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Getting to know the Canary Islands

Translated by Emma Twomlow — 3 months ago

Original text by Antoni Carballo Santana

The Canary Islands

Esteemed Erasmus student, enjoy your stay on the islands. I say this because there are 7 main islands, and each one of them has its own characteristic. Do everything in your power to visit the islands that appeal to you most. Here, I will describe the islands that I have been to and I will show you photos from each one of them.

The seven islands have their own autonomous community, the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands. This community is divided into two provinces and each province has its own islands. The provinces of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The Province of Las Palmas

The province of Las Palmas has 3 main islands, that are Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, with the last island mentioned being the island with the biggest population, but don't worry because you'll fit right in the middle of us. I have visited the three islands (I live on one of them) of this province and between them all, and because of its peculiarity and my way of being, I'll start with the island of Lanzarote.

Island of Lanzarote

The island of Lanzarote is the island that's situated furthest to the right in the archipelago, the closest to the African continent so to say. The capital of Lanzarote is Arrecife. I like this island in particular because it has a contrast between volcanic black rock and curious crystal clear water.

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It's best known as the island of volcanoes. Due to this, if you have never seen a volcano, I recommend that you visit the national park Timanfaya, where they'll show you that the volcanic ground is still active. On this island, I recommend that you visit:

  • La Cueva de los Verdes
  • El parque de Timanfaya
  • Playa del Papagayo
  • La Graciosa
  • The coastal town of Arrieta
  • Mirador del Río (you can see the entire island of La Graciosa from here)
  • César Manrique's house
  • La Geria
  • Any beach that you see

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Lanzarote also has a small island which is called La Graciosa, and in my experience I think that this is the authentic Canarian paradise. In order to get to La Graciosa you have to get a boat from the coastal town of Orzola. You can stay on this island because it's populated and there are places where you can camp or you can also stay in an apartment. But, please, look after the island. This differs from the other uninhabited islands where there is restricted access. These little islands are called Alegranza and Montaña Clara. This group of islands are called the archipelago Chinijo, forming part of La Graciosa.

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Island of Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is made up of its huge number of beaches. It's the ideal place to spend all day on the beach in hippie mode. All of its coast consists of beaches with crystal clear water. Also, it has importance by having the cheese which is considered the best cheese of all of the Canary Islands, majorero cheese.

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I can't actually tell you much about where to visit on this island because in my experience whenever I've gone, I have spent the whole time on the beach and I visited places such as Las Salinas where you will find loads of desert squirrels that you can throw a handful of peanuts for. I suggest that you visit:

  • The Cotillo beaches
  • Jandía, Caleta de Fuste
  • Cofete (deserted beach that goes on for kilometres)
  • The surf town of Corralego
  • Playa Lagoon
  • Costa Calma
  • And all the beaches!

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Similar to Lanzarote, Fuerteventura has an island alongside it too. It's called Isla de los Lobos. You have to get the boat from Corralejo to get to Isla de los Lobos. The boat drops of off in the morning and you can come back when you want depending on the afternoon boat timetable to go back to Lanzarote. You can't stay on the island. There's a small restaurant where you can eat a delicious paella. You can walk all over the island on foot, as it's practically deserted.

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Gran Canaria

My island. I've spoken about this island in other more specific blogs posts and I'll keep adding more information about it covering each theme separately, so I won't say anything else about Gran Canaria so I don't fall down a rabbit hole of information. You can see more information related to Gran Canaria in my other publications.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has 4 islands, which are El Hierro, La Palma, La Golmera and Tenerife, the last of this list being the island with the biggest population and it happens to be where you can find the highest peak of Spain, the famous Teide.

The island of Tenerife

In my point of view, it's the island of hills. Every where's a hill! To get to a coastal town you have to go for miles and miles and never stop climbing and abseiling down mountains, but it's worth a visit. The food is really, really good. On this island is the famous Loro Park which is a zoo. It also has Siam Park which is a water park where they also have animals. The capital of the island is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and the capital's point really needs improvement from the landscape of the refinery it has now, which is somewhat shocking because of where it is, but anyway, it was needed and they had to put it somewhere. The island is very pretty in itself, and it's obligatory if you visit to go to Teide, the highest point in Spain. From Teirde you will be able to see all of the islands surrounding you, a very unique view. And I advise you that if you go right to the summit of Teide to see similar views. Apart from that, you'll relax a lot. The greenest part of the island is in the north, where you'll find Arinaga. I love this area because it's completely full of trees and it has some breathtaking landscapes. If you want to go hiking, I think that there would be the best option. Also in the south, especially Adeje which is very pretty, and from there you can see some incredible sunsets, which you'll see has the sun hides behind the island of La Gomera. Also you can go to the town of Garachico, which has some natural pools and a swimming area that you'll want to jump into as soon as you see it, Also, Puerto de la Cruz is a good part of the island to see, it's very touristic. You can also visit the pyramids of Güimar. In the south you can find beaches such as Los Cristianos and Las Americas. The places I like the most on the island are the following:

  • Puerto de la Cruz
  • La Laguna
  • Anaga
  • Playa de las Américas
  • Candelaria
  • El Médano
  • Pyraminds of Güimar
  • Teide National Park
  • Adeje
  • Garachico

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The island of El Hierro

Before I talk about this island I have to say that it's astonishing how you get there, I'm not saying this because of the views you see when you're on the plane, well that as well but... because of the landing strip at the airport! It's nothing dangerous, when you land in El Hierro there'll be nothing to fear.

