The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands

Satellite Map

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The seven Canary islands sit off the North African coast. In this map you can also see the Straights of Gibralter top right and the Madeira archipelago.
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The Canary islands are the only place in Europe will all-year round sunshine.

Travel Destinations: The Canary Islands

weather, incredible beaches, a Mecca for windsurfers and scuba divers,
boasting the highest mountain in Spain and over 800 unique plants; the
Canary Islands really are something out of the ordinary. It is little
wonder that almost four million visitors a year come to the Canaries on

While travelling between the islands is easy, either by modern ferry or
by airplane, most visitors to the archipelago spend most of their time
on a single island. Here is a brief summary of the different
personalities of each of the seven main Canary Islands.
Lanzarote is still volcanically active and is the only place I
know of where you can have your lunch cooked by hot lava flowing just
under your feet. It is a very picturesque island with whitewashed
houses with green or blue windows and a range of beautiful beaches,
some of them made up of black, volcanic sand.
Fuerteventura is the oldest of the islands and the driest. It
has some of the best beaches in the world and has become a world centre
from windsurfers and kite surfers. It is quite a windy island but
very peaceful. Fuerteventura is also popular with nudists.
Canaria is famous as a sun, sand and sangria destination for the
tourist hordes but deserves a second look. Its capital city Las Palmas
boasts one of the world’s great city beaches and its historical
district is the first city founded by the Spanish during their conquest
of the New World. The pine forest-clad mountains and valleys of Gran
Canaria are spectacular and well worth exploring. The famous Maspalomas
dunes and beach in the south of the island are the easternmost outcrop
of the Sahara Desest.
Tenerife is capped by the towering 3000 meter high Teide
volcano, the highest in Europe. Of all the islands, Tenerife is
probably the most complete destination, although all its large, sand beaches are
artificial. Santa Cruz is a pleasant city and the lush valleys of the
north of the island, hiding tiny villages and farms, are beautiful. On
Tenerife, you must stop at Icod de los Vinos to see the Millennial Dragon
tree, a huge and primitive tree said to be thousands of years old.
La Gomera is a small and rugged island covered with a forest of
laurel trees so unique it has been given World Heritage Status by
Unesco. The island is almost pristine and is a great walking
Hierro is the smallest and sleepiest of the islands and sees the
fewest numbers of visitors. Life on El Hierro moves at its own pace and
visiting is like stepping back in time. The island is famous among
scuba divers for its clear water and incredible variety and number of
La Palma is what remains of a giant volcanic caldera that has
now sunk into the sea. It is very rugged and almost completely covered
in forests. The island has become very popular with German visitors
looking for an undisturbed paradise.

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There are beaches on most of the Canary Islands.
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The Canaries are one of the best surfing destinations in Europe.
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The unique plants of the islands make them the Galapagos of the botanical world.
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Walking is becoming a popular activity on the Canary Islands.
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The Canary Island carnival celebrations are the busiest in Europe.

The Best Beaches in the Canary Islands

The Canary
Islands are internationally famous for their glorious weather and their
fantastic beaches. As the only place in Europe where good weather is
virtually guaranteed all year round, millions of people come to the
Canaries looking for sun and sand every year.
Of the seven Canary Islands,
only three boast world class beaches. The three small Western islands
are rocky and have no beaches to speak. Tenerife has lots of small rocky and black sand beaches and most resorts now have artificial golden sand beaches. Of the three remaining islands, Gran Canaria,
Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, all have
incredible stretches of natural sand.
Gran Canaria is famous for its impressive golden-yellow sand dunes at
Maspalomas and the long sweep of sand that fronts the twin resorts of
Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas. This beach is very popular with
visitors and has defined areas for nudism and even a gay nudist area.
The beach is so long that everybody coexists on it without any
A less well know but just as spectacular beach on Gran Canarias is Las
Canteras beach up in the capital city of Las Palmas. Las Canteras beach
can rightfully claim to be one of the best city beaches in the world.
It is golden yellow and sheltered by a long rock reef that runs
parallel to the shore, making it a very safe beach to swim on. Since
the area is a marine park, the snorkeling at Las Canteras is wonderful.
Another beach worth mentioning is Gui Gui on the remote west coast. It
used to be accessible only after a strenuous three hour hike down
mountain tracks and even boasts its own hermit. Now, yacht trips from
the resort of Puerto Rico stop in at Gui Gui and there is even a water
taxi service from Puerto de Las Nieves in the North that will drop you
at Gui Gui for the day.
island has the best unspoiled beaches in the Canarias, both at its
southern tip atMorro Jable and Jandia and up in the northern sand dunes
of Carralejos at Playas Grandes. Less developed than the other
islands, Fuerteventura still allows you to find you own little patch of
sand and spend a day without seeing anybody else. There are so many
great beaches on the island that it is hard to mention them all. Good
one include the half-moon beach at Caleta de Fuste with its attached
tourist resort, the beautiful and sheltered Cotillo beach and the
surfing Meccas of Toston and Esquinzo beaches on the East coast. The
spectacular Cofete beach in the south western tip is beautiful but
swimming is dangerous due to very strong currents.
Lanzarote island has great golden sand beaches at the resort of Playa
Blanca and the much more natural Papagayos. Lanzarote is also famous
for its unique black beaches made of black lava sand.

Canary Island Books

Canary Islands: The Bradt Travel Guide
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List Price: $21.95
Canary Islands (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Amazon Price: $14.12
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Lonely Planet Canary Islands (Regional Travel Guide)
Amazon Price: $11.79
List Price: $19.99