Tenerife is the largest and most popular island, with tropical forests, hiking trails and over 200 miles of volcanic coastline. Costa Adeje is one of the island’s newest resort areas – you’ll have sands which rival nearby Playa de Las Américas but a little more peace and quiet too, as well as a great range of luxurious beachfront hotels. Lap up views over Spain’s highest peak, Mount Teide, indulge in wonderful spa treatments while little ones make the most of the kids’ clubs, and give watersports a go; if you’re out and about during the day, hunt for bargains at the local shops, before checking out the vibrant restaurants and bars. Guía de Isora is the ultimate tranquil retreat where you can enjoy time away from the busier coastal resorts – head into the mountains for a scenic walk or hike, take a seafront stroll by the deep blue waters and tuck into superb Canarian cuisine in the local restaurants.
Take a 40-minute ferry ride across the water and you’ll find La Gomera, a refreshingly peaceful and unspoilt mountainous island. It may be tiny but it still packs a punch – you can see Tenerife and Mount Teide from its east coast, and it’s a great spot for discovering stunning natural landscapes, either on a day-trip or from one of its picturesque coastal hotels. The island has been listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is a paradise for walking and hiking; you’ll see rolling valleys, misty forests, pebble beaches and dramatic cliffs. Pay a visit to the incredible UNESCO-listed Garajonay National Park, go hiking through the forests up to the island’s dormant volcanic centre, swim in the warm ocean and head south to see the captivating deserted villages by the Valle Gran Rey.
Fuerteventura is a great choice if you’re travelling with young kids or looking to try watersports. It has stunning sand dunes, turquoise waters, unspoilt beaches and cool, refreshing breezes – in fact, it’s windier than the other Canary Islands during the summer, making it the ideal host for the World Windsurfing Championship each July down south on Jandia Peninsula, home to secluded Sotavento Beach. We also recommend heading to the northern tip of the island for Corralejo; this former fishing village is in a wonderful setting by the Corralejo Dunes Natural Park, where the dunes can be up to 50 metres tall and stretch right down to the ocean. The small and uninhabited Lobos (‘Wolves’) Island, home to a nature reserve and open for day trips, is also just a ten-minute ferry ride away.
Another family-friendly island is Lanzarote, home to long, golden beaches and fun-filled resorts with loads of activities. Playa Blanca has some of Lanzarote’s best beaches – think soft, white sands and calm waters, and is well connected to other areas; head up to the scenic Timanfaya National Park, or catch a ferry from the harbour to Fuerteventura just across the water. Puerto Calero is one of the island’s glitzier parts; it has a chic marina filled with luxury yachts, indulgent spas, numerous gourmet restaurants and boutique shops, as well as dive centres and superb golf courses. For something a little different, get out and explore the island’s unique landscapes, awarded World Biosphere Reserve status by UNESCO; whether it’s rusty-red craters or volcanic vineyards, you’ll be sure to find some otherworldly-looking spots.
Gran Canaria is known for its strollable golden-sand coast and mountainous interiors. Visit Tamadaba Natural Park on the island’s west coast for sweeping green forest and spectacular views from rocky ridges, and be sure to stop off at the resort town of Maspalomas on the southern tip. This desert-oasis hybrid has over three miles of golden beaches, a landmark 19th-Century lighthouse and some of the most incredible sand dunes you’ve ever seen – the Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve has been beautifully sculpted by the wind, reminiscent of the Sahara not far across the water in North Africa, and the 18-hole Maspalomas Golf Course, the largest in Gran Canaria, is nearby.
Where are the Canary Islands?
The Canary Islands are off the coast of north-west Africa, near the southern tip of Morocco and north of Western Sahara. Tenerife, the largest, and Gran Canaria are two of the most central islands, while Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are the closest to mainland Africa.
Food & drink
In the Canaries you’ll find plenty of hearty meat and potato-style options, including puchero canario, a broth similar to the typical Madrid stew which is drained and served as soup for a first course, with its meat and vegetables for the second course – ingredients are typically pumpkin, cabbage, sweet potatoes, pork, and beef. Papas arrugadas, or ‘wrinkled potatoes’, are a popular side dish, where baby potatoes are boiled in salt water until soft, giving them wrinkles and a salty crust. There’s also mojo picón, a spicy sauce containing red or green pepper, olive oil, cumin, garlic, salt and vinegar, as well as bienmesabe, a tempting dessert made from egg yolks, ground almonds, cinnamon and honey.