Cheap holidays in the Canary Islands are perennially popular among UK travellers thanks to the combination of their perfect location – off the coast of North Africa, making them a short-haul destination – and their Spanish colonial heritage which makes them part of the EU and as “familiar” to British tourist eyes as the Costa del Sol.
As the budget airline sector has mushroomed since 2001, the number of airlines offering cheap flights to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuertaventura and Lanzarote, while eco-tourism to the lesser-known islands such as La Gomera, La Palma, the tiny isles of the Chinijo Archipelago and El Hierro has also become easier and more frequent.
In recent months there has been a new object of fascination for any intrepid eco-tourist keen to witness the wonders of the natural world, just off the island of El Hierro – spectacular submarine volcanic eruptions. Local islanders have been experiencing alarming tremors and water columns belching ash, while geologists and vulcanologists have flocked to the island to study the phenomenon. Although the eruptions have not affected cheap holidays in Tenerife or the main tourist islands – El Hierro is the smallest of the Canary Islands and lies the farthest to the south and west out in the Atlantic – towns and villages on the island itself have been periodically evacuated by the authorities.
The latest developments seem to indicate that the volcanic activity is taking place closer to the surface of the ocean – raising the fascinating prospect that scientific observers may be witnessing the birth of a new island! Currently many of the experts do not think, that enough magma is being produced to create a new island, but the situation is changing all the time.
If a new island is born, then another eruption will take place: the eruption of debate as to who administers the island and what to call it. Ultimately, of course, there will be the scramble among the budget airlines over who will be the first to fly to it!