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By: Damion Castleberry
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

Each of the Canary Islands (and their satellite isles) are very different in feel. Some people love one island, but hate another. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and your island encounters may be totally different to the experiences of another. While some of them are real beach destinations, like Fuerteventura, others combine culture and like Gran Canaria, Tenerife and nature. Whereas La Palma is very beautiful with a tropical feeling.

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.

The island is served by two airports Tenerife South Airport (TFS) and Tenerife North Airport (TFN) with the majority of tourists landing in the south and heading to resorts such as Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos and the quieter Costa Adeje. Puerto de la Cruz in the north of the island is another firm favourite with British holidaymakers and the nearby Loro Parque wildlife park with parrots, sea lions and penguins is a large hit with all of the family.

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.

The following islands are part of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria:

North of Fuerteventura and the closest of the islands to Africa, Lanzarote offers art and architecture, sunshine galore, a lunar-like landscape and activities for individuals who want to work up a sweat including mountain biking and surfing.

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.

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, l, steaming geysers and Timanfaya Volcano; 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 is utilized as a concert venue.

Fuerteventura is also notable for its dry climate, giant white sand dunes, and camels ready to give tourists a lift only 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.

The largest resort on the island, Playa del Ingles, is on the south coast and offers fun-filled holidays for visitors who enjoy strolling down its promenade and drinking in the bars and clubs. Other popular resorts include Playa del Ingles' quieter neighbour, San Augustin; advanced Maspalomas with its world-famous sand dunes; pretty and exclusive Puerto Mogan; and stylish Meloneras.

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.

Don't forget about the endless white sand beaches and turquoise waters, which may be enjoyed in Maspalomas , located next to an area of sand dunes, and also in Playa del Inglés, both of which make up the more popular areas for beach-going. For quieter beaches and pretty coves, try La Costa de Bañaderos or Playa de las Nieves, both of which offer incredible mountain views.

Whichever Canary Island takes your fancy and whether you are looking for an all-inclusive getaway or a self-catering bargain, find the best prices by using TravelSupermarket's search tool.

Sun-worshippers are well served on Canary Island holidays. Read on to discover the best time to visit for you...

Mount Teide and its surrounding volcanic craters and peaks of Las Cañadas make up the comprehensive Mount Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can take the cable car all the way up close to the summit of Mount Teide, and if you're up for some walking, load your lungs up with oxygen for the altitude. There are numerous hiking trails that showcase a view of an extraterrestrial landscape.

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 city of Santa Cruz from Gran Canaria, La Palma, and Fuerteventura.

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.

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 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.

But the most spectacular site by far on the island is the National Park of La Caldera de Turburiente , a massive crater formed by the erosion of a volcano. With a perimeter of 9 kilometers and depth of up to 770 meters, this crater is one of the largest in the world. Covered with thick forests and home to a biological diversity of almost a hundred different plant species, its beauty can be appreciated from the surrounding mountains, and also from points such as Mirador de la Cumbrecita.

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, located close to the island's highest mountain, Roque de los Muchachos.

The local fish is fairly good. You will find a wide variety of international recipes of fish and seafood, too. Two popular fish dishes from Tenerife are Caldereta, a meal with tomatoes, goat meat and potatoes and the Sancocho Canario, a salted fish, usually white, in a mojo" sauce.

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 offer a relaxing, non-package tourist vacation.

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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