The best beaches in the Canary Islands for every kind of traveller
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The Canary Islands are a favourite among British travellers, with millions of U.K. tourists heading to these popular Spanish islands each year. The seven-island archipelago is one of the few places that sun-seekers can count on finding warm rays year-round in Europe.
It goes without saying that the best spots to enjoy some Canarian sun are the beaches — and there’s no shortage of sandy shores on these islands. From windblown white sands to a dark volcanic coastline, you can find stunning beaches fit for any traveller, from surfers to families to those that want to enjoy an ice-cold beer while soaking in the sun.
Here are the best beaches in the Canary Islands for your next holiday.
Getting to the Canary Islands
It’s easy to get from the U.K. to the Canary Islands nonstop on a number of air carriers — just note the journey will take between four and five hours, although you won’t have to change time zones.
For those that have a stash of BA Avios, use them to fly nonstop on British Airways to islands like Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. Award redemptions cost 13,750 Avios in Euro Traveller on off-peak dates and 15,250 Avios on peak dates in Euro Traveller. Splurge for Club Europe using 24,250 Avios on off-peak dates and 27,250 Avios on peak dates.
Another option is to fly low-cost from a number of U.K. hubs to islands like Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura via airlines like Tui, Jet2, Wizzair, Ryanair and EasyJet. For those that want to arrive in La Palma, you’ll have to first change plans in Madrid, Gran Canaria or Tenerife. If you want to visit La Gomera or El Hierro, you’ll have to fly from Gran Canaria or Tenerife.
It’s also possible to ferry between some of the islands, and one of the quickest and most popular routes is Tenerife to La Gomera, which takes just under an hour.
Best beaches in Tenerife
Travellers staying north in or near Tenerife‘s capital of Santa Cruz should head to Teresitas, a crescent-shaped golden stretch of sands frequented by both tourists and locals alike. Just beware that the north of the island is often cloudier than the south, but going early in the morning often yields some sun.
In the south of the island, visit the tourist-heavy, white sand beaches of Los Cristianos and Playa del Duque. Surfers and kitesurfers might prefer the windy waves of Médano, or the sand and volcanic rocks of Monte Pelada Beach, a hidden, windblown alternative. For the perfect sunset, consider Guíos Beach, hiding in the shadow of the island’s famed Gigantes cliffs.
Best beaches in Gran Canaria
City dwellers will love the easy access to the white sands of Las Canteras Beach, located right in the island’s capital of Las Palmas. Much further south, skip the massive, touristy beaches of Playa del Inglés and instead head to the iconic sand dunes of Maspalomas. Nearby, Meloneras has all the tourist amenities, but a quieter feel.
Families can enjoy the shallow, child-friendly waters of coves in Gran Canaria like Puerto Rico, Amadores and Mogan. Back up north, they can also dip into the Las Salinas de Agaete, three natural swimming pools separated from the rest of the ocean by volcanic tubes. Agaete’s waters are also apt for divers, which may spot species such as angel, whale or basking sharks. Hikers should start in Tasartico and trek an hour or two down to the remote Güigüi Beach.
Best beaches in Lanzarote
The one beach you absolutely can’t skip when visiting Lanzarote is Playa Papagayo. Located within Los Ajaches Natural Park, you’ll have to pay three euros per car or motorcycle to enter. The beach, flanked by two large cliff plateaus, is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling within its clear turquoise waters.
Surfers should head to Playa Famara, which sits in the shadow of the Peñas del Chache, the highest peak on the island. Expect strong winds and big waves here. Families might prefer Caleton Blanco, full of natural swimming holes and volcanic rock scattered among white sands. Playa Blanca is a long, sandy stretch close to plenty of amenities like bars and restaurants.
Best beaches in Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura is a long island, so it’s best to either stay north or stay south to minimise your time driving and maximise your time beaching. Southern beaches like the white sandy curves of Matorral are ample and breezy, close to lots of restaurants and bars. For something truly off-the-beaten path, go off-road through the Jandia Natural Park until you reach the almost otherworldly Cofete Beach, where empty golden sands connect with reddish volcanic rocks and foamy white waves.
Slightly further north of Jandia and Morro Jable, the Costa Calma has a number of white sand beaches, such as Sotavento. This set of lagoons that ebbs and flows during high and low tides is perfect for teaching little ones how to windsurf for the first time. Up north, the seven-kilometre-long Flag Beach near the resort town of Corralejo is ideal for surfing and kitesurfing. Nearby, El Cotillo mixes white sand with black volcanic rocks for a celestial-like beach experience.
Best beaches in El Hierro
For a family-friendly black-sand adventure, head to Timijiraque, a secluded beach that’s best for swimming during low tide. The reddish sands of El Verodal are a site to see, but watch out for falling rocks and riptides — this beach might be best for adventure buffs.
Snorkelers should visit the La Restinga Marine Reserve, where low winds and currents ensure divers and snorkelers see lots of marine life, including whales, dolphins, parrotfish, barracudas, manta rays and even sharks.
Best beaches in La Palma
Visitors to La Palma shouldn’t expect white sands. The volcanic beaches on this island (known as ‘La Isla Bonita,’ or ‘The Pretty Island’) are dark and exotic, with crashing waves and shimmering black sand and stones. The savage waves of Nogales Beach are a sight to see — surfers, enjoy them at your own risk. Just note you’ll have to carry your board along the cliff path to reach the beach, which includes some spectacular scenery.
For a black sand experience that’s more conducive to sunbathing, swimming and relaxing, visit Tazacorte Beach, which offers beachcombers amenities like restaurants, bars and sun chairs.
Best beaches in La Gomera
The small fishing boats that line the waters of Vueltas Beach in La Gomera are especially quaint, and its calm waters are ideal for swimming or for families with small children. Bohemian types can enjoy the vibe at Playa Del Inglés (a very different ambience from the touristy Playa del Inglés on Gran Canaria), where waves are surprisingly quiet for such a wild cove backed by the La Mérica cliffs. At sunset, don’t be surprised if the beach gets more crowded with families, drum circles and friends ready to relax and enjoy as the sun changes brilliant hues.
For a more isolated beach, visit the dark sands of Negra Beach, where snorkelers can enjoy crystal-clear waters. You can park nearby, but note you’ll still have to walk a little to reach the peaceful sands of this beach.
From long stretches of fine white sand to volcanic black sand coves and beyond, the Canary Islands have beaches best for every traveller. Whether you’re a family looking for all the amenities, travelling as a couple or a surfer looking to catch a wave, the islands have a stretch of sands perfect for your holiday.
(Featured image courtesy of Maya Karkalicheva/Getty Images)
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