Discover Paradise in the Canary Islands: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura
With its very dramatic cliffs, volcanic craters, and Martian-like terrain, Tenerife offers some of the most unique and awe-inspiring landscapes in all of the Canary Islands. As the largest and most populous of the islands, Tenerife packs a ton of diversity into its small size. You'll find everything from black sand beaches to lush forests to desert-like plains. But it's the island's volcanic features that really steal the show.
One landscape not to miss is Mount Teide, an imposing 12,198 ft active volcano that dominates Tenerife's center. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Teide National Park contains some of the most bizarre volcanic formations you'll ever see. Hiking through the various colored lava flows and around the volcanic cones is an otherworldly experience. Stand on the edge of the Las Cañadas caldera for views unlike anywhere else. The various hiking trails allow you to take in the dramatic landscapes from different vantage points. Or take the cable car up towards the summit for a bird's eye perspective of the alien moonscapes. Just be aware that altitude sickness is common given the high elevation.
The various craters and ravines carved into the volcanic rock create a unique sight. With names like "Hell's Circle," it's easy to feel like you've landed on another planet. The contrast of the black lava against the blue sky and white peaks adds to the extraterrestrial vibe. It's no wonder many movies have chosen Teide National Park as a stand-in for an alien world.
For one of the best crater experiences, head to El Teide Observatory. At 7,874 ft, it offers some of Tenerife's most insane views of the volcanic craters and lava flows. It's also a working astrophysics observatory, with guided tours providing insight into their important research. Don't miss watching the sunset from here, as the crater glows red and the sky ignites in color.
Just down the road, Montaña Blanca provides another look at Tenerife's wild volcanic side. A relatively easy hike, it takes you past prehistoric rock formations and through sparsely vegetated terrain. Standing on Montaña Blanca itself you'll enjoy sweeping views of Teide and the surrounding craters. With its white slopes, it provides a beautiful contrast against the dark craters dotted with specks of green forest and bright blue sky.
For a less touristy and more desolate volcanic experience, head to the Teno massif in Tenerife's northwest. Shaped by violent eruptions, it contains some of the oldest geology on the island. With fewer crowds, you can explore the rugged terrain and winding trails in peace. The Buenavista viewpoint offers exceptional panoramic views of the cliffs and palm tree dotted coastline. Hiking through the Mirador de Los Roques feels like traversing the surface of Mars.
Discover Paradise in the Canary Islands: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and MoreThe headline incorporates the target keyword Canary Islands and hints at providing a comprehensive guide to help travelers explore the beautiful and diverse islands. The mention of some of the main islands by name adds specificity. Overall, it should attract readers interested in learning more about vacationing in the Canary Islands. - Discover Gran Canaria's Diverse Terrain
With its mix of beaches, forests, mountains, and deserts, Gran Canaria emerges as one of the most geographically diverse islands of the Canaries. Nicknamed "miniature continent," Gran Canaria packs a ton of terrain into its small footprint. Get ready to explore emerald valleys, volcanic craters, towering ravines, and golden sand dunes, all on one island.
Gran Canaria's mountainous interior provides terrain unlike anywhere else in the archipelago. The majestic Mount Roque Nublo towers over the north central part of the island at 5,029 ft. Shaped like a human face gazing skyward, Roque Nublo makes for an impressive sight. Hiking to the summit rewards you with 360 degree views of Gran Canaria's central mountains and valleys. Gaze out at the surrounding greeneryblanketed peaks and immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere. Get your camera ready for some epic mountain scenery.
Nearby, Caldera de Tejeda provides a look at the raw power of Gran Canaria's volcanic forces. Formed from a massive explosion, this vast crater makes you feel small gazing into its depths. As one of the island's largest erosion craters at over 65 million years old, it's a humbling view back in geological time. Stop at the Mirador de la Caldera lookout point for spectacular views of the lush green crater and surrounding cliffs. Watching the clouds drift across the crater adds to the magic.
