10 amazing adventures in the Canary Islands

The spectacular scenery of Gran Canaria is made for exploring - www.dominicdahncke.com
The spectacular scenery of Gran Canaria is made for exploring - www.dominicdahncke.com

Whether you prefer birdwatching, beaches or bikes, Nick Trend has found an island holiday to suit your tastes

1. Small but beautiful

Just north of Lanzarote, across the Strait of El Rio, La Graciosa is part of the Parque Natural Chinijo Archipelago and was recognised as the eighth Canary island in 2018. Measuring just 11 square miles, it has one small village, Caleta de Sebo, and long stretches of idyllic sand fringe the shore. Cachet Travel can organise a beachside holiday in a cluster of eight, one and two-bedroom apartments on the southeast coast.

One-bedroom self-catering apartment at Graciosero from £663 including flights to Lanzarote, return ferry crossing and transfers. Departs year round. Cachet Travel (cachet-travel.co.uk).

2. Pipit patrol

Hotter and drier than the more westerly islands, arid Fuerteventura is home to some rare endemic birds including the Canary Islands stonechat, the plain swift and Berthelot’s pipit. It is also one of the best places to see the Houbara bustard and a host of other birds, including the African blue tit and the black-bellied sandgrouse. Birding expert Brian Small leads a small group tour of up to seven guests organised through Limosa Holidays, timed for when migrating birds are also passing through.

Fuerteventura in Autumn from £1,795 for six nights full-board including flights and transfers. Departs Oct 13 2020. Limosa Holidays (limosaholidays.co.uk).

3. Canaria on two wheels

The steep terrain of Gran Canaria offers plenty of challenges for keen cyclists, but Marmot Tours also offers easier and more flexible guided itineraries, with the option to take days off between rides. Based in comfortable four-star hotels in the villages of San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Puerto de Las Nieves, riders can opt to hire custom-built, titanium-framed bikes or supply their own.

Tour of Gran Canaria from £1,200 for seven nights half-board including transfers. Excludes flights (hire from £45 per day). Departs Jan 23, Feb 24 and March 21 2020. Marmot Tours (marmot-tours.co.uk).

4. Flight-free cruise 

Fred. Olsen has long had close links with the Canary Islands – it introduced the ferry route between Tenerife and La Gomera in the Seventies. Now it offers more extensive itineraries, such as its two-week cruise from Southampton on the 804-berth Black Watch, a great way to see the islands without flying. This takes in La Palma, Tenerife, La Gomera, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote with stops in Madeira and Lisbon.

Fred. Olsen’s Canary Island History from £1,349 for 14 nights including all meals on the cruise, but excluding transfers. Departs March 3 2020. Fred. Olsen Cruises (fredolsencruises.com).

carnival celebrations - Credit: Getty
Don't miss the carnival celebrations in Las Palmas Credit: Getty

5. Gran Finale

In 2020, Gran Canaria’s flamboyant Carnival runs from Feb 7 until March 1 with events taking place in Las Palmas, Maspalomas, Mogán and Gáldar. Based on the theme of “Once upon a time…”, this is the biggest party in the archipelago, climaxing with a grand parade through the streets of the capital and “el entierro de la sardina” (the burial of the sardine), a traditional Spanish ceremony which symbolises the end of excess and festivity.

Five-star Seaside Palm Beach Hotel in Maspalomas from £1,377 for seven nights half-board including flights and transfers. Departs Feb 2020. Tui (tui.co.uk).

6. Horticultural highlights

Tenerife, the largest island in the Canaries, is rich in colourful, subtropical parks and gardens. Saga Holidays offers a flora-themed trip this spring which includes five full-day trips to tour the best of the island’s horticultural sights. From a five-star base in Puerto de la Cruz, excursions include the ancient dragon tree in Icod de los Vinos, the 18th-century El Jardín de Aclimatación de la Orotava, and the orchid collection at El Sitio Litre.

Wild Flora and Gardens of Tenerife from £1,049 for seven nights including flights, transfers and all meals. Departs April 21 2020. Saga Holidays (travel.saga.co.uk).

teide national park - Credit: Getty
Keen stargazers should head for Teide National Park Credit: Getty

7. Hike to the stars

Tenerife’s 19,000-acre Cañadas del Teide National Park was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2007 and its high altitude (12,140ft), proximity to the equator and lack of light pollution have won the area stargazing accolades from the Starlight Foundation. K E Adventure leads an ascent of Mount Teide from the hillside village of Chio, which includes an overnight stay at the Altavista Refuge (10,695ft) before hiking to the summit at sunrise.

Mount Teide Weekend in Tenerife from £495 for three nights including transfers and all meals. Excludes flights. Departs Jan 25, April 11, Oct 10 and Nov 14 2020. K E Adventure Travel (keadventure.com).

8. Island Hopping hits

Most tourists head to Tenerife for a fly-and-flop holiday, but the archipelago’s largest island also makes a good springboard for exploring its less touristy westerly neighbours, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma, islands that offer beautiful scenery and quiet beaches. Expressions Holidays has a tailor-made, self-drive itinerary with stays on each island, usually in comfortable parador accommodation.

Western Canaries island-hopping touring holiday from £1,960 for 12 nights B&B including flights, car hire and ferry crossings. Departs year round. Expressions Holidays (expressionsholidays.co.uk).

El Hierro - Credit: Getty
El Hierro Credit: Getty

9. Walk La Palma

With dramatic volcanic landscapes of black sand beaches, steep ravines and deep gorges, La Palma offers some spectacular walking along 600 miles of way-marked trails cut through ancient cloud forest, orchards and vineyards. Headwater has a self-guided walking itinerary starting in the capital, Santa Cruz. Covering distances of six to 11 miles per day, the routes follow ancient trails through small villages and hamlets with accommodation in family-run hotels.

Walking the Trails of La Palma from £1,365 for seven nights B&B including flights and transfers. Departs weekly, year round. Headwater (headwater.com).

La Palma - Credit: GETTY
La Palma Credit: GETTY

10. Windsurfing Wonders

The sandy beaches and steady breezes of Costa Teguise on Lanzarote’s southeast coast make excellent conditions for windsurfing. Sportif Travel organises courses for families and individuals, including a springtime coaching week for intermediate and advanced levels with expert Simon Winkley. Using simulators and GoPro filming, tuition is centred on both shore- and water-based learning, with accommodation provided in one-bedroom apartments nearby.

Simon Winkley Windsurf Camp from £1,195 for seven nights B&B, including flights, transfers, equipment rental and five days of tuition. Departs March 16 2020. Sportif Travel (sportif.travel).

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