Spread out in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Africa, the Canary Islands in general and Tenerife in particular are known as popular destinations for fun holidays in the sun. There’s a lot more to these sun-drenched islands than the obvious vacation package, though.
Action and adventure activities and a very distinctive Canarian culture are everywhere, with lush pine forests, hidden coves, lunar landscapes and even the strange volcano providing a spectacular backdrop for those venturing off the coastal tourist crowds.
Thanks to its varied landscapes and year-round sunshine, the Canary Islands are tailor-made for outdoor activities. Exploring the many hiking trails that cross each of the islands is extremely popular and the hikes range from walking along easy winding paths or, for the more hardy among us, to arduous mountain hikes.
The coastline around the islands is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving to admire more than 350 species of fish. Lucky divers can catch a glimpse of the endangered loggerhead turtle that inhabits the waters around the Canary Islands! The surrounding sea is also ideal for high-octane water sports, especially all forms of surfing, including windsurfing or kitesurfing. If you are looking for a more gentle activity, camel rides, golf and boat trips are offered on all the islands.
If it is more of a spectator sport that you are looking for, watch a match of “Lucha Canaria”. This form of struggle specific to the Canary Islands dates back to the 1400s. these competitions are usually held at local parties and festivals.
Their literal volcanic foundations have created the spectacular and wide landscape of the island, including the iconic black gravel sand beaches with the longest beach, El Medano, which stretches for two kilometers along the coast of Tenerife. There is subtropical vegetation in the national parks, pine-forested mountain peaks in the interior and crystal-clear waterfalls, especially in La Palma, to discover.
For a lunar experience here on earth, leave all this lush greenery behind and visit Tenerife’s Mount Teide, the third largest volcano in the world, in the middle of arid plains and casting the largest marine shadow in the world!
Art and architecture
There is something to satisfy the vultures of culture in the Canary Islands. Surrealists will love to visit Oscar Dominguez’s house and see his paintings in his hometown of Santa Cruz in Tenerife. Gran Canaria and Lanzarote also have huge abstract sculptures by Martin Chirino and Cesar Manrique that are impossible to miss and most of the islands have their own cultural centers with a variety of programs and exhibitions.
From an architectural point of view, brightly painted facades, characteristic wooden balconies and shaded and beautifully leafy interior patios characterize the Canarian architecture. For an unusual architectural experience, Siam Park in Tenerife offers a unique opportunity to cool off in the features of the water park while admiring the largest Thai building in the world outside Asia.
There are so many things in the Canary Islands that go far beyond the reputation of package holidays: picturesque villages, natural wonders, a specific history and special traditions… the list is long! Whether it’s hiking in the lava fields, exploring the central mountains or swimming in search of endangered turtles, there are many special experiences to be had on these remarkable islands, especially if you are on holiday in Tenerife.