The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands – A tropical paradise of perpetual spring and summer, beautiful beaches, superbly equipped holiday resorts, water sports and water parks, golf holidays, excursions and all round holiday fun some three to four hours flying time from the UK.
The Canary Islands consists of seven major islands:
With a sprinkling of smaller islets including Alegranza, Lobos, Montana Clara, La Graciosa, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste.
The landscapes of each island are radically different to each other. The western islands are mountainous, dominated by Tenerife’s Mount Teide
with the eastern islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura being relatively flat and boasting beautiful uncrowded beaches.
Tenerife is the largest of the seven main Canary Islands and the island’s climate, superb beaches and huge range of visitor attractions make it a favourite holiday destination for winter and summer sun seekers. Tenerife has a sub-tropical climate tempered by the Trade Winds and Gulf Stream with an average winter temperature of 18C and an average summer temperature in the mid-twenties.
Tenerife offers the widest range of tourist attractions of any of the Canaries and has spectacular volcanic scenery and distinctive black sands.
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Tourism is more prevalent in the southern part of Tenerife, which is hotter and drier and has many well developed resorts such as Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos. More recently coastal development has spread northwards from Playa de Las Americas and now encompasses the former small enclave of La Caleta.
Tenerife’s most famous feature is its extraordinary volcanic landscape. The island is home to the world’s third highest volcano – Mount Teide which at 3,718 metres is the tallest peak in Spain.
The volcano is the centre piece of Las Canadas national park which is littered with eerie lava formations.
Playa de las Américas is a vibrant purpose-built holiday resort in the south-west of the island that provides many tourist and leisure facilities
including golden beaches (the Sand was imported from Africa!), water sports, shopping centres, golf courses, pubs, nightclubs, discos, restaurants, water parks, animal parks and theatres.
It is bordered by the towns of Costa Adeje, Arona and Los Cristianos where the majority of the hotels and accommodation can be found.
In the more lush and green north of Tenerife the main development for tourism has been in the town of Puerto de la Cruz.
The town itself has kept some of its old-harbour town charm mixed with northern European influences and is a favourite for the more mature traveller.
It is very popular with German and Spanish tourists.
Gran Canaria is often referred to as a "Miniature Continent" due to the different climates and variety of landscapes found. The north tends to be cooler while the south is warmer and sunnier. The east coast of the island is flat and dotted with beaches while the western coast is rockier and mountainous with ravines which come down from the central peaks, which are over 2000m high, to the shore.
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Gran Canaria is the most visited of the Canary Islands and Las Palmas the capital and biggest city in the Canaries offers a great beach and vibrant atmosphere. Most tourists stay in the south of the island, which is sunnier and has less rain than the north as well as many lively beach resort communities.
The beach resorts start in the central eastern part of the southern coast in the Maspalomas area which includes the towns of San Agustin, Playa del Ingles, Sonnenland, Maspalomas and Meloneras. The Dunes of Maspalomas are located between Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas.
Gran Canaria has a number of National Parks and Protected Spaces, such as the Rural Park of Nublo, Doramas's Jungle, the Ravine of Azuaje, Tamadaba and Pino Santo.
Fuerteventura is the most sparsely populated of the Canary Islands and the main economy on Fuerteventura is based on tourism. To the north the coastline is mostly made up of fine sand dunes while the south is filled with long beaches and remote bays. Especially outstanding are the beaches of Jandia in the south and Corralejo in the north.
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Primary tourist areas are around the existing towns of Corralejo in the north and Morro Jable in Jandia a large peninsula at the southern end of Fuerteventura and home to what is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Europe. To the east is Caleta de Fuste a purpose built resort situated on a horseshoe-shaped bay which is ideal for families.
The constant winds blowing along the coast make Fuerteventura a paradise for windsurfing which is common around Corralejo and Playas de Sotavento. Surfing is common in the west and north coast where there are large waves and, wave sailing (windsurfing in waves) is popular at the coast along the northern half of the island.
