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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Spain's Most Spectacular Beach
Monday, July 24, 2017

When one talks about the best beaches in the world you instinctively think of the Caribbean, Thailand, The French Polynesia and other exotic destinations and when one thinks of beaches in Spain; Formentera, Mallorca and other Mediterranean paradises come to mind.However recently I discovered that one of the most spectacular beaches in the world is actually on the Atlantic coastline of Galicia, north of Portugal. Beaches that are far more dramatic and unique than any other I have seen in Spain or anywhere else as a matter of fact. The Jewel in the crown and certainly the most prized and protected treasures of all, is the Island of Cies and its breath-taking Rodas Beach. The Romans referred to this Island as the Island of the Gods. It is probably one of the least visited beaches by tourists in Spain today, as it has now been greatly ‘forgotten’. 


This prehistoric archipelago was inhabited for centuries but in the mid 16th century, the population started to abandon the islands due to attacks by the Turks, Tunisians and the English. Francis Drake attacked the Ría de Vigo and sacked the islands. As a result, the archipelago was fortified in the 19th century and an arsenal was established in the old San Estevo monastery and a military base and prison were built near to Nosa Señora beach. With this increased level of security, the islands started to be re-populated and new industries sprung up. Around 1840, two salt plants were built - one on the site where the restaurant now stands and one on the south of the island. The lighthouse Faro de Cíes was also built in this era (1852). A tavern was also built on the banks of the lagoon that was also used as a lobster farm. Competition from the mainland led to the decline of the salt industry and by 1900 the factories were only used as storage areas.

A small population remained on the islands, the majority from Cangas, but this slowly decreased until the mid 20th century. At the same time, the wealthy classes started to come to the islands for their holidays and in the 1950s large-scale tourism arrived. This led to the need to protect the natural beauty of the islands and they were declared a National Park in 1980 and over time it has greatly been forgotten and is a great unknown even for the Spanish.




40min boat ride from the coastal town of Baiona, Vigo ó Cangas will take you to this beautiful island and if you are looking for a place to stop off or a weekend away this area of Spain has so much to offer you be hard fetched to savour it all in just a couple of days. Cíes is now uninhabited and open to the public only in the summer.




A walk around the Island of Cies is idyllic because it offers a vast variety of natural habitats without having to walk miles: the crystal waters of the lagoon make for a natural aquarium full of marine life, the woodlands and the cliffs are havens for bird watching and the views are incredible. The islands are home to one of the largest colonies of yellow-footed gulls in Europe, the most abundant number of European Shags in Spain, a small number of breeding pairs of Lesser Black-back Gulls and the last remaining colony of Guillemots. These are some of the main reasons the islands were declared a National Park. However what really draw people to this island are its beaches with white sands and crystal clear waters. Rodas is a perfect 1 km crescent of soft, pale sand backed by small dunes sheltering a unique, calm lagoon. The locals refer it to as their “Caribbean Beach” and it is perfect enough to warrant the comparison. Here you can enjoy some of the best seafood and fresh fruity wines Spain has to offer so it is not just a case of sun, sand and sea but also a delight for one’s stomach!


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