20th – 22nd September – Islas Cíes
These islands were a definite ‘must’ for us to visit before arriving in Baiona, our final port of call in Spain.
However, this is a protected area and forms part of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia and so we had to apply for a licence which gave us permission to visit the islands! Our application was granted and so after our unexpected foray into the Ría de Pontevedra we set off for the Islas de Cíes and the anchorage off the Rodas beach!
A brief resumé of these stunning islands ~ ……..
The Atlantic Islands National Park in Galicia comprises the Archipelagos of Cíes, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada. We only had time to go to Cíes but I’m pretty sure as they are all in the same area that we didn’t miss a gem among the others, perhaps we did?! All these islands were declared a Nature reserve in 1980 and then included in the National park of Galicia in 2002.
The Archipelago of Cíes has three islands, the North island of Monteagudo, the middle island of Del Faro and the South island of San Martiño. The North and Middle islands of Monteagudo and Del Faro (Lighthouse) are joined by a strip of sand which forms Rodas Beach.
It is not possible to land on San Martiño! The island is a bird sanctuary and no one is allowed to set foot on it! Anchor off the beach yes but no going ashore!
The islands are formed from the peaks of granite coastal mountains which partially sank, long ago beneath the sea. They are quite spectacular to see and are very different on the western side facing the Atlantic Ocean from the softer, protected from the westerly Atlantic winds, eastern side where all the beaches are to be found. The photos below show the side facing the Atlantic Ocean which have steep cliffs covered in orange lichen!
The rugged western side of the Islas de Cíes!
The nature reserve protects the birds, thousands of yellow-legged gulls and Iberian guillemots to name a few and birds wintering or resting on their migratory flights across the seas! The pure waters around the islands attract whales, dolphins, and sharks including blue sharks and basking sharks! We only saw dolphins though, always a joyful sight!
We had a pleasant sail here from the Raxo in the Ría de Pontevedra, a distance of nearly 14 nautical miles and our expectations of the islands were met in full! We anchored in clear water and drank in the view!
No wonder this beach has been voted the most beautiful in the world!!
It reminded us of the Caribbean, everything was perfect, and the weather was gorgeous too. We met other cruisers including Danish and Finnish boats and one other British boat, each with their own mission but all of us heading south!
21st September ~ Ashore on the Island!
We launched the dinghy and set off for the beach, marvelling at the crystal clear water! We passed by the British yacht on the way and arranged to meet at the end of the day on their boat for a drink and to swap stories as ever!
This chap wasn’t going to move even though we were so close!
The place to reach for it’s views was the lighthouse. It was a fairly long walk though the woods which was nice and flat but then we came to the climb! The path wound round and round up to the lighthouse very steeply but it was worth every step!
Although the lighthouse wasn’t very pretty, the views from the top were amazing!
The Cíes Lighthouse and one of the views!
Now we had to walk all the way down, back to Rodas beach where we had started in the morning! We wanted to go to the North Island of Monteagudo now! We walked through the woodland along the pathways which were remarkably well maintained and came eventually to the Alto de Principe which stands at 111metres high where the scenery was lunar like! There were several people up there too and one keen photographer asked if we wanted a photo taken on the top! It was a slightly scary experience perched on a knife edge of rock – I think the photo demonstrates it perfectly!!
The rock formations were odd to say the least but rather beautiful too?
Odd but beautiful rock formations on Alto de Principe!
There was still more to see on our way down, it was fascinating to discover the different types of terrain from the lunar landscape at Alto de Principe through the trees and then to the beaches as we got down to sea level again.
A very varied mix of landscapes!
The sand on this beach seemed to be almost pink!
We were quite tired by the time we arrived back at the dinghy having walked several kilometres around the island but we had had a lovely day and so we made our way to our next stop to meet our fellow Brits, Den and Lizzie! Their boat was called Oriana, subsequently to be known as “The Mighty O”!! We clambered aboard and had just a quick glass of wine with them as they informed us that we had all been invited on board the Finnish yacht later?! It was a great evening with the Danes joining us too, much fun and hilarity and drinking!
22nd September ~ Leaving this Idyll for Baiona!
Having spent four days now unattached to the shore, we needed to stock up with food and water and so fairly reluctantly we ‘up anchored’ and left these beautiful islands and headed for Baiona!
The trip was only six and a half nautical miles! We put out our big genoa for the fairly light northerly winds, and so from behind, and had a very gentle sail to our destination! Pastures new….again!!