Lucky Islands: Which is the Best Canary Island for You?
The Canary Islands, often referred to as the "Lucky Islands," are a diverse and enchanting archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. Each island has its unique charm, landscapes, and experiences. Whether you're an adventurer seeking thrilling escapades, a nature lover yearning for pristine landscapes, or a traveler looking for a serene getaway, there's a Canary Island just for you. In our "The Other Canaries" series, we delve into the heart of each island, sharing our explorations and insights. Let's embark on a journey to discover which Canary Island resonates with your wanderlust spirit.
As we often like to repeat, one of the best perks about living in Lanzarote is how easy it is to jump on an internal flight and spend a weekend or some days off exploring a sister island. And every time, it is a surprise...
The Canary Islands, often referred to as the "Lucky Islands," are a diverse and enchanting archipelago united by perfect all-year-round weather. They spread off the northwest coast of Africa, in the volcanic Macaronesian area -- which includes the Canaries (an autonomous community of Spain), Cape Verde (an independent African State), the Azores and Madeira (both under Portuguese government). Each island of the Canarian archipelago boasts its unique charm, landscapes, and experiences. Whether you're an adventurer seeking thrilling escapades, a nature lover yearning for pristine landscapes, or a traveler looking for a serene getaway, there's a Canary Island just for you. In our "The Other Canaries" series, we delve into the heart of each island, sharing our explorations and insights. Let's embark on a journey to discover which Canary Island resonates with your wanderlust spirit.
1. Lanzarote: The Volcanic Wonderland
Lanzarote, often dubbed the Island of 100 Volcanoes or the Island of Fire, is a masterpiece of nature's raw power and beauty. Its lunar landscapes, dotted with craters and lava tubes -- its unexpected colors -- transport visitors to another world. But it's not just about the volcanoes; Lanzarote boasts pristine, black and white beaches with crystal-clear water -- often just for you -- with rich sea-life and bizarre formations. Lanzarote is also dubbed the European Hawaii (yes, Lanzarote has many nicknames!), considering this is arguably the best Atlantic destination for surfing, with people from all the world coming to challenge its famous waves. Moreover, the artistic legacy of César Manrique blends harmoniously with the island's natural beauty.
The whole island was declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993.
2. Gran Canaria: A Miniature Continent
Gran Canaria is a mosaic of terrains and climates, earning it the title of a Miniature Continent. From the sweeping Maspalomas dunes to the alpine forests of Tamadaba and the wild rocky canyons and cliffs of the west, the island offers a bit of everything. Its capital, Las Palmas, is a bustling city with a rich history, vibrant nightlife and many events, and the iconic urban beach of Las Canteras. Las Palmas is also well-known as, in 1996, the climatologist Thomas Whitmore of Syracuse University published his "Pleasant Weather Ratings," declaring Gran Canaria's capital the city with the best climate in the world. Inland, picturesque villages like Artenara offer a taste of the island's gastronomy and a glimpse at its traditions -- including casa cuevas (cave houses) dating back to the aboriginal which are still lived-in.
About half the territory of Gran Canaria is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2005.
3. Tenerife: The Island of Eternal Spring
Home to Spain's highest peak, Mount Teide -- a majestic snow-covered volcano in the middle of the Ocean, over 3,700 meters high -- Tenerife is an island of stark contrasts. Its sun-soaked southern beaches draw sunbathers and crowds from all over the world, while its lush Anaga mountains attract hikers and nature lovers. The island's rich history is evident in cities like La Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its festivals, like the renowned Carnival of Santa Cruz, showcase its deep culture.
The Macizo de Anaga mountains became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2015.
4. Fuerteventura: The Windswept Beauty
Fuerteventura, with endless golden beaches and turquoise waters, is a real paradise for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts. The island's famous strong winds make it a hotspot for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Inland, its ancient volcanic landscapes, traditional villages, and delicious goat cheese offer a different kind of allure. Its desert-like landscape, with unique flora and fauna, reminisces of nearby Sahara, which is only 100 kilometers to the East and can be felt, hypnotic, in the air.
The whole island was declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2009.
5. La Palma: The Green Island
La Palma, known as La Isla Bonita (The Beautiful Island) is a verdant gem in the archipelago. Its jungle-like laurel forests, cascading waterfalls, and rugged, vertigo-inducing peaks make it a hiker's dream. The south-western side is blackened by active volcanoes, like Cumbre Vieja, whose last eruption in 2021 redrew 1,000 hectares of the coast. Secretive bays and coves, not always easy to reach but always worth it, host bustling sea-life. The island's clear skies also make it one of the world's best stargazing spots, with the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory offering unparalleled views of the cosmos and drawing both romantic star-lovers and academic researchers from all over the world.
The whole island was designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002.
6. El Hierro: The Enchanted Isle
El Hierro, the westernmost and second smallest of the Canary Islands, is a place of legends and mystery. Often referred to as the Meridian Island, it was once considered the end of the known world. Its rugged basalt coastline, ancient pine, juniper and laurel forests, and underwater volcanic formations make it a haven for adventurers and divers. The island's commitment to sustainability is evident in its renewable energy projects, and its tranquil villages, like Valverde and Frontera, exude a timeless charm.
The whole island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000.
7. La Gomera: The Whispering Island
La Gomera is an island of deep ravines, misty forests, and ancient traditions. It's home to the Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the laurisilva forest whispers tales primordial. The island's unique whistling language, "Silbo Gomero", echoes through its valleys. From the black sand beaches of Valle Gran Rey to the historic Torre del Conde in San Sebastián, La Gomera offers a journey back in time.
The whole island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2012.
8. La Graciosa: The Ultimate Escape
La Graciosa, the newest Canary Island (it has been there for a while, of course, but it was politically part of Lanzarote until 2018), is a sandy oasis free from any kind of hustle and bustle. With no paved roads, the island's sandy streets and unbelievably stunning beaches (we mean it: you won't believe your eyes), like Playa de Las Conchas, offer the ultimate escape for hikers and mountain bikers. A part of the Chinijo Archipelago, La Graciosa is a haven for marine life, making it a popular spot for diving and snorkeling. The island's laid-back vibe, fishing village atmosphere, and spectacular sunsets make it a dreamy destination for those seeking tranquility.
The whole island, as well as the Chinijo Archipelago of which La Graciosa is part, was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2009.
So... which of the Canaries does attract you the most?
The Canary Islands, with their diverse landscapes and unique experiences, promise unforgettable memories for every traveler. Whether you're drawn to the volcanic terrains of Lanzarote, the verdant forests of La Palma, or the unending beaches of Fuerteventura, there's an island calling out to you. Dive deeper into our "The Other Canaries" series and let the Lucky Islands enchant you.
The Other Canaries
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