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Galicia sailing itinerary

A 7-day journey through the Rías Baixas and protected archipelagos

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Galicia, the northwest Spanish region yet to be fully explored by boat and perhaps underrated by sailing aficionados, for there are plenty of beauties hidden in every corner of this trait of the coast. 

Today, we take you to an alternative and less beaten path through the beautiful rías baixas, the four estuarine inlets of Galicia. There are four archipelagos laying in this area, all belonging to the Atlantic Islands National Park and protected by the regional Xunta. The islands are mostly unspoiled and of great beauty, due to the very limited presence of humans and the need for permission to visit them. 

The sailing area is perfect for both beginner and expert sailors, as we'll be navigating protected areas with light to moderate winds. Here, the weather conditions are very predictable and can be easily forecast up to one week in advance. Most of the beaches included in the itinerary are located in sheltered areas with easy anchorages. 

This exclusive itinerary will take you through magical landscapes, the world's best beaches, and jaw-dropping viewpoints, so prepare to weigh the anchor and start a unique adventure! 

Check out our boat availability in Galicia to book your sailing holiday. 

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Galicia Sailing Itinerary

Day 1: Cíes Islands Archipelago

Day 2: Cíes Islands Archipelago

Day 3: Ons Archipelago

Day 4: Sálvora Archipelago

Day 5: Cortegada Archipelago

Day 6: A Illa de Arousa

Day 7: Ensenada Limens


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Day 1: Cíes Islands Archipelago

We start our journey in the Mar de Ons, departing from the city of Baiona to reach the first stop of our trip, the beautiful Cies Islands. This little archipelago includes three islands called Monte Agudo, O Faro, and San Martiño, all part of the protected Atlantic Islands National Park for their unique flora and wildlife, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are located in front of the Vigo Estuary (Ria de Vigo). 

For this reason, visits to the islands require a permit that must be booked in advance; you can do so through the Xunta de Galicia's official website.

The Romans once believed these islands to be blessed by the Gods, and when one visits, one can see why. The majestic wind-crafted rocks and high cliffs are the stars of the scenery, with the lush and unique plants providing the sensation of being in an earthly paradise.

After sailing past San Martiño, we suggest stopping at O Faro to visit one of the best beaches in the world, Rodas Beach (see picture). This white-sanded beach, long approximately 1300 meters, has beautiful crystal-clear waters and is equipped with all main services, for a perfect day of relaxation. 

If you feel like taking on a challenge and stretching your legs ashore, we recommend hiking through the most famous route of the archipelago, called the Monte Faro Route. This moderate trek is a 2.5-hour journey with gorgeous sights, including a bird observatory and an ancient hill fort, leading to the summit with a view of the Baixo Miño on the continent.

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Day 2: Cíes Islands Archipelago 

We spend another day in the beautiful Cies archipelago to enjoy the beauties of this natural place. We are embarking on a journey to the northern island of Monte Agudo, which we will explore through the Alto do Principe path. It's an easy walk that takes about an hour, and will eventually lead us to the most renowned scenic outlook of the island (see picture). 

If you wish to explore the coast by boat, sail to Muxieiro and Areíña, two beautiful coves located not far from Rodas Beach. 

There are no grocery stores on the islands, therefore we suggest packing enough food and water supplies before spending two days there; otherwise, you can opt to eat at one of the three restaurants located on Monte Agudo and O Faro islands. 

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Day 3: Ons Archipelago

We leave behind the beautiful Cies Archipelago to sail to the stunning Ons Island, located further north approximately in front of the city of Portonovo. Even Ons Island is part of the same Atlantic Islands Natural Park as the Cies Archipelago, therefore you will need an anchoring permit to visit. The island is located in Ria the Pontevedra and includes other small islets to form an archipelago. 

Ons Island offers other great hiking trails to explore the territory; the most fascinating one is definitely La Ruta Sur, a trekking that covers the whole southern part of the island and takes about 2:30 hours to complete.

