Canary islands

Fuerteventura (20.2 million years old island) is best for beaches; Tenerife (11.9 million years old island) is best for volcanoes; La Gomera (the giant lemon squeezer, 9.4 million years old island) and La Palma are best for hiking in lush forests; La Palma (1.7 million years old island) is best for stargazing.

Reasons to go:

1. Volcanoes
  • Climbing Pico del Teide in Tenerife - highest point in Spain. Permit is required to climb the last 200 meters and see the caldera. This is a great opportunity to smell the volcano that is alive, and to experience the heat of the steam coming out of the cracks in the rocks.
  • Climbing Pico Viejo in Tenerife. Loads of beautiful colours, especially around the “nostrils”.
  • Circular walk around Chinyero volcano following the PR-TF 43 trail. This is the youngest volcano in Tenerife, that last erupted in 1909.
  • Parts of Ruta de los Volcanes in La Palma, geologically the youngest of the islands. A trail paraller to the Ruta de los Volcanes (GR-131) from Refugio El Pilar to Cráter del Hoyo Negro is spectacular, with many calderas, big birds and great pine trees.
  • Caldera de la Laguna in Fuerteventura has been destroyed by mining and hence offers a glimpse of the internal geology of a volcanic cone. A short walk up to the caldera is a museum of colorful rocks and exposed layers.
  • Volcano Bayuyo in Fuerteventura offers a beautiful circular walk around the rim of its caldera. Stunning views of the north part of Fuerteventura.
2. Sand dunes
  • Las Dunas de Maspalomas in Gran Canaria (14.6 million years old island) - a chance to experience tall sand dunes within minutes walk from the city.
  • Parque Natural de Corralejo in Fuerteventura - expansive sand dunes with loads of interesting plants, insects and footprints of diverse wildlife. Some of the sand here is made from shells of marine creatures, it’s white and completely different from what you’ll find in Las Dunas de Maspalomas.
3. Forest hiking
  • Ruta 18 in the Garajonay National Park in La Gomera - a circular trail through different ecosystems. Includes Mirador Del Morro De Agando which has the best view of the whole island.
  • Parque Rural de Anaga in Tenerife. Permits are required for hiking in El Pijaral and Zona de Exclusión de Monte de Aguirre.
  • Bosque de los Tilos in La Palma.
4. Other stuff
  • Stargazing in La Palma with an astronomer and an amature telescope. Especially if you happen to be in La Palma during Perseid or Geminid meteor showers in mid August or mid December respectively. (Not free)
  • Walks from Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma to see different telescopes, including MAGIC (a system of two Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes).
  • Salinas de Fuencaliente - traditional salt works in La Palma.
  • Popcorn beaches in Fuerteventura. They are made from Rhodoliths that are shaped like popcorn. Popcorn Playa (28.75244, -13.89971) is one of these Popcorn beaches.
  • Wave watching in Parque Natural Jandia in Fuerteventura. View from Faro Punta Pesebre (lighthouse) is amazing.
  • Las Lagunitas in Isla de Lobos, just off the coast of Fuerteventura. A fragile salty wetland ecosystem of outstanding beauty. Great for watching birds and insects. A permit to visit might be required, check online. Best to visit on a less busy day.
  • High on my to-visit list are: Lanzarote; The Observatory in La Palma; Los Organos Natural Monument in La Gomera.

Do before you go:

  • Book free hiking permits, if required (see above).
  • Book stargazing in La Palma.

Tips:

  • Don’t miss Miel de Palma (in La Gomera) - it is brewed from Guarapo, the sap of the Gomeran Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis), with no added ingredients. It is dark in colour and tastes like liquid toffee.
  • Sim cards: Orange is better than Movistar. Set aside an hour for queueing and waiting for your sim card to be registered with your passport.
  • Best supermarket chains: Mercadona and HyperDino. Lidl has a good selection of vegetarian stuff too. Some supermarkets don’t allow backpacks inside, but they don’t sell anything edible either.
  • A useful website for island hopping is hellocanaryislands.com.
  • Hiking routes on Canary islands are well marked with colourful stripes of paint.
  • A great local car hire company that might not appear on aggregate websites: Cicar
  • Gas stations that allow to check tyre pressure and top up air for free: Repsol