For a beautiful trek combining valley and mountain scenery, hike Bandama Caldera. Located in the northeastern mountains, this lush walk takes you through forests and along ridges with panoramic views. Gaze down at the oval crater blanketed in greenery and small farms. You can hike along part of the rim of the crater, peering down into its verdant depths. With its relatively easy gradient, it makes for an excellent introductory hike.
Venture west to discover Gran Canaria's rugged ravines, carved vertically into the mountains. Barranco de Guayadeque provides one of the island's most scenic hikes through a steep-walled gorge. As you descend down into the ravine, you'll be surrounded by vegetation-covered cliffs towering above. The sounds of birds echoing off the rock walls enhance the peaceful atmosphere. And the slow-moving Guayadeque river winding through the ravine adds to the charm. Look out for some of the ancient cave homes carved right into the gorge walls. End your journey at the historic town of Ingenio, full of traditional Canarian architecture.
For the ultimate canyoning experience, head to Barranco de Fataga in the southwest. Rappelling down waterfalls and jumping into pools, you'll traverse down through some of Gran Canaria's most dramatic scenery. As you make your way down the sheer rock walls and through the narrow gorges, you'll understand Fataga's reputation as one of Europe's best canyons. No hiking experience required for this unforgettable adventure. Just be prepared to get wet and give your arms a workout!
Looking for something completely different than mountain vistas or coastal beaches? Gran Canaria's interior also contains Maspalomas Dunes, a desert landscape unlike anywhere else on the islands. Located in the south, these towering golden sand dunes feel like a slice of the Sahara in the Canaries. Take a walk atop the dunes and admire their waves and ripples formed by the wind. Watching the dunes change color throughout the day as the sun shifts adds to the magic. Or opt for a camel ride for the full desert experience. At night, appreciate the lack of light pollution for some excellent stargazing. With its constantly shifting sands and stark beauty, Maspalomas Dunes proves Gran Canaria contains way more than just beaches.
Discover Paradise in the Canary Islands: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and MoreThe headline incorporates the target keyword Canary Islands and hints at providing a comprehensive guide to help travelers explore the beautiful and diverse islands. The mention of some of the main islands by name adds specificity. Overall, it should attract readers interested in learning more about vacationing in the Canary Islands. - Relax on the Stunning Beaches of Fuerteventura
With over 150 beaches dotting its coastline, Fuerteventura rightfully earns its nickname as the “Island of Eternal Spring.” This Canary Island contains some of the archipelago’s most stunning beaches, renowned for their golden sands and turquoise waters.
Fuerteventura’s beaches come in an array of styles, from secluded coves to vast white sand expanses perfect for watersports. You’ll find beaches backed by scenic cliffs, others with dunes rolling into the sea, and some with volcanic rock formations. But one thing they all have in common is incredible beauty.
Cofete Beach consistently ranks as one of Fuerteventura’s top beaches. Located on the isolated Jandía peninsula in the south, Cofete feels worlds away from the busy tourist resorts. Its remote setting means you’re more likely to share the 5km long beach with birds and lizards than other travelers.
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with a gentle crescent of golden sand hemmed between jagged cliffs. The scenic approach adds to the magic. Running parallel to the beach, towering dunes create picture perfect scenes. As you stroll along the seemingly endless sands, you’ll find total tranquility.
Cofete’s most magical moment comes at sunset when the cliffs glow golden. Find a perch atop the Punta de Jable rock arch for sensational sunset views. The beach’s remote location also makes for excellent stargazing on clear nights.
Speaking of picture perfect beaches, Playa de Sotavento on the southeast coast consistently impresses. Home to the island’s best windsurfing and kitesurfing thanks to year-round breezes, it attracts water sports lovers. But its postcard-worthy white sand and crystal clear shallow waters appeal to everyone.
