The sea roars under the towering cliffs forged by relentless winds. Flocks of seagulls cry and dive down to the waves that crash against the rocks. I look at the horizon. Flat, infinite. Non plus ultra: everything beyond, once fell into the realm of the unknown.
Nowadays, I know if I draw a straight line to the West, I get somewhere around Boston. And if I turn back to the East, a gentler landscape shows up. The cliffs act as a breakwater, and a calm sea gently laps the shore facing the Spanish coast.
Coming from Vigo, the Cies Islands, appear like a land of castaways: eucalypts, gorse flowers and smooth rocks covered with lichens give to the islands its unique green-yellowish look.
When the catamaran lands on the Illa de Monteagudo, the Playa de Rodas shows off, and it’s clear why The Guardian mentioned it among the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Have you ever looked at a picture of a paradise beach? Crystal turquoise waters, pure white sand surrounded by silence and an untouched wild nature? Behind such a photograph, there’s often something the picture doesn’t show: resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, a vibrant nightlife.
Not here. The Cies Islands were declared Natural Reserve in 1980 and they are part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park created in 2002.
The Spanish take this seriously: the islands have a population of 3 and visitors are limited to 2200 a day. There are no bikes and no cars; just a couple of basic restaurants, a campsite, and no hotels.
The only way of getting around the island is on foot. You can hike the path to the lighthouse or walk under the shade of the trees, seduced by the salty aroma of the sea that blends with the balsamic fragrance of the eucalypts.
After a two hours walk from the pier, I approach the south-east side of the Illa do Faro.
The lighthouse appears like a fortress: solid walls support the road which climbs through dozens of hairpin bends.
Here, I enjoy a scenic view of the Illa de San Martiño that you can only reach by private boat.
By contrast, the Illa do Faro and the Illa de Monteagudo are joined by the Playa das Rodas and a large group of stones acting as a dam. A bridge helps walkers overcoming the rocks without hindering the tidal flow that feeds O Lago dos Nenos. This lagoon is a natural aquarium hosting different kinds of fish: sea snails, prawns, sea bass, soles, octopus, squid and several others.
But kings on the islands are birds, mainly yellow-legged seagulls. After a few minutes walk from the lighthouse, I stop at Observatorio de aves de Campà “(Campà Bird Observatory): a small wooden shelter where bird’s cry alongside the sound of the ocean dominates the cliff.
Looking towards North, you see the Alto do Prencipe, on the Illa de Monteagudo one of the best panoramic points on the islands. It’s about an hour walk from the Playa de Fugueiras, a nudist beach whose beauty competes with the Playa de Rodas.
Unfortunately, at sunset, I have to leave. Due to the restrictions, the campsite has to be booked on time, and I can’t sleep here. I can only dream how this islands are when the sun goes down and you’re alone with the sea and the night, in a place considered among the best in the world to watch the stars and it’s a loved destination for astronomical tourism.