Rich forests, rugged cliffs, archipelago, volcanoes, tropical weather on one island, snowfall on another, my research was leading me to the conclusion that the Canary Islands would make a great holiday destination.
The Canary Islands is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The islands were formed by ancient volcanoes and shaped by the winds from the Sahara desert.
The Canary Islands were on my bucket list when I was living in London. Tenerife is a hot destination for Pommies running from the horrors of English weather to soak up the sun and party.
I never made it much further than San Fermin. I blame it on the Sangria.
Tenerife was only island I ever heard about from the Canary Islands and not being sure whether this would be an ideal destination for me, I decided to research the things you can do in the Canary Islands.
I’m kinda happy with what I discovered.
8 things to do in the Canary Islands
1. TIMANFAYA NATIONAL PARK, LANZAROTE
The lunar landscape of the Timanfaya National Park was created by a volcanic eruption that covered about a third of the island in the 1700’s.
You can hike through the Fire Mountains (Mountains del fuego) and experience the heat of the dormant volcano. At the beginning of the park guides will demonstrate the power of the heat by setting a bush on fire and creating artificial geysers shooting up into the air. An interesting way to see the park is by taking a 25 minute camel ride.
2. CATAMARAN SAILING TO PAPAGAYO BEACHES, LANZAROTE
Go luxury catamaran sailing to the golden beaches of Papagayo on Lanzarote. You can relax with drinks and fresh fruit as the boat sails to Papagayo. The Captain and crew are happy for you to help trim the sails and take the helm- could be interesting to see where I end up taking us.
Lunch is served on board at the beaches and coves where the anchor is dropped for swimming, snorkelling and Jet Ski rides. If you are lucky you will see dolphins and pilot whales on the sail back. I love the sound of this relaxing day on the water and it reminds me of sailing around the Greek Island of Paros in the same way.
3. MOUNT TEIDE AND LAS CANADAS NATIONAL PARK, TENERIFE
Mount Teide is one of the largest volcanoes in the world. You can walk to the summit through the National Park exploring pine forests, giant craters and a lunar landscape.
Kalyra is mad on volcanoes so I think she will love getting this close to one. We may have to get the cable car up to the summit with her though! If it is a clear day you will get to see some of the other Canary Islands.
4. MASPALOMAS SAND DUNES , GRAND CANARIA
Enter a different part of the world through a spectacular 400 hectares stretch of sand dunes along the coastline of the island of Grand Canaria.
The sand dunes were designated a National Park in 1994 and you can only cross by foot or camel. The dunes also provide a habitat for a number of rare plant species, some of which can only be found in the Canaries – somehow they manage to survive in this arid environment alongside lizards and rabbits.
5. ISLAND OF LOBOS, FUERTEVENTURA
Tranquillity and natural beauty is how this island off the coast of Fuerteventura, a short boat ride from Corralejo, is described.
The island of Lobos is a nature reserve and offers the chance to spot plants and birds not found anywhere else on the planet, surprising given its desert and volcanic landscape. It’s popular with day trippers and families and you can camp on the island for three nights with authorization. It’s an escape to crystalline waters and beautiful hidden bays and corners of serenity.
6. Santa Cruz La Palma
Santa Cruz in La Palma is a beautiful seaside town with palaces, manor houses, churches and colourful balcony homes dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. This is the main port of the island and the capital city and is surrounded by rugged and steep topography
Santa Cruz has been declared a Cultural Asset (historical-artistic site). I’d enjoy a day discovering why as I wander through its narrow cobbled streets, stopping at holes in the walls for lunch and maybe doing a little shopping.
7. Garajonay National Park, La Gomera
I love to take my children to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I think its important they get to understand our planet and why it needs to be protected.
The Garajonay National Park, in La Gomera has one of the largest continuous areas of Laurel forest, a habitat that has almost disappeared from southern Europe and North Africa. The park has streams and springs which help give it lush vegetation that is not typical of the Canaries.
8. CANARY CUISINE
Food is a big part of any destination you experience. Of course the Canaries will have much of the Spanish influence but they also have their own unique dishes.
A favourite Canary favourite is Sancocho Canario, a salted fish, usually white, in a “mojo” sauce a spicy sauce that has a red and a green version. Of course I’m all about the mojo.
Papas Arrugadas – “Wrinkled potatoes” are a popular side dish consisting of small potatoes boiled in salt water until soft, leaving the potatoes with wrinkles and with a salty crust.
What is it about islands and rum? Trust me I am not complaining, I can often be found with a mojito in my hand, particularly at sunset. So it seems as if the Canary Islands will cater to my rum obsession with their own speciality honeyed rum. I may even live it large a little and try thee banana liqueur and see how high the mojo goes then!