While popular, Sotavento’s expansive size means finding space is easy. Beach cabanas and sun loungers line the sand, along with plenty of beach bars and restaurants. So you can make a day of it enjoying food, drinks and watersports right from your beach chair. The summertime beach parties here are legendary.
The scenic approach helps too, with the drive taking you past salt flats and lagoons vibrant pink with flamingos. Once on the beach, gaze out at shimmering turquoise waters made even more stunning as they meet the pearly sands.
Continuing east along the coast brings you to Esquinzo Beach. Another showstopper, it spans over 5km of powdery white sand and brightly colored turquoise waters. Sunbathing with an oceanfront view of the empty Sahara offshore makes you feel a world away.
The beach here gently slopes into the sea, making it excellent for families. Take a long stroll along the water’s edge and sink your toes into the soft sand. The coves formed by rocky points provide even more privacy. And when ready for a snack or drink, beach restaurants and bars are steps away.
Windsurfers and kitesurfers also flock to Esquinzo to take advantage of the prime conditions. But given the vast size, the beach never feels crowded. Find your own space along this coastal paradise.
Head north to Corralejo for another must-visit beach destination. The sweeping dunes flowing directly into bright turquoise waters create a magical sight. Found on the north end of Fuerteventura right before nearby Lanzarote, Corralejo captures incredible natural beauty.
Corralejo’s most iconic sight is its massive sand dunes that run right into the ocean. The contrast between the soft yellow dunes, bright blue waters, and black volcanic rocks is stunning. Climb to the top of the dunes for panoramic views of this coastal masterpiece. Feel the sea breeze and admire the waves crashing along the shore.
The main beach here covers over 3km of fine soft sand lapped by calm waters—perfect for swimming and standup paddleboarding. Shallow waters extending far out keep things family-friendly. And an array of beachside restaurants and bars means you may not even have to move from your chair all day.
Just offshore lies the Islas de Lobos natural reserve, full of secluded coves and quiet beaches. Accessible only by ferry, it makes for a perfect beach escape. Hike among the dunes and volcanic cliffs before finding your own private sandy haven. With protected crystal clear waters full of marine life, it’s excellent for snorkeling. Watch for sea turtles and dolphins among the underwater scenery.
End your day watching the sunset behind the dunes as the sky ignites in color—a classic Corralejo experience. This protected section of Fuerteventura’s coastline captivates all who visit.
Discover Paradise in the Canary Islands: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and MoreThe headline incorporates the target keyword Canary Islands and hints at providing a comprehensive guide to help travelers explore the beautiful and diverse islands. The mention of some of the main islands by name adds specificity. Overall, it should attract readers interested in learning more about vacationing in the Canary Islands. - Experience Lanzarote's Dramatic Volcanic Scenery
Of all the Canary Islands, Lanzarote emerges as one of the most visually dramatic. Much of that has to do with its relatively recent volcanic eruptions that shaped the island’s landscape into one-of-a-kind terrain. Flying over Lanzarote provides a bird’s eye view of a world unlike any other in the archipelago.
Visiting Timanfaya National Park allows you to immerse yourself in the raw power of Lanzarote’s volcanic forces. Designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Timanfaya contains some of Lanzarote’s most unique lava fields, craters and volcanic peaks. This arid, almost alien landscape resulted from eruptions between 1730-1736 that covered one fifth of the island in lava.
One of the best places to appreciate the national park’s otherworldly scenery is the Ruta de Los Volcanes. This scenic drive winds through some of Timanfaya’s most surreal terrain, with a mix of solidified lava flows and volcanic cones. Fiery reds, oranges and blacks dominate this barren alien landscape.
Pull over at various viewpoints to gaze out at the craters dotting the terrain, evidence of its violent eruption history. Visiting on a clear day allows you to soak up the variations in color and texture of the different lava flows. For a unique perspective, see if you can arrange a camel ride trekking through this rugged volcanic environment.