La Palma is a beautiful green island which may not have the long sandy beaches of some of the other Canary Islands, but it more than makes up for it with gorgeous sandy coves, luxurious vegetation, a tropical rainforest, tiny villages and breathtaking views.
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La Palma is, according to many people, the most beautiful of the Canary Islands, unspoilt by heavy tourism and ideal for rest, peace and quiet, walking and hiking. Santa Cruz de La Palma is the capital of the island and one of the prettiest cities in the Canaries.
The centre of the island is dominated by the world’s largest known crater, La Caldera de Taburiente which is a National Park. Formed by volcanic activity and erosion the Caldera has a width of 9000m and depths of some 1200 metres full of dense pine forests. The highest point is Roque de los Muchachos at 2423 metres on the northern slopes home to one of the worlds key Astrophysical Observatories. The impressive grandeur of the Caldera can be observed from the observation platform of La Cumbrecita on its southern side.
Lanzarote is the most northerly of the major Canary Islands, located some eleven kilometres north-east of Fuerteventura and one kilometre from the island of Graciosa. The majority of Lanzarote’s coastline is rocky, but there are a large number of excellent beaches and sandy coves to be found.
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Lanzarote’s dramatic landscape includes the mountain ranges of Famara (671 metres) in the north and Ajaches (608 metres) to the south. South of the Famara massif is the El Jable desert which separates Famara and Montanas del Fuego.
The mountainous area of Lanzarote is called Timanfaya National Park home to the tallest mountain of Penas del Chache rising some 670 metres above sea level.
Lanzarote is of volcanic origin, as are the other islands of the archipelago, but here volcanoes have been active as recent as the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result of this activity Lanzarote has some of the most incredible landscapes you may find on this planet including opulent vegetation next to bizarre forms of petrified lava.
La Gomera is roughly circular, about 22 km in diameter with a rugged coastline full of cliffs with a mountainous inland rising to 1487 metres at the island's highest peak Garajonay.
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The upper reaches of this densely wooded region are almost permanently shrouded in clouds and mist, and as a result are covered in lush and diverse vegetation which forms the basis of Spain's Garajonay National Park. The slopes are criss-crossed by paths that present varying levels of difficulty and stunning views to visiting walkers.
The central mountains catch the moisture from the trade wind clouds and yield a dense jungle climate in the cooler air, which contrasts with the warmer, sun-baked cliffs near sea level.
Between these extremes one finds a fascinating variation of microclimates and for centuries, the inhabitants of La Gomera have farmed the lower levels by channelling runoff water to irrigate their vineyards, orchards and banana groves.
In the centre of El Hierro there is a high plateau whose highest point is Malpaso at 1,501 metres. On the coast there is an exception to the cliffs in the form of an inlet called El Golfo, a 14km stretch of slopes with forests and vineyards.
The capital of the island Valverde is a pleasant, picturesque place with beautiful gardens and a lovely square from where the sea and other islands can be seen.
Like all of the Canary Islands, El Hierro is a tourist destination and an ideal place for peaceful holidays in touch with nature. It is served by a small airport, El Hierro Airport at Valverde and a ferry terminal, both of which connect to Tenerife.
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Getting to the Canary Islands is really easy!
Cheap Flights to the Canary Islands abound and from the UK there is an excellent choice of Airports offering direct flights to Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Palma.
There are Tour Operators and Travel Agents that provide great package deals for the Canaries.
Here are a few of our favourites:
Fuerteventura Holidays from Lastminute.com®
Gran Canaria Holidays from Lastminute.com®
Lanzarote Holidays from Lastminute.com®
La Palma Holidays from Lastminute.com®
Tenerife Holidays from Lastminute.com®
Travelling within the Canary Islands can be done through Canary Island Ferries operated by
Fred Olsen Express
Domestic flights are available from
Canary Islands - Canary Islands Guide from Lonely Planet
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Air Travel and Flight Bookings
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