Although Cíes is only an archipelago, the biggest attraction of these islands is that the visitor can discover them in different ways and feel a crush on more than one occasion or love at first sight. The islands of Cíes are, at the same time, an unknown rocky terrain for hikers, fine sand for swimmers, and a quiet corner where you can savour a tapas of pulpo á feira (octopus), a starry night or interesting sea beds to explore while you do water sports.
Snorkelling, diving or kayaking are the main water sports on Cíes. At the islands’ tourist information office or at the reception of the camp site, they will give you all of the details you need to do these activities yourself or to take part in the trips organised by the ria de Vigo diving clubs or by the Atlantic Islands Sea Kayaking School. What are you waiting for? We will take you to Cíes!
Snorkelling on the islands of Cíes
One of the most enjoyable sea activities and within reach of almost any visitor is snorkelling. It can be done in the swimming areas of the island using fins, a mask and breathing tube or snorkel tube. Given the water temperature, which is around 16/18 degrees, it is advisable to do this water sport in Cíes with a wetsuit.
Snorkelling is done in shallow waters where you will find molluscs such as octopus or mussels; shellfish such as crabs, lobsters, spider crabs or barnacles; and fish including sole or mackerel. You will also see sea urchins and, if you are very lucky, a seahorse, a protected species that appears to feel comfortable in the marine environment of Cíes, especially in the more sheltered areas of the archipelago.
If you are a good swimmer and you have all of the necessary equipment, you can snorkel in Cíes by yourself. However, although prior knowledge is not essential, you may prefer to take part in an organised snorkelling session, with instructors who will help you to enjoy the activity fully and will explain everything about the islands’ seabeds to you. Fishing is not permitted under any circumstances, neither is altering the marine environment: on Cíes, like anywhere, water sports should be carried out responsibly and sustainably.
Diving on the islands of Cíes
Another water sport you can do on Cíes is diving. You will find diving zones on the archipelago for the beginner diver and for the expert diver.
Once of the most popular enclaves for diving is the islet of Viños, situated in the channel that separates the islands of Monteagudo and do Faro from the south island of San Martiño. This point, with a maximum depth of 10 metres, is suitable for all diving levels and is highly recommended for night diving. When diving in it, the colours explode: the red and green of the seaweed light up the fish as they swim by, including white seabream, rays, gilt-head bream and sea bass. The low lying parts of this area are sandy and rocky; in the latter you will sense the rock below a rich layer of sponges, corals and anemones. In the depths of the Viños, you will also see molluscs such as octopus or cuttlefish, apart from fish such as conger eel.
On the other hand, those with more experience can dive in areas such as Biduidos (in the north west), with a much more complex dive: its submarine canyons, full of corals, reach 50 metres in depth. When autumn is approaching, it is usual to come across dolphins at this point. In addition, in Biduidos, there are still the remains of a French steamboat, the Asturianne, which sank in 1917 in route between Avilés and Lisbon.
There are also some medium difficulty or medium-high difficulty diving points. Two of the most popular are O Ruso and Forcados.
If you choose diving from all of the water sports available in Cíes, you can take part in a supervised dive or do it independently. Before doing it independently, you must request a diving permit from the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park.
Kayak tour on the islands of Cíes
And what do you think about visiting the Cíes islands and discovering them by kayak? The eastern side of Cíes, with beaches and gentle waves, is fantastic for taking a leisurely ride by kayak; even for a beginners trip. The Galician Federation of Canoeing (GEGAPI) and the Atlantic Islands Sea Kayaking School organise guided tours where all visitors can take part, whether they have previous experience or not.
Kayaking on the western side of the archipelago (very Atlantic looking: rugged and full of cliffs) is just for expert kayakers.
In any case, on the eastern side of the island, there are also places for challenges: some of the most experienced kayakers often try and reach the archipelago from the beach of Liméns, in Cangas do Morrazo.
If you are prepared to row, kayaking is one of the best water sports you can do on Cíes.
Photograph: Escuela Kayak de Mar Islas Atlánticas
Well? You want to try out the crystal clear waters of these islands, right? Well visit Cíes with us!
In the high season, Mar de Ons offers trips to Cíes from the ports of Vigo, Cangas, Baiona, Sanxenxo and Portonovo. To visit the islands, authorisation from the Xunta de Galicia (local government) is required through their official website. You will be able to request it up to 45 days before the date of your trip for a maximum of 10 visitors per application. After applying for the permit, you will receive an email with a provisional code, called the pre-booking code that you should use to buy the tickets, you have two hours to do so. We recommend you organise this authorisation in plenty of time: The Cíes islands are an extremely popular paradise!
For more information about this and other trips belonging to this shipping company, (Isla de Ons, to the island of San Simón, Lágrimas de San Lorenzo, Combarro, tours of the ría…), you can go to our website mardeons.es or you can phone us using the telephone number +34 986 22 52 72.
We would like to remind you that our transport is safe. We have increased the cleaning and disinfection of the facilities and we follow all of the health recommendations: the use of masks is compulsory on the boats.
We and the sea fauna of the Cíes islands hope to see you on board soon! Don’t let summer end without doing water sports in Cíes!