Swimming in the Cíes Islands in 3, 2, 1… how, where and when
Bathing in the Cíes Islands is one of the luxuries that any visitor to the Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas should indulge in. The beaches of the Cíes Islands will conquer you with their white sand and crystal clear waters in the middle of a unique natural environment. Each with its own particular charm, it is common to find some of the beaches of the Cíes Islands among those considered the most beautiful in the world.
Here we tell you everything you need to know to enjoy the wonderful experience of bathing in the Cíes Islands.
The Cíes Islands and the National Park, diving between two waters
Bathing in the Cíes Islands is a rare privilege, as it is a privilege that it is not every day that one can boast of taking a dip in a place dominated by the beauty and tranquility of unspoiled nature.The hotel is located in the center of one of the most unique natural parks in Spain.
The peculiar characteristics that define the Cíes Islands and their beaches are determined by their geographical position. The Cíes Islands are bathed both by the cold oceanic waters of the Atlantic and by the more temperate and calm inland waters. This fact causes natural currents to be generated in its depths, which translates into clean and pure water that harbors an incalculable biological wealth.
Due to their high ecological value, the Cíes Islands were initially recognized as a Natural Park. Two decades later this declaration was raised to a higher level and the archipelago was included in the network of National Parks. It was soon concluded that it was of the utmost importance to extend the protection from which the islands benefit to the surrounding waters as well. Thus, in 2002, the National Maritime Terrestrial Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia was created. This ensures the maximum degree of conservation and preservation of the habitat and ecosystems present both at sea and on land.
Caring for the fauna, flora, waters and landscape of the National Park also depends on each one of us. In order to better understand how we can collaborate in their protection, it is essential that we keep in mind that bathing in the Cíes Islands should mean taking an active part in the preservation of everything we can see. and appreciate.
Which is the best island for swimming in the Cíes Islands?
The archipelago of the Cíes Islands is made up of three island areas. From north to south, they are called Monteagudo Island, Faro and San Martiño. The northernmost of them all, Monteagudo Island, is located off the Morrazo peninsula, near the coast of Cabo Home, from whose lighthouse you can see a beautiful sunset with the Cíes Islands in the background.
The islands of Faro and Monteagudo are naturally joined by a sedimentary accumulation of sand that delimits a small saltwater lagoon, having ended up becoming one of the most recognizable points of the Cíes Islands: Rodas Beach and Lago dos Nenos. At the southern end of the park is San Martiño Island and the Freu da Porta strait, which separates it from its sisters. From the administrative point of view, the Cíes belong to the municipality of Vigo.
The tourism of Vigo adds, thus, another great attraction to its wide offer. The Cíes and the beaches of its islands are among the most popular destinations in Pontevedra for travelers.
Ons Island and other islands of the Natural Park
The Cíes are not the only islands of the Atlantic Islands National Park, since it includes, among others, the islands of Ons, Onza, Sálvora and Cortegada. However, we dare say that the coast of the Cíes Islands has no comparison. Virtually its entire coastline is composed of a mosaic of turquoise water, fine white sand beaches, small coves, dunes and impressive rock formations dotted with its famous lighthouses.
However, if we have to choose which of the three islands is the best to enjoy the waves, the sun and the sea breeze, we are not able to decide. Why not all of them? To tell the truth, if you have decided that it is time to swim in the Cíes Islands, which island to choose will not present you with any dilemma.
Discovering where to swim in the Cíes Islands
Hiking routes are the best option to visit the Cíes Islands exploring all its corners, feeling part of the environment we are admiring and enjoying calmly in each of its landscapes, places and, of course, its beaches.
There are four routes, with different levels of difficulty but, in general, accessible to anyone who enjoys a good walk. Ruta de Monte Faro or Ruta del Faro de Cíes, Ruta do Faro da Porta, Ruta de Alto Príncipe and, finally, Ruta de O Monteagudo or Ruta do Faro Peito.
Which Cíes Islands do the hiking trails cover? Only the islands of Monteagudo and Faro. San Martiño, only accessible by private boat, can be seen in all its splendor following the O Monteagudo Route.
All routes depart from the Cíes Islands information booth, located on Monteagudo Island, and head towards the different lighthouses in the Cíes Islands: the Cíes Lighthouse, the Faro da Porta and the Faro do Peito, as their names indicate. Once at the top, we will be able to take the best pictures of the Cíes Islands.
