All too often, when people think of the Canary Islands, they think of the kinds of drink-fuelled holidays for teenagers that are regularly documented on ITV2. But there is so much more to this stunning archipelago than booze cruises and horrendous sunburn.
Blessed with a rich diversity of landscapes and activity options, the destinations dotted all around Tenerifeâ€™s party places are rich in holiday potential. So, if youâ€™re thinking to go and see a Canary Island or two by plane or on a cruise ship, hereâ€™s a list of the 7 top reasons why a visit to the Canaries will make your heart sing!
1. The hiking and biking in Tenerife
As with all the islands, thereâ€™s a lot more to Tenerife than just nightclubs and beaches. Visitors who are in search of more enriching pastimes than a trip to Linekers Bar will not want to miss Mount Teide, the third largest volcano in the world. Along with Las Canadas, it makes up the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Teide National Park. And it is a great spot to revitalise body and mind with some hiking or mountain biking.
2. The climactic diversity of Gran Canaria
Nicknamed â€œpequeÃ±o continenteâ€ or â€œthe little continentâ€, Gran Canaria has a remarkable variety of landscapes and climates within its shores. You can practically experience â€œFour Seasons in One Dayâ€ by travelling from snowy mountains to dense tropical forest in the space of just a few miles. Plus there are enough beaches, coves, dunes and valleys to keep both hikers and sun-seekers happy.
3. The hidden gem of La Gomera
Largely untouched by industrial tourism, La Gomera is one of the best-kept secrets in world of Canarian travel. Its abrupt mountainous landscape is not suitable for larger planes, so it sees a fraction of the visits of islands like Tenerife. It does offer visitors a view of traditional local life, spectacular views of Mount Teide, and its own volcanic landscape with a hidden forest at its heart.
4. The desert-like dunes of Fuerteventura
The oldest of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura also has the longest coastline in the archipelago. With a dry climate, sun-bleached sand dunes, and camel rides available, the island offers visitors the potential for an almost-Saharan trekking experience, but within safe reach of beaches and cooling water sports as well.
5. The otherworldly landscapes of Lanzarote
While all the Canaries are volcanic in origin, it is Lanzarote that has most recently experienced eruptions, in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, around 200 square kilometres of the island is volcanic soil, the Timanfaya National Park. A UNSESCO Biosphere Reserve, it has a delicate balance of flora and fauna, and striking almost-lunar landscapes.
6. The laurel forests of La Palma
This island is blessed with lush greenery, and although deforestation has occurred, the uplands of La Palma still feature laurel forests, or laurisilva. This plant life is descended from the previously widespread prehistoric forests that used to cover much of the planet, and is a must-see for natural history enthusiasts.
7. The natural swimming pools of El Hierro
Located at northerly Monacal and Tamaduste, the tranquil natural swimming pools on the smallest Canary Island are not to be missed! Visitors should also try to see the unique Sabinas trees that are bent double or contorted into bizarre shapes by the strong regional winds.
Have you been on a sight-seeing holiday to the Canary Islands? Do you have a must-visit place that youâ€™d like to tell us about? Leave a comment below and share your tips!