Situated majestically approximately 100 kilometres west of Morocco, the Canary Islands are a scintillating and touristy archipelago that everyone should visit during their lifetimes. Officially considered an autonomous community of Spain (and its southernmost territory for that matter), it consists of seven large islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro) and a number of smaller islets such as La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este, for example. All of these are visitable and recommended depending on what you are looking for – peace and quiet or a touristy bang (wink)! So, without further ado, let us see what this subtropical paradise has to offer us in terms of facts.
We are happy to state right here and right now that the Canary Islands are one of the safest places in the world. Even the more touristy places are mostly bereft of crime at night such as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria or Santa Cruz de Tenerife. No need to constantly watch your back or to worry about people grabbing your bag and making a run for it. This does not mean, however, that you should tempt your luck, and we always try to stress this – be a smart tourist and do not flash things around that would get stolen no matter where you were. The only people to keep an eye out for, additionally, are common scammers who are mostly outsiders or travellers themselves. If you are not interested in a bracelet deal, or any deal in fact, feel free to walk away.
What’s important to know about the salaries of waiters and bartenders on the Canary Islands is that they are not below minimal standards. What this means is that these peoples do not rely on tips to complement their income. However, and this is a big but, tipping is still customary there – especially in the touristy areas. If you consider the service exceptional, be sure to leave a 10-15% extra whenever you decide to go (oh, and know that you are never pressured to leave, even if you stay for hours). This will not only directly influence the future service that you might get there but also generate smiles. And yes, you should definitely go for the smiles of others whenever you can (wink). Another customary thing to do if you do not want to meddle with the maths of tipping is to round up the bill to the nearest ten.
3. Volcanic heaven:
It is no secret that the Canary Islands have been formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago. For this particular reason, there are all sorts of majestic natural sights to bask in. The Teide volcano, for example, is not only the tallest mountain in Spain but also the third-tallest volcano in the entirety of Europe. Oh, and while you’re considering visiting it, be sure to check out the entire Teide National Park – an eye-popper that one. If you are in for some more natural volcanic masterworks, then be sure to check out the Cueva de los Verdes (a lava-formed tunnel system that will leave you with a dropped jaw). Up for even more? Alright, then we can recommend Las Canteras Beach as well, for its grandeur is directly related to the volcanic nature of the island of Gran Canaria.
4. Language barriers:
As we have already mentioned above, the Canary Islands are, in a sense, a part of Spain. What this directly translates into is that the official language there is Spanish. In spite of this, most touristy areas are packed with English speakers to such a degree that you may be wondering in what country you actually are. This, of course is gradually mitigated as you head inland, where Spanish becomes the canon more and more. So, the basic rule of thumb is: the closer you are to the sea, the more English speakers you’ll run into. But here’s the thing: even if you are hitting the inland wonders, the locals are so friendly that they will go to any length to explain themselves to you. The openness of the people from the Canary Islands is something to be lauded and there is nothing to be worried about at all.
5. Snorkel it:
Alrighty then, now you know how beautiful the overground environment of the Canary Islands is but what about its underwater marvels? Well, since you asked, it is one of the most extraordinary places for snorkelling and deep diving in Europe and in the world for that matter. The rock formations that you can admire are simply unparalleled anywhere in the world and the diverse marine life just adds to the grandeur. Oh, and did we mention how calm and welcoming the water was?
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had on the Canary Islands and what lasting impressions have they left you with? Hit the comment section below and leave nothing out. Until we meet again, fair traveller!