The Canary Islands are an ever-popular holiday destination for those seeking fabulous sunshine, sandy beaches and warm, inviting waters. But with six islands to choose from – Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro – which one should you choose?
Baffled by this Canarian selection? Never fear – we have put together a guide outlining which destinations are best for those with specific interests, according to the recommendations we give our clients every day.
For Culture – Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest and one of the most popular of the Canary Islands. While most tourists flock to the beaches of the south coast, we recommend that culture lovers stay in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz. This vibrant port city, which lies on the north east coast at the foot of the Anaga Mountains, is home to a wealth of museums and art galleries.
Carnival Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Every February, Santa Cruz hosts one of the largest carnivals in the world, second only to the world-famous one in Rio de Janeiro. The Carnival Santa Cruz de Tenerife fills the streets of the city with colour, music and fun. Key events include the election of the Carnival Queen and her Announcement Parade, days of feasting and dance, and the traditional burial of a huge paper sardine!
Top tip: as the festivities are often accompanied by alcohol, I recommend that you take advantage of the city’s special public transport schedule so that you don’t need to worry about driving during the Carnival.
Santa Cruz Auditorium
If you’re visiting at any other time of the year, I wouldn’t leave Santa Cruz without checking out the famous Auditorio de Tenerife. This eye-catching modernist building was designed by the controversial architect Santiago Calatrava Valls and was completed in 2003. Its swooping white curved roof is reminiscent of the sea and of Sydney’s famous Opera House.
The Auditorium is home to the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and hosts concerts as a part of the Tenerife Opera Festival every Autumn. Its musical offerings throughout the year are diverse – it’s always worth checking what’s being performed while you’re in Santa Cruz as an excuse to appreciate this incredible building.
For Walking – La Palma & La Gomera
Both La Palma and La Gomera are largely untrampled by tourism – as a result the islands have a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. Hikers and walkers are drawn to their unspoilt natural beauty, from dramatic valleys and thick forests to volcanic landscapes and black pebble beaches.
Walking enthusiasts have raved about the Caldera de Taburiente National Park in La Palma; you can choose from a variety of walks along the towering cliffs of a collapsed volcanic crater. I have seen that the views are spectacularly theatrical – rugged volcanic chasms vie with thick ancient forests and a distant glimpse of the sea.
The tiny island of La Gomera – just 14 miles in diameter – is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, making it a wild paradise for walkers. The Garajonay National Park at its centre is mostly made up of laurisilva forests, or laurel subtropical rainforests, which are often shrouded in mist. It makes a truly magical hiking destination.
Be aware that La Gomera is not as accessible as its Canarian neighbours, with just one tiny local airport. However, there are regular ferry and catamaran services that leave from Los Cristianos on Tenerife, which we can organise for you when you book your holiday.
Top tip: upgrade to a ‘Gold Class’ service on the catamaran to travel to La Gomera in style, with complimentary snacks and beverages to be enjoyed in reclining chairs in a private lounge.
For Golf – Gran Canaria
If you’re an avid golfer searching for a luxury holiday destination, I would highly recommend focusing your efforts on Maspalomas in Gran Canaria. The island boasts 10 excellent courses designed by top architects, three of which are situated on the south coast at Maspalomas.
Our clients often comment on the friendliness of the staff who run this 18-hole golf course. Although it is relatively flat with long, wide fairways, there are still enough challenges to entertain all levels of proficiency; it would be the perfect place for parties with mixed abilities to play together. What’s more, the course is surrounded by the dunes of a 400-acre nature reserve.
Top tip: if you’re feeling fit, there’s no need to hire a buggy – it isn’t too challenging to walk the five or so miles round the course.
Salobre Old and New
There are two first-class courses at the Salobre Golf Resort, making it the only resort in the Canaries with 36 holes. With a club fitting performance centre and a large practice area, it offers everything you might need in one place.
While the Old Course, designed in 1999 by Roland Favré, is a great choice for players of all standards, the unique design of the New Course makes it more demanding and technical for those who like a challenge.
Top tip: Staying at the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort? Let us know if you’re looking to indulge in some golf, as we can offer you some excellent packages.