The Canary Islands offer landscapes and scenery unlike any in the world, with their actively volcanic sub-tropical climate, historically untouched pockets of civilisation and coasts that look out to the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
Flights to the Canary Islands take only 5 hours from London so they’re a great holiday opportunity. These 5 idyllic spots are some of the more hidden treasures of these majestic isles:
A small mountain hamlet on Tenerife, with less than a 100 residents, Masca wasn’t connected to the modern world by roads until the 1970s. Amongst the 7 million year old Teno Mountains, the rural community retains its historically isolated charm, with unique cottages built into impossible slopes and stony walkways that take you through a simple agricultural community.
The small museum at Lomo de Masca will immerse you in the area’s history, and the relaxing views from the Bar Riquelme terrace offer a humbling resting spot.
The surrounding mountains and amazingly sloped forests are covered in plantlife, with cypresses and palm trees, and make for a fantastic hiking environment. At the head of the Masca Gorge, you can take a trail from the village down to a beach resting on the Atlantic Ocean – a necessarily strenuous trip to do justice to the area.
Charco de los Clicos
On the west coast of Lanzarote, this cliff-enclosed beach is accessible through a short hike from the fishing village of El Golfo. Unprotected from the Atlantic (with nothing between this coast and America), the rocky terrain has been sculpted magnificently by crashing waves and volcanic activity – a backdrop worth seeing in its own right, before you even reach the unique lagoon of Charco de los Clicos.
There, though, you’ll find a spectacle unlike any other: the vivid green water (coloured by algae) is amazingly offset by the black ashen sand that surrounds it, the red cliffs that loom over it. Tourist buses can take you down crowded routes to see the lake, but the walk up from El Golfo offers a far superior viewing point.
Explore the beach itself and you can find gem remnants that were scattered by the breaking up of the nearby volcano. These semi-precious peridotes, resembling emeralds, are beautifully rewarding, but hard to find.
Garachico Rook Pools
When a volcanic eruption destroyed the town of Garachico’s harbour in 1706, and consequently removed its main source of income, it formed what is now its main attraction: a seafront network of pools and paths in the old lava.
Past all the charm of Indian laurel trees, secretive shops that look like houses, Moorish churches and a boutique hotel, people come to the town for its natural swimming pools on the seafront. In a unique location where the coast is formed by unwelcomingly haphazard volcanic remnants, the pools of Garachico are sheltered calm spots in an alien landscape.
Garajonay National Park
The original inhabitants of La Gomera made a grand sanctuary of the island’s central mountain summit, and it’s easy to see why. From the peaks of this remarkably lush island, you can see a landscape quite unlike any other in the Canary Islands.
A short distance from Tenerife, the tropical forests of Garajonay National Park on La Gomera offer journeys into a lost world with magical views. This ancient location houses pre-Ice Age flora, and from the high mountain trails, such as those that snake over the Alto de Garojonay, you can see the rest of the Canaries.
Translating to the ‘Colours Waterfall’, this incredible sight rests on the oft-forgotten smaller island of La Palma. If you’ve taken flights all this way, it’s worth going that little bit further to see something as special as this. The erosion crater this waterfall is housed in, Caldera de Taburiente, is enormous, and can be difficult to traverse, so don’t expect results without a challenge, here.
If you can brave the strenuous hike, following the small ‘Bitter Almond’ river with its rusty colour (thanks to the high iron content of the surrounding rocks), you’ll find the Cascada Colorada in a small untouched cove; one of the most strikingly colourful waterfalls you’re likely to see.
(photo credit: 1)