Monteagudo Island, Spain

Photo: RiseRover (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: RiseRover (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s the last week of August. Of course you’re going to a beach while you’re in Spain. So is everyone else, though. There’s bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to the Costa Brava. The best hotels on the Balearic Islands have been booked for months. You’ll even have to fly standby if you’re trying to reach the Canary Islands. But there’s still one amazing possibility.

Many people consider Praia de Rodas the best beach in the entire country, if not the world. The long, crescent-shaped beach has fine white sand. Crystal-clear water laps against the calm lagoon on one side; it turns navy and heads out to the sea on the other. Small dolphins, called arroaces, play among the waves. Low dunes hug the edge of the sand. While hiking trails—lined with sweet-smelling acacias and honeysuckles—curve up the hill behind the beach.

A place this beautiful should be inundated with beach bums. But it’s not. Rodas Beach isn’t easy to reach. It’s on the Cíes Islands, which sit off Spain’s west coast in the Atlantic Ocean, instead of the more popular Mediterranean coast. The three islands—Monteagudo, Do Faro, and San Martiño—are part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park, which limits both development and visitors. There are no cars or even bikes here, only a single campground and a couple of basic, seasonal restaurants. Plus it’s a 40-minute ferry ride from Vigo, just north of the Portuguese border.

Rodas Beach links Monteagudo and Do Faro on the islands’ east coasts. It’s just sand that’s been building up for years. But the beach, plus eight other beaches on the islands, are breathtaking. The Romans called the Cíes Islands “the islands of the gods.” They’re now nicknamed the Galician Caribbean and the Galician Seychelles. You call them heaven. It looks like you finally found your spot for the week.

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