Set in the Atlantic off the African coast, the Canary Islands are justly popular with those seeking year-round sunshine and warm seas. The beautiful sandy beaches, whether golden or startlingly black, are ideal for family holidays and there are plenty of activities to appeal to all ages. Each island has its own special charm, so whether you are looking for water sports, a lively nightlife, miles of empty sandy beaches or mountainous landscapes, there is a Canary Island that is just right for you.
Because of the influence of the famous architect Cesar Manrique, buildings on the island are low-rise and are all painted white with green or blue trim. Lanzarote is famous for its lunar-like volcanic landscapes, and Timanfaya National Park featured in the movie "Planet of the Apes".
The island is a mecca for fans of water sports and there are many surf schools where your kids can learn the basics. Snorkeling, sailing and jet-skiing are also widely available. The island has some of the best beaches in the Canary Islands, and a boat trip, to visit the five remote and untouched stretches of golden sand at Papagayo Beach, is an experience the whole family will enjoy.
Gran Canaria enjoys a pleasant subtropical climate all year round and has miles and miles of beaches so it is perfect for soaking up the sun. Gran Canaria is a perfect vacation base if your family enjoys cycling, as a network of cycle trails allows you to explore the island.
Walkers are not forgotten either: hiking trails take you inland through remote villages to visit caves and mountains. The main resorts are Maspalomas, Puerto Mogan and Playa del Ingles, and the capital, Las Palmas, is noted for its vibrant nightlife.
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and has all the tourist facilities needed for your family. Tenerife is dominated by Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, and in the Parque Nacional Las Canadas del Teide you can admire weird volcanic rock formations. There are many walking and mountain cycling trails through the park. One of the most popular visitor attractions is Loro Parque, with its dazzling collection of tropical birds. Offshore, you can take a boat trip to see pilot whales and dolphins.
Fuerteventura is a paradise for surfers and windsurfers, as the Atlantic breezes blowing briskly on to its miles of sandy beaches create first-class waves. The island's tourism revolves around the beaches, of both black and white sand. Nightlife is more relaxed than on the larger islands and families will enjoy a day out at the Baku Euro Waterpark.
Not quite as straightforward to reach from the West as the larger islands, requiring a ferry or air transfer, La Gomera is popular with sailors. La Gomera's landscape is beautiful and quite varied, with mountains, rainforests, cliffs and secluded beaches. Its tourism is less developed than on the larger islands and the island is well-suited to those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Whichever island you choose, it’s guaranteed to give you the relaxation you deserve and plenty of fun times for the kids.
Images by blinking idiot, Tony Hisgett, Chris Morgan, Mareike Liese and Alfonso Aguirre Arbex used under creative commons license.