Travel profile: The Canary Islands

By Giles Broadbent on February 9, 2013 3:56 PM |

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Whatever you are looking for in a holiday destination the Canary Islands have something to offer.

From glorious beaches, rich culture and stunning natural wonders to delicious cuisine, vibrant entertainment and warm hospitality, the archipelago has it all.

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Made up of seven islands - El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote - the Canaries are famous for their volcanic origins, each emerging from the ocean depths millions of years ago. Each island has a unique appeal.

El Hierro is renowned for its transparent waters and rich diving opportunities. It boasts one of the best ocean depths, a favourite with the diving community who flock to take photographs of it each year. Of the seven islands this is the smallest and least explored, making it a true paradise for those travellers wanting an uncommercialised holiday experience.

La Palma is known as the La Isla Bonita (the pretty island) for its natural beauty bursting with breathtaking landscapes - volcanoes, mountains, meadows and waterfalls - and astonishing indigenous flora and fauna.

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, this island is for those looking for adventure and outdoor pursuits. Hiking, mountain biking and diving - on this island everything is possible.

If that wasn't enough it also has one of the clearest skies in the northern hemisphere (La Palma is home to the most important astrophysics observatories in the world), taking star-gazing opportunities to a different dimension.

La Gomera is a gem in the crown that is the Canarian Archipelagos. Here, rugged mountains envelop earthy valleys and watch over tropical misty forests. If peace and quiet is what you seek then this is the ideal destination.

Explore the island's colonial past, visit mountainside whitewashed villages, trek through banana plantations or simply sit quayside in one of its many picturesque fishing villages.

Tenerife has long been a favourite holiday destination with travellers from all over Europe and is the largest of the islands in the archipelago.

Its enviable climate, idyllic beaches, breathtaking landscapes and natural charm offer the perfect escape.

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For those wanting more than a beach holiday, the island has a wealth of natural spaces to explore, including Teide National Park, home to Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, the Gigantes Cliffs and Anaga and Teno Rural Parks.

Gran Canaria, named Europe's top golfing destination for 2013, really does have something for everyone from its lovely beaches, hidden coves, verdant pine forests and idyllic walks to chic shopping opportunities, fine dining experiences, cultural offerings and pulsating nightlife.

Whether you're a family, a couple, or a single traveller this island is all about inclusivity, with every day the potential to deliver a new and unforgettable experience.

Fuerteventura is famed for its long, white and golden sandy beaches, enormous sand dunes and turquoise waters.

This semi-desert destination is just under 100km from the coast of Africa and as such shares much with its African neighbours of Morocco and the Western Sahara in terms of climate and landscape.

There is a range of activities on offer across the island from golf, surfing and windsurfing (the island hosts the annual PWA windsurfing speed and slalom event) to hiking, diving and big game fishing.

This island is an ideal destination for families simply wanting a relaxing beach holiday and for sports enthusiasts, looking for adventure.

Lanzarote has been going through a quiet transformation in recent years and is now something of a rather upmarket destination.

Forget its '80s Lanzagrotty tag, this island, with its massive craters, crimson mountains and black lava fields, is all about eco-friendly tourism, chic boutique hotels, exhilarating outdoor pursuits, fine wine, great cuisine - and the intriguing architecture of visionary artist Cesare Manrique.

Among the many treasures of the island are Timanfaya National Park, where visitors can take a camel ride in the vast black landscape around the Islote de Hilario the volcano, and dine in a Manrique-designed restaurant that uses heat from inside the volcano to grill the food, and Famara, a fabulous beach with ideal conditions for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.

FACTFILE
■ The name of Canary Wharf came from the regular wine shipments in the 16th century from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria port to London.
■ British ship owner Alfred Lewis Jones exported bananas to Canary Wharf in the 19th century.

DETAILS
■ The Canary Islands form an archipelago 2,880km from London, 1,050km from mainland Spain, and 115km from the coast of Africa.
■ The Canary Islands are split into two Provinces - The Eastern Province, named Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife to the West.
■ The average daily daytime temperature on Gran Canaria ranges from 20C-26C.
■ Go to turismode canarias.com

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