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By: Mitchell Veasley
If you're looking to go above and beyond your typical paradisiacal island vacation and want to experience much more than just pristine sandy beaches, the astonishing diversity and extreme landscapes of the Canary Islands offer many types of paradises to relaxed vacationers and adventurers alike.

With seven different islands to choose from, a holiday in the Canary Islands has something for everyone. Find out why you should go and which island you should pick...

Most notably, the islands form a formidable volcanic archipelago. Their landscapes include four of the highest peaks within Spanish territory and some mightily bizarre yet inspiring scenery: from black sand beaches with soaring cliffs to rugged, red, Mars-like panoramas. The breadth of these landscapes evokes regions from every corner of the planet, and even, sometimes, from others. Each of these seven islands is a completely different world, and adventure, in itself.

Prepare to find yourself awe-struck at the extra-terrestrial landscapes of this extraordinary island, which boasts about 300 volcanoes. Even though all seven islands are of volcanic origin, Lanzarote has most recently felt the devastating effects of its volcanic eruptions in the 18th and 19th centuries, when some 200 square kilometers were scorched and covered in ashes.

The second largest of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura, is still relatively unspoilt and whether you want to take the kids to a waterpark, to flop on a secluded spot of beach and completely relax, or to embrace the elements and windsurf, you'll find the perfect break for you.

As the island is very small, you can simply travel to its extremities and go on excursions by car. Heading north, you'll pass La Cueva de los Verdes, or Greens' Cave," created 3,000 years ago by lava streaming from an eruption, and also the Jameos de Agua, a network of subterranean caves and lakes and home to a rare species of blind crabs. At the northernmost point of the island, the prow-like Mirador del Rio extends over the ocean. Here at this windy spot, you can experience a magnificent panorama of the ocean and of the neighboring islet La Graciosa, which is a very recommendable ferry destination.

Not only is Lanzarote home to bizarre and fantastic landscapes but also to beaches which can compete with any found in the tropics. The best ones are positioned in the southern part of the island. Playa Blanca, one of the most popular, has long stretches of clear sand and crystalline waters, and so does the nearby Las Coloradas beach. For a less touristy one, check out Papagayo , a beautiful large cove encircled by impressive cliffs.

British tourists head to resorts such as Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca, Costa Teguise and Haria where accommodation is on offer for a range of budgets and tastes from all-inclusive five-star resorts and eco lodgings to budget apartments.

The oldest of the Canaries, this island is known for its kilometers-long beaches of white sand and shallow, clear water, perfect for water-skiing, wind-surfing, fishing, or sailing. It has the longest coastline of all seven islands, spanning 340 kilometers, and is easily accessible by a 40-minute ferry from Lanzarote.

colder on average though it's still quite warm, even at night. Note that the north of the islands generally are somewhat cooler and wetter than the south, but still fine.

The individual islands in the Canary archipelago tend to have distinct microclimates. Islands such as El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera lying to the west of the archipelego have a climate which is influenced by the moist gulf stream. As one travels east toward the African coast, the influence of the gulf stream diminishes, and the islands become increasingly arid. Fuerteventura and Lanzarote the islands which are closest to the African mainland are effectively desert or semi desert. In terms of its climate Tenerife is particularly interesting. The north of the island lies under the influence of the moist atlantic winds and is well vegetated, while the south of the island is arid.

Most of the islands have direct flights from Europe , you can check the islands' articles for more information. The busiest airports are those on Gran Canaria and Tenerife

Gran Canaria Airport (LPA) is the busiest of the Canary Islands and dozens of airlines serve the island.

El Hierro is the smallest of the Canary Islands and its western end was once considered the end of the world. Visit to truly get away from it all. La Gomera is slightly bigger and the perfect destination if you like exploring the great outdoors on foot or by bike. Alternatively, pack your beach bag and surf board and head to the black sands along the coast to sunbathe without having to fight for a spot.

Tenerife is serviced by two airports: Tenerife North (TFN) and Tenerife South (TFS).

