The Canary Islands is a Spanish archipelago just off the north-west coast of Africa. This string of idyllic isles – Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro – have become known around the world for their contrasting landscapes, breath-taking natural beauty and array of activities to cater to every kind of traveller.
Here are 4 things every nature lover needs to do on a holiday to the Canary Islands. Are you ready for a walk (swim and hike) on the wild side?
1. Mount Teide, Tenerife
The imposing Mount Teide dominates most the island of Tenerife, and is the highest point in all of Spain, with a summit at 3,718 metres. Today, it’s still considered to be an active volcano (and the third largest in the world), although it’s completely safe to visit, with over 2 million tourists visiting both the volcano and its surrounding Teide National Park every year.
There are two ways to see El Teide – the fit can walk the ascent by foot, but at an altitude of 2,200m, it can be tough going, especially in summer. Luckily, there is also a cable car lift that takes 10 minutes to reach the 3,550m lookout. Whether you climb or catch the car, the view is absolutely stunning – on a clear day, you’ll be able to see out across the whole island.
2. Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
Lanzarote is famous for its sand that ranges from golden grains to ash-black volcanic and fire-red dust. While there’s no doubt that the beaches are spectacular, it’s worth dragging yourself away from your sunbed to see Timanfaya National Park, home to the aptly-named Fire Mountains (Los Montañas del Fuego). After countless volcanic explosions from 1730 until 1824, the island has been dramatically altered, leaving behind a Martian-looking landscape, complete with bright red sand and large craters. The ground is still extremely hot – if you pour water into a bore hole, steam will immediately rise up, at temperatures of up to 400C. Because of these environmental changes, you’ll also find rare flora and fauna species, found nowhere else but Lanzarote.
3. Acantilados de los Gigantes, Tenerife
Originally known as the “Wall of Hell”, a trip out to the Cliffs of the Giants is anything but. Along the west coast of Tenerife, the incredible vertical cliffs rise out of the ocean, some up to 500m high. Tourists can catch boat trips out around the towering rock formations where you’ll often see dolphins playing in the clear waters. The nearby town of Los Gigantes also boasts a black sand beach and natural pool.
4. Corralejo, Fuerteventura
It’s been said that Fuerteventura has some of the best beaches in the world. In particular, Corralejo, on the very northern tip of the island, is where you’ll find the white sands and azure blue waters you’ve been dreaming of. You definitely have to visit the award-winning Sand Dune National Park, just south of the town, where you’ll feel like you’re in the Sahara rather than at sea. There are over 11km of rolling dunes, so huge that you won’t see another person as far as your eye can see. Tours also offer a day trip on quads or dune buggies for those looking for a little extra thrill. Corralejo is known as the Hawaii of the Atlantic, with strong island winds making for excellent kite, wind and body surfing.
Whether you’re after beaches or bars, scenery or sand, the Canary Islands have more than enough to offer.