On the trail, you can visit the beautiful white-sanded beach in Area Dos Cans, as well as the Laxe Do Crego, a rock that can be reached only at low tide and on which a man-shaped tomb was excavated during Medieval times.

You will then reach the highest point, Fedorentos Lookout Point, to admire the jaw-dropping view of the island, and continue to the Buraco do Inferno(the Hell hole), a natural hole designed by the power of nature during the centuries around which many legends were created. 

The path is a great way to explore the island and its fascinating sights, but if you prefer to remain on the boat, head to Melide Beach, located far from the crowds of tourists. It is a Blue Flag and nudist beach, as well as the prettiest in the Ons archipelago, thanks to its crystal clear waters and fine white sand.

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Day 4: Sálvora Archipelago

This journey is about hopping from one archipelago to another, so today we set sail to the beautiful Sálvora archipelago, which includes the main homonym island and a few small islets, all part of the Natural Park of the aforementioned islands. Currently, only Sálvora can be visited to request a permit. This archipelago is located in Ria de Arousa

The island was used as a refuge for pirates during the 16th and 17th centuries, and eventually became property of the Mariño family. On the island time has never passed by, as everything has remained as it was; the last population that inhabited these areas left at the end of the last century, leaving behind an old village and a factory used for drying and curing fish, which is now a museum. 

On the coasts of Sálvora, you can admire the statue of a mermaid built in 1956. The legend behind this statue tells us about a Roman knight who survives a shipwreck and falls in love with a mute mermaid he finds on the beach. The two get married and have a child called Mariño.

From this point, the versions of the tale differ in some aspects, but the most popular one claims that the knight was trying to bring the mermaid’s voice back to her, so he decided to jump with their son over the fire during Saint John’s Eve. The mermaid was so scared that when she saw them jump, she spat a scrap of fish out of her mouth and she called for her son. This way, she was able to speak again.

Explore the island and the nearby islets of Vionta and Noro by boat for a day of relaxation in complete privacy. 

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Day 5: Cortegada Archipelago 

On the fifth day, we set sail to the last archipelago of the Atlantic Islands National Park, Cortegada. Just like the other islands explored during the previous days, Cortegada hosts a unique biodiversity both on the land and in the sea, which is protected by the Galician Xunta. The archipelago is also part of the Ria de Arousa and is located near the mouth of the Ulle river. 

The mysterious atmosphere of this not inhabited island is given by the ruins of old buildings, such as a Middle-aged monastery and ruins of settlers' houses who worked those lands, which are the archipelago's main attractions along with the nearby islets of Malveiras and Briñas

The small island can be easily sailed around in search of a favorite spot to spend a few hours of relaxation and snorkeling. 

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Day 6: A Illa de Arousa 

We start to head back south and sail past the beautiful Illa de Arousa, connected to the mainland by a 2 km long bridge that makes it more visited and populated compared to the previous islands. The picturesque fishing town of Arousa, mostly made of small stone houses and narrow streets, is definitely worth a visit; you can moor at the marina and take a stroll on the promenade or seat at one of the main restaurants to try some local cuisine. 

The island offers a variety of beautiful yellow-sanded or pebble beaches with main services, such as Praia GradinPraia Lanteira, or the rocky beach of As Margaritas, and it's perfect to explore by private boat. 

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Day 7: Ensenada Limens

On the last day, we make our way back to Baiona, sailing past all the beautiful archipelagos we visited in the previous days. This will be the longest yet most panoramic trip of the entire itinerary, but the landscapes will be worth it. 

We make a stop at the Ensenada Limens, located in the northern part of Ria de Vigo. We are talking about a beautiful big cove framed by a sanded beach and surrounded by nature and the nearby town of Limens. This place is great for snorkeling, exploring the coast with a SUP board, or simply relaxing before ending your holiday. 

From there, it will be easy to reach Baiona and check out at your charter company. 

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If you liked this itinerary, check out our boat availability in Galicia to book your sailing holiday. 

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