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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

Four Jandals ABC’s of Travel

A journey to the past to look back on our travels from our brief time on this beautiful planet we all call home.

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Toronto Skyline Four Jandals

We were recently tagged by the hilarious Lucy from On the Luce and D.J. from the World of Deej in the Travel Blogger’s “A to Z of Travel” meme that has been doing the rounds on the interweb for the last few months. We thought it would be a great chance to look back at not only our last 2 and a half years of travel as a couple but also our travels individually.

All of the questions were pre-picked so grab a cup of coffee / tea / juice sipper and sit back and join us on our journey into the past…

A: Age you went on your first international trip:

Cole – Does it count if I was in my Mum’s tummy when she travelled to Canada? If not then probably when I was a few years old to hop across the ditch to Surfer’s Paradise with the family. Went back several times and always loved the beach, weather and theme parks.

Adela – Not sure if this is the first trip but it is certainly the first one I remember. We went on a family trip to Noumea and I think I was about Seven. Having the luck that my family does it rained every day! And me being the bossy/naughty kid I was, I ran off from Mum and Dad when we were in town. Needless to say I was on a very short leash for the rest of the trip!

Toronto Skyline Four Jandals

Travelling as a couple on our extended Round The World trip

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

Cole – Tough call but having a cold Bintang in Jimbaran Bay, Bali, always springs to mind when thinking about tasty beers. I think it’s more about the setting rather than the beer!

Adela – Singa beer in Thailand. I agree with Cole its all about the setting. Drinking in an outdoor bar right on the beach is pretty damn good!

C: Cuisine (favorite):

Cole – Since it’s about travel it has to be France apart from when I ordered just a plate full of beans for Adela with my hopeless grasp of the French language. Otherwise BBQ’s in New Zealand win hands down.

Adela – Italian! I could eat pasta every day!

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:

Cole – Favourite to date would be Jasper National Park because of it’s beauty. Least favourite would be Marrakech after kissing a snake and getting the runs for 2 weeks.

Adela – Favourite; Munich is an awesome city. The buildings are beautiful, especially the glockenspiel. The feel of the place is awesome with beer gardens and awesome food markets. Least favourite; London is just too big for me!

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

Cole – Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt.

Pyramids of Giza in Cairo Egypt

Adela – Going to the “Edge of the World” in Jasper National Park.

F: Favorite mode of transportation:

Cole – Bicycling anywhere whether it is Mountain Biking in Scotland or cruising in Paris.

Adela – I definitely agree with Cole unless snowboarding counts?

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:

Cole – The freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Adela – Seeing places that you have dreamed of and saved for months then turning those into memories that you will treasure forever.

Lake Annette Jasper National Park

Living the Dream

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:

Cole – Definitely not Scotland! But I would say Marrakech was fairly hot and we were only there in the off-peak season.

Adela – Probably Thailand. Lots of afternoon naps required.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:

Cole – Always staying with friends and family when we travel. It is so nice to have a “local” show you around an area and cook a nice home cooked meal when you are on the road. Beats 5 stars every time (but that’s because we never stay in 5 star places haha).

Adela – I am goingto be cheesy and say we had some damn good service in Canada but then their motive is getting a tip. So its not really genuine good service haha.

J: Journey that took the longest:

Cole – We had to rush back home to New Zealand from Scotland when a loved one was sick. Not only was it the longest trip in terms of time, 37 hours, but it was also hard not knowing if we would make it in time.

Adela – Journeys that feel the longest are the ones where you get delayed. If you do get delayed use a company like Flight Delay Claims 4 U as you will not be ready for the time you have to spend in the airport otherwise! On the way back from Egypt we sat on the runway in Amsterdam for an hour and didn’t take off before spending a further few hours in the airport. Not fun.

K: Keepsake from your travels:

Cole – Photographs and this travel blog are our only ones at the moment. I did use to collect nail clippers until they started restricting them on flights!

Adela – Badges that I sew on my backpack. Except my backpack broke so now I am just adding to the pile of badges under my bed.

