Below are articles about the main Canary Islands which are most popular for tourism. We plan on covering El Hierro and La Gomera in due course. Current you will find our pages for Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and La Palma.
Top Resorts in the Canary Islands
Welcome to our guide about The Canary Islands which also briefly touches on the smaller islands and islets. The Canary Islands are located just off the south west coast of Morocco and the African mainland in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Canary Islands, The 7 Main Islands
The Canaries are largely volcanic islands in composition, as a result, many of the beaches have black sand. Tenerife is the largest and most popular in terms of tourism but Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote also help attract millions of visitors to this part of Spain.
The smaller islands are La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro which is the smallest and most southern. Interestingly, the Canaries were originally referred to as the “Fortunate Isles” and have strong links to Greek mythology. The Fortunate Isles are said to have been a paradise with no winter inhabited by the heroes of Greek mythology, a reference to the superb weather and seemingly endless summer.
The Canary Islands enjoy a subtropical climate with hot summers and fairly warm winters. The Canaries are known as an “Archipelago”, this name refers to a group or cluster of islands. According to a recent study, the population of the Canary Islands is around 2.1 million.
Tenerife is the most populated of the Canary Islands with around 900,000 inhabitants, more than any other Spanish island. Tenerife is also the most popular of this Archipelago with over 5 million visitors each year. Tourism is big business in Tenerife and this island is littered with some of the best resorts in the Canaries. The super resorts of Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos are located in the southwest where most head for the nightlife. North of these resorts is the more sophisticated Costa Adeje which is more popular with the wealthy.
Fuerteventura is located south of Lanzarote and to the east of Gran Canaria. Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canaries in terms of land mass, second only to Tenerife with around 110,000 inhabitants. Although the island is bigger, both Lanzarote and Gran Canaria have more permanent inhabitants. There is much debate about the literal translation of Fuerteventura with “Strong Winds” and “Great Adventure” among the suggestions. Many of the beaches found in Fuerteventura vary greatly from those found at Tenerife for example.
Gran Canaria is located in the centre of the Canary Islands with Tenerife to the west and Fuerteventura to the east. The population of Gran Canaria is not quite as big as Tenerife with some 850,000 inhabitants. Around 400,000 are currently living in the Capital City of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the north of the island. The climate in Gran Canaria is pretty good with normal temperatures of between 20 – 26 Celsius. The temperature can drop at night during winter but it’s unlikely to be much cooler than 12 Celisus. Tourism to Gran Canaria accounts for over 3.5 million visitors each year.
The beautiful island of Lanzarote is the most northern of all the Canary Islands and popular for tourism. Lanzarote is the third most populated behind Tenerife and Gran Canaria with some 140,000 inhabitants. In terms of land mass, Lanzarote is smaller than Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura but still attracts millions of visitors. In 2008, Lanzarote recorded over 5 million visitors and continues to attract high levels of tourism each year. The popular tourist resort of Puerto del Carmen frequently attracts over 1 million visitors each year.
La Palma is the most western of the Canary Islands and the fifth largest in terms of land mass. The population of La Palma is also the fifth biggest of the Canaries with around 85,000 inhabitants. One of the main attractions of the La Palma is the Roque de los Muchachos Peaks. These majestic peaks have an elevation of 2426 m above sea level, second only to Teide in Tenerife. In the centre of the island is the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, one of the four main national parks of the Canaries.
La Gomera is the second smallest of the Canary Islands with a population of around 23,000 inhabitants. La Gomera is fairly circular in shape and one of the more mountainous of the 7 islands. Although volcanic in origin, La Gomera boasts lush unspoilt rainforests and a large variety of plantlife. This island is particularly popular for hiking and walking trails. There are no direct flights from Europe to La Gomera apart from Tenerife. Most tend to take the hour long ferry journey from Tenerife to San Sebastian de la Gomera, Playa Santiago or Valle Gran Rey. Most of the beaches have black sand and crystal clear Atlantic Ocean waters. Some of the top beaches here at La Gomera includes, San Sabastien and Valle Gran Rey.
Finally we come to El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands and furthest south and west. The population is also the smallest with around 10,000 permanent inhabitants. El Hierro is referred to as “The Meridian Isle” and is the only isle in the Canaries which is 100% sustainable using only renewable energy. Diving is particularly popular here with around 45 different dive sites to enjoy. Surfing and Paragliding are just two of the common extreme sports on offer on this island.
The Canaries Islets
The islets of Alegranza, La Graciosa and Montaña Clara are located off the north coast of Lanzarote with Isla de Lobos to the south. Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este as the names imply are little more than large rocks that also can be found off the coast of Lanzarote.
Canary Islands Map
The map below once clicked becomes a larger image that displays the main islands, islets, top tourist locations, towns and cities.
Which Canary Island is Largest?
Starting from the largest island according to size is Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and smallest of all is El Hierro.