THE CALL OF THE CA­NARIES

There’s an is­land to suit all tastes in this sunny archipelago, says Joanna Tweedy

Daily Mail - - Winter Sun Special -

AS we are busy filling hot wa­ter bot­tles, the Ca­nary Is­lands are bask­ing in tem­per­a­tures of 20c or more.

This spec­tac­u­lar Span­ish archipelago — seven is­lands off Africa’s western shoul­der — is just a four-and-a-half hour flight from the UK, and de­liv­ers a wealth of hol­i­day op­tions.

whether you want to marvel at the moon­scapes of Tener­ife’s vol­canic heart, swim with an­gel sharks in Fuerteven­tura or trace Christo­pher Colum­bus’s steps on re­mote el Hierro, there is, as the well-worn say­ing goes, some­thing for every­one . . .

BEST FOR COOL CATS: LAN­ZAROTE

THE LOW- DOWN: with mono­lithic ar­chi­tec­ture and an oth­er­worldly land­scape that in­cludes vol­canic cones, stark black sands and flame- coloured moun­tains, Lan­zarote has style in spades. Cel­e­brated Ca­narian artist Ce­sar Man­rique’s sig­na­ture is sim­ply ev­ery­where. Build­ings are de­lib­er­ately low- rise — and fre­quently sur­real — thanks to his in­flu­ence on Six­ties planning.

TOP TIPS: Take in Man­rique’s work at the In­ter­na­tional Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art in Ar­recife; drive the wind­ing LZ-702 route from west to south for scenic drama — then lounge like a

lan­zaroteño on Pa­pa­gayo beach.

BOOK IT: Stay at the three-bed Villa Orilla in Playa Blanca from £ 109 per night in Fe­bru­ary ( vil­laplus.com, 01727 836 686) Flights from Leeds Brad­ford for £105 ( jet2.com).

BEST FOR ESCAPE: EL HIERRO

THE LOW-DOWN: The fi­nal flick of boot- shaped land at europe’s end, el Hierro was Colum­bus’s launch pad in 1492.

Six cen­turies on, it still feels as if you are flirt­ing with the edge of the world.

with dra­mat­i­cally craggy coast and poppy- strewn mead­ows in the north giv­ing way to des­o­late lu­nar-like ter­rain fur­ther south, el Hierro is ideal for the more in­trepid vis­i­tor.

TOP TIPS: Ob­serve botan­i­cal beauty in ru­ral re­serve el Golfo in the north-west; try wild swim­ming in northerly La Caleta’s sea holes, where an­cient stone carv­ings are etched into rocks nearby.

BOOK IT: State-run Parador de el Hierro has dou­bles from £60 a night ( parador.es). The three-hour ferry from Los Cris­tianos costs around £ 75 ( navier­aar­mas.com). Fly to Tener­ife from Gatwick with Nor­we­gian in Jan­uary from £108 ( nor­we­gian.com).

BEST FOR FAM­I­LIES: TENER­IFE

THE LOW-DOWN: with its gar­land of salt-and-pep­per sand beaches, year­round swim­suit weather and mighty theme parks, the largest Ca­nary Isle is per­fect for younger tourists.

An ex­plo­sion of swish, fam­i­lyfriendly re­sorts in re­cent years — many of them all-in­clu­sive and with high-qual­ity chil­dren’s clubs — has made Tener­ife a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to Florida and the Caribbean for outof-sea­son get­aways.

TOP TIPS: Squawk with laugh­ter at the par­rot-themed Loro Par­que; join a whale-watch­ing tour — there are 26 species to spot.

Clam­ber over the spec­tac­u­lar 3,718 m Mount Teide’s char­coal­coloured lava fields.

BOOK IT: A five-night easter stay for four in a two-bed apart­ment at Ho­tel Suite Villa Maria, Costa Adeje, costs £3,776 in to­tal, based on an April 10 de­par­ture from Gatwick ( sov­er­eign.

com, 01293 762 400).

BEST FOR THRILLS: FUERTEVEN­TURA

THE LOW-DOWN: Just 60 miles from the African coast, with vast swathes of ash-black beach and thun­der­ous turquoise seas, Fuerteven­tura (mean­ing ‘strong winds’) dou­bles up as an ad­ven­ture play­ground.

Surfers — of both kite and wind va­ri­ety — flock to the north shore around Cor­ralejo (dubbed europe’s Hawaii) to pit their kit against high­rolling waves.

Climb­ing, moun­tain bik­ing and scuba div­ing are also hugely pop­u­lar in this area.

TOP TIPS: Ride a wall of wa­ter at Playa Cotillo; dive with an­gel sharks on nearby Isla de Lo­bos; hur­tle through arid canyons around Te­se­jer­ague in a dune buggy.

