WHAT TO DO IN THE CÍES ISLANDS
» Preparing for your trip: guide Cíes Islands
Discover everything that you must know in order to prepare for your trip and enjoy it to the fullest.
BOOK YOUR TICKETS
Cíes Islands are part of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park and the daily number of visitors allowed is limited. Therefore, remember to book your tickets as soon as possible, especially in June, July, August and September.
You can book your tickets for Cíes Islands at www.mardeons.com or by calling (+34) 986 225 272 through a very simple, fast and, above all, safe process.
When booking your tickets, you must choose between all the departure ports available, the twenty-two daily schedules, and provide your identity number, either DNI (National Identity Document), NIE (Foreigners Identification Number) or passport, in order to get the corresponding authorization by National Parks.
DOCUMENTS FOR TRAVELLING
To travel you should have the documents required under current regulations (DNI, passport, NIE) and show them to the National Park staff when appropriate.
Children must always travel with an adult and they are required to show the proper documents (DNI, NIE, passport or family record book) when boarding, since our staff will check whether the children are under the age of 13.
In order to board quickly and efficiently, we thank you for having the required documents ready to show them to us.
To travel to Cíes Islands, you can take a maximum of 20 kg of luggage. However, it is important for you to consider the weight you can carry by yourself, and to pay special attention to valuable objects. Mar de Ons is not liable for any luggage or personal objects lost or stolen.
It is important to take into account the objects that you are not allowed to bring on board, as they are considered illegal or dangerous, and the forbidden objects.
For safety reasons, it is forbidden to carry any kind of objects that may put the passengers’ safety at risk in the hand luggage. This includes objects such as:
- Explosives, ammunition, pyrotechnic elements or sparklers, and dangerous weapons.
- Gases (flammable, not flammable, intensely refrigerated or poisonous) such as camping gas, oxygen, propane and butane.
- Flammable liquids, such as fuel, paint or solvents.
- Flammable solids, such as easily ignitable items, substances subject to spontaneous combustion, substances that emit flammable gases in contact with water.
- Oxidising substances, such as caustic soda or peroxides.
- Radioactive materials.
TRAVELLING WITH PETS
It is completely forbidden to disembark any type of animal on Cíes Islands, except for guide dogs accompanying blind people. If you are interested in visiting Cíes Islands and you need pet accommodation services, these are available for you in the city of Vigo.
However, if you decide to take the journey to Cíes Islands only (without disembarking), you should know that all kinds of pets are allowed on board, as long as they are documented. We consider pets the following animals: dogs, cats and those harmless animals boarded wearing a lash, collar and muzzle. Pets must stay on the outside part of the boat for the entire journey.
Please ensure that you carry your pet’s medical card with you and that your pet’s vaccinations and dewormings are up to date.
ISSUING OF BOARDING TICKETS
Reserved tickets can be issued from the time of booking until 30 minutes before the chosen departure time at our information points. To print the tickets, you will simply have to provide the booking details which we will send directly to your email.
Should you have any doubts, we recommend you to go to any Mar de Ons information points.
In order to board, you should go to the boarding point at least 15 minutes prior to the boat’s departure. Passengers must be in the corresponding queue and each person must have their ticket in their hands, so that the boarding can be done quickly and efficiently, making it easier for the boat to depart on time.
The captain and crew’s priority is the passage safety. For this reason, the company catamarans have additional safety devices, besides fulfilling all the reviews required both the Office of the Merchant Shipping and other organisms.
According to the national law regarding tobacco, smoking is not allowed on the boats. Smoking is not allowed at the ground premises of the company either.
Our boats are big and stable, which means that their decks can be accessed and walked on at any time during the trip.
- It is advisable to wear comfortable clothes and shoes and to use a lot of sunscreen in order to fully enjoy what this natural paradise has to offer. And don’t forget your camera!
- There are not any ATMs on Cíes Islands, although some food service establishments accept card payments.
- If you come in your own vehicle, we recommend you to come with enough time to park.
