"This is not the Caribbean, it is As Rías Baixas", is commonly read on the social media. Through them, pictures and videos of its crystal water and fine sand beaches are spread worldwide. The summer of 2007 is a remarkable date for the history of the Cíes Islands, as it was then when the Rodas Beach was described in an article in the British newspaper The Guardian as "the most beautiful beach in the world". In the summer of the year 2015, something similar happened, but in this case, a seagull was the protagonist of the feat. The bird stole a camera and, holding it on its beak, recorded a video that would go viral in Youtube. Then, the animal returned the camera to its owner.
The video shows an amazing panoramic view of the islands, which are gaining in popularity and have already become the must visit in As Rías Baixas. These islands are part of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park and they share natural and cultural values with the Ons Archipelago, and the islands of Sálvora and Cortegada. Boat rides are available from the ports of Vigo, Baiona and Cangas
Apart from the heavenly Rodas Beach and the incredible landscapes seen from its cliffs, the Cíes Archipelago has much more to offer if you are on holiday in As Rías Baixas: the possibility to camp in one of its pine groves and admire the sunset, or getting up early to enjoy the sunrise, for example. You can also anchor the boat and go scuba diving to find the treasures hidden underwater, very rich in marine wildlife. Hiking along the routes available is also a good idea to discover the islands, and thus visit the rest of its beaches, which, unlike Rodas, are less busy.
In the city of Vigo there is another small island, Toralla, accessible through a bridge but only on foot. It is a residential island and it has two 200-metre long beaches, which are especially recommended when the wind comes from the northwest.
At the most bottom part of the ría of Vigo you can find the San Simón Archipelago and discover the setting of the famous Rande Battle or its past as a leper colony, a prison or a place for spiritual retreat. It consists of two small islands, San Simón and San Antón, joined by a stone bridge. Today, they host courses, congresses or the popular Sinsal Festival. Visiting the archipelago is an unforgettable experience.
In the ría of Pontevedra, you can also visit A Illa de Ons and discover another different part of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park. There you can camp as well or hike through its different routes, but unlike what happens in the Cíes Islands, in A Illa de Ons, apart from campers, there are also habitual residents. Locals welcome the tourists coming to the island, who are attracted by the atmosphere of freedom of the place, what made it known as the hippy island. If you visit the island, you have to try the octopus dish and go to the Burato do Inferno.
If you continue towards the north, you find the third island of the National Park, Cortegada. This leafy archipelago full of oak woods and pine groves, which also has an important laurel forest, is only 200 metres away from O Carril, on the coast. There, small lagoons, an old abandoned chapel and farmlands now in disuse and a cruceiro (stone cross) are part of the landscape.
If you want to relax in a luxurious environment in a 5-star hotel and enjoy the benefits of a spa, then A Illa da Toxa, in O Grove, is your perfect destination. It is very well-known for its thermal springs and the soap factory. This island started to be advocated as a tourist and residential area in the 20th century. There, you can stroll through its paths and gardens, visit the San Caralampio Chapel (completely covered with scallop shells), or play golf in its eight-hole course. You can enter the island after crossing the bridge which connects it with the town of O Grove.
The islet of O Guidoiro Areoso belongs to the natural reserve located in A Illa De Arousa. It consists of a piece of land including 9 hectares of white sand, scarce vegetation and the remains of some megalithic monuments. This is the perfect place to practise some sports as kayaking or snorkelling.
A national park, six islands in three rías (coastal inlets), stories and legends make As Rías Baixas the perfect destination for those who include travelling by boat and crossing bridges in their holiday plans