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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:

Languages:

Many people don’t know that the main language in Galicia is not Spanish but actually another language called Gallego. However, just about everybody also speaks Spanish, so it’s still a good idea to brush up on your Spanish before coming.

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.

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.

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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

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Hammock vs Tent Camping

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Camping with a hammock is slowly but surely becoming more popular in recent years with new and improved hammock designs being preferred by some campers, compared to the traditional tent.

In this article we will discuss some of the key benefits and drawbacks of sleeping without a tent, and analyze key criteria so that you can choose your preferred shelter choice!

Weatherproof

Most tents work well in the rain; however, you’ll need to bring a tarp if you’re using a hammock. Traditional hammocks are not waterproof, and are generally open at the top, allowing water to find itself inside if you don’t have an adequate tarp. Moreover, a decent under quilt is also a good idea so that you can stay warm and cozy during cold and stormy nights.

Packing up your hammock after a long night of rain isn’t too bad, whereas packing up a soaking wet tent is always annoying. You almost always get wet in the process.

Setup

For first time campers, pop-up tents are the simplest to setup. All you need to do is find flat ground, and bam, your setup is complete! The beauty of pop-up tents is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out where to insert the poles and erect the tent. Although, traditional tents are usually more robust, and have a longer life span.

Essentially, a tent is simple, but a hammock can become a little more complicated for first timers. You’ll need to find 2 trees facing a good direction and tie each end of the hammock to them. If your hammock setup is too tight, you will generally wake up with sore ancles, but if it’s too loose, you run the risk of the hammock touching the floor, and insects crawling in with you.

If your campground doesn’t have many trees, or if the trees are dead (they could break and injure you), hammock stands come to the rescue! Basically, hammock stands allow you to pitch a hammock if there are no trees nearby. They are portable, adjustable, and are easy to setup. The only drawback is that the ground should be relatively flat, whereas if you were to hang a hammock between 2 trees, there won’t be any stands touching the ground, so a rocky floor wouldn’t be a problem.

Comfort

One of the main reasons for choosing a hammock is the comfort that it provides you! It has a basically has in-built seat which is arguably more comfortable than a standard blow up mattress. You need to pick your tree’s wisely though! You don’t want a pinecone falling on your face mid-sleep.

If you have constant back pain and find it hard to sleep inside tents, you should give hammocks a try as they cause you to sleep sideways, similar to a banana shape, which a lot people find much more comfortable.

Price

Hammocks are usually lighter and don’t include a wealth of poles and gear that tents do. Depending on the type of hammock that you purchase, they are usually quite similar to tents. You can however, find very cheap tents <$60, but they most likely won’t last long.

A good tent or hammock can cost between $200-500 without accessories. If you need a hammock stand, that will add to your cost, just like a mattress and other tent necessities will to its cost.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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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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