BOOK IT: Star Surf Camps of­fers half­board ac­com­mo­da­tion in el Cotillo — with nine hours of lessons, equip­ment and trans­fers — for £372 ( star­sur­f­camps.com, 020 8133 5337). Bri­tish Air­ways flies to Fuerteven­tura from Gatwick for £105, based on Fe­bru­ary 3 de­par­tures ( ba.com).

BEST FOR FOODIES: GRAN CA­NARIA

THE LOW DOWN: Bury any thoughts of all-day break­fasts, lager at 8am or egg and chips with the sun­set — a gas­tro­nomic rein­ven­tion is sim­mer­ing nicely here.

Along­side Tener­ife, which boasts a twin­kling string of Miche­lin stars, Gran Ca­naria’s Las Pal­mas — the archipelago’s big­gest city — is lead­ing the Ca­narian culi­nary charge.

Amid its laid-back, eth­ni­cally-rich streets, one might chow down on ev­ery­thing from Uruguayan street food at el Novillo Pre­coz to ocean­fresh sashimi at Fuji — or tra­di­tional Ca­narian dishes at in­ven­tive Tasca La Lonja.

TOP TIPS: en­joy mon­ta­di­tos — just­baked rolls burst­ing with Ser­rano ham — and a glass of crisp white wine for just a few eu­ros at a vil­lage

tasca (bar). Las Pal­mas’s 128- stall port- side mar­ket will make you hun­gry — shop for palm honey, par­rot­fish and par­tic­u­larly gofio flour. The lat­ter is an is­land sta­ple.

BOOK IT: Dou­bles at B&B Bed and Chic in Las Pal­mas start from about £49 in Fe­bru­ary ( be­dand­chic.com). Flights with easy-Jet from Manch­ester are about £150 ( easyjet.com).

BEST FOR RO­MANCE: LA GOMERA

THE LOW-DOWN: Head west on a 45minute ferry ride from Tener­ife’s tourist-heavy Los Cris­tianos and you reach La Gomera. You will feel as if you have ar­rived on your very own lit­tle is­land.

escape the rel­a­tive bus­tle of the cap­i­tal San Se­bas­tian and dash in­stead into the deep, emer­ald

bar­ran­cos (val­leys) and de­serted pre­his­toric ter­rain that have made it al­most im­pos­si­ble for mass tourism to in­vade this tiny isle.

The busy ho­tel zones of south­west­ern Tener­ife will sud­denly feel a long way away.

TOP TIPS: en­joy long, slow lunches in gor­geous vil­lages such as el Cer­cado and swim as the tan­ger­ine sun tum­bles into the At­lantic at west coast Valle Gran Rey.

BOOK IT: Dou­ble rooms at the Ho­tel Ru­ral Tamahuche in the val­ley of Valle­hermoso start at £72 per night ( hoteltamahuche.com). Ferry tick­ets from Tener­ife to La Gomera cost from £ 65 re­turn

( fredolsen.es). Ryanair flies into Tener­ife from six dif­fer­ent UK air­ports; re­turn flights from Birm­ing­ham, de­part­ing on Fe­bru­ary 3, cost from £165 ( ryanair.com).

BEST FOR WALK­ERS: LA PALMA

THE LOW- DOWN: A UNESCO-stamped re­serve and the lush­est of the Ca­nary Is­lands, La Palma (or ‘ beau­ti­ful isle’ as it’s known) is lat­ticed with walk­ing routes.

More than enough to fill a decade of hol­i­days on foot. These wind­ing trails pass through the ver­dant rain­for­est in the north to the bar­ren bad­lands in the south, via the show- steal­ing Caldera de Taburi­ente — a gar­gan­tuan vol­canic caul­dron fringed by tow­er­ing peaks. The Ca­naries’ lava-fried ori­gins are rarely more ob­vi­ous than when clouds scud low over this ge­o­graph­i­cal kraken.

TOP TIPS: Hike to the ob­ser­va­tory at Roque de los Mucha­chos at 2,426m for views of Caldera.

Re-charge with a bar­raquito (a citrus-in­fused milky cof­fee) at El Cafe de Don Manuel in Santa Cruz de la Palma, which is owned by one of Europe’s best baris­tas.

BOOK IT: A seven-night self-guided walk­ing tour with In­ntravel costs £755 pp, based on de­par­tures be­fore April and ac­com­mo­da­tion in three is­land B& Bs. Prices in­clude flights via Tener­ife from across the UK ( in­ntravel.co.uk, 01653 617001).

To­tally Tener­ife: The largest of the Ca­nary Is­lands has a won­der­ful beach in north-west­erly Playa de las Tere­si­tas, above; left, folk-danc­ing in Las Pal­mas, Gran Ca­naria

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