Vigo, Spain: The Best Beaches in the World

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Vigo, Spain: The Best Beaches in the World

Teaching English in Spain has proven to be the best experience of my life. What has really shaped it has been Vigo, the city that I have lived in for the past 10 months, located in the Celtic-influenced region of Galicia near Porto, Portugal. Last year, I applied to a program through the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport that allows native English speakers to work as English Language Assistants in schools across Spain.

It was a god-send that the ministry placed me in Vigo. The life here is relaxed, the seafood is amazing and the beaches the most beautiful that I have ever seen. I am from the Philadelphia area in the United States and most of the beaches that we go to on the New Jersey shore are nothing like the beaches of Vigo. Now that it’s summer here, I’ve enjoyed many a day basking in these havens.

Playa Samil, a wide crescent shaped beach is a Viguese favorite – probably because it is so accessible from Vigo. There are at least three local buses that go to Playa Samil each day. From Vigo, the bus ride takes about 20 minutes and costs 1.33 euros each way. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve spent on this beach laying on the sand, jamming to music and drinking beer with my other Language Assistant friends in the past ten months. From Samil Beach, you can see one of the best sunsets in the world. It is especially beautiful when the sun goes down behind the Cies Islands, an archipelago that is the ultimate treasure of the Ria de Vigo (the estuary of Vigo).

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Vigo – Cies Islands PIC: SV

My friends and I even enjoyed this beach in the winter. A temporary ice skating rink was opened from December to January and a few of us went before departing for Christmas holidays back to our home countries. We would also come here to watch the sunset as it was never very cold in the winter. The experiences that I’ve had at this beach will always resonate in my memories.

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Vigo – Playa Samil PIC: SV

Now that it’s summer, most of the Language Assistants have gone home to the United States, Ireland, Scotland, England and other English-speaking countries that they call home. I renewed my participation in the ministry’s program for another year in Vigo. However, not all of my friends did the same thing. Some are pursuing master’s degrees, moving to another region of Spain or going back to the United States to work “real jobs.” Sometimes I get nostalgia just thinking about all the wonderful times at these beaches with the people that have left Vigo. Luckily, I do still have some friends and my boyfriend here to keep me company.

Recently, Playa Samil has become super crowded because of the hot weather. When this happens, my friends and I like to go to Playa de Vao, which is also a short bus ride away from Vigo. Shades of turquoise and azure blue can be seen throughout the waves, and there are plenty of them. My favorite thing is that there are a variety of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a cheap lunch for less than 10 euros. Now that it’s summer and I am no longer working steadily until October – when the English Language Assistant Program begins again – I am always looking for affordable food.

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Vigo – Playa de Vao PIC: SV

What’s even better than Playa de Vao, however, is Playa de Toralla. I didn’t discover this small, sun-kissed beach until recently, and I’m so, so glad that I did. My boyfriend, who is also a language assistant, went there with his family over spring break and kept raving about it. Playa de Toralla is just a short walk across a bridge from Playa de Vao – it’s situated on the Isla de Toralla (Toralla Island) with stunning views of Vao and its surrounding greenery. Personally, I think that Playa de Torralla is the best beach out of the ones that are closest to Vigo – mostly because of the sea green, cobalt blue and turquoise shades that you can see as the water comes inland. The only problem is that the tide comes up fast throughout the day, which makes the beach disappear into the water by 5 o clock pm.

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Vigo – Playa de Toralla PIC: SV

A secluded beach where you can see turquoise water without the tide is Playa Areabrava. Without a car, however, getting to it might be a little difficult. Luckily our Spanish friend, who is a Vigo native, had one and could show us this gorgeous paradise. To get to Playa Areabrava, you need to go to the other side of the Ria de Vigo. This side of the estuary is a bit different from Vigo’s side – it lacks a port, but there are slew of gorgeous beaches. Most are less crowded than Playa Samil, which is great if you prefer a quieter environment. However, they may be harder and more expensive to get to since you must usually travel by bus or ferry. The water is a bit cold, but the scenery is incredible. It’s always a sight to see when the crystal clear blue waves crash gracefully onto the smooth white sand. The green mountains in the distance add a sweet Galician touch – they are a stunning staple of the region that can be seen almost everywhere! If you’re a shell collector like me, you’re in luck too. This beach is filled with them.

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Vigo – Playa de Areabrava PIC: SV

You may be thinking, what beaches could be better than these? Well, I have the answer – the Cies Islands. According to the Guardian in 2007, the Cies Islands boast some of the best beaches in the world. The crescent shaped Playa de Rodas and the nudist beach, Playa de Figueras, look like they are straight out of Hawaii with clear water perfect for those who love snorkeling. If you swim at Playa de Figueras, small and medium sized fish may be swimming all around you! I was so scared when I went snorkeling one time with my friends and saw that they were swimming right next to my thighs. This is the beach that all of us Language Assistants started the year with, and this was the beach that we ended the year with as well. We drank exceptional Spanish wine, ran into the ocean and took naps on the sand during the Sunday of our last weekend together.

None of these beach experiences would have been nearly enjoyable if I was alone. I am thankful for all the friends I made in Vigo and the times that they have spent with me at these gorgeous places. Next October, new language assistants will flock to Vigo and I hope that I will be able to make memories like this again. With beautiful friends in a beautiful place, you’re always living in paradise.

Sienna Vance

Sienna Vance

Sienna Vance is currently an English Language Assistant living in Vigo, Spain. She enjoys traveling, writing, drinking good wine and eating cheese with it. She has visited 8 different European countries including France, Greece, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. She wants to travel the world for as long as she can to learn new languages, meet new people and broaden her horizons.

1 Comment

  • Erika
    Erika

    Sounds like a beautiful place to live!

    July 14, 2017 at 9:10 pm
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