Last week new destinations were to the UK air bridge and one of these were the Canary Islands. These touristic destinations in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Morocco immediately conjures images of the typical bucket and spade brigade heading to get some winter sun. However, we wanted to dive a little deeper and get more soulful and authentic, giving you an insight into a destination which has great culture but an even more varied landscape to explore whilst staying in boutique properties which most people wouldn’t think they would find on the islands.
There is a rich tapestry of local life going on within these 6 mainly visited Islands. As well as working for the tourists, these islanders are also working for themselves, farming all sorts of fruits, vegetables and flowers and contributing to the beauty of the varied landscape. There is more to these Canary Islands than the sun, sand, and fun of the big beach resort towns. And not just the sailing, surfing, snorkelling, diving, and volcano walks either
Of course, the beaches are amazing, but some of the main sights of the Canary Islands are their national parks with their dramatic, moonlike volcanic landscapes.
Largest of the Canaries, Gran Canaria Sometimes referred to as a small continent due to the island’s diverse landscape, flora and fauna. The north is lush, via the dramatic mountain peaks of the interior, to the dry south. It’s not just the terrain that’s varied, Gran Canaria has something to offer travellers searching for their own fresh experiences. Las Palmas is the capital, and one of the best places to stay if you thrive in a hive of activity. It’s Spain’s seventh largest city, it has a North African flare. The older part of town, Vegueta, is a good bet if you are looking for somewhere with atmosphere.
When visiting the island of Lanzarote most visitors go to 3 main resorts and hardly leave them during their stay. Which means much of its 300 volcanoes, lunar lava landscapes, vineyards, fish restaurants, world-class surfing, whitewashed villages and obligatory old men with donkeys – is completely unspoiled.
Tenerife was once overwhelmed by package holiday resorts; visitors are now beginning to take an interest in the dramatic volcanic landscape of the interior and the more traditional Canarian experience found away from the tourist resorts. If beaches is what you are after and you want to avoid the crowds, some of the best places to stay are El Medáno, on the south-east coast of Tenerife, and Los Gigantes on the western coast.
La Palma is the lushest and greenest Canary Island. Unlike the larger Canaries, La Palma’s economy isn’t tied to tourism. It’s a fertile place, especially for growing bananas, and the farmers don’t need the fuss of tourist high-rises. If you’re looking for a quiet, sunny escape – in summer or winter – this island is for you.
Fuerteventura is closer to Africa than the other islands. Its colourful towns and volcanic-ridged landscape get plenty of sunshine. Most people are just interested in the beaches, arguably some of the biggest and best in the Canary Islands. If your idea of the best location on Fuerteventura is more remote, then this UNESCO biosphere reserve won’t disappoint – some of it is very developed and some is completely untouched.
La Gomera, one of the smallest Canary Islands. Is so different from its bigger siblings as to be almost unrecognisable. Instead of resort lined beaches and beach lined resorts, those alighting from the hydrofoil on La Gomera find themselves amongst banana plantations and ancient laurel forests. The island is backed by the steep volcano which sits in the centre of the island.
El Hierro is another tiny Canary, a volcanic, cliff-lined dot in the middle of the Atlantic. If you’re looking for remote this is the place to come, it’s definitely got a sense of being the edge of the world, which is just what it’s best known for.
DON’T MISS Each island has its own unique attractions, here are a few of them that should be visited:
Maspalomas Sand Dunes on Gran Canaria has been a protected area since 1897 and it’s not hard to see why. They area a vast, awesome sight and can be easily explored along the many way-marked trails. But don’t forget your flip-flops, the sand gets incredibly hot even in winter months.
Timanfaya National Park on Lanzarote. Created by multiple volcanic eruptions in the 1700s, it boasts a stunning lunar landscape and is home to many rare plant species. A coach tour of the volcanoes is included in your entry fee and there are a couple of guided walking opportunities (you’ll need to book ahead for these).
Go for a dip at Charco Azul (blue lagoon) on El Hierro. This beautiful natural pool can be found at the bottom of a cliff, below a basalt rock arch. It will take your breath away!
Spend a day strolling the streets of San Cristobal de la Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on Tenerife. There is masses to see, plus the bonus of a beach for cooling off from time to time.
Santa Cruz de La Palma (on La Palma) is another place worth spending time in. It’s a gorgeous old colonial town filled with palaces, churches and original buildings all in traditional Canarian style.
Royal Garden Villas & Spa – Tenerife – Rooms: 27 Stars: 5
This 5-star resort features luxurious, Balinese-style villas with private heated pools. Set in gardens, Royal Garden Villas offers a gym, spa and impressive ocean views. Each spacious property is individually decorated with chic décor and wooden furnishings. All villas have a terrace, a 40-inch flat-screen TV, DVD player and a well-equipped kitchen. Each one comes with a hydromassage shower and bath.
Hotel Boutique Palacio Ico – Lanzarote -Rooms: 9 Stars: 4
Featuring a terrace and views of garden, Hotel Boutique Palacio Ico is set in Teguise, 1.6 miles from Lagomar Museum. Featuring a restaurant, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The accommodation offers room service, and luggage storage for guests. At the hotel, all rooms come with a desk and a flat-screen TV. The units will provide guests with a wardrobe and a kettle.
Lani’s Suites de Luxe (Adults only) – Lanzarote – Rooms: 25 Stars: 5
Set on the beachfront, in Puerto del Carmen, Lani’s Suites de Luxe – Adults Only features air-conditioned suites with free WiFi. This adults-only hotel offers a swimming pool and restaurant. Each suite comes with a terrace or balcony with sea views, seating area and dining area. There is a flat-screen TV, laptop safe and coffee machine. The bathroom includes a hairdryer and bathrobes. All suites also have ocean and pool views.
Royal Hideaway Corales Suites – Tenerife – Rooms: 114 Stars: 5
Set in Adeje, 350 yards from La Enramada beach, Royal Hideaway Corales Suites offers rooms with sea views and air conditioning. Guests can enjoy access to an outdoor swimming pool. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Each room at the 5-star hotel is equipped with a seating area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kitchenette, a dining area and a private bathroom with free toiletries, a bath and a hairdryer. The rooms have a coffee machine, and some have a terrace.
Hotel San Roc – Tenerife – Rooms: 20 Stars: 4
Set in beautiful 18th-century villa just 5 minutes’ walk from Garachico Beach, Hotel San Roque offers bright, striking design. It has an outdoor swimming pool, terrace and ocean views. The contemporary rooms at Hotel San Roque feature Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture. Some rooms feature a balcony and a seating area, while all of them have a hydromassage bath, a flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi.
Santa Monica Suites Hotel – Gran Canaria – Rooms: 182 Stars: 4
Santa Monica Suites Hotel is a lovely hotel with spectacular views of Maspalomas Natural Park and its famous sand dunes, on the island of Gran Canaria. The suites at this property feature a twin bedroom and a lounge with satellite TV. Rooms can include a terrace or balcony.
Iberostar Grand Salome (Adults Only) – Tenerife – Rooms: 24 Stars: 5
These luxury suites on the Costa Adeje all have a balcony and a hot tub. Grand Hotel Salomé has a Spa Sensations, wellness centre and a modern gym. Free high speed WiFi is available throughout. This boutique hotel has a large outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by a sun terrace and a pool bar. There is also a heated indoor pool and a tennis court.
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