- In Vigo, there are several fee-paying car parks near us. There is a robotic car park under the Bay Marine Station, another car park in the Berbés entry, a car park in A Laxe shopping centre and another one in Plaza da Estrela. Only passenger cars can be parked in the robotic car park.
- In Baiona, there are several fee-paying car parks near the port. One of them is located under A Palma park, 500 metres away, and another one in Los Tendales, 800 metres away.
- In Cangas, there are several public car parks in the port area.
- Please do not hesitate to go to our information points if you have any doubts.
» Useful Information
Access to useful information on the aspects you should take into account once you arrive at your destination: National Park’s regulations, services on the Island, trail, beaches…
You are NOT allowed to:
- Throw any remaining food or any rubbish. There are no containers, so you will need to bring rubbish back to the departure dock and throw it in the trash bins when you disembark.
- Disembark pets, except for guide dogs accompanying blind people.
- Access to or move around the island with motor vehicles, except for wheelchairs.
- Ride bicycles and/or similar vehicles.
- Camp outside the areas designated for this purpose.
- Light any kind of fires, campfires or suchlike.
- Access the areas marked as restricted to the public. You must respect the crops and fences and use the paths and footbridges provided, avoiding walking outside of these in the Park.
- Disturb, harm, catch or kill any wild animals.
- Pull out, cut or harm the vegetation, including flowers and fruits.
- Collect, destroy or alter any elements of archaeological, historical or geological interest, whether on ground or sea like stones, shells, etc.
- Introduce any native animal and/or plant species.
- Carry out any activities that may destroy, damage or alter the unique natural elements of the area.
- Use sound systems or to make noises that may alter the natural peace of the place.
- Go scuba diving with no prior authorization.
- Practice spearfishing or recreational fishing.
- Carry or move around with weapons, harpoons, spearguns or other similar tools.
- Eat anywhere. You must use exclusively the recreation areas established for meals.
- Smoking is permitted, provided that the cigarette butts or the lighted cigarettes are not thrown to the ground (all the precautions are needed to minimise the fire risks).
You ARE allowed to:
- Bring food, as long as any waste is taken to the departure point, because there are not any trash bins.
- Smoke, as long as the cigarette butts are not thrown to the ground.
- Disembark guide dogs.
- Access with manual wheelchairs (power wheelchairs are not allowed on the boat).
- Move around with any kind of baby carriage or trolley, but only on the authorised paths.
BASIC SERVICES ON THE ISLAND
- Health care – Today, none of the archipelagos has health care staff working permanently. The Cíes Islands archipelago has this service during the months of July, August and September only, since it is then when there are the most tourists. The Red Cross stand on Cíes Islands is located near the information stand, next to Rodas beach, and there are several lifeguards and a doctor or a nurse.
- Lifeguards –Vigo City Council usually assigns a service of lifeguards to these islands during the summer season. These lifeguards usually arrive at the islands on the first boat and leave on the last one.
- Drinkable water – It is important to take into account that drinkable water is scarce, especially during the driest periods that coincide with the greatest flow of tourists. There are some public fountains on the island, but they do not usually have water in summer and, if they do, drinkability is not guaranteed. Therefore, it is advisable to bring plenty of water to visit the islands, since this is a saline environment, which favours dehydration under the sun.
- Public restrooms – The public restrooms, accessible for people with reduced mobility, are located in the pathway over the campsite, on Faro Island.
- Rest areas – Taking advantage of the natural shelter provided by trees, several rest areas were built near some of the most frequented trails. These have tables or benches allowing you to make a stop during the trip, to eat or simply sit down while enjoying the views and the peace surrounding you. One of these areas is locate near the lake and the other can be found next to Nosa Señora beach.
- Information Stand – The information stand on the Cíes Islands archipelago is located 100 metres away from Rodas dock (port of embarkation), on Monteagudo Island. At this point, you can ask for any information that you may need about the National Park, concerning services and possible activities that you may carry out on the islands. Its main goal is to provide the visitors with all the information allowing them to enjoy the visit to the fullest. This service is available during the seasons when there are maritime transport regular services.
