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By: Alisia Clutterbuck
The Canary Islands are special autonomous community of Spain and are located off the northwest coast of Africa , about 100 kilometres (Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are the closest to the mainland) from Morocco and the Western Sahara The Canary Islands, although technically coming under Spain and part of the EU , are autonomous with their own government and taxation systems. The total population is roughly 2.1 million with most of them living on the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria

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...

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and is a firm favourite with Brits as it's possible to spend a week or two in the sun completely relaxing on a beach, but also to have a more active break playing golf, diving, hiking in Teide National Park or riding the waves on a surf board. And while families will love the attractions on offer like the water kingdom" Siam Park, those after wild nights out will enjoy the lively nightlife in resorts such as Playa de las Americas.

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.

This region of petrified lava make up the National Park of Timanfaya and its Mountains of Fire, where visions of a lifeless, prehistoric (or even apocalyptic) earth, with enormous craters of an incandescent red color, can be seen on a bus or even camel tour. Its unique atmosphere has made it a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of the most impressive natural parks in all of Spain.

Corralejo on the north coast is a popular spot for British holidaymakers with miles and miles of unspoilt beaches and dunes, a range of nightlife options from romantic meals overlooking the sea to fun-filled nights out in bars and clubs, and activities for all of the family. Other popular resorts include Caleta de Fuste which is a hit with families due to its sheltered beach and calm waters, and Costa Calma on the Jandia Peninsular, a good spot for watersport enthusiasts with miles of golden sand. To make the the majority of any trip to the island, hire a car to explore the volcanic landscape inland.

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 types are located 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 close by Las Coloradas beach. For a less touristy one, check out Papagayo , a beautiful large cove encircled by impressive cliffs.

Getting there: Flights to Lanzarote from most major cities in Europe, as well as from the other islands, arrive at the Lanzarote Airport 5 km away from the capital, Arrecife. Ferries arrive at Playa Blanaca from Fuerteventura, La Palma, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria. Some of these ferries are legs of an overnight ferry from Cadiz , Spain.

The Canary Islands' climate is perfect for a week of enjoying the sun and making trips across the islands. Summers are mostly between 25º and 30º during the day and still above

Fuerteventura is also notable for its dry climate, giant white sand dunes, and camels ready to give tourists a lift simply a stone's throw from the beach. One is reminded of the island's close proximity to Africa, especially when visiting the Dunes National Park, where the tranquility of snaking dunes likens to a mini-Sahara.

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 conditions 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).

These airports receive a lot of flights from all over Europe , Tenerife South Airport having by far the most possibilities. Lowcost airlines like Easyjet (from London and Manchester ) and Ryanair have found their way as well, the last having most flights, including to/from Brussels , Dublin , Edinburgh , London , Glasgow , Madrid , Porto and Weeze (near Düsseldorf ).

The Canary Islands' location off the North African Coast means that they enjoy year-round sun. Lanzarote, for example, sizzles at around 28C in August. And even if you visit between November and February, you'll still be able to enjoy a blast of much-needed heat and can expect temperatures of up to 23C in November in Tenerife.

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

The most surprising thing about the beaches in Tenerife are the stretches of thick, black sand found on some, for example on Playa de El Puertito and Playa del Roque on the eastern coast. In the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, two beaches are worth visiting: Las Teresitas, an artificial beach with 1,500 meters of sand taken from the Sahara desert, and Las Gaviotas, a impressive nude beach with black sand. For extraordinary waves and even more opportunities to get out in the nude, check out the beautiful, hard-to-access beaches of Playa de los Patos and Playa de Bollullo.

Trasmediterránea provides ferries from Cadiz in Spain to and from the Canary Islands.

Dia de Canarias; May 30; throughout the Canary Islands: Canarian culture is celebrated on this public holiday to celebrate the autonomous Canary Islands' Parliament's first session in 1983.

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 searching for a more authentic experience off the beaten track.

From desert camel rides to surfing on Lanzarote - where will your island adventure take you? Here are some ideas for what to do on your holiday...

Families: For a day out with a difference, why not treat the family to a camel ride across the sand dunes of Maspalomas on Gran Canaria? From your elevated position, you'll be able to take in panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Active types: Catch some waves at Costa Teguise on Lanzarote. Whether you're a beginner or a well-seasoned pro, the ideal wind and wave conditions will give you plenty of opportunities to sharpen up your skills.

Trasmediterránea and Fred Olsen , are the primary operators between the Canary Islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Fuerteventura, La Gomera and La Palma.

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 filled with 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, situated 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, making 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.

Gofio - Grain flour used especially at breakfast or to accompany potaje, a local stew.

Arepas - tortas created from fine corn flour filled up with minced meat, cheese, or lovely mango.
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