Q: Which Canary Island is best for you and your family?
A: All of them!
The Canary Islands, a volcanic 7-island archipelago off south-west Morocco, is a near-perfect holiday destination. Their subtropical climate brings year-round sunshine, plus you get super natural attractions including beautiful coastlines, national parks, and lush topiary. Families come for the glorious beaches and great-value accommodation. Bonus: there’s no jetlag as you’re on European time! No wonder they’re known as the Fortunate Islands! So which will you take your kids to?
The ‘Island of Eternal Spring’, Tenerife is the largest and most touristy of the Canary Islands, and is served by the most flights. While some areas are been over-developed (in the south), half is protected for its astonishing biodiversity across 6 different vegetation zones. In its centre, UNESCO-listed Teide National Park holds Spain’s highest mountain, the Pico del Teide volcano, and an observatory (there’s great stargazing on the Canary Islands). Expect ravines and valleys in the interior, whereas the craggy coastline has plentiful beaches; those in the north come with black volcanic sand.
Where to Stay
Best Fly and Flop
Families will love apart-hotel Baobab Suites, an immaculate coastal resort just 20 minutes from the international airport. It has spacious suites (some with private pools or Jacuzzis), big main pools with splash areas, a sports centre, free kids club and family-friendly eateries. A safe, sandy beach is 15 minutes’ walk away (or there’s a shuttle bus), and you’re in the popular Costa Adeje, which has restaurants, shopping and waterparks.
La Malvasia is a trio of pretty stone cottages on the outskirts of a small village, 6km from the South-east coast. They each sleep 4-6, share a glorious pool and sun-deck with shaded chill-out area, and have views out to the Prussian blue sea.
More tropical than its cohorts, Lanzarote, the most easterly of the archipelago, has extraordinary lunar volcanic landscapes, such as the Mountains of Fire craters in the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya. Contrary to popular belief, the island is wonderfully undeveloped – no high rises! Beaches are fewer but offer golden sands and surfing.
Where to Stay
Quirky Finca de Arrieta is a great-value eco-resort set among peach and mango trees in the north of the island. The accommodation suits every size and shape of family, including stone cottages and Mongolian yurts, all with great kitchens and Balinese furniture. Kids will adore the fabulous adventure playground complete with trampoline, giant chess set and boat-turned-play structure. There are farm animals to meet, and a solar-heated pool, plus a sandy beach a short walk away.
Stylish Finca Malvasia is a charming oasis of whitewashed stone cottages and a sub-tropical garden, set amongst vineyards. There’s a sparkling pool, well-equipped kitchens for easy self-catering, and welcoming owners who help you get the most out of your stay. You’re 15 minutes from the airport; beaches are even closer.
Beautifully restored farmhouse Villa Guatiza sleeps up to 4-6 in 2 bedrooms (+ sofa bed for kids). Pleasingly, you get an idyllic pool area, a walled garden and generous kitchen leading to a veranda with views to the hills.
‘Micro-continent’ Gran Canaria is the one with the most varied ecosystems. From sweeping sand dunes to lush valleys, a 1/3 of the island is protected as a Biosphere Reserve. Tourist development is mostly confined to the warmer and sunnier south; head to the cooler north for dramatic cliffs and mountains. There’s diving, hiking, and the best beaches are found on the east coast.
Where to Stay
Best Rural Hotel
Twenty minutes north-east of the airport lies tranquil Hotel El Mondalon surrounded by farmland. There are 10 rooms, hiking trails from the front door and a delightful restaurant. Parents will love the solar-heated pool with its Jacuzzi; kids will enjoy the playshed’s toys, books and games. There are also farm animals to meet, a children’s entertainer at weekends, and a small playground. The beaches are 10km away and you can horse-ride nearby.
Wanting to get off the beaten track? Head to the most north-westerly island, La Palma, the least developed and most scenic in the pack. There’s a premier observatory at its summit, much of the terrain is National Park, it’s still geologically active, and it has the most diverse plant life, including lots of pine forest. Wild black-sand beaches contrast with pastel-coloured colonial villages. Kids will be fascinated by the water tunnels (minas galerias) which transport water collected by condensation at altitude to the villages and plantations below.
Where to Stay
Traditional Canarian residence Casa Los Geranios is in the sunnier south, perched on a hillside with superb views over vineyards and banana plantations out to the shining sea. Old-school in style, and great value, it can sleep up to 8 in 3 bedrooms. There are gardens for playing hide and seek, plus beach toys to take to the black beaches. The wonderful owner greets you with a welcome hamper and homemade cake, there are supermarkets and restaurants nearby.