- Information Centre – It is located 1.2 km away from Rodas dock, on Faro Island. This building is an old artillery storage from the 19th century, which was built on the remains of the San Estevo monastery, which in its turn dates from the 11th century and was the centre of the insular life during that period. Inside it, the remains of the foundations, some pieces which were part of the cornices and a man-shaped tomb belonging to one of the monks who lived there can still be seen.
The centre was initially opened as an Interpretation Centre in 1997. Today, it includes a visitor information point, an interpretation and exhibition room about the park, an area for children workshops, and a multipurpose room for projections, courses, conferences or group activities scheduled by the park staff or requested to the park. It usually remains open during the summer season.
- Viewpoints – Even though there are several places on the Islands from where the landscapes can be admired, only some of them are considered viewpoints. These are accessible for most of the visitors because of their landscape interest, spaciousness and localization. The recommended viewpoints on Cíes Islands are: Faro de Cíes, Faro da Porta, Faro de Monteagudo, Pedra da Campá and Alto del Príncipe.
- Observatories – Wooden sheds aimed at watching the sea birds, which have an appropriate design to observe the breeding areas from a short distance without disturbing or frightening the bird colonies. There are two of them on Cíes Islands, one of them a few metres away from the Pedra da Campá viewpoint (Faro Island) and another one next to Faro de Monteagudo (on the North Island or Monteagudo Island).
- Information Panels and Signposts – The National Park has an information panel on the Cíes archipelago, located opposite the information stand.
It has a specific map of the archipelago, including services, interest points and itineraries, in addition to a general map with the location of the National Park and some basic aspects of the natural environment regulations.
RESTAURANTS AND ACCOMMODATION
- Cíes Campsite – It is a private facility authorised through a concession. It is located on Faro Island, 700 metres away from the park information stand. It has a limited capacity, so it is advisable to book on their website in advance. The campsite card must be shown to the shipping companies in order to get the transport ticket including an overnight stay on the island. The campsite is usually open during the seasons where there is regular transport for visitors, although it is safest to seek previous confirmation.
- Restaurants – On Cíes Islands, there are several catering establishment that remain open during the period when there is regular public transport in the summer season. Today, there are the following food service establishments on the island: the campsite restaurant and self-service, Serafín bar, Rodas restaurant and Begoña sandwich bar.
» Getting here – Port maps
Maybe when you arrive at the beach and feel the fine white sand at your feet, what you feel like doing is lying down in the sun and enjoying the microclimate of this environment, but if you’re a nature and outdoor lover you will undoubtedly enjoy the hiking routes in the Cíes Islands. The long walking paths surrounded by unique flora that run through the northern island are an adventure for any traveller who will be accompanied by some native animals such as the yellow legged gulls present in every corner, as they are the largest colony of this species in the world.
In order to discover the natural beauty of the Cíes Islands, it is necessary to visit every corner of them. There are several signposted walking paths corresponding to the 4 routes of the Cíes Islands. The route of the Cíes Lighthouse, with a fantastic view of the Rhodes beach, the route of Alto do Príncipe, with spectacular cliffs, the route of Faro da Porta, which allows us to observe the island of San Martiño and the route of Faro do Peito which allows us to discover wooded areas, an old settlement and an ornithological observatory.
All of them, suitable for both beginners and experts, make hiking in the Cíes Islands one of the essential activities ideal for those curious tourists. Although they are not long routes, it is advisable to do them without rushing to observe every detail of the path or to take a break.
Visiting Cíes means enjoying paradise, and once there you can either choose to bask in the sun on the white sand or explore every corner of the island. If you prefer the latter option, just follow one of the routes of the Cíes Islands and you will be able to discover wooded areas, old settlements and breathtaking views.
