Hopping on a boat in Vigo, Galicia will take you to one of Spain’s best-kept secrets.
I had already decided Galicia was one of the most underrated provinces in Spain before I laid my eyes on Las Islas Cíes (the Cíes Islands).
These tropical-looking islands, with vivid, turquoise water and fine white sand, are scattered just off the coast of a mainland that treated this girl to 61 straight days of rain. Step on the island, and in one fell swoop, your eyes can take in craggy mountains, lush greenery, and pristine beaches – a landscape trifecta. Never have I seen a place that so seamlessly melts the three into one. As a matter of fact, the archipelago, made up of three individual islands, was listed as one of the “Top 10 beaches of the world” by British newspaper The Guardian.
Anyhow, the first weekend of June, several friends and I left drippy Santiago and headed to the Cíes for a final hurrah as the school year ended. After a ferry ride from the port of Vigo, we spent our daylight hours hiking to the island’s main lighthouse and lolling about on soft beaches, returning to our furnished tents only when food necessitated it. True to Galician form, the water was frigid and the night air cool.
As you can see, the Cíes were, quite easily, the best parting gift the country could have given.
Things to Remember:
- Check the weather. Obviously your trip will be better if it’s sunny, but regardless of the sun’s status, it gets cold at night. Pack accordingly.
- Camping is an awesome way to spend your time on the island. Make sure you reserve ahead of time, though, and note that you can only camp on the island during Semana Santa (Holy Week, usually in March-April) and summer (June-September). That said, the amenities are excellent. You can decide to bring your own tent, or do what we did and rent one that contain beds with mattresses. The campsite even boasts showers, a cafe, and restaurant.
- Bring your own tent: 10 euros/person
- Rent a tent
- Two-person tent: 39 euros low/48 euros high season
- Four-person tent: 65 euros low/73 euros high season
- Buy your ferry ticket ahead of time. Visitors to the island are capped at 2,200 each day. Ferries leave from Vigo and Cangas.
- Nabia Naviera
- Mar de Ons
- Cruceros Rías Baixas (Spanish only)
- For more information, check out Vigo’s official tourism site.