When planning our trip to Galicia, my friends and I were unsure whether to bring our rain gear or… our sun cream! As the forecast promised sunny and warm days, we thought of going to the beach to get a last taste of summer (yes, still at the end of October) – before hitting the road to Santiago. So, together with the necessary gear for cycling, we packed bikinis, sun cream, hat and sunglasses.
We so decided to head off to the tropical paradise of Galicia: the Cies Islands.
Cies Islands are an archipelago, made of three small islands -Monte Agudo, O Faro and San Martiño- located off the North-West Coast of Spain. These islands are unique for their landscapes, crystalline water, flora and wildlife. They are indeed part of the Atlantic Islands National Park which authority protects and controls visits to the islands. To keep the environment protected and to avoid any contamination, on the islands there are no waste bins so if you bring your own food/drinks, please make sure to pack your litter back.
Also, in order to control visits to the islands and to keep them to a limited number – especially during summertime – people are required to provide their ID or passport at the time of booking.
As mentioned, the crystalline water and the green flora make of this archipelago one of the most amazing places in Europe. Romans were definitively right calling them ‘The Islands of the Gods’ and, apart from the lush flora, it is possible to admire a pre-Roman settlement, bird watching observatories and lighthouses.
It is possible to explore the islands by taking any of the four walking trails:
-Monte Faro Route: one of the longest routes and the most popular;
-Porta Lighthouse Route: less travelled trail than others but with a view of the islands closer to the sea;
-Monteagudo Route: ideal for visiting the birds’ observatory overlooking the ocean
-Alto do Principe Route: this is the shortest and easiest trail, but it still boasts superb scenery.
As we were quite short on time and wanted to make the most of our visit, we decided to take the shortest path. Needless to say that once arrived on the top, the view was just breathtaking: steep and deep cliffs, wind-shaped rocks and bushes overlooking the Southern part of the archipelago and from where it is possible to observe seagull colonies.
The fresh breeze on top, mixed with sunshine, lush colors and the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocky shores made this point the highlight of our visit.
On the descent from the trail, we stopped in one of the nicest beaches of the islands, A Praia das Figueiras. This beach is known for being a paradise for nudists, so don’t be too surprised if you visit!
Accessing the Cies Island is very easy. You can take the ferry with Mar de Ons or one of the other ferry companys operating from Vigo Port, from either Vigo or Baiona (summer months only from Baiona). The cost of the journey is approx. €16 return and it only takes 45/50 minutes to get there. Ferries are available between May and September and – weather permitting, until October. They generally run also at Easter time but if you are planning a visit, make sure you check the ferries calendar for the year and book in advance.
If you are walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino, I would definitely recommend spending an extra night in Vigo in order to pay a visit to this amazing earthly heaven!
*Please note for Summer 2018, you will need to pre-register with the Galician Government before you purchase your tickets. Authorization can be requested within 60 days of the trip: https://autorizacionillasatlanticas.xunta.gal
For more information about the Portuguese Coastal Camino or to book your Camino trip, contact the CaminoWays.com specialists