When the weather looks bleak and the temperatures plummet, there’s one destination that guarantees gorgeous weather and warm days: the Canary Islands. However, with seven to choose from, deciding where to go can be tricky. All are beautiful, and despite their proximity to each other, are strikingly different. From Lanzarote’s black volcanic beaches to Gran Canaria’s luxurious resorts, each of the islands offers up a unique experience.
Lanzarote: the exotic island
Lanzarote has an otherworldly appearance about it. With its black sands and fire mountains, it’s hard to believe that you’re just off the coast of Spain. The unreal scenery attracts thousands of visitors every day, seeking a stark difference to the usual pale-sand beaches. If you love rugged, wild landscapes and tranquil atmospheres then Lanzarote is the island for you. Explore fields of black craters and national parks filled with volcanoes, sunbathe on remote and secluded beaches and enjoy the peace that comes from this quiet island. Just don’t get too distracted by its wild landscape: there are plenty of brilliant restaurants and chic bars to visit. It’s important to read up on key facts about Lanzarote to ensure you’re making the right choice.
Tenerife: the bit-of-everything island
Said to be the most varied of the Canary Islands, Tenerife really has something for everyone. As the largest of the islands, you can fly into the northern airport or the southern – and where you go will shape the kind of holiday you have. Northern Tenerife is full of rich, bright greenery and luscious forests, as well as Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain. If you love hiking and exploring local cafes and authentic villages, the north is the destination for you. In southern Tenerife, expect sun, sea and sand – and plenty of glamorous resorts. If you want to spend your days chilling by the pool or sitting on a gorgeous sandy beach, the south is for you.
Fuerteventura: the beach-lover’s island
With 65 miles of powder-soft sandy beaches, Fuerteventura is the ideal destination for anyone wanting a beach-bum holiday. You can explore the miles of coastline easily by car, meaning you can beat the crowds and find your own slice of paradise. Driving along the coast is a spectacular experience: the gorgeous views and romantic sunsets never end. The island is perfect for kite and windsurfing, too, thanks to the strong breezes over the sea. Fuerteventura also has its own protected nature reserve, Parque Natural De Jandìa: its rolling sand dunes are incredible.
Gran Canaria: the glamorous island
Gran Canaria excels itself when it comes to beautifully decadent holidays. Whether you want to submerge yourself in age-old castles or party until dawn, you’ll find a corner of the island that caters to you. It’s hard to go wrong with Gran Canaria: you can shop til you drop in Las Palmas, where you’ll be inundated with shops and boutiques to browse. There are huge resorts that offer everything from water sports to night-long parties, as well as secluded villages hidden away in the mountainous countryside. Gran Canaria is ideal for relaxing and sunbathing, hiking to incredible viewpoints, enjoying outdoor activities and partying throughout the night.
La Palma: the explorer’s island
With 330 miles of hiking trails, La Palma is the island for anyone who loves exploring and walking. It’s a serene island, perfect for those seeking peace and quiet, and a break from the stresses and strains of modern life. La Palma is relatively tourist-free, too: there are a handful of resorts on the island, with few crowds and parties. For an unforgettable trek, head to the jungles of Los Tilos and the waterfalls of the national park, Caldera de Taburiente.
La Gomera: the quiet island
If you want some space from daily life and chaotic routines, head to La Gomera. You’ll need a connection from Tenerife via a boat or ferry – which means you could start your holiday accompanying a pod of dolphins through the clear sea. While hotels are available on the island, many visitors opt to stay in holiday homes and farmhouses. Top sights on La Gomera include watching the sun set in the Valle Gran Rey and listening to the symphony of bongs and guitars, and exploring Garajonay National Park.
El Hierro: the adventurous island
El Hierro may be the smallest of all the Canary Islands, but it’s no less mighty than the others. If you love outdoor activities and exploring your surroundings, you’ll love getting back to nature on this unique island. El Hierro is 100% self-sufficient and only uses renewable energy – and as a result, was named one of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves. There’s little tourism on the island and beach visits should be limited to sunbathing only, due to the strong surf. However, if you love wildlife, El Hierro is perfect. You can wander through forests of trees and along the tops of steep mountain cliffs, but the best sights are underwater. El Hierro has 46 dive sites, each with its own unique marine ecosystem.
With so many islands to choose from, a trip to the Canaries can take longer to plan than for other destinations. Once you’ve visited a few times, you’ll soon decide which are your favorites – and which you need to try out again!