» Monte do Faro Trail
After passing the A Nosa Señora Beach, you will begin the zigzag climb towards the lighthouse. Among the thick grove, you can see, to the south, the beautiful San Martiño island. Next, as you ascend, you will find the curious Pedra da Campá, pierced by the force of the Atlantic winds, and the bird observatory, from which you can enjoy stunning views of Lago dos Nenos and from the Rodas Beach. Finally, you reach the lighthouse, which is the most emblematic viewpoint of the Cíes Islands, with views of the three islands, the cliffs, and the beaches.
7.4km (round trip)
2h 30min (round trip)
In its first few meters, the Alto do Príncipe Trail allows you to enjoy a fantastic view of the Rodas Beach and surrounds the Dunar de Figueiras – Muxieiro Complex, where a representation of the typical species of these fragile ecosystems is located. The path continues ascending near the Figueiras Beach, and continues winding the path until, after a short descent, it opens up to discover part of the spectacular landscape of cliffs and beaches. From Alto do Príncipe you can enjoy privileged views of this area of the island. The spectacular panoramic views from this point allow us to appreciate the contrast between the two slopes of the island: the softer east face and the much more abrupt west face. The final section of the route runs along a path between rocks shaped by the wind and water until you reach the Silla de la Reina, a whimsical rock formation resulting from the tremendous erosive action that constitutes one of the most beautiful viewpoints on the islands.
» Alto do Príncipe Trail
3km (round trip)
1h 15min (round trip)
» Faro da Porta Trail
This route runs along the southern coast of Faro Island and offers unbeatable views of the South Island. It is a 5.2 kilometer route of low difficulty, at which the traveler can visit, among others, O Castro das Hortas.
5.2km (round trip)
1h 45min (round trip)
The O Monteagudo Trail stands out for offering spectacular views of the estuary from the Faro do Peito. From this point, you can see the Ons archipelago, Cabo Home, O Monte Facho and Costa da Vela. Along its 5.6 kilometers you can also see the remains of the Old Cuncheiro, the Figueiras Beach, the Bird Observatory, the Faro do Peito or the Furna de Monteagudo.
Next, it approaches the foot of Alto de Monteagudo, whose characteristic shape gives its name to this island. At this point the path leads, through a small wooded area where the ruins of an old island settlement were found, to the Bird Observatory. From here you can already see the Faro do Peito. To get to this point you will have to descend a little along the path. This area of the Cíes Islands is the closest to the continent and from it you can see the Ons archipelago to the north, at the entrance to the Bay of Pontevedra, Cabo Home, or Monte Facho de Donón and Costa da Vela
» O Monteagudo Trail
5.6km (round trip)
1h 45min (round trip)
» Official Guided Tours
Discover the main landmarks of this natural paradise by the hands of a specialised tour guide with the four official trails designed by National Parks. This experience offers you the chance to discover, admire and enjoy the uniqueness of this gorgeous natural paradise which has been a part of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park since 2002.
A specialised tour guide will lead you throughout the entire tour, so that you could learn about its history and discover its beaches and amazing views first hand.
Walking through Cíes Islands, you will understand why this is the second destination with the highest number of visitors in Galicia, and you will visit the most beautiful beach in the world.
MONTE FARO TRAIL
The Monte Faro trail offers amazing views over the Bay of Vigo. It is one of the longest trails, but it is also the most popular.
This trail will allow you o visit the following places:
- Pedra de Campá, a unique geological formation pierced by the saltpetre brought by the Atlantic winds.
- The Birds Observatory, from where you will be able to admire the thousands of yellow-legged herring gulls nesting in the cliffs, and even some European shags, who prefer nesting in areas nearer the sea. You will also enjoy the stunning views over Rodas beach and lake.
FARO DA PORTA TRAIL
Faro de A Porta trail will take you on trip along the southern coast of O Faro Island. Less known and less busy than Monte Faro trail, this nature trail offers a magnificent view over the islands nearer the sea.
During the trail, you will enjoy the panoramic views of San Martiño Island, the southern island in the archipelago and the only one which cannot be accessed by the regular line boats.
