Which is the best island in the canaries: Which is the Best Canary Island for your Vacation?
Which Is The Best Canary Island To Visit? — The Crown Wings
If you had asked me at the start of this year which is the best Canary Island in the Canary Islands, I’d have said none.
That sounds really harsh, but I’d always imagined super tacky tourist resorts, surrounded by golf courses with not much else to do. How wrong was I?!
After visiting the Canary Islands for the first time earlier this year, I fell in love with how each island has its own personality and became obsessed with their individual natural beauty.
A Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, the Canary Islands are the perfect place to visit all year round but it can be difficult to decide which is the best Canary Island for you. Well, struggle no more!
In this post, I’m going to share which Canary Island is best for different types of trips as well as giving you an overview of each island so you can discover the best places in the Canary Islands.
Which Is The Best Canary Island?
Let’s get straight to the point, you want to know which is the best Canary Island for your trip and I want you to find it.
Best Canary Island for…
Beaches – Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria & Tenerife.
Couples – La Palma.
Diving – Chinijo Archipelago & Lanzarote.
Families – Lanzarote, Tenerife, & Fuerteventura.
Food – Fuerteventura, La Gomera & Lanzarote.
Hiking – La Gomera, Lanzarote & La Palma.
Nightlife – Gran Canaria & Tenerife.
Off the beaten track – Chinijo Archipelago, El Hierro & La Gomera
Shopping – Gran Canaria & Tenerife.
Surfing – Fuerteventura & Lanzarote.
Wildlife – Chinijo Archipelago, & El Hierro.
The Best Canary Island Destinations
A collection of tiny islands to the north of Lanzarote, the Chinijo Archipelago is a little known natural oasis. With less than 1000 inhabitants, over 90% of the territory is pristine making it a must-visit for anyone wanting to get off the beaten track.
The only way to reach the archipelago is to get a ferry from the Orzola port in the north of Lanzarote. The journey takes just 15 minutes and you will arrive at La Graciosa, the main island and the only one which is inhabited. Once on La Graciosa, it’s easy to hop between the islands.
The main reason for visiting the Chinijo Archipelago is its unspoilt beauty. The area enjoys over 70,000 hectares of crystal clear water and the biggest Marine Reserva of Europe is also located around this area.
Under the sea, you’ll find reefs to explore and you can spot red mullets, barred hogfish, slipper lobsters, sea urchins, parrotfish and starfish to name just a few.
On land, you can enjoy the many pristine beaches the island has to offer as well as see some rare birds and lizards.
The best things to do in the Chinijo Archipelago:
- Relax on La Cocina Beach, a tiny cove southwest of La Graciosa.
- Go on a boat tour of Montana Clara and spot whales and dolphins.
- Go Scuba-diving on Alegranza (get authorisation from the Canarian Government first).
- Visit Mirador del Rio, a natural balcony that gives incredible views of Haria.
One of the least ‘visitor-friendly’ islands in the Canary Islands, El Hierro is relatively hard to reach but offers adventurers a dramatic landscape to explore.
The most western island in the Canaries, El Hierro is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and 100% self-sufficient using renewable energy.
If you’re looking to escape modern life or do a spot of diving, El Hierro is worth the 3-hour ferry ride. Famous as the place where Columbus said goodbye to Europe, it’s an island of rugged hills and sheer cliffs waiting to be explored.
Home to huge lizards, a mysterious ancient settlement and a stunning sabine forest there’s plenty to do on this unspoilt island. When the temperatures get too hot, cool off in Charco Azul, a natural seawater pool in El Golfo valley or dive to one of the 46 dive sites surrounding the island.
The best things to do in El Hierro:
- Hike to Pico de Malpaso and enjoy sweeping views of the island.
- Explore Roques de Salmor and spot wildlife including lizards.
- Cool down in the natural pools of Pozo de las Calcosas.
- Admire Arco de La Tosca, a natural rock arch high above the sea.
Despite being the 2nd largest island in the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is one of the least developed.
Situated less than 100km from the African coast the whole island has a desert-like landscape, with its 65 miles of beaches being its main attraction.
The resort of Corralejo in the north is one of the best resorts in the Canary Islands and is home to the Corralejo dunes which look like something straight out of the Sahara Desert. Alternatively, visit the resorts of Costa Calma or Caleta de Fuste for a great selection of shops and restaurants.
Fuerteventura is famous for being home to more goats than people, and all foodies should try the delicious Majorero cheese made from their milk.
