Destinations

Cheat sheet to the Canary Islands

Michael Zehender - DPA

A place of eternal springtime is how the Canary Islands are sometimes described. The seven islands have a lot in common, especially the mild climate.

But they also offer many contrasts – and many choices for the traveller.

Here’s a rundown on the individual islands off western Africa’s coast.

FUERTEVENTURA:

The first thing many people associate with it are the endless sandy beaches. In the north there are the sand dune beaches near the main city of Corralejo.

“This is a very pretty small city with a pleasant vibe and great dining,” says Manuel Morales, in charge of Spain for the German tourism operator FTI.

That is not so much the case in the south of the island, in such places as Costa Calma, Jandia and Esquinzo. There, vacationers often just stick around their hotels.

Whereas the beaches of most of the other Canaries have black sand, Fuerteventura’s sand is popular for its dazzle. The longest one of the entire Canaries is 14 kilometres long at Cofete.

For Morales, Fuertenventura is the island with the most summer-like climate. Sometimes, a strong wind can be an unpleasant occurrence.

But as Sven Goerrissen, of the travel operator Tui, says, this also provides the best conditions for kite-surfing and wind surfing.

iStock_000017785265_Small

LANZAROTE:

“The somewhat different island” is how Goerrisson describes the smallest of the four main islands. Besides lava-strewn landscapes it also naturally has many spots for swimming.

But it also has something for culture-minded vacationers and those seeking more active recreation. Price levels here are somewhat higher than on the mass tourism is

TENERIFE:

This is the largest of all the islands and so, in the view of many, the one offering the most variety.

“You have everything here on one island,” says Carmen Fernandez of the Spanish Tourism Office. Basically speaking the island is divided into two parts, north and south. The southern part is where to go for classic beach holidays.

“Swimming, sunshine, beach, resort hotels and promenades, but not much else,” is how Manuel Morales describes this side of the island.

In the much greener north, there are barely any sandy beaches, but many trails for hiking.

Towering over the island in the middle is the volcanic mountain Teide, at 3718 metres Spain’s highest peak. For many people, the Teide alone is a reason to come to Tenerife.

But besides the swimming in the south and hiking in the north, the island has much more to offer, with Goerrissen calling it an “island with the full programme.” In his view it’s the island with the most to offer, be it the exciting capital city Santa Cruz, two special recreation parks of Siam Parque and Loro Parque, and golf courses.

 Arch of volcanic rock known as Charco Manso; nearby is also a fantastic bathing place. Echedo, El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain. Canon EOS 5D Mark II.grandangolo
Arch of volcanic rock known as Charco Manso; nearby is also a fantastic bathing place. Echedo, El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain. Canon EOS 5D Mark II.grandangolo

GRAN CANARIA:

Similar to Tenerife, Gran Canaria also has a north-south division. The northern part is cooler and wetter, but as a result has much more vegetation. The south is drier, warmer and sunnier. Most vacationers clearly prefer the south because of its beaches, above all at Maspalomas.

And, thanks to a large offering of vacation apartments in the south, this part is above all a favourite with families.

Gran Canaria is also a place that attracts the young party-going crowds. The north is often only a place for a day-long excursion, chiefly to see the capital Las Palmas.

LA PALMA:

“The island for winding down” is how Goerrissen describes it. Those who want no part of mass tourism and do not aim to spend all their time at the beach will come to La Palma. Hikers love the island. There are only a few larger-sized hotels.

Small village, Atlantic ocean and rocks. Canary islands.
Small village, Atlantic ocean and rocks. Canary islands.

LA GOMERA:

In contrast to La Palma, this island does not have its own airport. It mainly benefits from its proximity to Tenerife, with ferry services connecting the two islands. As a result, many vacationers will book a holiday combining the two islands. La Gomera also has many good golf courses.

EL HIERRO:

This is the smallest and most authentic of the Canary Islands. The “drop-out island” is what Morales calls it. One of the tiniest hotels in the world is on El Hierro, with just four rooms.

Just letting go and hiking around is something you can do well on El Hierro. Scuba diving, too.



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