Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Tenerife. Without a doubt, you have heard those names before, as they are the three most famous of the Canary Islands - a dream vacation destination for anyone loving sunny weather, sandy beaches, and diverse wildlife. But did you know that in actuality, there are seven of those islands in total? While La Gomera, La Palma, El Hierro, and Fuerteventura are definitely less renowned than the previous three, they are definitely just as worth visiting. However, since the Canary Islands are a widely diverse place, choosing what to do can be quite overwhelming. That is why we have prepared this Top 10 Things to Do on the Canary Islands, Spain list, as we hope it helps you have the best of times during your stay on those beautiful islands.
While at the Canary Islands, one of the must-things for most tourists is snorkeling in the crystal-clear water along the coastline. This will allow you to take a sneak peek at the vibrant underwater life, and, with a bit of luck, you may even get the chance to observe dolphins and sea turtles in their natural habitat. Xplore Tenerife provides just that sort of entertainment, if you happen to be visiting the island of Tenerife. The course also includes a kayaking session and is appropriate for people of all skill levels, as a professional guide will supervise your adventure. The tour takes two and a half hours, and if fortune allows, the dolphins may even decide to put up a show, as they tend to frequently show off in front of tourists by jumping very high into the air!
Nature life is a big part of the Canary Islands’ charm and the Teide National Park is a perfect example of that. If you are staying on or planning to visit the island of Tenerife, make sure to take a walk through this amazing reservation. Inside the national park, you will find Volcan El Teide, which is the highest point above sea level not only in Spain, but in all of the islands of the Atlantic. The volcano spans an enormous 12,198 feet of height and is considered by both NASA and UNESCO as Earth's third tallest volcano. While the volcano has not erupted since 1909, it is still considered an active volcano, adding a bit of thrill to the sightseeing. Coming back to the Teide National Park, which has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is the most visited national park in all of Europe, and eighth most visited in the entire world, definitely confirming its status as a must-see!
Switching our attention for now to the isle of Lanzarote, we have yet another national park to recommend to you. While Teide National Park triumphs in popularity, the Timanfaya National Park has a way more unique landscape than the former. Being a long stretch of volcanic wasteland, the barren and desolate surroundings look as if taken from a post-apocalyptic movie, or even from Mars or the Moon! Timanfaya is probably as close you can get to leaving our planet, without actually becoming an astronaut. The park’s ecosystem is beautiful and diverse, even deemed as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, so remember there are strict rules when it comes to visiting. However, being on your best behavior will be well worth it, as you’ll be able to see some of the over 200 species exclusive to this region!
While the Timanfaya is definitely unique and worth-seeing, its desolate nature may bring you down, and there is no better place to restore your good humor than the Cocodrilo Park in Gran Canaria. The park is the only animal rescue center in all of the Canary Islands and is home to hundreds upon hundreds of animals who have been rescued by individuals, organizations, and even governments. Some of the animals have been horribly abused in the past, but have now found a new, happier home within the premises of the Cocodrilo Park, restoring at least some hope for humanity. The park features a number of different animal shows and feeding shows and is large enough to take a couple of hours to see in its entirety. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even get to hold a snake or a baby crocodile in your hands!
If you happen to be visiting the island of La Gomera, one of the lesser-known isles of the Canaries, make sure to thoroughly sightsee this little gem. Hermigua is an especially picturesque section of La Gomera, filled with lush ravines sprawled with greenery. Moreover, there is a number of gorgeous tiny villages sprinkled through the region, often situated on steep terrain which gives them a very unique look. When visiting Hermigua, don’t forget about the Roques de San Pedro - a magnificent set of two rocks facing one another, creating a pass between them and making for a wonderful natural site. After a long day of sightseeing, make sure to head onto the Hermigua beach for a swim or a kayaking lesson, but be mindful of the rather strong tides surrounding the island!
Hermigue is not the only place worth seeing when visiting La Gomera. El Monumento Natural de Los Roques is located virtually right in the center of the island, sprawling high above the landscape. The rock is pointing upwards from one of the hills over the mountainous area, and is perfectly visible from the road, so you do not actually have to prep your hiking gear and get on top of it (which might be quite dangerous!). With tons of canyons and pristine mountains, untouched by humans, the drive makes for a very unique, tranquil experience. Moreover, if you get lucky, you might hear some of the Silbo Gomero language. It was devised by the locals and consists of whistles, which due to the unique terrain, can be heard over distances of up to 3 miles and was used as an early means of long-distance communication.
Switching our attention to the isle of El Hierro, one of the lesser-known islands of the Canaries, Charco Azul is a picturesque bathing pool located in a volcanic area. The unique landscape of this area, named the valley of El Golfo, gives this pool quite a romantic vibe, especially when visited late. Just imagine swimming with your significant other with the moon reflected from the turquoise water - there is no better setup for a perfect date! After a long swim, we recommend visiting La Cantina el Charco Azul, which is a cozy bar placed right at the foot of Charco Azul. It is a great place to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, but the bar also serves some of the greatest local fish specialties in the area, all the while providing gorgeous views over the sprawling sea.
If you are a fan of white sand, the sand dunes of Fuerteventura will definitely be of interest to you. The dunes stretch as far as the eye can see, going on for miles in every direction, perfect for those with the soul of an explorer and are exactly what’s most important about the beauty of the Canary Islands - they are a part of the islands’ diversity. In just a single day you can hike over mountainous stretches of forest-covered hills, take a swim in crystal-clear seawater, discover the tradition of the forefathers of the Canaries’ locals, walk through a desolate volcanic wasteland, and explore endless sand dunes. Coming back to the dunes, as you head on further inland, you may notice some interesting sights, such as farms with old-fashioned windmills and bronze-green valleys cutting hillsides in two.
This attraction is probably something you are very unlikely to have seen in the past - an ecological aloe vera plantation. Not only will you be able to get a thirty-minute tour with a guide over the premises of the plantation, but you can do it for absolutely free! The knowledgeable guide will tell you all about the 5000 years old history of aloe vera usage and you will be able to cut and taste aloe vera for yourself, as well as the products made from the gel inside the plant. The plantation itself features over 2000 aloe vera plants, along with some olive trees, cactus figs, and even a vineyard, all located at the foot of De La Arena - a volcano placed next to the town of La Oliva. After your tour, we recommend relaxing at the Aloe-Therapy Center, which features massages and treatments using freshly harvested aloe vera.
A true visit to the Canary Islands cannot be finished without taking a trip to one of the most popular beaches of the region - Playa de Las Canteras, located on the island of Gran Canaria, in the famous city of Las Palmas. The beach is an excellent place for sunbathing and swimming, as the sun is always shining and the water is warm. We recommend taking a walk along the beach promenade, which features countless restaurants and eateries, along with pubs and bars to grab a drink. The beach is also long enough that you should be able to find a place for yourself without a struggle, but do take into consideration that being one of the most popular beaches of the whole Canaries, Playa de Las Canteras can be sometimes quite crowded, especially in high season. If you happen to find yourself in such an event, we recommend taking a shopping trip through the beaming city of Las Palmas.