Like Gran Canaria, Tenerife, the largest island of the Canaries, boasts a sizable variety of mountain, forest, and beach landscapes with an ever-warm climate. Most notably, it contains the majestic Mount Teide , a massive volcano which, at 3,718 meters, is the highest peak in all of Spain and the third largest volcano in the world.

Numerous other airlines serve Tenerife South though, the choice is wide.

Tenerife North Airport (TFN) is located about 10 kilometres from the city. Tenerife North mainly serves other Canary Islands , cities in mainland Spain , and several cities in Germany Also, two airlines fly here to/from Caracas in Venezuela

Lanzarote Airport (ACE) is the third busiest airports of the islands, follwed by Fuerteventura Airport

Getting there: Tenerife has two airports, Los Rodeos airport in the north and the Reina Sofia airport in the south. Most international flights come through the Reina Sofia airport, whereas inter-island flights arrive at Los Rodeos. Ferries arrive at the town of Santa Cruz from Gran Canaria, La Palma, and Fuerteventura.

Naviera Armas runs weekly services between Portimao in mainland Portugal to Madeira and on to Tenerife, with connections to other Canary Lanzarote, like Gran Canaria, s and Isl.

In these mountainous terrains, the ancient tradition of lenguaje silbado" is still used among inhabitants, a method of communication using whistling techniques to send messages between mountains. Continuing traditions like this is just one of the reasons Gomera attracts tourists looking for a more authentic experience off the beaten track.

A tram linking Santa Cruz bus station and La Laguna opened in 2007 costing _2.35 return in about 40 minutes. There are also plans for a train linking Santa Cruz and Los Cristianos.

To rent a car is the best option for discovering the remote wilderness regions.

Buses are the most typical method of public transportation around the islands. Mile per mile they are expensive while compared to mainland Spain but you are not going to travel really far away. We are, after all, islands. Most buses in touristic routes are adequate. Do not expect the drivers to know more than a couple of sentences in English or German, though they would try to be helpful.

Nightlife: Playa de las Americas on Tenerife is the ultimate night-spot. With an array of bars, parties, clubs and entertainment, energetic night owls will be spoiled for choice!

An excursion by car around the island will take you to such places as Breña Baja on the east, a series of small coves with transparent waters which include the popular Playa de Cancajos. In the southernmost point, you will find the town of Fuencaliente , which is full of pine trees, vineyards, and volcanic craters. On the western coast, towns such as Puerto de Naos and Tazacorte have picturesque ports and attractive beaches. La Palma also has one of the world's most important telescopes at the International Astrophysical Observatory, located near the island's highest mountain, Roque de los Muchachos.

Getting there: Direct flights to La Palma airport in the city of Santa Cruz de La Palma are available from mainland Spain, the other islands, and some cities in northern Europe. Ferries arrive in Santa Cruz de La Palma from Tenerife and Gran Canaria

This is the smallest island of the Canaries, as well as the least populated and least traveled, which makes it a perfect spot for those wishing to get away from it all and experience nature to its fullest. Its clean beaches and mountain scenery provide a relaxing, non-package tourist vacation.

A plateau and mountainous area make up the central part of the island, where rises up as the highest peak. From here, you can admire the views of the gulf, forests, volcanic craters, and of the whole island. The coast also offers a fascinating and unfamiliar sight with its cliffs jutting out from under the water, as if they were little crag islands. El Golfo is where the largest amount of cliffs can be found along with the some of the highest viewpoints of the area.

Other attractions on El Hierro include its natural swimming pools of tranquil water at Tamaduste and Monacal, both located in the north. In La Frontera, separated from the rest of the island by mountains, you can taste some delicious products cultivated on its fertile lands: wines, smoked cheese, tortillas. A curious sight is the region of Sabinar, where the Sabinas, trees native to the island, can be seen. These trees are unlike any others, with their trunks bent over double and twisted into strange shapes by the strong winds of this region.

Arepas - tortas made from fine corn flour filled with minced meat, cheese, or sweet mango.
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