No Lanzarote volcanic tour is complete without visiting the heart of Timanfaya—the Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains). Formed from the 1730-1736 eruptions, these peaks emit heat from deep below the surface. Experience that geothermal power firsthand during the El Diablo restaurant demonstration. Waiters pour water into a hole in the ground, causing it to shoot up violently in a burst of steam. The high temperatures mean El Diablo cooks solely using the natural volcanic heat radiating from below.
After witnessing the Fire Mountains’ intensity, the easy walk through La Geria provides a more mild introduction to Lanzarote’s volcanoes. This scenic vineyard region emerged when eruptions covered the area in a layer of black volcanic sand and small rocks, ideal for grape cultivation. Meandering along the walkways between vineyards, admire the contrast between the black lava fields and orderly green vines—Lanzarote’s agriculture adapting to the dramatic terrain. Notice the semi-circular stone walls built to protect the grapes from the island’s winds. Ducking behind one of these volcanic stone walls as the wind whips by provides a visceral experience of Lanzarote’s natural forces. Reward your walk by stopping at one of La Geria’s bodegas for local Canarian wine tasting right in the vineyards. The unique flavors reflect the terroir shaped by the volcanic soil.
While Timanfaya National Park showcases Lanzarote’s fire, head north to explore the power of its water at Los Hervideros. Witness the raw might of the Atlantic Ocean as waves crash dramatically against the cliffs along the northern coast. The lava rock coastline forms a series of inlets, caves, and tunnels for seawater to rush violently through. Stand safely atop the cliffs and marvel at the sheer force of the churning ocean swirling through the intricate lava rock structures.
The reason this section of coast earned the name “the boiling pots” becomes evident when waves smash dramatically against the cliffs. Seawater funnels through lava tubes and shoots up in a burst of spray. Watching the violent clash of lava and ocean never gets old. As scenic coastal trails let you explore it all from different vantage points, Los Hervideros easily fills an afternoon. Plan your visit for high tide when wave action peaks to witness nature’s raw power.
Of course, no discussion of Lanzarote’s unique terrain is complete without visiting the awe-inspiring Famara Cliffs in the north. Soaring up to 660 feet above the ocean, these sheer golden cliffs mesmerize all who stand atop them. Gazing down at the turquoise waters violently churning below emphasizes the sheer size and scale of the Famara Cliffs. Standing this high above the ocean with the wind whipping by creates an unforgettable experience.
Walking along the clifftop trails rewards you with different perspectives of the towering sea cliffs. Notice their striations and variations in color peppered with green in spots where flora found footing. Peer down at the surfers in the waves below, reduced to tiny specks from this great height. Just try not to get too close to the crumbly cliff edge.
For more scintillating coastal scenery, hike from the cliffs down to the picturesque cove of Caleton Blanco beach. Nestled at the base of the towering Famara massif, this secluded beach provides an idyllic escape. The striking contrast between the golden cliffs, black volcanic sand, and azure waters is incredible. Go for a swim surrounded by the geologic beauty. Or simply sit back and soak up views of the cliffs from a new angle down at beach level.
Discover Paradise in the Canary Islands: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and MoreThe headline incorporates the target keyword Canary Islands and hints at providing a comprehensive guide to help travelers explore the beautiful and diverse islands. The mention of some of the main islands by name adds specificity. Overall, it should attract readers interested in learning more about vacationing in the Canary Islands. - Visit La Palma for Trekking and Stargazing
Astronomers and outdoor enthusiasts alike will find plenty to love on the island of La Palma. The Canaries’ stargazing gem, La Palma offers some of the world’s best conditions for astronomy along with incredible trekking through lush landscapes.
La Palma’s ideal stargazing location earned it a spot within the Starlight Reserve Foundation. The lack of light pollution, weather conditions, and elevation make it one of the world’s premier destinations for observing the night sky. In fact, you can see about 3,000 stars from La Palma with the naked eye on a clear night. That's about five times more than visible from a city.
