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Winter Sunshine the Canaries

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Published: 22 Jan 2013      

In my last article about Winter Holidays I featured Tenerife, a solid, good value for money, traditional, winter sunshine destination. This week, I would like to feature the other islands in the Canaries, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Gomera and La Palma.

Gran Canaria is probably the best established as a winter sunshine holiday destination and unlike some of the other islands of the Canaries, it has many golden sandy beaches!
The most well know of these beaches is around Maspalomas in the South of the island, its dunes stretch for about 6 km! It’s also where most of the hotels are built. But if you’re really looking for beauty, nature and secluded beaches, then travel though the centre of the island to the North, here on the coast you will find secluded coves where no one else will be sharing your beach!

You can travel through the mountainous centre, hire mountain bikes, hiking, visit local villages, see the national parks and visit the real history and culture of Gran Canaria, where you will be warmly welcomed by local people. As a travel agent, I find it amazing at how many people I book on holiday seem never to leave their hotel or their resort. I know that for many, they need a rest, they need time to chill after the pressures of life, but I think most people will find their lives to be richer by just taking a day away from the commercialism the holiday resorts have to provide.

Grand Canaria, tends to offer slightly more sophistication than Tenerife, most of the hotels here are smaller than those in Tenerife, so you should expect to pay a small premium for this.

Lanzarote is a total contrast, it’s a very rugged volcanic island and particularly worth seeing is where the ancient lava flows providing the most spectacular ranges of different colours. There are sandy beaches, some even have white sand but others may be black.  You can take a jeep trip into the centre of the island, but do make sure you have a camera with you or if you are artistic why not make some sketches!

If water and sea excite you, this is a great place to go scuba diving, exploring ancient wrecks, underwater caves and reefs. Seafood restaurants abound here, offering the widest choice of fresh fish and the livelier resorts will party through to the early hours, but Lanzarote also offers havens of peace and tranquillity for those who seek it.

Fuertaventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands and its only 60 miles from the coast of Morocco. Geographically this is Africa, but culturally it’s Spanish. It has over 125 miles of beaches, many of which are created from sand blown from the Sahara, contrasting with the rugged lunar landscape you can find all over the island as a result of volcanic eruptions from many, many years ago.

Fuertaventura is known as the island of the wind, most of the time, the wind offers a welcome breeze, also making it an ideal place for windsurfing. However when the Sirocco blows, bringing fine sand from Morocco, visibility can drop to 100 metres. It can also bring with it locusts from the Sahara desert! Sometimes it may cause temperatures to rise by as much as 10 degrees Celsius. Most of the time, Fuertaventura is known as the land of eternal spring, with an average daily temperature of around 22 degrees. Do be careful though, although the temperature may only be in the region of 22, the sun’s rays here can be very damaging, many people get severe sunburn without realising it’s happening to them. Having warned about the sun’s rays here, I should also warn that Fuertaventura has an abundance of naturist beaches. Nude sunbathing is quite acceptable here, however on most beaches it’s kept away from the central family areas.

Finally I will write a little about the two most beautiful islands of the Canaries, La Gomera and La Palma, please don’t tell anyone about them, they are a secret! They are both unspoilt and pretty well uncommercialised. They are islands of dramatic valleys, plunging ravines stunning scenery, verdant forest, volcanoes and beach.

You can fly directly to La Palma, from either Manchester or London Gatwick, if you would like to travel to La Gomera, you need to fly to Tenerife and then take the ferry over to La Gomera, a little more of an adventure.

Both islands are pretty well for the more independent traveller, they are not suitable for the mass market tourist. They both offer a fascinating history, traditional culture, a genuine and warm welcome and the opportunity to see nature at its very best! An ideal way to visit these islands is perhaps to go for a short break or have a two centre holiday.

Even these tiny islands offer their own micro climates, for example, La Palma’s West is dry and hot, whilst it’s East is lush and green, offering an abundance of flora and fauna. These are ideal islands to visit for a quit relaxing winter sunshine break, where you can walk, hire a mountain bike, take a tour, go scuba diving, or simply relax and enjoy good food and hospitality.

I need to add a little exoticism here to really finish this blog on the Canaries and that is we have a 50 foot sailing yacht, it’s got 4 double cabins, but one is used by the crew. Through the winter months, the yacht sails from Tenerife to La Gomera and returns, harbouring overnight in beautiful little fishing villages, giving you the opportunity to explore. You can either hire the entire yacht as a family or a group of friends or subject to availability, you can hire a double cabin for 3, 4 or 7 nights. If you take the whole yacht, with a crew, we can tailor the itinerary to fit your requirements. This is adding total luxury at a very affordable price! For more information on the yacht charter or on winter holidays to the Canary Islands call Sunninghill Travel on 01344 627586

My next blog will continue the Atlantic Islands theme when we will explore Madeira and the Cape Verdi Islands.