Sitting just a few hundred miles from the west coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are a little drop of tropical paradise riding high in the Atlantic Ocean. An island chain of breathtaking beauty and natural variety, it is the largest, Tenerife, that finds itself the Canary’s chief holiday destination.
Standing proud above the Atlantic, the ocean provides a 5-star backdrop to hundreds of attractions, events and restaurants.
Of course it is only too tempting to unload onto the nearest beach as soon as you touch down and stay put until home-time, but you may miss out on a great deal more.
This tiny island packs in enough history to fill a continent, and the museums and galleries of the island capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife display this to great effect, but with the Museum of Man and Nature, it is just showing off. A catalogue as exquisite as it is exhaustive of the natural world and the evolution of man, the Museum demonstrates exactly why revolutionary scientists and thinkers made a beeline for the Canaries over the centuries, from Darwin to Humboldt. Species rare and extinct are brought to life with exhibitions, talks and guided tours; an essential destination for history and nature, or anyone with a mind willing to be well and truly blown.
Whilst you’re on a nature-trip, another must-see is Europe’s (superior) equivalent to SeaWorld with much more besides, Loro Parque. Families and children are at the heart of the wildlife park, with guided talks and demonstrations taking place throughout the day.
The Shangri-la of the Canaries, the tiny village of Masca is nestled high amongst the mountains in the north-west of the island, an unchanged hamlet surviving the centuries thanks to the surrounding mountains. Perhaps a journey reserved for the more adventurous traveller, a vertiginous winding road leads up, down, around and back again up to Masca, where life goes on much as it did hundreds of years ago. A fine preservation of ancient island life and culture, trips and tours depart from nearby Santiago del Teide throughout the day, but book early to avoid disappointment, unless you like the idea of finding your own way there!
With such breathtaking and majestic landscapes all around you, you might be forgiven for forgetting the surrounding ocean. More than anywhere else in Europe, Tenerife can guarantee you the opportunity to swim alongside and exchange pleasantries with schools of bottlenose dolphins and not-so-chance encounters with pods of pilot whales, with boat trips and diving lessons available at resorts and towns the length of the coast.
All of this and so much more, means that you might well be tempted to make your holiday a permanent one! What’s more, a cheap flight, Tenerife can be easy to get to with airlines like Jet2.com, without blowing your budget, so you can bring home plenty of souvenirs.