White sandy beaches, crater-strewn volcanic landscapes, historic villages, thrilling resorts, family days out and world-class hotels. The Canary Islands have it all.
However, holidaymakers are usually faced with a tricky decision: which of the four main islands – Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Tenerife – should I travel to?
So, why not visit more than one? With airlines like Jet2 regularly flying in and out from all four, it’s easy to arrive on one and depart from another, and that’s exactly what I did, splitting six days between Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.
After flying into Las Palmas, I made the short trip to Gran Canaria’s main tourist area, Playa del Inglés, and one of the resort’s top hotels, Seaside Sandy Beach. Just a few metres from the spectacular Maspalomas dunes, shops and thriving nightlife, the all-inclusive four-star resort is perfectly located.
Ultra-friendly staff serve outstanding food and drink, while guests can splash around in the large outdoor pool, wander around the sub-tropical gardens, relax in the spa and enjoy the evening entertainment.
After settling into Sandy Beach, I joined Maria from the GC tourist board on a scenic drive. In less than an hour, you can swap the warm blue seas for palm groves, pine forests, towering mountains, serene lakes and picturesque villages. We stopped for a coffee in Fataga and wandered around San Bartolome and Teror, before a spot of wine-tasting at Las Tirajanas, and lunch at Parador de Cruz de Tejeda.
The tour ended in the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria which, with its bars, coffee shops, retail centres and historical sights, is perfect for a city break.
The next day, I was joined by Michael, who works alongside GC Tourism. We started out at the southernmost point of the island, the Faro de Maspalomas lighthouse, and walked west along part of the promenade to the classy area of Meloneras.
From there, we made our way to Playa del Inglés via the dunes and famous nudist beaches.
With seven very different 18-hole courses, Gran Canaria is popular with golfers. Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas’ is proud to be the oldest in Spain.
The greens and fairways were stunning, although I was distracted by the spectacular views of the Caldera de Bandama volcanic crater, the ocean, and colourful villages.
After the round, we headed to the Seaside Sandy Beach’s sister hotel, Palm Beach, for a buffet dinner and cocktails.
The next day, it was time to depart Gran Canaria. Michael and I arrived on Fuerteventura and started exploring the “island of eternal spring”. We called at Majorero Cheese Museum in Antigua and wandered around the former capital, Betancuria, before heading north to Corralejo.
With some of the best surfing and windsurfing in Europe, narrow streets crammed with shops and restaurants, and a buzzing harbour, it’s no wonder this place is so popular.
Our hotel was the Park Playa Zensation. I checked into a junior suite in the Zensation block, underneath the dazzling rooftop bar and infinity pool. The two buffet restaurants serve delicious dishes morning, noon and night, while the bartenders knock up cocktails, should you wish not to use the self-service drinks counter.
The next day, we hopped on a €15 water taxi to take us to the islet of Los Lobos. Home to a small cauldron-shaped volcano, crystal-clear lagoons and amazing flora and fauna, this place is a must.
Later, we drove across to the bohemian town of El Cotillo, where adults relaxed on the beach and kids splashed about. Before flying back home, Michael and I still had time for one more day of adventure at the Oasis Wildlife park in the south. Families marvel at exotic animals like flamingos, giraffes, zebras, elephants, hippos and crocodiles.
Much like both islands I visited, it demands a repeat visit. So that brings me to my next trip. Which islands should I choose next time?
The Canaries get their name from the Latin Canariae Insulae, meaning Islands of the Dogs. One theory says it was because of the seal population, or sea dogs, that used to inhabit the island. Another theory is that Mauretanian king Juba II sent an expedition to the islands and it found “vast multitudes of dogs of very large size”.
Fly with jet2.com to the Canary Islands from most major UK airports from £42 pp one-way.
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