ALTO DO PRÍNCIPE TRAIL
The Alto del Príncipe trail is a nature trail going up to the peak of Monte Agudo. It is the shortest trail, and it offers the visitors an easy-to-walk route that does not miss on any of the archipelago’s beauty.
Along this trail, you will be able to visit the following places:
- “Silla de la Reina” (“the Queen’s Chair”), a famous rock formation shaped by the natural elements. From there, you will enjoy wonderful views over the cliffs of the archipelago’s western coast.
- Alto do Príncipe is the most important point of the trail, allowing you to admire the contrast between the geography and the vegetation of the two sides of the island. Likewise, it is the perfect place to watch the large group of yellow-legged herring gulls that nest in the cliffs.
Monte Agudo trail is a nature trail running among the trees of Cíes Islands. It is a short trail that goes mainly through a forest area, offering a pleasant walk despite the slope and the uneven ground at some points.
This trail will allow you to visit the Birds Observatory, from where you will also enjoy the panoramic view over Cíes Islands the neighbouring coast of O Morrazo. You will also visit Faro de O Peito. This lighthouse is located on the nearest point to the continent on Cíes Islands, barely 2.5 km from Cabo Home. From there, you will see Ons Island, on the entrance of the Bay of Pontevedra.
In order to walk these trails, it is advisable to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as well as drink water and use sunscreen. The temperature is high and the solar rays are very intense during the summer season on Cíes Islands.
May we suggest you to download our Traveller’s Guide, where you will find all the information that you need in order not to leave anything behind.
» Protected Natural Area
Currently the archipelago is completely uninhabited. It is a natural paradise with virgin beaches, dune systems and pure nature, totally disconnected from the madding crowd, the only access is by boat.
In 1980, the Cíes Islands were declared a Natural Park with the aim of preserving, conserving and regenerating this natural space, promoting its knowledge and making possible a public use compatible with the conservation of nature.
Later, in 2002, the Terrestrial Maritime National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia was created, made up of a group of archipelagos, islands and islets that are Cíes, Ons Island, Sálvora and Cortegada.
National parks are natural areas little transformed by human action that, based on their scenic, geological interest, their ecosystems or the uniqueness of their flora and fauna, possess aesthetic, ecological, educational or scientific values for which they deserve special protection. In the Cíes Islands, therefore, all activities that alter or endanger the stability of ecosystems are excluded.
By regulations, visitor access to the Cíes Islands is very limited per day and they also have other protection systems such as their inclusion in the European Nature Network – Places of Community Importance LIC or in the 2008 OSPAR Convention – and their consideration as a Zone Special Protection for Birds ZEPA.
The relative scarcity of rains, together with the shallow depth of the soils, causes a drop in available water in the summer months.
The average annual temperature of the islands ranges between 13 and 15 degrees, with fluctuation rising in the spring and summer seasons to 20 and 22 degrees on average, reaching maximums of up to 35 degrees.
» Mediterranean Climate
» Endemic Terrestrial Flora
Among the bushes, the gorse, the rockrose, the torvisco and the silveira predominate. In the most protected areas, the gorse acquires a large size serving as a barrier for the colonies of seabirds.
Of all the plants on the islands, the most important and greatest ecological value are those that appear in dunes and cliffs, since they are the only plants that occur in this environment, rare and endemic. Among all of them, the Armory or Herba de Namorar, formerly used to make magical concoctions related to love and fertility, and the Camariña, a shrub that gives small edible fruits, stand out.
In addition to the birds that reproduce in the park, throughout the year the presence of other marine and aquatic birds that make use of the park during their migratory and wintering periods is frequent, such as the peregrine falcon or the goshawk.
Due to this great natural wealth, the island has several ornithological observatories. The most visited are the Alto da Campá, in the Faro Island, and the Faro do Peito, in the Monteagudo Island.
Among the amphibians we can find salamanders, Iberian newts and Iberian pintojo sapillo.