However, As we walk along each trail we will find all the secrets that the park has to offer. This includes the best places to bathe in the Cíes Islands along the length and breadth of its different beaches.
The best beaches for bathing and swimming in the Cíes Islands
The North Island, the other name by which we know Monteagudo, welcomes us to the Cies Islands. The boat we arrived on docks at the pier and, in less than two minutes, our feet land on the fine white sand of the beach named by the British newspaper The Guardian as the best beach in the world: Rhodes Beach.
Serving as a link between the islands of Monteagudo and Faro, Rodas Beach offers us in its almost 1.5 kilometers a paradise of pine forests that reach the shore, delicate sands and crystal clear water. Due to its numerous recognitions and recommendations in so many travel guides, it is difficult to find a more famous beach than Rodas Beach in the Cíes Islands.
Nosa Señora Beach, on the other hand, could be considered the great unknown. This location on Faro Island, much smaller and more discreet than Rhodes, hosts an average occupancy of only 150 people per day. At sunset, the natural spectacle of lights, colors and reflections in its waters is spectacular. In addition, you can see sea caves that serve as a niche for various species of birds. It is easily accessible on foot following the Cíes Lighthouse route.
Back on the North Island
Figueiras Beach, also called Playa de los Alemanes, is a beautiful and quiet place where nudism is practiced. It has more than 350 meters of very clean shore with forest on both sides and water so clear that it reminds us of the Caribbean.
Although it can only be accessed by private boat, we cannot fail to mention San Martiño Beach or San Martín Beach, on the South Island. Almost half a kilometer of crescent-shaped sandy beach in a calm enclave ideal for diving. A large number of shells can be found along the shore. Remember that they are not there to be taken away! Everything is surrounded by interesting rock formations and dune areas, different witnesses of the passage of time.
In addition to Rodas, Figueiras, San Martiño and Nosa Señora, there are a lot of small places to swim in the Cíes Islands that we left out. Do not hesitate to look for your favorite spot when you visit the islands. It is well known that the best way to discover is to explore.
What to do to bathe in the Cies Islands
To reach the Natural Park of the Atlantic Islands you need a private boat or travel with a shipping company. During the high season, Easter and weekends in low season, if the sea permits, you can take a boat to the Cíes Islands from the ports of Vigo, Cangas and Baiona. These services are extended to other destinations in the estuaries, such as the island of San Simón or the island of Ons.
You must keep in mind that, as mentioned above, the Xunta de Galicia manages a limited number of daily permits to access the National Park. This means that, at the time of purchasing the ticket, you must have the authorization. Although you can process your permit through the Xunta’s website. You have a link for it in this web site.
Some tips to enjoy the waters of the Cíes Islands
We want the luxury of bathing in the Cies Islands to be enjoyed by future generations. It is very important to understand that the Cíes Islands are part of a Natural Park. The preservation of the different habitats must be the priority in any of our visits.
The golden rule is to try that our passage does not leave any trace, that it seems that we have not been there. For this purpose, there are a number of rules to be complied with purely on the basis of common sense. It is not allowed to light any kind of fire, the use of camping gas and portable stoves is prohibited. Very important: do not disturb in any way the wildlife or their passage or refuge areas. Vegetation may not be uprooted, nor may bark, fruit, shells or animal eggs be removed or moved. The introduction of non-native species is not allowed and, in general, activities that may alter the natural tranquility of the site are prohibited.
It should be recalled that there are no trash garbage cans or containers on the islands. Consequently, we will have to store and transport our waste back with us. Once in port we will be able to throw or deposit any garbage that we have generated in the places indicated for such purpose. If you are bringing your own food, you must eat outside the designated areas.
Swimming in the Cies Islands, a dream that you can make reality
We all dream of being able to make the perfect getaway to the most idyllic coast. Tranquility, white sands, pristine waters, breeze, the sound of waves and seagulls. When we look at our friends’ posts on Social Networks, we can sometimes see snapshots of those paradises. Nearby, in Galicia, the best beaches are waiting for you less than an hour away by boat. Swimming in the Cíes Islands is a dream come true. Will you join us?