Destination Spotlight April: The Canary Islands

April’s destination of the month is the unique island archipelago that’s all things to all people. Technically Spanish but within striking distance of north-west Africa, it’s impossible to tire of these vastly varied holiday hotspots. From big-hitter Tenerife to the hidden gem islands of La Gomera and El Hierro, we look at what makes the Canary Islands deserving holiday favourites.

Why Go

The Canary Islands are one of the few short haul destinations where you can pretty much guarantee good weather in April – with warm, sunny days, little rainfall and average highs of around 24 degrees. This makes them an excellent choice for an Easter escape, whether that’s a Bank Holiday break or a two week family holiday. Each island has its own distinct personality, with fun attractions for kids, cultured capitals, buzzing resorts and remote hideaways. What really sets the Canary Islands apart, however, is the spectacular landscapes they boast, from volcanic craters, desert dunes, pine forests and craggy mountains, to sandy beaches ranging from jet black to talcum-powder white.

Where To Go

#1 Tenerife

The largest and most popular of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a real crown-pleaser with something for everyone. The upmarket resort of Costa Adeje offers boutique shopping, cocktail bars and luxury hotels, while Playa de las Americas is the Canaries’ let-your-hair-down lively resort. The capital, Santa Cruz, combines beach and city break, and the vast Mount Teide National Park is a must for active travellers who want to conquer the island’s volcanic heart. Families especially love the Loro Parque animal attractions and Siam Park, which is one of the best waterparks in the world.

#2 Fuerteventura

Probably the most unspoilt of the four larger islands, Fuerteventura boasts beautiful pale-sand beaches along its east coast from Corralejo in the north to Jandia, Costa Calma and Morro Jable in the south. Strong winds make it a haven for surfers and watersports enthusiasts, while a scenic drive through the desert-like centre will take you past tiny hamlets, basalt hills and arid plains that stretch for miles.

#3 Gran Canaria

This island is known for being a ‘continent in miniature’ with landscapes varying wildly from its leafy north to its sandy south – with towering mountains sandwiched in the middle. Maspalomas on the south coast draws crowds for its incredible rolling sand dunes, with near neighbours Playa del Ingles and Meloneras basking in their reflected glory. At the opposite end of the island, capital city Las Palmas is a colourful, cosmopolitan culture hub sitting on a swathe of sandy beach.

#4 Lanzarote

Lanzarote attracts a family crowd to resorts like lively Puerto del Carmen and the more relaxed, sophisticated Playa Blanca. Between them sits pretty Puerto Calero, which boasts a smart marina and an exclusive feel. Of course, the island’s huge Timanfaya National Park makes it an exciting prospect for hikers and explorers. While lovers of art and architecture will be charmed by the work of local artist, César Manrique, which is integrated into the island landscape – including the Mirador del Rio viewpoint carved into the Risco de Famara cliffs on the northern coastline.

#5 La Palma, La Gomera or El Hierro

While each island has its quieter spots, if you’re looking for a truly off the beaten track Canaries experience you should consider La Palma (known locally as ‘the pretty island’), La Gomera or El Hierro. These smaller islands are the least visited, and so it follows that they’re less tarnished by tourism. Choose one of this tiny trio, and you’ll switch sprawling resorts for traditional guest houses, and can spend your holiday roaming the unspoilt landscapes, charming towns, hiking trails and pretty parks.

What To Do

#1 Brave the Volcanoes

The Canary Islands are dotted with volcanoes which have created unique landscapes ripe for exploration. Mount Teide in Tenerife is the third highest in the world and the national park that surrounds it has an expansive network of trails for visitors to tackle. It’s a similar story on Lanzarote, where the Timanfaya National Park boasts an almost lunar-like cratered landscape that can be tackled on foot, on a coach tour or even on camel back!

#2 Find your Favourite Beach

The Canary Islands are a beach lover’s paradise, with a mix of soft white sands, dramatic black sand beaches and even golden sands shipped in from the Sahara. The Fuerteventura coastline is known for having the best beaches in the entire Canaries archipelago, including endless soft sand stretches at popular Corralejo and the resorts lined-up along the island’s southernmost finger. For lesser known beaches with gleaming white sands and black rock lava lagoons, head to El Cotillo and Los Lagos in the north-west. On Tenerife, the Saharan-sand Playa de las Teresitas beach in Santa Cruz is overlooked by a pretty hillside fishing village and the soaring Anaga mountains, while the wave-like sand dunes at Maspalomas are a must see in Gran Canaria.