The island is also one of the windest in the Canary Islands making it the perfect place for wind sports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding. Visit Playa de Sotavento on the south coast and watch experts or take a few lessons yourself.
The best things to do in Fuerteventura:
- Have an animal experience at Oasis Park Fuerteventura.
- Spot rare birds and relax on Playa de la Concha beach on Lobos Island.
- Hike the trails at Montana de Tindaya and see the rock engravings.
- Visit Popcorn Beach and see the sand that looks like popcorn.
Offering the most diverse scenery of any of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is a good all-rounder.
Known as ‘a continent in miniature’, visitors can experience everything from dramatic mountains and sandy dunes to green forests and seaside resorts.
Playa de Las Canteras is one of Europe’s most famous city beaches and boasts warm waters all year round. Alternatively, head to the sprawling Natural Dune Reserve of Maspalomas and explore the unique sand dune landscape.
If you love to shop, spend a day in the capital Las Palmas which is also the largest city in the Canary Islands. Located in the north-east, the districts of Santa Catalina and Tirana have amazing boutiques, some of which are duty-free.
Las Palmas also has plenty of culture with the stunning old town of Veguetta being one of the most attractive. Visit the 15th Century Cathedral of Santa Ana or learn more about Christopher Colombus at the museum, Casa De Colon.
There’s also a great music scene in the city and plenty of lively nightlife.
The 3rd largest Canary Island, the island is very similar to Tenerife but has better beaches and a stunning historical quarter. In fact, it is claimed that Gran Canaria actually boasts the best views of Tenerife’s Mount Tide and its volcanic crater, but don’t tell Tenerife that!
The best things to do in Gran Canaria:
- Shop to you drop in the resort of Playa de Ingles.
- Explore the protected sand dunes of the Natural dune Reserve of Maspalomas.
- Go snorkelling on Las Canteras Beach.
- Hike up to Pico de las Nieves and enjoy sweeping views of the island.
- See the Cueva Pintada Museum and Archaeological Park and the Caves of Valeron.
La Gomera is a mysterious island, full of breathtaking landscapes, enchanting forests and even a secret language.
To reach the island you’ll need to take a ferry from Tenerife, La Palma or El Hierro to the capital of San Sabastian. Once here you’ll experience the magic of the Canary Islands without the mass tourism that can ruin some of the more popular islands.
The incredible landscape is a paradise for hikers, and the island has a well-marked trail network that will make you feel like an intrepid explorer. Mixing terraces and lush rainforest with hills and ravines, you’re sure to come across breathtaking views whatever route you take.
Surrounding the islands highest mountain, Alto de Garajonay, Garajonay National Park is a must-visit for all nature lovers. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986, it has a unique Laurel Forest ecosystem that provides a peaceful playground for you to explore.
After you’ve finished walking up an appetite, you will be able to sample some of the traditional Canarian cuisine in the capital San Sebastian. There are a couple of notable delicacies you should try including:
- Potaje De Berros – watercress soup served on wooden plates
- Papas Arrugadas – boiled potatoes drizzled with Mojo, a fiery pepper sauce.
- Almagrote – a spicy cheese paste
For those of you looking for culture, make sure you visit Los Organos Natural, a giant cathedral organ cut into a cliff. Only accessible by sea, it measures 200 metres wide and 80 metres high. Definitely worthy of Instagram!
There are resorts on La Gomera, Playa Santiago and Valle Gran Rey, but these are quiet in comparison to Teneriffe and Lanzarote. The same can be said for the beaches, giving you plenty of space to relax.
Oh, and if you start to hear loud whistling and think you’ve drunk too much of the delicious local wine, you’re not (well, you might). This whistling is part of the native langue called ‘el sibo’ and is used by villagers to communicate with each other over the hills. Some have even claimed it can be heard up to 7km away!
The best things to do in La Gomera:
- Admire the village of Agulo from Mirador de Abrante, a glass walkway with incredible views.
- Go dolphin & whale watching and spot the pilot and sperm whales that live in the waters.
- Hike in the breathtaking laurel forest of Garajonay National Park.
- See the iconic rock formation, Roque de Agando.
The youngest of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is one of the most popular islands in the Canary Islands to visit.
One huge difference between Lanzarote and the rest of the Canary Islands is the unmistakable black sand. Large-scale volcanic activity has left the island looking more like another planet than part of Spain. Explore this landscape and learn more about the island’s volcanic past by visiting Timanfaya National Park and see the thermal activity for yourself.
