ideal kayaking spot and somewhere you can also try stand up paddle boarding.  There are lots of little islands to explore around the lake, but the winds can be testing so don’t forget your safety gear.

Biking

Hire a bike when on vacation in Las Vegas and you get the chance to see some of the best of the area.  The Red Rock Canyon Loop is a 20-mile loop that includes the famous Joshua trees as well as the red rocks that give the area its name.  A lot of the loop is quite flat.  There are also some good routes around Lake Mead including more challenging ones that use the landscape carved out by lava when there was volcanic activity.

Snowboarding

Being in the desert, Las Vegas isn’t a place you would associate with snowboarding.  But for a few months of the year, the Lee Canyon near Mount Charleston becomes a snowboarding heaven.  It offers something for beginners and also some challenging areas for more experienced snowboarders including some good trails above the lift drop off point.  There is even a lodge that offers hot chocolate and other drinks to warm up between runs.

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Adventure Travel

Top 5 Unusual Luxury Cruise Destinations

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If you love the outdoors and wildlife or are an adventure holiday fan, a cruise may not seem like the ideal holiday for you.  But there are a few cruise destinations around the world that offer both luxury and something different.  Here are five ideas to inspire you to book yourself a luxury cruise for your next vacation.

Australia and New Zealand

Tours around Australia and New Zealand offer the chance to see some amazing scenery, wildlife and also visit some of the top spots around these two Southern Hemisphere countries.  Visit cities such as Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and Dunedin and Auckland in New Zealand as well locations such as the famous Bondi Beach and the island of Tasmania.  For northern areas, April to September is a good time to travel while March to August is best for the more southern locations.  Head to New Zealand in December to March for the driest months.

Japan

The ancient cities of Japan are just part of the attraction of taking a cruise around this country.  Top spots to visit include the capital Tokyo, with its brilliant blend of historic buildings and cutting-edge technology that sums up much of Japan.  Other locations to look to visit include Kagoshima on the southern edge of Kyushu with its palms trees and beautiful sea views.  Hakodate is another popular spot where you can visit the Mount Hakodate Observatory looking out over the sea.

Galapagos

For wildlife fans, the fascinating islands of the Galapagos are one of the dream cruises available.  Here you can see species of animal not found anywhere else in the world including giant tortoises, penguins and hilarious looking blue-footed boobies (a type of bird).  Each island has its own species so there is plenty to see.  December to May are the best times to visit when the seas are calmest and the animals most active.

Central and South America

While many people have experienced a Caribbean cruise, there is also plenty to see and do on the mainland of Central American and down into South America.  You can even find large cruise ships that can travel a distance up the Amazon River, being that it is so wide and deep.  Look for expeditions that allow you to visit Mayan ruins in Mexico or go kayaking in sea caves.  And there is the rich wildlife of the area to enjoy – monkeys, parrots and big cats to name just a few.  You can even find a cruise that takes you through the famous Panama Canal and across to the Pacific coast.

Antarctica

Antarctica might not be somewhere you associated with a cruise, but it is becoming a popular destination for people who want to go somewhere different.  There are places like the Falkland Islands and South Georgia as well as parts of Antarctica itself.  The wildlife is a big draw for people with elephant seals, fur seals and an amazing amount of bird life – who can resist penguins?  It is also a good chance to see historic locations associated with polar exploration.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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