#3 Meet the Animals

There are some fantastic animal attractions on the larger Canary Islands, which offer great days out for all ages. At popular Loro Parque in Tenerife, you can see everything from dolphins and orcas to white tigers and, of course, thousands of colourful parrots (or ‘loros’). At Palmitos Park in Gran Canaria, you can swim with dolphins, walk through the biggest butterfly house in Europe and watch the orang-utans on Primates Island. And the Rancho Texas Animal Park in Lanzarote combines animal interactions and shows with a lovely pool.

#4 Island Hop

Why limit yourself to just one Canary Island when you can hop between them? All seven main islands are connected by ferry services, with some crossings – Lanzarote to Fuerteventura, and Tenerife to La Gomera or Gran Canaria, for example – taking under an hour. If you wish to travel between islands that aren’t immediate neighbours, air travel may be quicker and more convenient. At Destina, we can tailor-make your Canary Island package to allow you to explore as many islands as you like.

Where To Stay

#1 Las Villas Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque, Costa Adeje, Tenerife

If you’re looking for pure luxury, then this exclusive resort hotel is well worth considering. Each stunning villa features its own private pool and sumptuous, contemporary decoration for a very comfortable VIP-style stay. However, the beauty of this hotel is that you also have all the hotel facilities, including a large pool, spa, tennis courts and lots more sports facilities, eight restaurants and a mini club for kids, at your disposal.

#2 Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real, Corralejo, Fuerteventura

This palatial hotel sits directly on the sands bordering Corralejo’s natural sand dunes. It’s a large, elegant hotel with every facility you could wish for, including a well-appointed spa, two pools, kids’ mini-club, and a chill-out area on the beach. It’s walking distance to the centre of popular Corralejo, and there’s a daily courtesy bus to the dunes.

#3 Lopesan Villa del Conde Resort & Corallium Thalasso, Meloneras, Gran Canaria

This colourful hotel has been designed in traditional Canarian village style, complete with a replica of one of Gran Canaria’s most ancient domed churches as its lobby. This impressive complex set amongst sub-tropical gardens is an excellent choice for those who like plenty to do on the doorstep – it has five pools, a floodlit tennis court and a thalassotherapy centre. Discounted green fees and complimentary transfers are offered to nearby golf courses, and you’re a mere promenade stroll away from the famous dunes too.

#4 Hotel The Volcan Lanzarote, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Over on Lanzarote, this hotel has also been designed in the style of a Canarian village, with whitewashed villas, its own little plazas, and a replica old Teguise church at its entrance. Overlooking the pretty Marina Rubicon, it’s perfectly located in an upmarket location close to the popular resort of Playa Blanca.

#5 Dona Arminda, Mazo, La Palma

This rural hotel, beautifully located among banana plantations, has just six rooms leading off from a central courtyard, giving it a cosy home from home feel. With traditionally furnished rooms, pool, and fantastic views over the surrounding countryside and out to sea, it’s a hidden gem in La Palma.

#6 Parador de la Gomera, San Sebastian, La Gomera

Set in lush clifftop gardens overlooking the pocket-sized capital city of San Sebastian, this hotel boasts stunning views all the way across the sea to Tenerife. If you’re looking for somewhere with charm and character, this small hotel, complete with pool and restaurant, could be the one.

What To Eat

Canary Island cuisine has a Spanish vibe with paellas and tapas found on every corner. However, it also takes influence from near neighbour South Africa, and South America across the Atlantic. The South American dish Papas Arrugadas (‘wrinkled’ salted potatoes with sauce) is a must try. Naturally, there are plenty of deliciously light fish dishes to be found on each island too. If you’re visiting one of the smaller islands be sure to try the traditional desserts – Bienmesabe in La Palma, Galletas Gomeras biscuits in La Gomera and sweet cheesecake style Quesadilla Herrena in El Hierro.

Key Facts

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Language: Spanish

Flight Time: Approx 4 hours

When To Go: Year-round sunshine makes the Canary Islands an ideal choice for out of season holidays, when the crowds have dispersed a little. Warm winters can see the temperature gauge hover around the 20 degrees mark, although you might want to choose a hotel with a heated pool and pack some light layers for the evenings.  April sees average highs of 24 degrees – the perfect temperature for those who love the sunshine but don’t want to worry about it being blazingly hot.

Health and Safety: There are no specific vaccinations required for holidays to the Canary Islands and the EHIC card entitling you to free emergency medical care is valid.

Passports and Visas: There are no visa requirements for entry to the Canary Islands – you just need your passport.

Your personal travel consultant at Destina can help plan your dream Canary Island holiday with pleasure. The only difficult part will be deciding which island to choose!