The Canary Islands are a group of islands located off the coast of Africa, belonging to Spain. They are a popular tourist destination for Europeans, but may not be as well-known to Americans. With United’s new nonstop service from Newark to Tenerife South, though, the Canary Islands are much easier to reach and much more accessible for American travelers.
The seven different islands offer a variety of activities, including shopping, star-gazing, volcanic wine tastings, lava tube exploration, kite-surfing, and rolling sand dunes. The islands also boast beautiful long stretches of sandy shores and picturesque rocky outcrops over the sea.
If you are planning a vacation to the Canary Islands, this guide can help you choose which of the seven volcanic islands is best suited to your trip. The Canary Islands are comprised of the islands of Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, and La Gomera. Each island has its own unique features, and this guide can help you decide which island is right for you.
Getting to The Canary Islands
United’s new nonstop flight to Europe finally gives U.S. travelers the option to fly without having to stop in another Spanish or European hub. The flight, which launched on June 9, 2022, flies three times per week.
If you are looking to travel to another island besides Tenerife, you will need to change planes in Tenerife, or in a hub like Madrid. From there, you can take nonstop flights on various airlines, such as Iberia, Air Europa and low-cost carriers, to five of the seven islands: Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Palma. You can also reach many of the islands from European hubs, flying on full-fare carriers or low-cost carriers like Wizzair, Ryanair, Vueling, Jet2 or EasyJet.
For outdoor adventures: Tenerife
Tenerife is home to one of the largest and most impressive volcanoes in Europe: El Teide. Although it may be a breezy, summery day down below at sea level, you might spot snow near the peak of the volcano. It’s possible to get nearly all the way to the top of the volcano via an intense hike or a cable car, but a trip to the summit requires a permit.
Paragliding is a popular sport around Tenerife. You can also go canyoning on Tejina Mountain, an ancient lava dome system of craters and caves. If you still haven’t had enough of volcanic remnants, explore one of the biggest lava tubes in the world, Cueva del Viento, which has over 10 miles of passages.
A walk (or drive, if desired) up the Los Gigantes cliffs offers a stunning overlook of the cliffs, with views of the ocean and Tenerife’s famous black sand beaches. Or, one may enjoy them down below at Los Guios Beach, which sits in the shadow of these hulking rock formations.
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For wine and culture: Lanzarote
Lanzarote’s volcanic vineyards are one of the few places in the world where you can enjoy views of the neighboring national parks while sipping, tasting and exploring the local wine country. The ashy, volcanic soil and small stone circles protecting the vines from wind and other damaging weather conditions provide a unique opportunity to learn about how grapes are grown in this unique environment.
You will find original creations by artist César Manrique in various locations around the island. One of the most interesting examples is his former home, where he has incorporated the natural landscape of caves, cactus, and volcanic rock and tunnels into his eclectic design aesthetic.
For beaches, sand dunes and spa visits: Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria boasts 37 miles of beaches, so you’re sure to find the perfect spot for you whether you’re looking for shallow, family-friendly waters or a quiet, romantic escape. Couples can stroll along the cliffside path from Playa de Puerto Rico to Playa de Amadores, enjoying the peace and quiet along the way. Once in Amadores, they can sample some Spanish cava while sunbathing at the chic Amadores Beach Club.