Beach bums, culture vultures, happy hikers – holidays to the Canary Islands are a hit with just about everyone.
This group of Spanish isles is way closer to Africa than Spain. This works to their advantage – guaranteeing plenty of sun for their batch of beaches. Other than a shared climate, they’re a mixed bunch. Pleasing holidaymakers is the name of the game in Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Fuerteventura and La Palma are the shy ones, but they’re still packed to the brim with sleepy coves and hiking trails.
Tenerife and Lanzarote’s interiors have real star quality. The volcanic landscape of Mount Teide National Park looks like something out of Interstellar. Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park goes one better, with over 300 volcanoes and a lime-green lagoon. And even though La Palma’s one of the smallest of the lot, its terrain’s on the grand scale. Here, petite coves are trumped by mammoth mountains.
Dunes and sands
It’s easy to dig your toes into the sand in the Canary Islands. Beach-wise, it’s a rainbow affair. Lanzarote and La Palma bring the black sands, while Tenerife’s are of the golden variety. Settle on a sandy beach in the latter and it’s likely the grains have come straight from the Sahara. And that’s not the only African connection – the sand dunes in Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura are carbon copies of the desert, too.
Culture-wise, these isles can compete with the best of them. Abstract architect Cesar Manrique’s left his stamp all over Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. Plus, Lanzarote’s got another thing to brag about – Europe’s first underwater museum. When the evening hits, the tempo sky rockets in Tenerife. Places like Costa Adeje provide the swanky dining, while nearby Playa de las Americas has bars and clubs on tap.
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Fuerteventura is one of the more organic Canary Islands. It’s a no-added-sugar sort of place, where the buildings are low-rise and the landscape has been shaped by biology rather than builders. But that’s not to say nothing goes on here. In fact, as most of the Canaries creak to life around mid-morning, Fuerteventura has been up for hours catering for the people who want to fit it all in.
Playa del Ingles is a real ‘look-at-me’ kind of customer. The whole place was pieced together with holidaymakers in mind, so you’ll want for nothing. Shopping malls and bars keep the huge sandy beach company and, when the sun ducks out, it wins the prize for the island’s best nightlife. The capital, Las Palmas, brings a culture-stuffed old town and a bevy of bars to the table.
Nothing whispers under-the-radar quite like La Palma. It’s neighbours with Tenerife, but that’s practically where the similarities end. This place has stuck with the natural look, with just a handful of settlements nosing out from the banana plantations and pine-covered hills. Even the bigger towns, like Santa Cruz de la Palma and Puerto Naos, are cut from a classic Canarian cloth.
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