L: Let-down sight, why and where:

Cole and Adela – The Mona Lisa. Its smaller than we pictured it and you have to fight your way to get a spot to actually see it. In fact the whole of the Louvre was pretty boring. Have been to wayyy better museums elsewhere.

The Louvre

The Louvre – Big time boring

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:

Cole – I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love travel. It was always just one giant adventure as a kid and when solo travelling and now with a partner it is completely different again.

Adela – I used to browse through travel brochures as a kid. Probably a sign I was always addicted to travel.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

Cole – No places immediately jump out at me. I guess I am too much of a cheap-ass to afford a nice place.

Adela – Kata Beach Hotel in Thailand. Right on the beach, amazing pool and great value for money.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

Cole – Landscapes. Nothing beats Mother Nature. I just hate that my pictures never look as good as the human eye but I am getting better.

Adela – Capturing the locals in their daily lives.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?:

Cole – Wow I had no idea how many Countries I have been to (with an overnight stay) until now! So make that 18 countries with at least another 2 to be added over the next couple of months.

Adela – No one will stamp my British passport as I am part of the EU which sucks!

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

Cole – Drumheller in Canada where they have the world’s largest T-Rex statue.

Adela – There is a bridge in Paris where people stick locks on to show there love for their partner. There are so many on there its crazy!

Drumheller Dinosaur Park T Rex

Drumheller Dinosaur Park in Alberta, Canada

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:

Cole – Oktoberfest was a highlight from last year although I cannot remember a fair chunk of it…

Adela – Snowboarding in the Canadian Rockies.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

Cole – We are stingy when we travel and hate forking out for a cup of coffee to warm our freezing hands. But for the sake of a good night sleep we usually stay away from hostel dorms unless sharing with friends.

Adela – Fruit. Its really lame but I have to eat healthy even when I am away. Gotta keep up the 5 plus a day.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:

Cole – Funny and stupid touristy photos wins whether it is in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Pyramids. We nearly even won free travel trip through our stupid photos!

Adela – I felt the most touristy on the tour in Egypt. On the bus, off the bus, on the bus, off the bus. But a tour is the best way to go as its safer and you know you are not getting scammed for your money as you have a local guide.

U: Unforgettable travel memory:

Cole – Every time we travel it is unforgettable. I love waking up in different countries.

Adela – Sailing around New York Harbour watching the sunset over an incredible skyline.

New York Harbour Sunset Statue of Liberty Cruise

V: Visas, how many and for where?:

Cole – My first visa was for 5 months to work at Mammoth Mountain, California for a winter in 2006. Then Jasper to work at Marmot Basin Ski Area and as a White Water Rafting Guide in Canada for a year in 2009/2010. Now we are living it up in Scotland and have been here for just over a year now. Looking to extend that before heading to Asia to teach English in the not to distant future.

Adela – Canada for a year but it was not long enough! Plus I am one of the lucky ones who has a british passport 🙂

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?:

Cole and Adela – We are not really wino’s unless it is at a BYO somewhere and then it is always the cheapest from the local supermarket.

X: eXcellent view and from where?:

Cole and Adela – Sshhhh, it’s a secret spot in Jasper called “Edge of the World”.

Edge of the World in Jasper

Y: Years spent traveling?:

Cole – If we just take our current trip in to consideration then 2 and a half years so far. I would say we are about halfway at the moment!

Adela – 26? travel with mum and dad, with sport, with friends and now with Cole. Enjoyed every bit of it.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:

Cole – Kiwi’s are proud supporters anywhere the All Blacks play even though we act all staunch but we have nothing on Europeans and their fanatical watching of football.

Adela – I  realy like the tennis especially Nadal 🙂 Sorry Cole hahaha.

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Adventure Travel

The Best International Travel Tips for First Time Travelers

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Travelling abroad for the first time can be intimidating, but travel can also expand your horizons, show you the great beauty of the world and develop many important life skills. If it is your first time travelling abroad, here are a few simple tips for a fun, successful and valuable experience.

Choose Somewhere Easy

If you have the luxury of choosing where you are travelling to, be sure to pick somewhere simple – even veteran travelers can feel intimidated travelling to strange, far away places. Pick somewhere that is not too far, easy to reach and you can speak the language/there are a lot of people who can speak your language.

