Traipsing Through the Canary Islands

Traipsing Through the Canary Islands

by Mary Del Rosario
Stripes Europe

The Canary Islands are an archipelago belonging to Spain but is located off the coast of northwestern Africa. There are seven main islands: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro.  Located close to Morocco, these islands are infused with Spanish and Moroccan influences that can be seen from the terrain to the architecture. Ranging from lush greenery to pristine beaches, no matter which island you choose, you’re sure to have the ideal slice of sun and fun. 

THE TOP ISLANDS

Tenerife

The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is perfect for vacationers who love to hike, bask in the sun and enjoy a cocktail or two after as a reward. Beach bums will also love the number of beaches—to include sandy, pebbly and volcanic—sprinkled throughout the island. From family-friendly, active and lively, beachgoers are spoiled with a variety of atmospheres that Tenerife has to offer. The beaches to put on your itinerary are Abama, Benijo, Masca, El Bollullo, El Medano, Las Teresitas Los Guios, Playa La Arena, Playa de Puerto Santiago and Fañabé.   

For those who have “stargaze on a beautiful island” on their bucket list, head to the Teide Observatory on Mount Teide. It’s the world’s largest solar observatory perfect for stargazing. Admission is free and guided tours are available. If you enjoy a more active vacation, hike up Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain peak that boasts the most gorgeous views of Tenerife. Looking for more of a family-friendly adventure? Head to Siam Park, a waterpark that is open year-round.   

Aside from the stunning landscapes and beaches, Tenerife also prides itself as being the top party island in the Canaries. If dancing the night away while enjoying some mojitos is your idea of the perfect vacation, then head to Playa de la Américas, a strip peppered with bars and the best nightlife. 

Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is the second-largest island filled with long stretches of sand dunes ideal for dune buggies and beaches water sports enthusiasts and families can’t get enough of. Corralejo Natural Park is a sight to behold with beautiful turquoise waters and white sand. While walking on the beach, you’ll catch glimpses of Los Lobos, an islet north of Fuerteventura. Corralejo is a bustling, small town on the north of the island and provides a mix of modern and traditional city vibes.  

The north part of the island provides desert landscapes while the south is lusher with greenery. However, the island is small enough to drive from north to south enjoying the change in scenery in one day. Since Fuerteventura is known for being the hotspot in the Canaries for kite and windsurfers, be sure to check which beach is compatible with your wishes. Sotavento, located in the south, is a beach only the professional kitesurfers would dare to go due to aggressive sandstorms that may occur. Otherwise, the notable beaches are Corralejo, Pájara, Cofete, Gran Tarajal, La Concha and Caleta de Fuste.  

Gran Canaria 

Known for the contrasts in terrain, Gran Canaria is a diverse island many tourists flock to and for good reason. The black lava and white sand beaches allow you to enjoy nature in its finest form. If you’ve ever wanted to sand surf or even take a long walk along the beach, explore the island’s finest sand at the Maspalomas Dunes located in the south of the island. However, if you would rather lay out on the beach and enjoy the sun’s rays, head to Playa de las Canteras and Amadores beach, Gran Canaria’s popular beaches. Other popular activities include dolphin watching, Palmitos park (a zoo perfect for kids) and getting lost in the capital, Las Palmas. 

If you came to this island with a group of friends, Playa del Ingles is the place to be seen as it is known for merriment and memories in the making. Dotted with bars and entertainment, this lively spot is the perfect way to enjoy a night out. However, if you prefer the opposite, Pico de las Nieves, the highest peak in Gran Canaria, is the ideal location for natural sights to see away from crowds.   

Lanzarote

Whitewashed villages, turquoise waters and volcanic landscapes make Lanzarote a beautiful destination to experience. Lanzarote is also known for being the best in wellness throughout the Canaries due to the many surf camps offering yoga, meditation and an overall spa experience. 

Lanzarote also has an abundance of highlights to include the Museo Atlántico – an underwater sculpture museum, Jardïn de Cactus – a cacti garden, Haría – an enclave filled with whitewashed villas and Timanfaya National Park. For the thrill-seekers, try surfing at Famara Beach. Its mountainous landscape will be a perfect backdrop as you surf the waves. 

CANARIAN CUISINE 

Whenever traveling to a different country, it’s always best to eat like the locals. With so many fresh seafood option and good eats, sink your teeth and delight your taste buds with these Canarian dishes.  

“Papas arrugadas” — small, boiled potatoes rolled through salt and topped with “mojo picón,” a spicy, garlicky sauce.

“Sancocho canario” — salted and spiced fish.

“Baifo” — young goat meat marinated in herbs and garlic. 

“Queso de cabra” — goat cheese. The fried kind is a popular choice! 

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