Not just a winter sun mainstay; the Canary Islands are the perfect place to get physical, finds Karl Cushing
Spain’s Canary Islands are a magnet for lycra-clad audiences, from cyclists and runners to footballers doing their winter training. Located off the north west coast of Africa, warm temperatures last well into winter, making the islands ideally suited for off-season active pursuits. Tenerife and Lanzarote offer an excellent mix of terrain, from scenic valleys to lofty mountains, plus the islands are home to four of Spain’s 15 national parks, with plenty of great hiking trails. Factor in sporty resorts such as Lanzarote’s Club La Santa, and Fuerteventura’s Playitas, as well as events like Tenerife Walking Festival and the Gran Canaria Marathon, and it’s a no brainer for active holidaymakers.
What: Hiker’s paradise.
What it involves: Operator KE Adventure Travel calls La Gomera ‘the walkers’ Canary Island’. It offers a great range of trails, with walks suitable for most ages and abilities. Highlights include nature-rich Garajonay National Park with trails such as Las Creces, an easy circular three mile walk, and Valle Gran Rey, home to walks like the four-mile La Calera-La Mérica-Arure. Vallehermoso also has some nice trails starting from the town centre.
How to do it: Inntravel’s seven-night, self-guided walking tour, Hidden Gem of the Canaries, costs £865pp from 1 September- 31 October 2017, excluding flights but including accommodation and a shared transfer from Tenerife South Airport. inntravel.co.uk
What: Bouldering and climbing Spain’s
What it involves: Tenerife, along with Gran Canaria, is best provisioned to support climbers’ needs and, at12,198ft, rugged Mount Teide offers not just height, but a range of climbing challenges and routes. Teide, best tackled from September-October and April-May, is also a hit with hikers. Bouldering is big on the island, with key sites including Arico, Guaria and La Canada del Capricho.
How to do it: Exodus has an eight-day small group guided itinerary, which includes walks in Teide National Park, Anaga Rural Park, the Teno Alto plateau and Masca gorge route. Prices begin at £1,079, including flights and bed and breakfast accommodation, plus airport transfers.
What: Hiking its highest point.
What it involves: While hiking up Pico de la Nieves, the island’s highest peak at 6,394ft, is the main attraction for many, other hiker highlights include Guayadeque gorge, with its stone age dwellings; the famous rock formation of Roque Nublo; classic paths like the Caminos Reales and passing through quaint hillside villages.
How to do it: All the above can be enjoyed on Explore’s self-guided Gran Canaria walking tour, which takes you across the island from east to west. The land only price for 28 October- 31 December 2017 starts at £660pp, with a single room an additional £170. Hikes are graded ‘moderate’. explore.co.uk
What: Gran Canaria Marathon.
What it involves: The healthy choice of road races and marathons held on the islands makes it a logical choice for combining a relaxing, recuperative break with a scenic run. Upcoming options include the Gran Canaria Marathon on Sunday 21 January 2018, which leaves lots of time to train. Registration is already open and 42km, 21km and 10km options are also available. grancanariamaraton.com.
How to do it: Kuoni has a seven-night break for two adults staying in a double standard economy room on a B&B basis at the Lopesan Villa Del Conde Resort for £2,308. The hotel has a luxury wellness centre and prices include British Airways flights from Heathrow departing 16 December 2017 (2018 rates not yet available). kuoni.co.uk
What: Kitesurfing and windsurfing.
What it involves: With its excellent offshore breeze and waters ranging from choppy to flat, this island is a great bet for kitesurfing and windsurfing holidays. Top locations include Sotavento, near Costa Calma in the south east, which hosts the annual PWA Windsurfing & Kiteboarding World Cup, while Corralejo in the north east boasts El Burro and Flag Beach. The latter is a great spot for all levels, including beginners, and lessons can be booked at local schools.
How to do it: Monarch has a seven-night all-inclusive break at the Oasis Papagayo Sport & Family Aparthotel in Corralejo for two sharing adults for a total of £1,470, including flights from Birmingham departing 12 August 2017. monarch.co.uk
What: Road cycling.
What it involves: While hikers are also drawn to Timanfaya National Park, its volcanic climbs are most appealing to cyclists and there are lots of great routes on offer. Accessible options include the coastal paths, while more challenging routes include the vertiginous and awe-inspiring 45-mile Costa Teguise-Haria-Costa Teguise, which reaches an altitude of 922ft and passes through an eye-catching cactus garden.
How to do it: Jet2 holidays has a seven-night self catering stay at the cycling-friendly Sands Beach Resort in Costa Teguise for £439pp including flights, departing from Birmingham on October 31 2017. jet2holidays.com
What: Trekking in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
What it involves: Traversing this lush, diverse gem of an island can involve scaling peaks in the mountainous national park, exploring volcanic craters, and navigating valleys and lush forests. Expect to see terraces of mango, almond and avocado trees while passing through quaint little white villages.
How to do it: Headwater’s seven-night guided walking tour runs from October-April and costs from £1,419pp. Additional activities include wine tasting and the excellent twin centre accommodation comprises a luxury hotel in the east as well as a secluded 17th century mansion on the western coast. headwater.com
What: More UNESCO Biosphere adventures.
What it involves: This lesser visited, tiny and most westerly Canary boasts the highest point on the island, Pico de Malpaso. While tackling its walking routes look out for the area’s giant lizards. Other sights along the way include Orchilla lighthouse, the Garoe holy tree, Valverde, the only landlocked capital, and San Andres, the island’s highest village.
How to do it: KE Adventure’s new six-day group walking tour, El Hierro — The Secret Canaries, convenes at Tenerife South Airport and costs £1,095pp to depart on 3 December 2017. It can also be combined with tours such as Undiscovered Tenerife or La Gomera — Jewel of the Canaries. keadventure.com