The Canary Islands, sitting just off the coast of Africa, have been a popular holiday destination for years due to their mild climate, tourist-friendly atmosphere and abundance of natural beauty. However, tourist hotspots like Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote can be extremely busy during the holiday season and you may be looking for a new place to explore.
Luckily, there are eight beautiful Canary Islands in total, and the lesser-known Canaries offer a back-to-nature feel that shouldn’t be missed.
Here, we take a look at new destinations for you to get out and explore on your next holiday.
Lesser-Known Canary Islands
La Gomera is the second-smallest of the Canary Islands and sits to the west of Tenerife. Christopher Columbus stopped here before heading out to discover America, and so its colloquial name in Spanish is Isla Columbina or Columbus’s Island.
The island just oozes classical Spanish charm and is almost stuck in time. If you want to forget about the modern world and go back to simple, carefree living, then La Gomera could be just the place for you.
To get there, you’ll need to first fly to Tenerife South, drive to Los Cristianos, and then take the ferry across to San Sebastián from there. In some ways, not being able to fly there simply adds to the experience, as if you are leaving behind the modern world of Tenerife and the boat trip is a step back in time.
Make sure to head into Garajonay National Park, a rainforest that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The vegetation is unusual and is almost prehistoric, which according to UNESCO, is incredibly unusual to see in southern Europe. The forest is certainly misty and mysterious and lends itself to long hikes, where you can feel like you are exploring another world.
For those who prefer their walks a little less shrouded in greenery, visit Valle Gran Rey, a black sand beach framed by a dramatic red rock on the western side of La Gomera.
There are no asphalt roads on La Graciosa, which gives you a sense of just how natural and untouched the island is. This small island has only just recently become an official Canary Island in 2018, and before was just regarded as an extension of Lanzarote.
Due to the lack of accessibility for cars (only licensed vehicles are allowed) most people choose to see the island either by foot or by bike. Helpfully, a lot of routes are signposted. Hiring a bike in Caleta de Sebo is also no problem as there are many bike hire shops around.
Head out for a picnic at Playa de las Conchas, a beautiful untouched beach on the north side of the island.
For those who love the water, once you want a change of scenery from the beach, make sure to book scuba diving. La Graciosa benefits from access to the Chinijo archipelago, the largest marine reserve in Europe, which is a must-visit location for divers. There are plenty of unusual species to be found here, as well as plenty of caves and tunnels to explore.
The smallest and farthest west of the Canary Islands, El Hierro is both a World Biosphere Reserve and a Geopark, and is full of rocky clifflines, crashing waves and black volcanic earth. A true nature retreat, this island is famed for its calm atmosphere and is renowned as a destination for people to rest and recharge.
It is also well-known as a destination for those who want a sustainable, eco-friendly holiday. The island runs on 100% renewable energy and places this ethos at the heart of everything here, with an ongoing sustainability plan in place. The energy is generated using hydro and wind power, making the most natural landscapes, including waterfalls.
El Hierro also celebrates excellent food and wine. The cuisine focuses on seafood, as you might expect from an island, but also cheese and other dishes made from locally farmed ingredients.
You might recognise quesadillas on the menu, and order them expecting a baked savoury tortilla with cheese. But here, a quesadilla is a sweet dessert, consisting of a cheesecake-style filling with lemon, aniseed and honey.
That’s all in this blog on the lesser-known Canary Islands. If you feel I have missed a name that deserves a mention in this list, please leave a comment below.