Officially part of Spain, the seven Canary Islands are closer to Africa than mainland Europe. They enjoy a year-round, sunny subtropical climate – and so it’s easy to see why they’re such a popular holiday destination. Here are some tips for choosing the right island for your holiday.
Image source: Pixabay.com
The largest island, Tenerife boasts 12 blue flag beaches along its glorious coastline. Vibrant Los Cristianos, a former fishing village, is hugely popular with groups and families. Playa de Las Americas, the island’s main tourist hub, offers a wide sandy beach, and bustling, non-stop nightlife. Legendary Siam Water Park is a must for thrill-seekers. For a quieter resort, Los Gigantes (on the western coast) offers spectacular rock formations and fabulous sunsets.
Tenerife’s rugged interior is dominated by volcanic Mount Tiede, Spain’s highest mountain, and the world’s third-largest volcano. Dormant for a century, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see for its dramatic vistas.
A ‘miniature continent’ renowned for its diverse terrain, this beautiful island has golden beaches and calm seas in the south, whilst the quieter north features crashing waves and intimate coves.
Enjoy catch and release fishing, and dolphin watching: 29 of the world’s 79 dolphin species swim off Gran Canaria. Don’t miss the stunning Maspalomas sand dunes in the south of the island. Inland, pine-clad peaks offer abundant hiking and cycling trails.
The capital, Las Palmas, brims with colonial architecture, alfresco cafes, and boutiques. Playa de Ingles is a lively entertainment resort, whilst family-friendly Puerto Rico has sandy beaches and numerous restaurants. For a low-key stay, try relaxing San Agustin or Puerto de Mogan.
Image source: Unsplash.com
Lanzarote is a popular family island, with laidback resorts, peaceful villages, and countless sandy beaches. Playa Blanca in the south boasts gorgeous beaches, including Papagayo’s unspoiled cove and turquoise waters. Northwest, Famara’s 5km pristine white sands are a surfing and windsurfing hotspot.
Don’t miss the moon-like landscape of Timanfaya National Park, where you’ll discover incredible rock formations from centuries-old lava fields. For a little culture, visit the former home of artist Cesar Manrique, whose legacy and architecture hugely influenced tourism on Lanzarote.
With 150km of sandy beaches lapped by clear waters, Fuerteventura is a prominent surfing destination. Acclaimed for low-key family resorts and charming inland villages, it’s an hour by ferry to Lanzarote, so it’s handy for island hopping.
La Concha white sand beach in El Cotillo is protected by a natural reef, and perfect for little ones. Wildlife lovers can spot seals and sea lions at Lobos Islet Natural Park. Costa Calma is a southerly 10km stretch of glorious sand beaches and tranquil waters, whilst Cofete beach in Jandia offers a wild paradise, fringed by the turbulent Atlantic Ocean.
Image source: Unsplash.com
Unspoiled, tranquil La Gomera has a landscape of woodland, deep ravines, and fertile terraces. Enjoy panoramic views from the glass-floored Mirador de Abrante. Explore winding roads across craggy volcanic peaks with jaw-dropping vistas. Hike through untouched forest in Garonjay National Park, and spot pilot whales and bottle-nosed dolphins on a boat excursion.
La Palma and El Hierro
The quietest and greenest of the islands, La Palma’s 1,000 km of hiking and cycling trails span waterfalls and pine woodlands in Cadera de Taburiente National Park, and the mystical laurel forest of Los Tilos. The black volcanic beaches and clear waters at Charco Verde are perfect for snorkelling. Tiny El Hierro is an undiscovered idyll of sleepy hamlets and craggy wooded hillsides.