Chasing the Summer Sun: Canary Islands Spotlight

As autumn settles in across Europe and the summer sun sets on most Mediterranean destinations, there’s one group of islands you can count on for warm winter season sun…

It’s that time of year when winter sun options in Europe start to diminish, but there’s one group of islands where the temperatures hover nicely in the 20s and sunshine is virtually guaranteed – the Canary Islands.

Just off Morocco’s Atlantic coast, the islands may be classed as a group but they’re surprisingly diverse. From Lanzarote’s surreal lunar landscape to the most remote island, El Hierro, GoTimeshare spotlights those timeshare favourites, the sun-kissed “Canaries”.

Gran Canaria

Charming villages, old historic quarters, sand dunes, gardens and mountains…Gran Canaria has it all. The rural interior is wonderfully untouched so it’s worth renting a car and heading out into the hills to explore the farmlands of Tejeda and Artenara; there’s plenty of time to explore before returning to base for sunset cocktails before dinner. Also worth a visit are the Botanic Gardens in Las Palmas, where the enormous variety of flora and fauna the islands are known for are all on show.

Don’t miss: Dinner in the old quarter of Vegueta, for a real taste of the island. Or grab a sunbed on the island’s famous Playa Amadores beach and finish that paperback while working on your tan.

Tenerife

Tenerife is Spain’s largest and most populated island when you count the number of residents and tourists combined, and some of the most popular timeshare resorts are based here. Best known for its bars and beaches, it offers much more to those who take the time to really explore it. Santa Cruz for example is worth a trip for its shops, art scene and archaeological museum, and if you want to catch some of pop, rock, jazz and classical’s big names performing live, check what’s on at the Tenerife Auditorium while you’re there.

Don’t miss: Mount Teide National Park is – perhaps surprisingly – Spain’s highest peak. Steeped in volcanic scenery and forests, the whole area feels a bit like a surreal but wonderful film set designed by Mother Nature.

Fuerteventura

A popular island for fashion shoots and the island that lets you get away from it all, Fuerteventura is “the quiet island”. Turquoise sea, white sand (which is black in parts) and strong Atlantic winds give Fuerteventura its laid back surf spot feel – this is windsurf central. If you’re looking for lots of lively nightlife and love the hustle and bustle of Tenerife, there’s less to do here – but that’s the point, although there’s still plenty to do at night (there are even a couple of casinos), it just has a much more laid back feel. For golfers there’s the popular 18-hole course in La Caleta.

Don’t miss: The beauty of its desert-like landscape around Puerto del Rosario which will remind you that when you think about it, you’re really not that far away from the Western Sahara south of Morocco.

El Hierro

Few holidaymakers make it to El Hierro as it’s not that easy to get to, although it is worth the journey. This is the most remote island within the Canary Islands group. Rich in marine life and wildlife, it also produces the best wine and fresh fruit and veg for miles around – and in abundance! Bananas, figs, grapes, pineapples, avocados and spiky, edible cactus fruit all grow here and you can sample some of the best local cuisine at Frontera. La Restinga also has some good fresh fish restaurants.

Don’t miss: A glass or two of the local wine – the secret to its unique taste, they say, lies in the volcanic ash which fertilises the vines.

La Graciosa

This is the secret island most tourists haven’t heard of, let alone ever get to see. La Graciosa’s untouched beaches are straight out of a lost-in-paradise film and to get to see them, regular ferries run from Lanzarote to La Graciosa (although only in summer). This island is a lovely escape for the day, and worth the trip.
Don’t miss: A stroll into the harbour for the freshest seafood lunch around.

Lanzarote

Sometimes called “The Switzerland of the Canaries” because of its neatly dotted whitewashed houses, eco measures and building restrictions, one of the first stops on this island as part of a sightseeing plan should be the famous Cesar Manrique Foundation.

Manrique is Lanzarote’s Salvador Dali. Like Dali, he was an artist as well as an architect and his bold, colourful work and stark white architecture have almost become part of Lanzarote’s soul. And very fittingly, the foundation is built on the site of an 18th century volcanic eruption. Don’t expect fine white sand beaches, though – Lanzarote’s black beaches are just one of the things that make the island special.

Don’t miss: The Sunday morning market in Teguise – it’s the place to go to pick up bric-a-brac, souvenirs and traditional local products.

La Palma

Not to be confused with Mallorca’s capital of the same name, Palma in the Canaries is a little island sent from heaven for cyclists and hikers. The dramatic landscape spans forests, volcanic craters and craggy coastline so the views are always different, always breathtaking.

Don’t miss: Could Puerto Naos be La Palma’s most perfect beach? Visit it and see! It’s a whole 500m of lovely black sandy beach backed by palm trees providing natural shade, one of the best.

La Gomera

This is the island with the “eco” tag. The party crowd gives this island a miss because it’s best known for its eco-rural lifestyle, natural beauty, fabulous fresh food and low key nightlife. The beaches are not its strong point but there’s something special about its relaxed and close-to-nature feel. La Gomera is reachable by ferry (between 40 mins to about an hour depending on the boat) from Los Cristianos in Tenerife.

Don’t miss: A meal at one of the “cave-style” restaurants in charming Playa de Santiago as you tuck into a plate of freshly grilled fish, a glass of local wine and just sit back and watch the world go by.

Timeshare specialists with resorts in the Canary Islands include Club La Costa, Silverpoint and Petchey Leisure and for more information on holiday exchanges at resorts in Tenerife and Gran Canaria, visit www.RCI.com and Interval International’s website at www.IntervalWorld.com

For more information please visit the official Canary Islands tourist board website www.turismodecanarias.com/canary-islands-spain

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