This route takes us along one of the most rugged coasts in the Ría de Vigo (Estuary of Vigo). The Costa da Vela welcomes us to its waters, which wash beaches with white sand where incredible legends are told of sea monsters. 

I see Cangas, I see Vigo,
I can also see Redondela,
I can see the Bridge of Sampaio,
on the way to our land.
     Traditional Galician song
If I go to Bueu I’ll go in a boat,
If I don’t go to Bueu, I won’t go in a boat
     Traditional tongue-twister


We start our route from the westernmost part of the peninsula of O Morrazo, on the exotic beaches with views of the Cíes Islands in the municipality of Cangas. A walk through the centre of the town to have an aperitif on one of the busy terraces is the best way to start the day for wild beaches. Nerga beach is our first stop. What makes this beach stand out are the dune complex and calm waters. Standing still on the shoreline, or sitting down next to one of the rocky outcrops or colourful fishing boats in the area, let yourself be carried away by the hypnotic beating of the waves by your side.

Following the route round the coast, we come to Barra beach. You will have to use unpaved pathways in untamed settings to get there, although at the same time you will notice how all your stress fades away and your senses are reactivated. Walking down a pathway and following the smell of the sea salt, you will come to the most popular nudist beach in the Rías Baixas, over one kilometre long. After walking among the trees, it is time to take your shoes off and let your feet be massaged by the soft sand. Playing at covering up other people’s footprints with your own or those of the seagulls waiting for their food on the rocks will soon relax you. Barra beach is windy, but ideal for bathing as the waves are not rough.

Completing this site, you will come across a more intimate beach, equally beautiful. Melide beach awaits you surrounded by pine trees where you can take shelter during the hottest hours of the day. From this beach the view of the Cíes Islans is magnificent – they look so close that it almost seems they form part of the mainland.

The lighthouse guarding the estuary...

Another place with spectacular views of the islands is Cape Home lighthouse, located on the closest point of the Iberian Peninsula to the Cíes Islands. Surrounded by rugged cliffs, it belongs to the luminous spot that enables entry into the estuary of Vigo. The thick fog that often covers the coast led to a horn being installed in the lighthouse in 1888, popularly known as the “Fisterra Cow”, like that of the legendary lighthouse on Costa da Morte, to warn sailors of danger.

Like many other places where tragedies have taken place, Cape Home is home to legends about monsters that cause shipwrecks. The most popular has been told in the oral tradition for over five hundred years. At that time, all the sailors who survived the rough seas of Cape Home told how most boats sank in a strange way, and that something like sharp teeth shone out. On a dark and stormy day this sea monster came out of the water and threatened to devour all the inhabitants of O Hío. According to the legend, it was bigger than 143 elephants, but a warrior called Oridón decided to face up to it. After many attempts, he found the way to kill it thanks to his shield and the monster’s aversion to sunlight. The monster of Cape Home, in its death throes, fell into the sea and left its spines out of the water. Little by little it turned into stone – the spines are still visible today as they are the sharp rocks next to the cliffs of Cape Home. Come and see them, but be careful not to wake the monster up …

Walking around the lighthouse is an invitation to blend in with nature in its purest state. Sitting on the cliff top and seeing how the sea, white with foam, rhythmically struggles against the hard rocks on the coast is an unforgettable experience. You can also wander around the pathways surrounding the different lighthouses and beaches while the breeze from the estuary caresses you.

There is no room for paving at Cape Home - mankind goes virtually unnoticed while the fauna and flora are masters in the area. On the steep road of the Costa da Vela, leave the shore for a moment to go up to the Facho de Donón, in the parish of the same name. You have to go up a stone path, which gets steeper as it gets closer to the top. The word “facho” is a reference in the Galician language to the little seventeenth-century tower built with the remains of Roman altars – it was probably used as a watch-tower to warn of the attacks of Turkish pirates. The privileged location in the highest point of the area guarantees the best views of the Cíes Islands, Ons Island, and the entry into the estuaries of Vigo and Pontevedra. In good weather you can even catch a glimpse of Baiona. According to popular tradition, a fire was lit on the hill top for sailors in the area and to warn neighbouring villages of danger coming from the sea.

The Facho de Donón is not only special for its incredible views, but also because at the top you can see the remains of a hill fort and an open-air Galician-Roman sanctuary dating from the third century AD, devoted to the god Berobreus.

Near Donón, the next and last stop is the parish of Aldán. Here we will find the stone cross of Hío, one of the great wonders of Galicia’s ethnographic heritage. The cross dates from the nineteenth century and is made of a single block of granite. Adam and Eve before original sin, Our Lady of Mount Carmel succouring souls in purgatory and the Virgin Mary standing on the head of the dragon devil are some of the Biblical passages you can see.

On 16 August, the saint’s day, the dance of San Roque do Hío, also known as the Pilgrims’ Dance, takes place at the stone cross. There are twenty dancers, all men, who play the women’s roles dressed in clothing similar to that of pilgrims. We will doubtless leave this magical land of the Rías Baixas coast immersed in its nature and wonderful, sometimes terrifying stories of the sea, a solid witness to a land used to living together with the sea.

After this immersion in the culture and nature of the area, and as the icing on the cake for the day, you can quench your hunger at one of the restaurants in Cangas. You will discover a great selection of the best and freshest fish and seafood, and the best white wines from this part of Galicia.