Visiting Las Islas Cies in Galicia

| October 29, 2012 | 36 Comments

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.

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (36)

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  1. The Jandals as castaways…I can see it!
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Supermodels and Surf – Malpais & Santa Teresa, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa RicaMy Profile

  2. Oriana says:

    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)?
    Oriana recently posted..A postcard from… BoccadasseMy Profile

  3. 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.
    Stephen Schreck recently posted..Top 15 Things I can’t Wait to Cross Off my Bucket ListMy Profile

  4. Laurie says:

    The three islands, Monte Agudo, O Faro and San Martiño are great places to visit.
    Laurie recently posted..2013 CalendarMy Profile

  5. 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 :)
    Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog recently posted..Cheap Holidays In CreteMy Profile

  6. Turtle says:

    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… :)

  7. Laurence says:

    I can totally see you as Robinson Crusoe. Although what would that make Adele?
    Laurence recently posted..Home away from home: another tale of tea and toiletsMy Profile

  8. 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…

  9. Arti says:

    Looks so pretty!! No wonder it was featured in the top 10!! Would love to spend some time there. Thanks for sharing :)
    Arti recently posted..A Tourist’s Guide To Tokyo’s Subway Train NetworkMy Profile

  10. Molly says:

    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.

  11. Love the view from Faro Island!
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The Clock at Musee d’Orsay – Pic of the WeekMy Profile

  12. Angela says:

    Beautiful views, I could easily spend a month there catching up with proper, much needed relax.
    Angela recently posted..Eleonora d’Arborea, woman, daughter, mother, ruler in medieval SardiniaMy Profile

  13. 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!

  14. 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.
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..A Journey to the West – Dingle, IrelandMy Profile

  15. 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.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Alabama Beach MouseMy Profile

  16. Ali says:

    Looks gorgeous! Spain is one of my favorite countries, and I’d love to explore more. Never been to Galicia.
    Ali recently posted..Are You Afraid to Travel Alone?My Profile

  17. 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?
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Four Fab Photos of TurkeyMy Profile

  18. The clouds in those pictures are fantastic :) I didn’t know about these islands until now.
    Izy Berry – The Wrong Way Home recently posted..The Best New YearsMy Profile

  19. Muhammad Talha says:

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

  20. 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.
    Laura @Travelocafe recently posted..A Morning on Stockholm’s Royal Canal Boat TourMy Profile

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