Paradise lies where As Rías Baixas merges with the Atlantic Ocean. The Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park comprises the archipelagos of Cíes and Ons and the islands of Cortegada, in the province of Pontevedra, and Sálvora. This natural park boasts paradisiacal beaches of crystal clear waters and white sand, steep cliffs and a rich wildlife. When the stars shine on the sky, the islands become an extraordinary outdoor planetarium. In fact, they are accredited with the "Starlight" certification.
Situated in the Ría de Vigo, the islands of Monteagudo, Faro, - connected by the stunning Rodas Beach and a stone bridge -, and San Martiño make up the Cíes archipelago, almost unspoilt. To protect the environment, access to visitors is limited to 1,800 per day.
In this idyllic paradise, visitors will find crystal-clear intense turquoise waters, and beaches and coves with incredibly fine white sand. In fact, the Rodas Beach was chosen as the best in the world by The Guardian newspaper. If you walk along the walkway connecting both islands, you will be able to feel how the waves break into the eastern side of the archipelago, which is steeper. Between the protected sand dunes and the bridge there is a lagoon known as Lagoa dos Nenos. Access permit.
In Monteagudo you find the Area da Cantareira beach, and the nude beach of Figueiras; and in Faro, the Nosa Señora, a clear water beach which offers stunning views over the San Martiño Island. These islands are perfect for scuba diving for its rich seabed.
None of these islands is inhabited, allowing their natural beauty to be preserved intact and protected. However, if you decide to stay at the full service campsite, it is possible to wake up and admire the sunrise among the pine woods.
Hiking along the routes available is also a good idea to discover the islands. If you take one of these routes, you will have the opportunity to admire steep cliffs and monumental lighthouses, which offer stunning views. The lighthouse located to the north of the island of Monteagudo, Faro do Peito, offers magnificent views of the Ría de Vigo; Cabo Home, in Cangas; and a sea cave known as Furna de Monteagudo. Nearby, there is one of the bird observatories of this natural park.
Further south on this island is the Alto do Príncipe, a magical place with amazing views in which erosion has left its mark on the rocks forming a kind of bowl and a throne with breathtaking views of the cliffs and the sea. On the Faro Island, on the south, we find the lighthouses of A Porta and Cíes, at almost 180 metres above sea level, offering stunning views of the cliffs and the San Martiño Island, which can only be accessed by private boat.
The islands are the habitat of an extraordinary colony of seabirds, making them ideal for bird watching.
Area: 3,091 hectares (433 terrestrial and 2,658 marine)
Access to the Natural Park of the Atlantic Islands has been restricted, with the aim of preserving this natural environment. The authorization to access the islands is free and to obtain it, it is necessary to fill in a form ( https://autorizacionillasatlanticas.xunta.gal/illasr/inicio ). Once authorisation has been granted, visitors can book their boat tickets to Cíes Islands.
How to get?
The only way to reach the Cíes Islands is by boat. There are different shipping companies departing from several ports in As Rías Baixas. From the ports of Vigo, Cangas, Baiona and O Grove, there are ferries departing to the Cíes Islands, whereas the ports of Sanxenxo, Portonovo, Bueu and Vilanova de Arousa offer boat tours to Ons.
Facing the Ría de Pontevedra you can find this beautiful archipelago made up of the islands of Ons, Onza and the As Freitosas Islet. This beautiful place hides beautiful beaches, marine caves and spectacular cliffs like the impressive Buraco do Inferno (hell's hole). A beautiful lighthouse guards the Ons Island, which has a small village with typical sea houses, hórreos (typical Galician granary houses) and the small church of San Xaquín. You can stay in one of its establishments and enjoy the local cuisine of As Rías Baixas, or at the campsite.
The island boasts five heavenly unspoiled beaches. In the northern part of the island is the nudist beach of Melide, the largest in the island, and As Dornas. Area dos Cans Beach, the most popular among visitors, is home to the anthropomorphic tomb of A Laxe do Crego, a rock which can be accessed at low tide. The other two are the beaches of Canexol and Pereiró.
Hiking is one of the major attractions of this island paradise in As Rías Baixas. In the north side, we find the vantage point Punta do Centolo, which offers a stunning view of A Lanzada Beach and gorgeous sunsets over Sálvora Island. It is also worth climbing up to the lighthouse, the highest point in the island, and admire wonderful views. Towards the south, the viewpoint of Fedorentos offers stunning views over the islet of Onza, close to the entrance of the Ría de Pontevedra, and in the background the majestic Cíes Islands.
Area : 2,641 hectares (470 terrestrial and 2,171 marine)
A laurel forest in the middle of the coastal inlet Ría de Arousa? The Cortegada Island, separated about 200 metres from the village of O Carril, (Vilagarcía de Arousa), in the mainland, is home to the largest laurel forest in Spain, a true gem of nature. In this beautiful natural area, which is particularly lush, hundred-year-old trees coexist with indigenous tree species such as oaks and pine trees or willows.
A group of ponds, the remains of an old shrine and a cruceiro (stone cross) are among the main attractions of an area which used to be inhabited in the past, thus creating a magic and mysterious atmosphere. It is the largest island of a small archipelago, also including other islands such as the Malveiras or the Briñas. The island can be accessed on foot through the causeway popularly known as camiño do carro (path for carts) - used in the past to transport goods -, which is only revealed at low tide.
Area: 191 hectares (43.8 terrestrial and 147.2 marine).