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Ons Island or Cíes Islands? Which one is ideal for your trip?

Ons Island or Cies Islands? This is the question that more and more travelers ask themselves before visiting the Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas de Galicia. Due to its national and international fame, most travelers visit the Cies Islands. CIES has thus become, over the years, a highly sought-after destination thanks to its incomparable unspoiled environment.

However, being more unknown and receiving less tourism, Ons discovers a natural paradise on a par with Cíes. In addition, Ons allows you to enjoy other charms, such as an excellent gastronomy, visiting Casa Acuña.

Cíes Islands or Ons Island? If you want to know a little more about this treasure of the Rías Baixas and what to visit in each place, we tell you everything you need to know.


One national park, two hearts

Vigo sunset view with the silhouette of the Cíes Islands.
Vigo sunset view with the silhouette of the Cíes Islands.

The Parque Nacional Marítimo Terrestre de las Islas Atlánticas de Galicia is located off the Galician coast. The park’s islands are a natural barrier between the rough waters of the ocean and the more sheltered waters of the estuaries. This particular geographical location means that its islands are home to unique nature and biodiversity. That is why this natural park encompasses both the land on the surface and the waters surrounding its entire extension.

The Atlantic Islands National Park is composed of several archipelagos, islands and small islets. Together with the Cíes Islands, The park includes the islands of Ons, in the Ría de Pontevedra, and Sálvora and Cortegada, in the Ría de Arosa. At present, the Tambo Island and the Sisargas Islands are in the process of being included in the park.

By size and importanceOns Island -with its adjacent Onza Island- and the Cíes Islands are, undoubtedly, the two hearts of the park and its most recognizable places. They are also one of the most significant tourist spots in Galicia, on a par with Santiago de Compostela, Ribeira Sacra, San Simón or other summer destinations such as Sanxenxo, Portonovo and Bueu.


The beaches of the National Park

One of the beaches of Ons, enjoyment of the senses.

The beaches of fine white sand and crystal clear water are the dream of any lover of the sea and nature. Precisely this type of coastline is the one that abounds in both Ons Island and the Cíes Islands .

The beaches of the island of Ons are the perfect reflection of the differences between the two slopes on which it is located. On the eastern side, facing the estuary, we find Melide Beach, Dornas Beach and the beaches of Area dos Cans, Canexol Beach and Pereiró Beach. Melide Beach, a nudist beach, is for many the most beautiful of the archipelago. The rocky beaches of Fontiñas and Liñeiro extend along the Atlantic coast until reaching the southern end, where Fedorento Beach is located.


Rhodes beach from the sky
The Cíes Islands from the sky, with Rodas Beach as protagonist and link between the two main islands.

The beaches of the Cíes Islands have quiet backwaters such as Nosa Señora Beach, Figueiras Beach or San Martiño Beach, on the South Island, which can only be accessed by private boat.

It could be said that the jewel in the crown is the sandy beach that welcomes us upon our arrival and landing on the island, Rhodes Beach. Recognized by The Guardian newspaper as the best beach in the world, Rodas Beach is the most visited beach in Galicia. It connects the islands of Monteagudo and Faro in a natural way.

In short, both destinations have sandy beaches and small coves of dreams. On the other hand, thanks to its recognition as the only National Park in Galicia, it develops an outstanding work for the conservation of water and ecosystem of the Atlantic Islands.

Looking for the best views in Ons


Ons Island or Cíes Islands? Looking for the best viewsOns Island is the largest island in the park and there are four routes that run through it. All depart from the island’s information booth, where visitors make contact with the start of their tour. The two most important routes are the so-called Ruta Sur and Ruta Norte.

The first is a route of medium difficulty that includes the southern area of Ons, with significant landmarks such as the Mirador de Fedorentos. It offers an enviable panoramic view: the Onza Island, or the famous Buraco do Inferno. A large vertical crack in which you can hear how the sea “snorts” through its cavity.

According to legend, these impressive sounds are nothing more than the wailing of the souls of sailors once taken by the devil.

The North Route meanders through the northernmost part. It borders Aldeia do Curro and the camping area of the campsite. Mandatory stop, the Lighthouse of Ons, covered with tiles for almost a century. It is still in perfect operation and is in the process of being automated.

