The Canary Islands: Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuertaventura & Lanzaroteby Kelly Lipscomb
In most cases travelers begin their trip here on one of the two most popular islands and, if they want, use the ferry boats to reach the smaller islands for short day-excursions. While Gran Canaria and Tenerife offer the widest array of tourist entertainment and accommodations, each has beautiful and largely unspoiled natural areas just a short drive from the… See more details below
In most cases travelers begin their trip here on one of the two most popular islands and, if they want, use the ferry boats to reach the smaller islands for short day-excursions. While Gran Canaria and Tenerife offer the widest array of tourist entertainment and accommodations, each has beautiful and largely unspoiled natural areas just a short drive from the developed centers of activity. Scuba diving is popular in places around the islands, as is surfing and windsurfing. And each offers an extensive and varied network of hiking paths which are most frequented and best maintained within and around the four national parks. Naturalists found in the Canary Islands a botanical paradise, a haven for over 600 native species, including the mythical dragon tree, a variety of endemic birds and one species of giant lizard capable of growing up to six feet long. Today, with four of Spain's 12 national parks on the islands accounting for some 35% of their total land mass, sustaining this wondrous natural environment is a reasonable ambition despite the steady growth of tourism. With peninsular Spain over 1,500 watery km (930 miles) to the north, a look and feel quite distinct from the motherland becomes quickly apparent once you're standing on the tierra firma of the Canary Islands. The steady, year-round spring temperatures - which can come as a godsend while the rest of Spain endures its tempestuous swelters and freezes with no happy medium in sight - make exploring the wilder spaces as comfortable as a snooze on one of the hundreds of beaches. If natural, the beaches will be volcano dark and hot to the soles of sensitive feet or, if manmade, cool with Saharan sand like that of Tenerife's crowded Playa de las Americas. The many landscapes of the islands are a mix of rare and otherworldly scenery in settings that range from lush volcanic highlands to arid, semi-desert flats. Though scientists have put forth a plausible explanation concerning the origin of these islands, ancient myths linger on and add a certain element of intrigue to the Canaries. Ancient Greek poets and philosophers associated them with the mythical Elysian Fields, the Garden of the Hesperides, and the lost continent of Atlantis - fantastical, Edenesque realms somewhere beyond the Pillars of Hercules (now recognized as the Strait of Gibraltar on Spain's southern coast). Every detail is here for the traveler - where to stay, where to eat, entertainment, activities of all kinds, from hiking to canoeing, concerts to festivals. An extensive section on what you need to know when traveling to Spain in general, plus a language and Spanish vocabulary chapter is included. "A great new resource." -- Travel + Leisure. "The perfect companion for planning." -- Rutgers Magazine. "These useful travel guides are highly recommended..." -- Library Journal
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