Reptiles include the Ocellated Lizard, the Iberian Lizard, the Tridactyl Skink and the Ladder Snakes, among others.
» Special Terrestrial Fauna
» The Marine Environment
The seabed of the National Park are made up of four well-differentiated layers: the first consisting of sand, the second consisting of gravel, the third consisting of Maërl (a type of coralinaceous algae, where different marine species are raised) and the fourth consisting of rocky elements.
Barnacles and mussels are raised on the cliffs exposed to strong waves. In its underwater part, very stony, you can find crab, spider crab, lobster and octopus. On the beaches of the most protected areas there are a multitude of bivalve molluscs, as well as turbot, plaice and sole. The rocky but protected areas of the interior of the islands are populated by true forests of anemones and numerous sea urchins.
We can also find other species that live under the waters of the National Park such as: bream, otter or starfish.
Usually the waters that surround the Cíes are visited by dolphins, whales and sea turtles.
“As Hortas” is a fortified Iron Age and Roman settlement, classed as such due to the structures and remains found. This place has a series of natural shelters, the “Altar Druídico” being especially relevant, having been interpreted by many as an altar to offer sacrifices to the gods.
The legend describing how Julius Caesar fought the Celtic tribes that sheltered in these lands is also set in this natural paradise. However, the unbeatable general was incapable of defeating the fierceness of this nation with weapons, so he had to conquer them with siege and hunger.
» Ancient History
» Middle Ages
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, the internal conflicts of the Church and the continuous attacks of pirates caused the abandonment of the Cíes Islands by the clergy.
Currently, most of the Cíes Islands archipelago is owned by the Autonomous Government and its use is mainly tourist. In recent decades, tourist visits have increased exponentially. Today, it has become the second tourist destination in Galicia, after the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which is why the need to establish various systems of protection. Unlike other islands such as the Ons Island, in Cíes there is currently no permanent population. However, there are still a few houses built in the 60s-70s.
» Contemporary Era
Cíes Islands Pictures
In the Cíes Islands you will be able to enjoy the authentic nature, it is a singular environment where you will find some dream beaches, with white sand and crystalline water, surrounded by mountains that offer you incomparable views. It is worth the hike to the highest point to enjoy from the Cíes lighthouse the feeling of being in an idyllic environment while watching the horizon.
To get to the Cíes from Vigo, Cangas, Baiona, Sanxenxo or Portonovo it is essential to book your tickets in advance. If you also want to stay overnight, which is highly recommended, you should also make a camping reservation at the Cies campsite in advance, as this is the only accommodation available on the island. It has been awarded the distinction of green campsite for its environmental responsibility while offering campers many amenities.
Watching a sunset at the Cíes is a memorable experience that you should not miss, it fills you with vitality and makes you connect with the land, because if there is one thing that stands out in this environment it is the wild and idyllic nature that is preserved on the island thanks to responsible tourism.
The fact that the access is restricted to a number of visitors per day and the responsibility of each visitor to respect the environment makes Cíes a paradise island with unique flora and fauna in the world.
The presence of protected birds, such as the tufted cormorant or other species such as the yellow-legged gulls, means that several bird observatories have been established on the island. In addition to the birds, there are also some amphibians or reptiles, but mainly the natural wealth of Cíes is represented by the marine environment as the underwater area of the islands forms one of the richest ecosystems of Galicia with an important kelp forest. Surrounding the waters of the Cíes we can also see dolphins, whales or sea turtles.
For all these reasons, the Cíes Islands are a perfect destination for nature, hiking, diving and especially photography lovers.
DO NOT WAIT MORE…
BOOK NOW YOUR TICKET
The ticket to your dream destination
IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRAVEL TO THE CÍES ISLANDS OR THE ONS ISLAND FROM EASTER AND MAY 15 (EXCEPT CAMPERS), before buying the ticket, you must obtain the authorization requested by La Xunta de Galicia, in which they will provide you with the pre code -reserve (necessary to acquire the boat ticket).
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