Victoria & I had minimal knowledge of Vigo. We put our trust in Diana who insisted we have to make the day trip to the Cies Islands from Vigo.
I tell you what, I’ll put my trust in Diana again any day. The Cies Islands are incredible.
Located off the coast of Vigo, they’re made up of three islands. Monteagudo is furthermost north and is connected to the middle island, do Faro, by a stretch of sand (there has been a pathway built to get between the islands during the high tide). These two islands are accessible by ferry from the mainland during Easter and June through September when many are completing the Portuguese Coastal Camino.
The third island, San Martiño is accessible by private transport. That doesn’t mean it still doesn’t get crowded on a nice summers weekend.
The islands are part of the Atlantic Islands National Park. Exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, the west side of the islands have steep cliffs with near vertical drops. These steep cliffs definitely create epic photo ops (highest elevation is 197 metres). The eastern side of the island, facing the Spanish mainland has a number of beautiful beaches to base your day from.
If you find yourself anywhere in Galicia on your northern Spain road trip, you’ll have to definitely put this on your long must-do list.
Why You Should Visit The Cies Islands
Awesome Beaches. The Guardian rated Praia de Rodas Beach as the best beach in the world for 2007. It’s the largest
Cruisey Hikes. With the highest elevation being 197 metres, even the laziest of hikers have no excuse to make their way to the highest viewpoints. The Alto de Montefaro peak is the most popular of the viewpoints with views across the majority of the islands from the lighthouse. We stuck to the less popular view points of Faro da Porta lighthouse and one just south of Monte das Figueiras. Both offering epic panoramic views.
Best View Points. As mentioned above, the peaks offer great views but you can get great views on the general paths, from the campsite and of course the beaches. The number of times I stopped to mention how awesome the day was? More than seven, less than 50.
Easy To Access. If you take the ‘cheap’ route, with the ferry, you’ll be on the ferry around 45 minutes each way. Can’t ask for much more than that.
No One Knows About The Islands. Well, you might have, but friends I’ve chatted to aren’t aware of Vigo (Spains 11th largest city), let alone the Cies Islands. The Cies Islands are primarily visited by Spaniards, therefore, you can be a rogue foreigner on the island. You can live everyone’s dream and be a real tourist, ‘mixing with the locals’ (sarcasm in there).
They’re Attempting Responsible Tourism? There is a rule of no more than 2,200 people allowed on the island at a time. This is great in theory, but apparently, this isn’t actively monitored. Therefore the ferry companies make more profit by taking more passengers to meet the boat capacity as the fine isn’t enough to deter them if they’re caught.
Camping. If you have a tent, you can stay on the island for less than 10 euros/night. Awesome! I would love to go camp there for a few nights in the future. You must camp in one of the designated areas with online reservations available here. They also have tents available for rent, you can always buy one cheap in Vigo before heading over.
Seagulls! I grew up in New Zealand getting angry at seagulls trying to steal my fish’n’chips. On the Cies Islands, however, the largest seagull colony in the world can be found. Meaning you’ll need to protect your food super duper well. Enjoy the seagulls from a far, and you’ll get a long with them just fine.
Be Prepared For Your Cies Island Adventure
Book Tickets In Advance. The Cies Islands are popular with domestic tourists so you likely need to book tickets online. We used this company, everything was golden.
Don’t Miss Your Ferry! When you book your ticket, you’ll have to choose your departure time. If you’re tossing up with two teams, choose the later time. If you happen to miss your scheduled ferry, you’ll need to buy a new ticket. However, you can catch an earlier ferry if there’s room on the boat without paying any extra.
My suggestion? Book the latest ferry, it’s not like dinner time starts until 9 pm anyway.
Have Everything Fully Charged. There isn’t much in the way of outlets on the island if you’re there for a day trip. Even those camping overnight will be fighting tooth and nail to get access to power outlet.
Food & Beers. You may want to bring some snacks and water, but no worries if you don’t. There’s a small supermarket and a few restaurants on the island. Oh yeah, the island is really clean so don’t be a dick and litter.
How To Get To The Cies Islands
Public Transit. As above. There are various companies you can book tickets online with.
Private Boat, If You Want To Visit The Cies Islands In Style. In an awesome twist of events, I got to join a private boat trip to the third island as part of the #VigoExperience campaign.
We set sail on a yacht from Vigo with this company. The boat, captain, and chef were brilliant (I’m always amazed at the food served on board boats). The only issue is the lack of English on the website (and staff). I’m sure if you can get in touch with them on Whatsapp you’ll get a trip you love sorted.
Rather than rehash everything, I’ll simply leave this quick video I made before wrapping up this post.
The Spanish love their beaches, so beyond the Cies Islands, I found myself at a few of Diana’s favourite beaches during the week. If you’re travelling around Spain, I’d allocate three full days in and around Vigo.
That’ll keep you busy enough with seeing the Old City, Cies Islands, beaches and hiking the various trails on the hills overlooking the city.
I was invited on board with the private yacht with the bloggers who were a part of #VigoExperience. I don’t make jokes. These islands are legit awesome (the trip with Diana and Victoria was totally done by us).