© iStock / Maria_Castellanos
© iStock / Maria_Castellanos

Islas Cíes, Galicia's treasured islands

3 minutes to read

You can find a very different part of Spain in the north. The north area is full of unique, green landscapes and incredible beauty. Galicia is a very rural community that offers its visitors a wide range of different unique places to see and experience. And I am about to tell you about one of the treasures Galicia hides, called The Cíes Islands. Once a pirates' haunt, Cíes is now an uninhabited and uncontaminated national park, open to the public only in summer.

The Cíes Islands are an archipelago off the coast of Pontevedra in Galicia, in the mouth of the Ria de Vigo, which consists of three breath-taking islands: Monteagudo ("Sharp Mount" or North Island), Do Faro ("Lighthouse Island," or "Middle Island") and San Martiño ("Saint Martin" or South Island). Their wildlife, in combination with the impressive landscapes, make these islands incredibly valuable both culturally and environmentally.

© iStock / Karen Goncalves
© iStock / Karen Goncalves

They were declared a Nature Reserve in 1980 and are included in the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park (Parque Nacional Marítimo-Terrestre das Illas Atlánticas de Galicia) created in 2002. The Do Faro island is linked to the North island by an accumulation of sand 1,200 m (3,937 ft) long, known as Rodas beach, on the eastern side of the island. During high tide, the sea flows between the islands on the western side and, blocked by the beach, it fills the lagoon between the rocks and the sandy area. This is an unusual natural phenomenon that only a few lucky people get to see upon their visit to The Cíes Islands

Parque Nacional Islas Atlanticas de Galicia
Parque Nacional Islas Atlanticas de Galicia
Rua Oliva 3, 36202 Vigo, Spain
© iStock / avarand
© iStock / avarand

How to get there

In summer, you can get boats that link Monteagudo with the ports of Vigo, Baiona, and Cangas. They run daily during the Easter week, and from June to September- plus weekends in late April, May, and October, from €16 return (under-12s free). Onboard, you will be able to see seagulls, cormorants, gannets, and ever-playful dolphins as traveling companions. Tons of small artisanal fishing boats will be dotted around the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, making the most of the inexhaustible riches of the Galician sea bottom

There is a camping area, but if you wish to camp, you need to get permissions at the Vigo port. A supermarket, a visitor center, and a restaurant cater to visitors. That is all the facilities you will be able to find in The Cíes Islands; there are no fancy hotels or resorts or shops. You will be amazed by the beauty of the landscape that opens up as the ferry draws near the pier next to the Rodas Beach. 

© iStock / Josfor
© iStock / Josfor
© iStock / Josfor
© iStock / Josfor

Roda Beach

The beach of Rodas, on the island of Monteagudo, was chosen by the British newspaper 'The Guardian' in February 2007, as "the best beach in the world." "Galegos come here to spend long, lazy summer days on the Praia das Rodas, a perfect crescent of soft, pale sand backed by small dunes sheltering a calm lagoon of the crystal-clear sea," says the magazine. The Cíes Islands are composed of nine incredible beaches with fine white sand and clear waters, which people do not expect at all in the Atlantic.

Galegos come here to spend long, lazy summer days on the Praia das Rodas, a perfect crescent of soft, pale sand backed by small dunes sheltering a calm lagoon of crystal-clear sea- The Guardian
Roda Beach,The Cíes Islands.
Roda Beach,The Cíes Islands.
Playa de Rodas, España
© iStock / LUNAMARINA
© iStock / LUNAMARINA

 Visit these idyllic Cíes islands off the coast of Galicia, explore the wildlife, and climb up to the lighthouse to get the best views. Swim in one of the best beaches in the world: the beach of Rodas.


The author

Helena Guerrero Gonzalez

Helena Guerrero Gonzalez

I’m a seeker of energy and life, currently living in Spain, although I have lived in the UK too. Travelling, exploring, making new friends along the way and sharing my personal experiences are essential parts of my life.

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