Since the age of 18, when I got my first real taste on independent travel, I’ve been somewhat of a travel snob. Even the mention of a package holiday would have made me stick my nose up at the offender and perhaps even roll my eyes in some sort of ridiculously dramatic way. For many Irish and UK travellers, the Canary Islands off the North West coast of the African continent has always been a very popular holiday destination. Places like Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria are best known for their great weather and make the perfect winter sun destinations. Tenerife flights are also known to be very reasonable, and you can easily find budget flights to many of the other islands as well.
A few years back, while working full time in Ireland (as opposed to a life on the road as a travel blogger!) I decided to bite the bullet and book a week in the Canary Islands. It was one of the best travel decisions I made that year and was the perfect solution to what I was looking for. It was the middle of a very long, and harsh, Irish winter. My birthday had just passed and I would have done anything to get a bit of sunshine, have some delicious food and hopefully not spend an arm and a leg.
While I chose Lanzarote for my week of sunshine, wine-tasting at tiny vineyards, long walks on the beach and nightly jaunts to Playa Del Carmen’s many hilarious Irish bars (there are SO many and they are all full of interesting characters) I don’t want to write about that for this particular article. You can read all about my Lanzarote adventure here if you wish.
For this post I’m going to give you 5 good reasons NOT to skip the Canary Islands when planning your next winter escape. Forget the begrudgers, the haters or your own voice inside your head urging you to go further afield, if done right a week in sunny North Africa is just what the doctor ordered!
1. A diver’s paradise
Forget Malaysia, Bali or the Maldives, the island of Tenerife is known to be one of the world’s top diving spots. In fact, the water around all the islands is full of all sorts of exotic marine life including whales, dolphins, turtles, manta rats and even the occasional octopus! Think much cheaper dives with just as much marine life to witness or photograph.
2. A hub for adventure sports
Be it surfing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, kayaking or SUP ing – the Canary Islands is an adventure sports heaven. One of the locations for the world windsurfing championships. For surf enthusiasts, the 7 islands offer excellent surf year round thanks to consistent waves and constant north-eastern Trade Winds.
#elmedano #kitesurfing #kitesurfingtenerife A photo posted by Jordi (@jfpuente1) on
3. Secluded beaches
Seven islands, seven coastlines and endless miles of deserted beaches. If you’re looking for sunshine but want to stay away from the crowds, you simply to to drive away from the main towns and resorts and within minutes you can find your own private beach for the day. You will also get to pass some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world from green lagoons to extinct volcanoes and jagged clip faces.
4. Home to Spain’s highest peak
Did you the highest peak in Spain is not located on the mainland but in the island of Tenerife? The third highest volcano in the world, the dominant Pico del Teide mountain is perfect for keen hikers looking to explore and discover the best views the Canary Islands have to offer. You might even find snow on the peaks during the winter months so be sure to dress appropriately!
5. Foodie heaven
Spain is known to have some of the most mouth-watering food in the world and the Canary Islands is no different. Indulge in some locally-made wine, fresh baguettes with delicious cheese and smoked salami or head to one of the many award-winning seafood restaurants to tuck into the catch of the day. They are especially famous for their cheesemaking so make the most of what’s on offer! Whatever you choose here, your taste buds will surely thank you.
6. Endless summer
One of the main reasons most Irish and UK residents are drawn to this perfectly situated set of islands is the ideal of endless summers and long days of sunshine throughout the year. While it can get horribly hot in summer, the Canary Islands are by far one of the best destinations on the world for a winter sun holiday without having to fly to the other side of the world.