While the entire island enjoys excellent stargazing thanks to minimal development and light pollution, head to Roque de Los Muchachos on the northern end for a world-class experience. At 7,959 feet elevation, the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory sits above the cloud line with ideal atmospheric conditions.
It contains the second largest optical telescope in the world, along with a collection of other powerful telescopes. Guided night tours allow you to gaze through some of these telescopes for an up close look at celestial objects. As an International Dark Sky Reserve, controls prevent excess lighting that would disrupt observations. So when night falls, prepare to be amazed by the sheer volume of stars in the Canary Island skies.
Even without a telescope, scanning the Milky Way with the naked eye provides stunning views. Pick out various constellations scattered across the sky. And don’t miss catching shooting stars streaking overhead if you’re lucky. For more guidance identifying the celestial bodies above, join an astronomy tour. Knowledgeable guides will point out highlights and teach you about the science behind what you’re seeing.
A visit to La Palma Astrophysics Institute's visitor center and museum teaches you about the important astronomical research happening here. Interactive exhibits demonstrate key astronomy principles, bringing the science to life. A screening in their astronomical projection room takes you on a virtual tour of the universe.
While daylight activities on La Palma can't compete with the night skies, the island still impresses. Verdant forests blanket stretches of La Palma, making it the greenest Canary Island. That means excellent opportunities for hiking and trekking across the landscape.
One of La Palma’s most famous treks is the Ruta de los Volcanoes trail. The route traverses the spine of the island along the volcanic ridge, providing staggering views. Starting from the town of Fuencaliente and ending in Santa Cruz, the full trek takes about 7 days. Or walk a portion for breathtaking vistas without the full week-long commitment.
As you hike along the trail, you’ll traverse through diverse ecosystems and terrain. Pass through pine forests climbing up from the coastlines into the mountains. Trek along rocky volcanic slopes for panoramic sea views. Peer down into craters and valleys during the steep climbs and descents. With the volcanic peak of Roque de Los Muchachos as your eventual destination, it makes for an epic journey.
Shorter day hikes along the Ruta de Los Volcanoes allow you to sample the scenery without the full multi-day trek. Try the trail leading to the Deseada volcano, providing sensational views down to the west coast. The subsequent trek across the lava fields proves you’re walking on volcanic forces that shaped this island. Or tackle the route through pine forest to the Pico Bejenado summit for vistas of nearby islands and La Palma’s volcanic mountains.
For history and scenery, hike the trail to Santa Catalina Summit and the ruins of Old Sanctuary. As you ascend over 2,000 feet, admire sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and coastline. Then explore the 17th century ruins of the former sanctuary, destroyed by volcanic eruptions. Its secluded cliffside location and panoramic views explain its sacred status. Continuing past the ruins, reach the actual summit of Santa Catalina for even broader vistas across La Palma. It's the perfect glimpse into the island’s spiritual and geological past.
La Palma’s scenery shines along the trail to Las Nieves Peak. Pass through the lush Los Tilos World Heritage Biosphere Reserve in the island's interior. This rare subtropical laurel forest provides shade as you make your way up towards the clouds. Emerge above the tree line onto Las Nieves itself for heavenly 360 degree views from the 6,082 ft summit. On a clear day, you can see the islands of El Hierro, La Gomera, and Tenerife across the ocean. Descend back into the laurel forest for a magical walk among the mossy trees and ferns in this secluded ecosystem.
For a stunning coastal hike, take on the trail between Puerto Naos and Puerto Tazacorte. This 8 mile route along the cliffs provides unforgettable vistas of La Palma’s west coast and the ocean horizon. Gaze down at the black lava rocks meeting bright turquoise waters hundreds of feet below your clifftop perch. The trail winds through diverse ecosystems, from arid cliffs to cloud forests cloaked in mist. Make sure to avoid the path during high winds, as gusts can get dangerous along the steep dropoffs.