The rest of the island can be admired by walking along two smaller complementary routes: the Ruta do Faro and the Ruta do Castelo. This second one enters a small willow forest and continues straight ahead to reach the Mirador do Castelo. From there we can appreciate one of the most beautiful views of the Ría de Pontevedra.

Hiking trails in Ons Island and Cíes Islands


Horizons from Cíes

The Cíes Islands can also be explored along four hiking trails, at least two of its three islands. The most emblematic is undoubtedly, the Monte Faro RouteThis is a 7-kilometer-long tour in which we will be able to visit the Isla del Medio almost in its entirety.

It is a round trip around the island and its most symbolic places, such as Lago dos Nenos, the Cíes Lighthouse – an incomparable viewpoint from which you can see the whole archipelago – or the bird watching center.

The southern area of the Illa do Medio can be enjoyed through the Ruta do Faro da Porta, where you can enjoy the beautiful views of the island of San Martiño and the boats that dot the landscape of the estuary.

Monteagudo Island is crossed by the Alto do Príncipe and O Monteagudo routes, with the spectacular balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean that is the Faro do Peito lighthouse. From the lighthouse we will be able to contemplate the archipelago of Ons, Monte Facho, Costa da Vela and Cabo Home. A good panoramic view to take the best pictures.

Eating and sleeping on the Cíes Islands and Ons Island

Casa Acuña, undoubtedly the best restaurant in the Atlantic Islands.
Casa Acuña, in Ons, undoubtedly the best restaurant in the Atlantic Islands.

The archipelago of Ons and the Cíes have different offers when it comes to spending the night or simply eating on the island.

The Cíes Islands have several options where to share a table. Although we are talking about a place without a population, there are two restaurants that in high season open to the public every day.

One of these establishments is also the restaurant of the campsite itself, where you can spend the night. A few meters from Rhodes Beach, it is a campsite that tries to protect the environment as much as possible without neglecting essential facilities and activities.

Camping glamping on the island of Ons


Ons, an island “with life

Only a few people live on the island of Ons, almost the entire population is concentrated in O Curro, the main town of the island.

It offers the characteristics of a small coastal village, built around the beach of As Dornas and where you can find all the basic services of Ons and its hospitality offer.

There you will find the famous Casa Acuña, where you can taste a Galician octopus awarded with several awards. It also has up to twenty rooms with the best views of the island or the sea. Palmira Acuña, soul of Casa Acuña, was awarded as “Mellor Pulpeira de Galicia 2012”.

There is a great atmosphere at sunset around O Curro, since it is common for travelers staying at Camping Isla de Ons to come to the area to eat and enjoy the sunset. This campsite is the alternative to spend the night in Ons, another way of understanding tourism with new concepts such as “glamping”, which combines comfort with respect for the environment.

It is a self-sustainable campsite, recently accredited with the “S” for sustainable tourism.


How to get to Paradise

cies boat crew
Crew on the boat to Cíes

If something is totally similar when deciding which island to visit, Ons Island or the Cíes Islands, it is how to get there. Nowadays, there is only one way to get to the Parque Natural das Illas Atlánticas: by boat.

To Ons Island, Naviera Nabia provides a regular service from Bueu and Portonovo. We can also travel to the Cíes Islands from the ports of Vigo, Cangas and the port of Baiona.

On our website you can check availability, travel schedules, round trip fares for adult or child and even buy tickets online. Children under 3 years old travel for free on the Pirates of Nabia.

In addition, through our channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram it is possible to be informed about the different offers and activities, being able to provide an email address to be always up to date and thus feel a little closer to the Cíes and Ons.


Ons Island or Cíes Islands? why not both?


Ons Island or Cíes Islands? why not both?

As you may have seen, coming to Ons Island or the Cíes Islands can be a difficult decision. Both destinations offer an unparalleled experience of nature, history, gastronomy, sports and leisure activities.

Which island to visit? Ons Island or Cíes Islands? If you still have doubts about your trip and do not know what to answer, from Pirates of Nabia, our recommendation will always be the same: do not take much longer to take the boat and launch yourself to discover the two.


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