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Now I laugh, but when I saw how we were going to land in the plane I thought that they didn't have a landing strip, I'm getting used to other airports so it's normal that it would surprise me, but as I said, it's not dangerous and I just count this as a fun experience. I only say this because the landing strip is really small, there's only one runway and there's only room for two small planes. Imagine that you're on the plane, with these propellers, and in the distance you see a pretty little island of great relief. And suddenly, you see what looks like a motorway that starts in the sea, and ends in the sea, just like I said, but there you will land. Whilst you visit the island you'll see the tiny towns sweetly distributed all over this island whilst the plane starts to descend, and keeps going down, down and further down, until you see the water so clearly that you can almost count the fish (just exaggerating). Whilst the pilot nails the landing, nothing complicated for him, you see that you're still descending, and you feel as though the plane is doing all it can to brake in the air until the wheels touch the ground of the landing strip and stops. And when I say it breaks, it really breaks. In no more than 5 seconds the plane turns to leave you at the door to pick up your suitcases. It's incredible. I just have to say, go pilots! After chilling for a little bit and waiting for the air stewards to give us the go ahead to leave, your body relaxes and calms down, you leave the plane and you see it from the landing strip. Well it's a road with a building and a place to rent cars next to you, and whilst you collect your suitcases you keep thinking to yourself how am I going to leave this island. You start to wonder whether the plane is capable of taking off. But obviously it does take off! This is why I'm here, to alleviate your worries. I'm fine as I was able to leave the island, in a way that reminded me of the Formula 1 race cars. Prepare yourself to feel as if the plane is using all of its strength to get into the air. For the take off, just imagine that you're in a Formula 1 car when you start whizzing down the runway. It looks like there's a guy on the runway with the flag to signal our departure. The plane finds its place on the runway, so you have to make the most of the plane going straight. The lights turn off for take off. Suddenly, your hair and head feels like they'll blow off as they're violently pushed back against the head of the chair. And you keep thinking, "oh god, we're going so fast", until you suddenly feel a slight lift and suddenly you see water through the window. Finally! We're off! All of this now seems funny, but I'm going to leave you some photos of the airport itself. I'm only including this stuff to give a hint of humour to the blog, everything is safe and the pilots are absolute professionals. There is no risk to anyone.

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Speaking of the island itself, it's a small island that you can make your way around it in two or three days. I went for 5 days and I had time left to see even more. But if you want to enjoy the island in the best way, for yourself, it's better to take hiking boots with you, the fact I didn't is my only regret.

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The island has numerous viewpoints from the mountains from which you can the area Frontera, the most inhabited part of the island and the most comfortable area to live in. This is because you don't have to climb so far up the roads to get anywhere. It's an island where you can relax, it's very peaceful. Don't try and go to El Hierro to go on a night out. In despite of all there is on the island, there's not much for that kind of excursion. The places I would recommend that you visit are: the entire island, because you have enough time to do everything and more. Also I would suggest that you buy, for around €10, a passport that everyone on the island has, and you can buy it in the airport or at other points distributed throughout the island. This passport ensures you can visit the cultural sites that are spread across the island. Within all the things that the island has, to get the Frontera, you have to go all the way around either end of the island, or climb huge mountains on a central road. The places that I would recommend to visit the most are:

  • El Tamaduste
  • Mirador de la Peña
  • Mirador de Jinama
  • Mirador de las Playas
  • Playa de las Macetas
  • Charco de los Sargos
  • El charco azul
  • Playa de Arenas Blancas
  • Punta de Orchilla
  • La Restinga
  • Volcanic centre
  • The smallest hotel in the world!
  • Frontera

Also, I see it as necessary to tell you that a few years ago an underwater volcano became active very close to the Restinga area.

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The island of El Hierro is 100% autonomous when it comes to its energy. Thanks to the hydroelectric power plant that was installed a few years ago. It's a clean island that the other islands could learn something from, or even better, the politicians could.

From whatever point of Frontera, I have seen the best sunsets I've seen in my whole life. It's worth going as the world stops whilst you look at them.

The island of La Palma

I still haven't visited this island.

The island of La Gomera

I still haven't visited this island.

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