Research

Fully research where you are travelling to and this will help to build confidence and teach you what to expect. You should research exactly where you are going, where you are staying, how to get around, currency, language, local customs, tourist attractions, how to stay safe and whether or not you need a visa.

Preparation

Following on from this, be sure to get your paperwork together well in advance of the trip. This includes making sure that your passport is valid, obtaining any necessary visas and getting travel insurance. It is also wise to make photocopies of key documents and leave one set with somebody that you trust. You should also inform your bank of the dates you will be abroad and where you will be travelling.

Packing

Carefully consider what the climate will be and what activities you will be doing – this should help you to pack exactly what you need. There is advice for packing online, but one top tip is to use an international courier service to send items you no longer need home or to have items shipped out to you. This can be easy and affordable with companies like TNT.

Don’t Plan Too Much

One of the major mistakes that first-time travelers make is attempting to see and do too much. This can cause a great deal of stress, stop you from enjoying yourself and embracing the experience. Take your time, schedule time to relax and recover and be flexible with your itinerary.

Relax

Feeling anxious or stressed is perfectly understandable, but try to relax and stay calm at all times. Not everything will go to plan, but this is fine and all part of the experience.

Travelling overseas can be stressful and especially for first timers, but the above advice should reduce stress and allow for a great trip.

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Adventure Travel

Swimming, Shopping and Stars – 6 Fantastic Reasons to Visit Darwin, Australia

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Darwin, Australia is often overlooked as a holiday destination for many visitors and Australians alike. It seems so remote all the way at the top of our country, and there never seems to be any national news stories coming from it, so why visit it? It’s wildlife is astounding, the views of the natural landscape are to die for, and the culture present is palpable, and that’s just naming a few on the spur of the moment.

Grabbing yourself a Darwin serviced apartment and taking a few weeks to look around up there is one of the most worthwhile things you can do on holiday, and we’ll explain why in this segment.

Nature

First up is the nature. The nature explorations in Darwin are incredible, and Mary River National Park is a must-visit destination for the nature lover in you. The camping areas are astounding, combining the solitude of the bush with the camaraderie of a campground, and you’re never far from an amazing river or beautiful billabong in Darwin.

Ocean Exploration

For those less inclined toward the jungle thickets and bush of the northern territory, the ocean has a lot to offer in the way of life and interesting exploration. Being careful to avoid the seasons where deadly man-o-war box jellyfish swarm the waters, the warm ocean of Darwin is a great place for diving and snorkeling, and tiger sharks are regular visitors closer to the coast.

Wildlife

The wildlife of Darwin is the big seller, as the Northern Territory has the largest population of saltwater crocodiles in Australia. Saltwater crocodiles are the largest, most dangerous crocodiles found anywhere in the world, and their impressive size has to be seen to be believed. As well as this, barramundi regularly flood the rivers and waterways of the national parks, making the fishing in these waters reliably prosperous.

Views

If looking down on sweeping valleys, towering peaks, and endless forests sounds like something you’d enjoy, then the scenery of Darwin is your personal draw card. With a sprawling, beautiful national park on either side of the city of Darwin, there’s no shortage of breathtaking sights, and with many days’ worth of adventure at your fingertips from a central hub in the city, there’s no reason not to explore.

History

The history of Darwin is rich and plentiful, having been established as a city by European settlers in 1869. The indigenous histories of the greater Darwin area are fascinating, and such a rich culture and past has to be experienced first-hand to be fully understood. With many ancient history sites such as Mt Borradaile, which needs special permits to access, Darwin is brimming with history lessons for all that have a thirst for knowledge.

Art

Art culture is alive and well in the Northern Territory, and Darwin boasts many art galleries both large and small. The Northern Centre for Contemporary Art is one such place, and the modern art installations within are as poignant as they are fascinating. Hours could be spent poring over each individual piece, but to see it is to really appreciate it.

As you can see, Darwin is a place of some considerable renown. There’s absolutely no reason not to pack up your things right now and set off for this gorgeous, interesting, fun city as soon as possible, so wait no longer!

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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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