The Canary Islands are off the west coast of Africa, but belong to Spain. Their location means they have a really nice warm climate, which doesn’t change much across the year. Due to the amount of hotels across the islands, price can be cheap compared to mainland Spain. You can also find free accommodation if you look hard enough!
The islands attract over 12 million visitors a year. It sounds like a lot of people, but there are seven main islands to choose from. The four most popular of these are Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria, and they all have international airports.
Gran Canaria not only has a range of beautiful beaches, but also a sand dune reserve, Maspalomas. This area on the southern tip of the island is protected by the government, and is a unique wild habitat. It is a lovely place to visit and is easy to get to, as it is surrounded by the Maspalomas Resort.
Maspalomas is a place to consider for a relaxing winter vacation. High quality hotels with great service, combined with the palm trees, beaches, and camels – and then there’s always plenty of golf. You can play at Maspalomas, or at any one of the other seven courses on Gran Canaria.
Not a fan of golf? You can play tennis on grass or clay around Gran Canaria, and there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy. The shores and beaches obviously offer plentiful watersports, or you could do some mountain hiking and cycling if you prefer to stay dry. You could even try some abseiling or mountain climbing.
To the east of Gran Canaria is Fuertaventura and also Lanzarote. Lanzarote is well-known for its volcanic areas, but it’s surprising to find that it has a number of vineyards. Actually, the wine was very familiar to Shakespeare, who refers to it in “Henry IV”.
Even if you’ve never visited a vineyard, you’ll know they are usually green – so the black volcanic ground of Lanzarote’s wine-growing area looks very unusual. It turns out the volcanic ash actually works well for the vines, by trapping the natural moisture and helping to keep the roots watered. So, if you’re looking for a break from the beaches and watersports, the wineries of Lanzarote make quite a contrast.
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, and also is the only one to have two airports. The island has a wonderful selection of beaches , which range in color from imported golden sand to the local black volcanic sand. Away from the beach there are many attractions, such as Loro Parque, which houses an important collection of parrots. It also houses a dolphinarium and the Planet Penguin area, where they create tons of snow every day, and the water is kept really cold. Tenerife also has lots of great accommodation like Sunningdale village.
The penguinarium is the exception, because, as you’d expect from the latitude, the Canary Islands get quite hot in the summer – into the 30s Centigrade (high 80s Fahrenheit). So it’s worth avoiding the main summer months; you can even visit in the middle of winter and still be warm during the day.
The Canary Islands are a great vacation idea, with their almost guaranteed good weather across the whole year, but also a wide variety of landscapes and activities to enjoy.