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Cruise to… The Canary Islands

Cruise to… The Canary Islands

The appeal for sun, sand, and sea is almost universal, especially for those of us in the UK who will leap at every opportunity to leave the grey skies behind. Thankfully, we don’t have to go very far to get our dose of vitamin D! The Canary Islands have long been a firm favourite of British holiday-makers, and are just a short cruise away from our shores.

Comprised of seven islands off the coast of northwest Africa, the archipelago forms part of Spain’s most distant territories. Here’s an interesting fact… Contrary to what most people believe, the canary bird was actually named after the islands, and not the other way round. The islands’ nomenclature comes from the Latin name for dogs, leading to the theory that a large number of dogs populated the region when the first European settlers arrived.

Proving it’s not just puppy love, the Canaries are today famed for their subtropical climate and beautiful sweeping beaches, making them the perfect setting for island-hopping adventure. From verdant valleys to lunar moonscapes; towering sea cliffs to beaches of golden or black sand; and bustling cities to sleepy old villages, visitors there will be able to find a haven to suit all tastes.

Life's a Beach

For those longing to escape the winter chill, the Canary Islands must be the ultimate paradise with three hundred days of sunshine a year, ensuring mild winters and pleasantly warm summers.

Top tip: If having to fight off crowds of tourists for your spot on the sands is a concern, head for the smaller and less well-known islands such as La Palma, El Hierro, and La Gomera. All of which are equally beautiful, unspoilt, and less commercialised.

There’s a reason this part of the world is sometimes called “the baby Caribbean”, and there’s certainly no shortage of warm sand and turquoise waters no matter which part of the Canaries you go to. However, the beaches of each island have their own identity. Couples can enjoy romantic strolls along the white wind-swept sands of Fuerteventura that go on for miles, whilst families with children will find lots to keep all ages occupied at the buzzing resorts of Lanzarote.

Sublime Natural Landscapes

From the giant golden dunes of Gran Canaria to the world’s third highest volcano in Tenerife, the Canary Islands have more than their fair share of great attractions for outdoor expeditions! In fact, four of Spain’s twelve national parks are located there, two of which — Teide National Park and Garajonay National Park — have been declared UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.

With 40% of the islands classed as protected spaces, seven biosphere reserves, and three marine reserves, nature-lovers will literally be in their element! Let the wind carry you over lush greenery on a paragliding escapade, or be fascinated by underwater wildlife when scuba-diving. You can even fire up your taste-buds with a meal cooked on a volcano grill at Timanfaya National Park. There’s so much diversity to explore, you’ll wish you had time to do more!

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Which Canary Island is best for you?

We know it’s a challenge to pick a favourite, so here’s a short guide on what each of them has to offer.

Fun from Dawn to Dusk

For a little bit of everything, Tenerife is the best island to get a taste of life in the Canaries. The thrilling nightlife needs no introduction of course, but beyond the carnivals and party atmosphere, Tenerife also has stunning clifftop views, making it very popular with hikers and cyclists. Trek through the Hills of the Masca Valley for a dramatic panorama reminiscent of Macchu Picchu, or traverse one of the biggest lava tubes in the world — Cueva del Viento — with over ten miles of passages… definitely worth a visit for an eye-opening experience!

Volcanic Culture

The volcanic terrain of Lanzarote is unique even within the Canaries, as few places can boast of volcanic vineyards where you can savour the best wines along with the amazing scenery of neighboring national parks. And to top it all off, your sightseeing will be graced with the vibrant art and stylish architecture of renowned artist César Manrique, who contributed to myriad local projects, including his former home (now a museum) which incorporates natural caves and tunnels in its design aesthetic, and showcases his handcrafted accessories.

Continent in Miniature

There’s a reason Gran Canaria has been dubbed the miniature continent. With 14 microclimates, you will discover snow-capped mountains, dense forests, and undulating desert next to sparkling sea, all on this nearly circular island. The giant sand dunes alone will capture the imagination of kids and adults alike. You’d never run out of sandcastles to build! But should anyone tire of that, the historic buildings of Las Palmas await! Whether you’re relaxing at one of the many spas in the city, or indulging in a shopping trip, the urban charms of Gran Canaria are as unforgettable as its ecosystem.

Tapas by the Sea

Idyllic whitewashed villages, cobblestoned streets, pretty fishing boats, and little tapas bars — there is a distinct Spanish flavour to the culture of Fuerteventura. But don’t let the balmy heat and sea breeze lull you into a long siesta as there’s plenty you don’t want to miss! Aside from some beaches where clothing is optional, this island is also known as a real Mecca for surfers. If you don’t want to brave the tides, why not visit a working salt mine, or the Antigua Windmill Craft Centre? Then when it’s time for a break, treat yourself to the locally-made Majorero cheese, grilled with a bit of palm honey.

Stargazing Serenity

Fancy a holiday away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? The smaller islands of the Canaries — La Palma, El Hierro, and La Gomera — are where you need to go. Certified as an astronomy landmark, La Palma’s pristine night sky is a starry-eyed wonder that opens a window to the universe. Swap the cosmos for marine life in the day, and see if you can spot whales from the rugged shores of eco-friendly El Hierro, home to nearly 50 dive sites. The tranquil forests and rocky monuments of La Gomera, on the other hand, will give you a chance to put your walking boots to the test!

Our Handpicked Offer

Islands of the Atlantic 15 November 2022, 19 Nights Overnight in Tenerife

Soak up the sunshine as you island hop! Contrast the rugged natural scenery of the Canary Islands with the bustling medinas of Casablanca as you sail south for a winter escape. This is the ideal Canarian getaway, visiting no less than 5 of the incredible islands. And that’s in addition to ports of call in Morocco, Spain and wonderfully lush Madeira!
Set sail aboard all-balcony and all inclusive Spirit of Discovery, sailing roundtrip from Southampton!
You’ll be picked up from home by Saga’s chauffeur service, receive travel insurance*, and even have 5 incredible sightseeing tours included.
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