The Cíes Islands are one of the most visited destinations in Galicia, Spain. These islands are a true natural jewel with beautiful white sand beaches with crystal clear waters and a varied and lush vegetation. That’s the reason the natural beauty of the Cíes Islands is well known around the world.
The Cíes Islands are an essential visit for nature lovers. Their tropical vegetation and incredible biodiversity make them one of the most popular destinations among tourists.
A paradise of enormous natural value
The Cíes Islands are a natural park situated in the Vigo ria in Galicia, Spain. The park is formed by three islands, San Martiño island, Monteagudo island and Monte Faro, plus the adjacent islets. In 1980, they were declared a National Park thanks to their enormous natural value and, since 2002, they have formed part of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park, together with the islands of Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada, part of the Natura 2000 network.
These islands are home to a wide variety of ecosystems, including seagrass meadows, dunes, mangroves and cliffs, where different species of animals and plants live in harmony.
The flora of the Cíes Islands is extremely diverse, with more than 450 species of plants, trees and shrubs. These species includes a wide variety of exotic plants, including cork oaks, maples and horse chestnuts. And in the surrounding sea, there are more than 200 types of seaweed that are the habitat of the park’s different marine species.
The fauna of the Cíes Islands is also extremely diverse. They are home to more than 200 species of invertebrates such as crabs, snails, urchins and molluscs. And among the vertebrates, you can find dolphins. Additionally, they are also home to an enormous variety of sea birds, such as the yellow-legged gull and the Eurasian teal. Their marine ecosystem includes a wide variety of fish, including turbot, rays, mackerel and conger eel.
The Cíes Islands offer a unique environment for wildlife, with numerous ecosystems containing a wide variety of plants, animals and other organisms. Thanks to their great value, these ecosystems are protected to guarantee their preservation for future generations.
The historic heritage of the Cíes Islands
In addition to their enormous natural beauty of the Cíes Islands, the Cíes Islands stand out for their extremely interesting cultural and historic value.
On these islands, there are archaeological remains from the Palaeolithic and Neolithic eras. They are strong evidence of the existence of human settlements in prehistoric times. The oldest is “As Hortas”, from the Bronze Age, situated on Monte Faro. The amphoras found in this area provide us with information about how people lived and about their diet, based mainly on seafood and fish. The island is also home to the remains of the San Estevo monastery, proof of the fact that monastic orders lived here in the Middle Ages.
In addition, the park’s waters contain the remains of lithic anchors, from galleons belonging to the Modern Age and shipwrecked boats from the last century.
Controlled visits to protect the environment
The Cíes Islands are one of the most stunning natural destinations in Galicia and, therefore, the world. Their unique scenery, made up of a mixture of mountains, forests, beaches and cliffs, has captivated tourists from all over the world.
However, this natural beauty isn’t just a tourist attraction, it is also a fragile ecosystem that needs to be protected. That’s why the required measures have been put in place in order to encourage sustainable tourism and ensure the islands’ ecosystem is not harmed.
One of the measures adopted is the control of visits to the island. Hence, despite there being regular passenger transport services, the number of people is limited to 1800 each day. Due to this restriction, it is important for visitors to buy their ticket on the Naviera Mar de Ons website well in advance so they don’t miss the chance to visit.
Furthermore, before buying the ticket for the Cíes Islands, visitors must request authorisation on the website provided by the Galician Government (Xunta de Galicia).
Other prevention and protection measures
To protect the most fragile areas or those with a higher ecological value, and for visitors’ safety, there are some areas with restricted access. For example, the breeding areas for gulls and cormorants. To ensure visitors don’t stray from the authorised walking paths, the island has signs and various information panels that warn you not to disturb the fauna that inhabits the Cíes Islands, or to pull up or destroy the flora.
In addition, vehicles are not prohibited on the island and there are no rubbish bins. If people go to the island with food or drink, they must take it back to the coast with them to place it in the relevant bins.
These measures are aimed at preserving the island and its ecosystem. All visitors that respect these measures will always be welcome.
If you want to visit the natural beauty of the Cíes Islands, don’t hesitate to visit our website and book your ticket in advance. Remember that spaces are limited and they run out fast! Additionally, with Naviera Mar de Ons ferry company, you can also visit other idyllic locations like the Island of Ons, another jewel in the Rías Baixas, obtaining a 10% discount. Take a look at all of the information here.