God's islands, virgin nature and sun: Cíes

“Mention Spanish beaches and most people instinctively think of the Mediterranean. Yet the wilder, stunning Atlantic coastline of Galicia, just north of Portugal, has far more dramatic praias – with far fewer people on them. One of the jewels of this coast is on Las Islas Cíes, a 40-minute boat trip from the pretty town of Baiona. Once a pirates' haunt, Cíes is now an uninhabited and pristine national park, open to the public only in summer. Galegos come here to spend long, lazy summer days on the Praia das Rodas, a perfect crescent of soft, pale sand backed by small dunes sheltering a calm lagoon of crystal-clear sea.

Locals call this their "Caribbean beach", and the water is turquoise enough, the sand white enough to believe the comparison … until you dip your toe in the water. Then it feels more like Skegness. You can sleep in an idyllic campsite, shaded by tall pine trees, with a view over the ocean. And, this being Spain, there's even a proper restaurant serving great seafood”.

The Guardian, 16th February, 2007

 

Illas Cíes, in Galician, or Cíes Islands in English are three islands which belong to the municipality of Vigo, a city in Galicia in the Atlantic Ocean. I am glad to introduce you to Monteagudo ("Sharp Mount" or North Island), do Faro ("Lighthouse Island", or Isla do Medio, "Middle Island") and San Martiño ("Saint Martin" or South Island).

 

Special natural beauty, high stetic relevance, important natural habitats for biodiversity's preservation, relevant example of the geological history of the Earth, and an example of biological and ecological process during the evolution of ecosystemsare the reasons why Cíes Islands have to be, not only the number one of the top 10 beaches of the World, but also are considered as World Heritage of Humanity for the UNESCO.

 

Cíes are one of the most famous and biggest tourist appeal in Galicia. And it is not only because of its beauty, it is also because of its own story. Nobody knows if the myths are true or not, but it is said that Cíes were part of the 6 God's islands, a scenario of one of the mostly kept secret of antiquity, Kassiterides's secret. Kassiterides is the name which ancient Greeks gave to the production centre of tin (kassiteros). And this centre is thought to be in the three Cíes Islands, and two more close to them.

 

Also, years later, Cíes were the scenario of one of the Julio Cesar's armed conflict in 61a.C, among his legions and the Heminios, Celta's people from North Portugal who where running away from Romans. Of course it is not obvious if the myths are true or not, but what is real are the maritime chaos, pirates and comercial routes Cíes were witness of; for example, German submarine's remains from the Second World War or treasures from “Santo Cristo de Maracaibo”, after the Rande's battle. Even till the end of 70s, the Army used to send soldiers every summer for life-saving practises to the South Island.

 

So, those are not three nice islands where you get a nice tan skin (sometimes too much, because there the sun effects are stronger than in other points of the Atlantic). Virgin natural ways around the two islands (the other one is only for people with private boats) to the lighthouse, the top of the Alto del Príncipe (Prince's top) and its view, or the seagulls looking for food from the tourist. Or just be brave and swim in the cold Atlantic water and enjoy every marine animal. Recently, a Galician biologist found out a new kind of seahorse.

 

Cíes are a paradise.

 

Link:

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2007/feb/16/beach.top10

 

 

Sabela González

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