The lunar landscape of Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote; the weird and wonderful Drag Queen festivities at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival; exploring the colourful wooded slopes of La Palma; or just lying on a sun-soaked beach with a glass of the local honey rum – Canary Islands holidays offer so much variety.
These Atlantic islands, for many years the stopping off points for explorers, yachtsmen and tall ship races, have long been favourites for British holidaymakers; and when you consider the Pandora’s Box of Delights available, it is easy to understand why. Canary Islands holidays have never offered as much as they do now.
The weather has always been a major attraction for visitors from northern Europe. The trade winds have resulted in the islands generally having warm, sunny weather for the majority of the year.
The summer is rarely too hot and, especially in the southern half of each island – where the majority of tourist resorts tend to be – winter temperatures make a pleasant break from the cold of home, rarely falling between 18° during the day.
Tenerife and Gran Canaria
Both Tenerife and Gran Canaria tend to be cooler and wetter in the north, with the volcanic spectacular mountains separating this area from the much drier and warmer south. Gran Canaria, in fact, has such diversity that one of its long-time holiday slogans has been ‘ a continent in miniature’.
One of the highlights of many a visit to this continually fascinating island is a drive around the complete perimeter; it takes between four and five hours without a stop and the variety of land and sea scapes is simply stunning.
Although the seven major islands all have completely different characteristics – those in the west are nearest to Africa and have very little rain whereas those in the east are much greener and cooler – they also have many similarities.
The islands have been Spanish since the 15th century, but there is still considerable evidence of the local Guanche culture. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is the Whistling Language of La Gomera – developed to help communication over long distances – but many of the traditional dances and songs that are performed across the islands reflect what can be a beguiling cultural mix.
Food of the Islands
The food of the islands, whilst also being predominantly Spanish, has significant local influences. Fish, of course, features highly in Canarian cuisine, but also keep a lookout for Mojo sauce – a spicy concoction of garlic and peppers – often served up with papas arrugadas, salty little potatoes that have been boiled until they are wrinkled: it might sound strange but they are simply delicious.
Canary Islands holidays have traditionally revolved around the beaches and the resorts that have grown up around them and these continue to be popular – indeed, it is claimed that 50% of all visitors to the island have been previously.
Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura all have well-established resorts with all the clubs, pubs, theme parks and restaurants you would expect to find.
During the past decades, the Canary Islands tourist authorities have tried hard to diversify and there are now many more top class hotels than there used to be as well as a much wider range of self-catering accommodation.
Moreover, all of the islands have developed the concept of rural tourism, attracting visitors to parts of the Canaries that they previously had not seen.
Activities in Canary Islands
Surfing, windsurfing, golfing, bird watching, walking, climbing, diving, kite boarding, cycling, sea fishing, dolphin watching, star gazing, painting – this is just scratching the surface of the kinds of activities you can enjoy on Canary Islands holidays; that’s without mentioning tapas eating, flamenco dancing, swimming and sunbathing.
Whether you’re looking for the vibrant atmosphere of cities such as colourful Las Palmas de Gran Canaria or quiet mountain villages; wide, sandy deserted beaches in Fuerteventura or the fun-filled banana boat beaches of Playa de las Américas; a McDonalds or a freshly caught swordfish served with green mojo sauce – it’s all here on a Canary Islands holiday.
“We travel not to change places, but to change ideas”.