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24th September, 2018

Canary Island hopping on a cruise

Think you know the Canary Islands? Think again! A cruise around the archipelago is proof that there’s so much more to enjoy than your standard beachside break.

You may well have visited one or more of the Canary Islands before. Since the big holiday boom in the 1960s, these welcoming little islands, scattered just 60 miles from the west coast of Africa, soon developed into tourist hotspots.

And with their stunning beaches of gold and black sand, charming villages and endless sunshine, it’s not too hard to work out why.

But joining a cruise offers something refreshingly different. As you sail around the archipelago, you can discover a new island every day, waking up in a different destination.

It really highlights just how distinct they are, each one full of its own delights.


Mount Teide on Tenerife is famous for its striking landscapes

On the largest Canary Island, Tenerife, you’re never far from the shadow of Mount Teide – a fantastic National Park to explore.

Rising up 12,000 feet, it’s the highest peak in Spanish territory and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Back closer to the ship is Santa Cruz, the island’s pretty capital, which has grown substantially from a small fishing village into a modern city.

But a stroll around will reveal plenty of ornate private mansions, not to mention some grand 16th-century colonial buildings too.

Gran Canaria

The famous Sahara-like sand dunes of Gran Canaria

And while neighbouring Gran Canaria may be famed for its flawless beaches, beyond its shores lies a land of forests and deserts.

There’s even the chance to set off into the dunes on a camel-back safari – but rider beware – it’s more than a tad bumpy!


El Golfo, Lanzarote

For an insight into the Canaries’ volcanic origins, you can’t beat Lanzarote. Here, the stark lunar-like landscape is pockmarked by 300 volcanic cones.

If you visit, don’t miss a trip to Fire Mountain, where you can learn how heat from the earth is hot enough to cook food.

Or travel further around the island and it’s easy to find bright splashes of colour to contrast with the lava beds – like sleepy villages lined with whitewashed houses, the lush vineyards of La Geria, and the turquoise lagoon of El Golfo.

Other Canary Islands

A waterfall at Los Tilos, La Palma

If you can, pick a cruise that offers the chance to visit some of the smaller isles such as La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro – ones that are off the standard tourist trail.

They have a much more undeveloped feel than their sisters, with forests of pine, laurel and fern, deep valleys and ravines.

Perfect for relaxing nature walks – such as the stunning misty ‘cloud forest’ of Los Tilos. Quite unexpected on the Canary Islands!

An extra highlight on some cruises is a day ashore on the non-Canary island of Madeira, a beguiling mixture of Portugal, Edwardian Britain and the Garden of Eden.

Here you can ride the cable car up to the mountain village of Monte, then hurtle back down in a wicker toboggan – if you dare.

Some itineraries also include stops just across the ocean to nearby Morocco, where a treasure trove of cities lie, including fabled Casablanca with its heady, fragrant markets and old-world charm.

When it comes to the best time of year to plan your Canary Island escape, the truth is, every month is good!

The isles tend to have fine weather all year round, although a great choice is to visit when the British winter kicks in. Add in a number of all-inclusive departures, and you have a really unique – and great value – escape

Tempted by an ocean cruise around the Canary Islands? Browse our cruise holidays:

Pure Canaries

Adventure in the Canaries and Morocco

The Volcanic Isles

Canaries Christmas Cheer

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.