The Canaries are a fantastic holiday destination, no matter whether you want to sun yourself on desert sands, or treat the kids to action-packed water parks and animal attractions. But, if you’re looking for something beyond the beach huts, the islands make a great backdrop to a walking holiday, especially in late summer and the early autumn months. Here are some ideas on where to head for the best hikes in the Canary Islands…
Lanzarote holidays offer some of the best sands in the archipelago, but the whole of the island is also a protected Biosphere, including the unique volcanic landscape of Timanfaya National Park. As such, there are golden opportunities for hiking here.
Families staying around the idyllic beaches of the south have a good option for an easy walk from Playa Blanca up to the summit of Montana Roja, or the ‘Red Mountain’. Actually a volcano, it takes around half an hour to reach the crater, where you’ll find superb views across to the Hache Grande and other mountains in the rusty-coloured range. You will need to book a guide in order to explore Timanfaya on foot but there are free tours available form the Mancha Blanca Visitor Centre.
La Palma is known as the greenest and arguably the most beautiful of the Canaries, and its relative anonymity compared to other islands like Tenerife works well in its favour. La Palma is blessed with many natural habitats perfect for exploring on foot.
Try the north-eastern Los Tilos gorge, a hike that will take you through a sub-tropical rainforest. The area is accessible by a main road to Los Sauces and there is a car park and visitor centre near the start of the trails.
If you have beginners or young children in your party, you might like to do the circular route from Los Llanos to Tazacorte around the western shore, which allows you to explore a number of attractive towns, banana plantations and volcanic beaches, but also enables you to complete some sections by car, if needed.
La Gomera comes highly recommended for fans of the outdoors. Get there by ferry from neighbouring Tenerife, but leave the commercial holiday resorts behind as you step into a nearly untouched paradise of lush forests, wide canyons and remote villages.
A popular area for hiking is the Valle Gran Rey, near the major port of San Sebastian. You can take the leisurely option and walk between the picturesque villages of La Calera, Playa and Vueltas or more adventurous families with older children might want to tackle the cliff walk up to Arure. Keep a sharp eye out for the local giant lizards, once thought to be extinct.
The northerly portion of the island is covered by the Garagonay National Park, a botanical realm of laurel woodland and terraced plantations. The best introductory walk here is the straightforward Las Creces trail from the Juego de Bolas visitor centre.
Remember to come prepared: though many of the walks on these islands are suitable for families, it’s a good idea to ensure everyone has adequate footwear for the rocky terrain and applies plenty of sun cream as well! The best time to go is after September when the temperature begins to drop, leaving visitors with ideal conditions for walking.
Images used under Creative Comms license: by Son of Groucho, Jose Fco. Lopez Feliciano. Thumbnail by Max Bisschop.