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By: Denisha Scutt
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.

A group of seven Spanish islands located right off the coast of northwestern Africa, the Canaries are blessed with a warm beach-going climate all year round. Their tropical location make them a prime getaway spot for Europeans during the winter but even with the islands' increasing tourism and popularity, it's still possible to explore unspoilt areas rich with native flora and fauna, such as their wild beaches, mountainous regions, and national parks.

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 components and windsurf, you'll find the perfect break for you.

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 most of any trip to the island, hire a car to explore the volcanic landscape inland.

The volcanic nature of the island of Tenerife meant that the land has few natural beaches. Those that exist are characterised by black sand created from the island's volcanic rocks. The demand for tourist sun-bathing space, however, has led to the creation of resorts and man-made beaches, with golden sand having been imported in some cases. Some of the best beaches of Tenerife are Los Gigantes and San Juan in the west and Fañabe, in the South with its golden s, excellent facilities and showers. Also popular are Torviscas with its marina, Playa las Americas for its grey sandy stretches and los Cristianos' beach. Candelaria in the east has a little black shingle beach. Up north Puerto de la Cruz has a beach with fine black sand, and at Santa Cruz golden sand has been imported for its Terasitas beach.

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.

Lanzarote is relatively small and a hiring a car will enable you to drive from one end of the island to the other easily. Be sure to visit Timanfaya National Park with moon-like scape, Timanfaya Volcano, l and steaming geysers; the Fundación César Manrique and the past home of the isl's famous artist and architect; and Los Jameos del Aguas, a huge collapsed lava tube with an underground lake and a spectacular blue pool that can be used as a concert venue.

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

On the eastern coast, you'll find steep cliffs and coves which are perfect for snorkeling or scuba-diving, due to the subterranean trove of caves and rock formations. In the southern part, a region of virgin beaches called Jandía makes up one of the most crucial wild areas on the island. Almost all the beaches here are nude beaches and offer an experience of untouched nature away from the bustle of tourism, where hardly any roads can access. You can also take a short ferry-ride over to the Island of Lobos, a protected natural reserve where a great variety of bird and plant species can be spotted.

Getting there: Flights come into Fuerteventura Airport, 5 km outside of Puerto del Rosario, from the other islands and from most major European cities. Ferries arrive at Corralejo from Lanzarote, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria.

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 big 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 Isl, like Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and s.

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...

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

Buses are the most common 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!

Canarian cuisine is a mix between Spanish, Latin and African cultures. Most of Canarian cuisine is a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit and fish, generally light meals, more simple to digest in a warm climate. Meat is generally consumed as a part of stews or as steaks.

Getting there: Direct flights to La Palma airport in the town 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

The tapas concept is one of the most delicious Spanish contributions to international gastronomy. A Tapa is a light and small piece of food that Spaniards have either before lunch or dinner, usually with a glass of wine or beer. The Tapa can be presented in several ways. It can be made as a pincho (with a stick), as a mini-dish of a traditional recipe, as a canapé, etc...

The Canary Islands are Europe's only exporter of plantain bananas. They are famously delicious here. These bananas are often fried and are also commonly found in the West Indies.

Other attractions on El Hierro include its natural swimming pools of tranquil water at Tamaduste and Monacal, both situated 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 up with minced meat, cheese, or sweet mango.
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