If all this exploring has made you thirsty, head to La Geria and see how the delicious Malvasia is grown in volcanic craters. There are a handful of wineries you can visit and even buy a bottle or two to try.
Extremely aesthetically pleasing, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this white-washed building landscape as a Greek Island. In fact, the white buildings were the idea of local architect Cesar Manrique who worked on a handful of products across the island, as well as fighting the development of high-rise building on Lanzarote. You can learn more about Cesar Manrique and his art by visiting the museum housed in his old studio home.
Featuring stunning palm-lined streets lined with shops and restaurants, the resort of Playa Blanca is the perfect place to stay on Lanzarote. The old capital of Lanzarote, Teguise, is a stunning pedestrianised town with a great Sunday street market. For those looking for a more lively atmosphere, Puerto del Carmen is a great alternative, whilst Puerto Calero is a peaceful escape.
Lanzarote has also become increasingly popular with more active visitors. Runners, hikers and cyclists have joined the growing number who flock to the island to admire the unique landscape.
The best things to do in Lanzarote:
- Explore the volcanic landscape of Timanfaya National Park.
- Battle the strong waves and wind and go surfing at Famara.
- Admire the art and architecture of Cesar Manrique.
- Go wine tasting in La Geria.
- Visit Museo Atlantico and dive down to sculptures 12m under the bay.
Known as ‘the beautiful island’, La Palma is the most northwesterly of the Canary Islands and has been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
An un-commercialised paradise, hikers can enjoy 330 miles of hiking trails including the jungles of Los Tilos and the forests and waterfalls of the national park, Caldera de Taburiente. In fact, it’s at the national park where you will find the most spectacular views of the island, making it more than worth the hike up.
One of the quietest islands in the Canary Islands, La Palma known as being a favourite with couples, especially because of its incredible sunsets and star-filled skies. After reducing light pollution, the island won a Starlight award and boast some of the best stargazing opportunities in this region.
Ideal for low-key holidays, you’ll find plenty of black sand beaches to relax on, many wide Blue Flags and clear water perfect for snorkelling.
San Andres is considered to be the prettiest village on the island, with Tazacorte boasting a banana plantation and fishing harbour. For those looking for a more lively atmosphere, head to Brena Baja or the capital city of Santa Cruz de La Palma where you will find a good selection of shops and restaurants.
The best things to do in La Palma:
- Relax on the beach and go snorkelling at Los Canajos.
- Go hiking in Caldera de Taburiente National Park.
- Reach the summit of Roque de los Muchachos, the island’s highest point.
- Watch the sunset or go stargazing.
The largest of the Canary Islands and the most popular with tourists, Tenerife is the perfect all-rounder.
The main tourist resort can be found in the South of the island. Playa de las Americas has been attracting clubbers to the island for decades, whilst Costa Adeje offering luxury resorts, shops and restaurants.
However, it’s the north of the island the really steals the show. It’s here where you’ll find the stunning Teide National Park and Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak and the 3rd largest volcano in the world. Stunning and snowcapped, you can hike on the parks many trails or relax and take the cable car up Mount Teide.
Speaking of walking, Tenerife hosted also hosts it’s own walking festival, recognising it’s world-class routes.
It’s not all about mountains and pine forests because, like most of the Canary Islands, Tenerife has 40 miles of beautiful beaches to enjoy.
If you’re looking for an authentic experience, visit Tenerife in February when a lively carnival takes over the capital, Santa Cruz, for 3 weeks. An open-air spectacular, this carnival is second only to Rio de Janeiro so is an event not to be missed.
The best things to do in Tenerife:
- Ride the cable car to the top of Mount Teide.
- Cool down in Siam Park, a Thai-themed adventure water park.
- Explore the Pyramids of Güímar, a mysterious Ethnographic park.
- Take a dip to Lago Martianez, an open-air swimming pool complex centred around an artificial lake.
Visiting The Canary Islands
- Like the rest of Spain, The Canary Islands use the Euro as their currency.
- Spanish is the universal language spoken and you’ll find English is widely spoken in the resorts.
- The islands enjoy a subtropic and desertic climate meaning it’s warm all year round and the perfect place for getting some winter sun in Europe.
- Although many assume that the Canary Islands are named after the little yellow bird, they actually get their name from the Latin term ‘Insula Canaria’ which means the Island of Dogs. The ancient Romans who visited the islands gave them this name, and it is believed to be because the residents worshipped dogs. Others think that the dogs referred to were Monk Seal which translates to “sea dogs” in Latin.
