From moon-like landscapes and intimidating mountains to sprawling deserts and deep jungles, the Canary Islands (or the Canaries) have something to thrill and fascinate any traveller. Each of the islands has its own distinct character and attractions, and the archipelago as a whole is widely considered to experience one of the best climates in the world.
Though technically part of Spain, the Canary Islands are closer to the northwest African country of Morocco than the Spanish mainland. Whichever island you are on, the Atlantic laps the shore on every side, creating brilliant beaches in many spots. Away from the coast, discover luscious forests or rocky crags, desert dunes or steaming volcanoes – the extreme variety of landscapes is what makes this part of the world such an exciting and much-loved destination.
Complete with top-quality resorts and an atmosphere of relaxation, it’s little wonder cruises featuring the Canaries are so enduringly popular. Cruise lines including P&O Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International offer itineraries that stop here.
Cruise ships can stop at a number of ports throughout the Canary Islands, including:
- Santa Cruz Tenerife
- Los Cristianos Tenerife
- Las Palmas Gran Canaria
- Puerto del Rosario Fuerteventura
- Santa Cruz La Palma
- El Hierro Island
- Arrecife Lanzarote
- San Sebastian Gomera.
Some ports, such as the Santa Cantalina cruise terminal in Las Palmas, are located right near the heart of town, while others will leave you with some walking or a bus/taxi ride to get into town.
Available facilities will depend on the port(s) your cruise ship docks at. While some islands provide all the amenities you could need, others are quite limited. Check with your cruise staff and use facilities on board before disembarking if necessary.
How to Get Around
Buses and taxis are both common and fairly affordable in the Canary Islands. However, many consider hiring a car to be the best way to explore. Ferries are available for transit between islands and planes can also be used for quick island hopping, if your schedule allows time for it.
Currency – As with mainland Spain, the currency on the Canary Islands is the Euro (€). Coins come in 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1, and €2 denominations, while notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €100, €200, and €500 denominations.
Time Zone – The Canary Islands operate in accordance with Western European Time (WET), which puts the archipelago in line with Coordinated Universal Time (UCT) and 1 hour behind the rest of Spain. From late March to late October, the Canaries switch to Western European Summer Time, moving 1 hour ahead of UCT.
Weather – Generally, the climate on the Canary Islands is marvellous, boasting an average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius that rarely deviates more than 2 degrees in either direction. The lack of temperature extremes, combined with sunshine galore, is what inspires the area to boast about having the best climate in the world. Various wind types give each island their own microclimate as well, contributing to each island’s unique character. These microclimates range from desertic to semi-arid, and the archipelago’s overall climate is subtropical.
Timanfaya National Park – The Canaries are home to four of Spain’s 11 national parks, and this one on the island of Lanzarote is one of the best. It’s also one of the most surreal; airdrop someone here blindfolded and they could be tricked into thinking they’d been teleported to the moon! Volcanic, lunar-esque terrain and solidified lava fields create some strange landscapes in this park, which make an adventure here one of the most interesting (and other-worldly) things you’ll ever experience.
Masca Valley – Roads don’t get much more breathtakingly scenic than the path through Masca Valley on the island of Tenerife. Though not for the faint-hearted (roads are narrow and cliffs are steep), the stunning views and picturesque scenery along this trail are well worth the time.
Siam Park – After the islands’ natural wonders have amazed you, take a break and have some fun at this excellent water park. With a Siamese theme and some of Europe’s most thrilling water rides, Siam Park provides a uniquely fun attraction for guests to the archipelago. It’s especially perfect for families with children, but people of all ages can have an aquatic blast here.
Corralejo Natural Park – Another one of the Canaries’ awesome nature parks, Corralejo Natural Park (or Parque Natural de Corralejo) is particularly popular amongst windsurfers due to windy conditions. The beaches and sand dunes are equally stunning here.