Dubbed best beach in the world by the English newspaper ´The Guardian` you might wonder where this secret paradise may be found.
The Caribbean maybe or in the waters of the Indian Ocean?
Wrong guess. We are talking about Spain and not the so popular South either but the rather underestimated, at least as a holiday destination, North.
Several miles out in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast from the important port town of Vigo lie the twin islands, Islas Cies in Galicia, Spain´s northwest province.
Playa de Rhodas
The beach in question is called Playa de Rhodas and it´s indeed fabulous for several reasons.
It´s a long, white sand beach which connects two islands, descending very softly into the crystal clear waters of the Atlantic.
You can walk out at least 2oo meters and still be only knee deep in water which makes it ideal for kids.
How to get there
Ferry from Vigo to Cies Islands
The islands are reached by ferry from Vigo, which by itself, is worth a visit, sunshine or not.
To my surprise, the ferry has a strict dress code. Ladies are not allowed to sit in bikini tops and guys have to cover up with a T-shirt.
Heard the captain tell one guy with naked torso off and threatening to stop the boat if he didn´t comply.
Important note !
There is a daily limit of 2200 visitors to Cies Islands so it’s recommended to book in advance in the high season June, July and August.
Other times you usually can get your ticket at the reception on the harbour before departure.
Ferries also goes from Cangas and Baiona.
Attractions and what to see on Islas Cies and Vigo City
A nature reserve
Islas Cies are a nature reserve and like several all over Galicia extremely well kept and looked after.
On arrival you are supplied with plastic carriers bags where you have to deposit your litter, even if it´s just and apple core and leave in containers.
If you don´t and you are caught there will be a fine.
Therefore the beach is clean and so is the water.
Hiking and biking, but no cars
It´s also quite idyllic because it´s bordered by dense forest, criss crossed by hiking and biking paths.
The paths are marked and categorized by difficulty, some are smooth and others include rocky parts and steep climbs.
No cars are allowed on the island safe 1 or 2 which belong to the maintenance people.
Rare flowers and plants grow among the trees and even a spattering of wild life can be observed.
On a promontory overlooking the ocean stands a very lonely lighthouse which is the destination of one of the hiking paths.
The Islas Cies are very popular as a weekend trip for the people of Vigo and other Spanish tourists but not many foreigners find their way here, simply because they don´t know about them.
All of Galicia is very green, which has to do with the fact that it rains a lot which in turn is probably the reason why the province is not such a popular destination with foreign tourists to Spain.
When the sun shines this is a true paradise and even if “The Guardian” may have exaggerated calling it the best beach in the world, they certainly got it basically right.
Camping on the island
There are no hotels on the islands but a few very good restaurants.
If you wish to spend the night, you can camp.
You don´t even have to drag around your camping gear, the camp site will rent you tents and sleeping bags.
The adjacent small supermarket will sell you food, shampoo, toothpaste and the like.
The Camping website: campingislascies.com
One of the most important port towns in Galicia, Vigo`s La Piedra is a famous attraction.
The area in the old part of port, is where seafood lovers head. Stall upon stall sell the freshest oysters ( at least five different kinds) and other seafood which you heap on a plate.
Then you take yourself and you plate to one of the many small restaurants which surround the stalls, sit down, order your drinks and enjoy. Cheap, rustic and a feast for the palate.
Vigo has everything to do with the sea and therefore she has her very own patron in the Virgin Mary.
A huge statue of her stands on a steep hill overlooking the sea. She carries a boat in her hand and you can climb a narrow stone staircase inside the statue and alight in the boat.
A rather windy affair, but you are rewarded by great views.
Things to do in and around Vigo
If you want to see tours, sightseeings and more things to see and do in Vigo;
Where to stay in Vigo City ? Hotel-tips here …
Great hotels in Vigo
Since it is only a short boat trip to the Cies Islands from Vigo, it may be most convenient to stay at one of the fine hotels the city has to offer.
Hotel Pazo Los Escudos Spa & Beach
A good tip is the 5 star Hotel Pazo Los Escudos Spa & Beach close to both downtown and the ferries to Cies.
This luxury hotel has nice sea views.
Not so close to the center but direct access to Carril Beach where the ferries goes to Cies Islands Nature Reserve.
Close to Carril you also find the popular Samil Beach.