I’ve been banging on for years about how unfairly maligned the Canary Islands are, and so I was delighted to be asked to write about my favourite spots for Conde Nast Traveller’s December issue.
Conde Nast Traveller have shot some truly gorgeous photography for this feature, which does plenty of the hard work for me. But do read my feature – and let me convince you of the appeal of macronesia with a hip rooftop cocktail bar in Las Palmas, a whitewashed cantina serving ridiculously good local tapas in Lanzarote’s ancient interior and a literally star-studded festival on Tenerife.
A new Canary Island is opening up. That island is La Palma, the greenest of these volcanic beauties marooned in the Atlantic. Until now, UK travellers have either had to fly via Madrid or on the weekly Thomson charter flight.
But no longer. Easyjet launched direct flights to La Palma on October 1st. I went on ahead to check out the highlights and found epic walks through verdant mountains, delicious local fish served by passionate locals and a lot of banana plantations. I also found that the island is one of the best places in the world to stargaze (it has the world’s largest optical telescope), as well as one of the best places in Europe to paraglide.
What I didn’t find were large resorts and lots of tourists. So get in their now and you’ll be ahead of the crowd.
Read my feature for The Times on La Palma here.
I know I keep banging on about this, but the Canaries really are underrated. Yes, I know they get millions of visitors every year, but those visitors basically stay in a few small strips on the larger islands and they miss so much.
They miss the bizarre volcanic landscapes. They miss the wonderful fresh seafood and salty papas arrugadas. And they miss some truly gorgeous hotels.
A lot of those hotels are affordable too. I rounded up my favourite Canarian hotels and fincas under £100 a night for The Times recently. Check out my top 20 here.
When it comes to the Canaries, misconceptions abound. Isn’t it all high-rise hotels and all-day breakfasts?
Well, no. There is so much more to these Atlantic islands than their “Brits abroad” reputation – a reputation that is, in my opinion, extremely unfair.
Because Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote in particular have exciting, diverse and high quality food scenes. Here you’ll find Michelin starred restaurants, local produce from fresh seafood to the juiciest tomatoes you’ll ever taste, and some of Europe’s best – but least widely exported – wines.
I visit the Canaries several times each year and on my last visit I set out on a gourmet odyssey around Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote for The Times.
I write a lot about the Canary Islands, and am always banging on about how misunderstood these perpetually sunny islands are.
One thing I rarely get to do though is to write about the smaller islands, those that most visitors to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are not even aware make up part of the same archipelago.
So I’m delighted to have been able to write about La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro for The Times. My article on these three largely unknown isles was in the travel section on Saturday February 13th. If you missed it, you can read it on the website here.
If pushed to choose my favourite Canary Island (and I mean really pushed) I might just say Lanzarote. Its brooding dark lavascapes, its eye-poppingly white modernist architecture, its effortless barefoot style and – of course – its flinty, volcanic white wines, so rarely seen outside Macronesia.
Lanzarote is a truly fabulous island, with so much more to offer than its outmoded “Lanzagrotty” moniker might suggest. Discover some of my favourite corners in this month’s Sunday Times Travel magazine, which includes my Instant Escapes Lanzarote.
Since my first visit as a teenager I’ve never been able to understand why the Canary Islands get such a bad press. Why are they so often dismissed as just fly and flop when they are home to smouldering volcanoes, dripping rainforests, vast black sand beaches and some of the best seafood I’ve tasted anywhere?
Here’s hoping that the Sunday Times Travel magazine’s very first Total Guide to the Canaries will get more people onto planes and out to these fabulous islands.
Check out the guide, which I contributed to, in the current issue of the magazine or read a small taster online.