Winter Warmers: the Canary Islands

It’s one of the most popular timeshare destinations in the world, and if December temperatures of 27C sound too good to be true, they’re not! While most of Britain froze in a cold snap earlier this month, Tenerife temps are clinging to the mid to high twenties this week.

If you’ve booked a timeshare holiday there this winter, GoTimeshare takes a look at the special flavour of each of the Canary Islands, from popular Tenerife to laid back paradise Fuerteventura.

Gran Canaria

With its quaint, untouched villages, historic quarters and very diverse scenery, Gran Canaria is a safe bet for a relaxing break with plenty of winter sunshine. But don’t just stick to the beaches, hire a car and head out to the hills and discover the farmlands of Tejeda and Artenara. They’ll feel like another world, lost in time. If you’re a keen gardner you’ll want to squeeze in a visit to the Botanic Gardens in Las Palmas, too.

Don’t miss the old quarter of Vegueta – it’s a lovely place to explore and a great place for dinner. Or grab a sunbed with your name on it at Playa Amadores, one of the island’s best beaches and think of everyone back in the office while you work on that mid winter tan.

Tenerife

Timeshare and Tenerife have become synonymous and the choice of timeshares on this island is excellent. It’s the largest and most populated island in the Canaries group, best known for its bars and beaches but there’s quite a bit more to explore including Santa Cruz with its shops, art scene and well known archaeological museum. If you’re lucky you’ll have booked your break when a big name in music is passing through as lots of pop, rock, jazz and classical artists perform at the Tenerife Auditorium when they’re touring Europe.

Mount Teide National Park, Spain’s highest peak has become the natural symbol of this island and the landscape is really quite extraordinary. The volcanic scenery and forests make parts of the island feel like a film set set designed and directed by Mother Nature.

Fuerteventura

For a dose of boho chic or if you just want to get away from everything, head for the laid back island, Fuerteventura. The perfect backdrop for a swimwear shoot – think turquoise sea and white sand (and black in some places) – it’s very relaxed but pretty windy. Loved by windsurfers, it has a very chilled surf destination feel to it and although there’s less to do here than on Gran Canaria and Tenerife, that’s the whole point. Nightlife can be surprisingly lively at night (there are even a couple of casinos) and if you’re after clear, crystal water and beautiful beaches but have never been, this might be the island to visit next time – its natural, desert-like landscape around Puerto del Rosario will remind you that you’re not far from the south of Morocco and the climate will, too.

El Hierro

Mention El Hierro to most people and they’ll often draw a blank. Meet the Canary Islands’ most remote island, worth the journey across for a day.

El Hierro is known for its great local wines and the fresh fruit and vegetables are so plentiful you’ll think you’re in the tropics. Bananas, figs, grapes, pineapples, avocados and cactus fruit (which is edible) all grow in abundance and the best place to taste them is at, and you can sample the rest of the local cuisine at Frontera. La Restinga has some good fresh fish restaurants, best enjoyed with a bottle of the local wine. Wine connoisseurs say the secret is in the volcanic ash which is used to fertilize the grapes.

La Graciosa

La Graciosa’s glorious, untouched beaches are straight out of paradise (when you see the island you’ll believe it was once a pirates’ hideout). More difficult to get to in winter, regular ferries run from Lanzarote to La Graciosa in summer and it really is an idyllic escape for the day. Spot of lunch? The harbour restaurants have the freshest seafood around.

Lanzarote

Sometimes called “The Switzerland of the Canaries” because of all the neatly built whitewashed houses, eco measures and building restrictions, Lanzarote is another British favourite.

Make your first culture stop the Cesar Manrique Foundation – Manrique is Lanzarote’s Salvador Dali and like Dali he was an artist and an architect. The foundation, interestingly, is builton the site of a volcano that erupted in the 18th century, and since it was built it has become an iconic cultural symbol. Manrique’s work is bold, colourful and beautiful, and this place is definitely not to be missed! Get up at a decent hour on Sunday morning to catch the market in Teguise – it’s the place to pick up charming artisan-designed souvenirs and lots of local products.

La Palma

Not to be confused with Mallorca’s capital, Palma, this rugged little island is full of character. It’s a heaven sent for cyclists and hikers and adventurous drivers because the dramatic landscape spans forests, volcanic craters and craggy coastlines.

One of La Palma’s best points is its beaches. Take Puerto Naos – 500m of black sandy beach backed by row upon row of palm trees for some much-needed natural shade, it’s one of the island’s best.

La Gomera

Those looking for peace and relaxation go to La Gomera. Best known for its eco-rural lifestyle, natural beauty, fabulous fresh food and laid back nightlife, it has loads to offer although its beaches are not really its strong point. Catch a ferry (the ride takes about an hour) from Los Cristianos in Tenerife and arrive in time for lunch at one of the island’s “cave-style” fish restaurants in charming Playa de Santiago, the perfect spot to sit and just watch the world go by.

Where to stay?

Club La Costa, Holiday Club Resorts, Petchey Leisure, Silverpoint and many other luxury timeshare specialists members have resorts in the Canary Islands, and there’s a particularly wide choice of accommodations in Tenerife, the most popular island with British timeshare owners. You can also exchange into one of the holiday resorts with RCI or Interval International. Please visit www.RCI.com and www.intervalworld.com for more information.

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