- All islands except Chinijo archipelago have their own airport. You can find direct flights from most major UK airports to all islands except Chinijo Archipelago, La Gomera and El Hierro.
- Most major cruise offer Canary Island cruises with 1 or more of the Canary Islands included in the itinerary, usually Gran Canaria, Lanzarote or Tenerife.
Have you visited The Canary Islands? Which Canary Island do you think is the best Canary Island? Let me know in the comments below!
Pin it for later!
Other posts you might find interesting:
- NCL Spirit Ship Review & Guide
- Morocco & Canary Islands Cruise Photo Diary
- Why You Should Visit Timanfaya National Park
- 5 Reasons To Visit Naples, Italy
- Norwegian Star Cruise Ship Review & Guide
Which is the best of the Canary Islands
The islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are simply the perfect essence of Spanish charm. But which of the Canary Islands is the best?
In the Canary Islands, you can look forward to great services, modern hotel resorts, long beaches, diverse landscapes, great cuisine, sunny days and fooling around in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. In short, athletes will not come, for whom there are magnificent golf courses, bike paths of all levels of difficulty, water sports centers, hiking trails and steep rock walls as created for adrenaline lovers.
Tenerife: The green giant
Vacation in Tenerife >>
The largest of the islands is enchanted by the beautiful nature of national parks, UNESCO-listed monuments, the highest mountain in Spain, Pico de Teide, lively resorts where the fun never ends and almost seventy kilometers of beautiful sandy beaches. Yes, Spain’s highest mountain is not in Europe, but on this island.
A visit to the famous zoo and botanical garden of the Loro Parque Zoo can be a pleasant addition to beach fun, where you can conjure a smile on the faces of small and previously born visitors with colorful parrots, dolphin watching, a venerable colony of penguins, and also killer whales. The island of eternal spring wishes golfers. They can hone their game skills on one of the nine modern golf courses.
Read “Best things to do in Tenerife with kids” >>
Gran Canaria: Ideal for a family vacation
The most popular of the islands, Gran Canaria, stands out for its very lively atmosphere. The third largest of the islands is sought after by lovers of busy resorts, families with small children and passionate tourists. The north and west of the island are enchanted by steep cliffs and rugged landscape, the east and south coasts are attracted by large sand dunes and golden beaches with a gradual entry into the sea. In the perfectly photogenic landscape, deep gorges, pine forests, palm trees, cacti, sand dunes, romantic bays and picturesque villages alternate.
Vacation in Gran Canaria >>
Fuerteventura: A paradise for beach loungers
Fuerteventura boasts the most beautiful beaches in the Atlantic, romantic windmills and delicious fish specialties. Visitors can diversify the beach fun on the warmest of the islands by exploring the colorful underwater life, surfing or one of the many other water sports. A frequent destination for trips is the nearby island of Lobos, which captivates with its beautiful coastline, dramatic scenery inland and a number of wild reptiles, birds and mammals. With a little luck, you can watch flocks of frolicking dolphins or roundheads.
Vacation in Fuerteventura >>
Lanzarote: Rough beauty
The volcanic island of Lanzarote will captivate you with its pleasantly relaxed atmosphere, interesting architecture and excellent level of accommodation services. Luxury resorts alternate with the arid volcanic landscape, steep cliffs, caves and secluded beaches, where enthusiastic surfers await their wave of life. On more than nine dozen beaches, you can choose between white, golden or exotic-looking dark volcanic sand. The local cuisine is also diverse, in which rabbit and fish meat, fresh or stewed vegetables and, above all, great local wine play a prime.
Vacation in Lanzarote >>
La Palma: Stars within reach
Unlike other islands, La Palma is covered with lush greenery. It is not a classic beach destination, visitors come here mainly for natural beauty, excellent cuisine and a peaceful atmosphere. In addition to lush greenery and azure sea distances, La Palma offers one of the most breathtaking views of the night sky.
Vacation in La Palma >>
La Gomera: A natural gem
La Gomera is a real gem of the Kingdom of Spain. The small island is exceptional for the beauty of national parks, foggy forests, mountain villages, where time has stood still, and dark volcanic beaches. From the Mirador de Abrante lookout tower, 625 meters above sea level, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Tenerife with its Pico de Teide peaks, dense tropical forests, and lava chimneys of the Garajonay National Park.
The calm pace of life of the locals is highly contagious and over a glass of fresh sugar cane juice will tell you with a smile the story of the famous Christopher Columbus.