I ended up teaching abroad in the Canary Islands, an archipelago that is part of Spain. When I finish my school hours, there is plenty of time to discover this marvelous place. Here is what I do with my free time in the Canary Islands!
Before beginning my search of how to teach abroad, and before Spain was my focus, I had no idea that the Canary Islands existed. However, the more research I did, the more I wanted to go to The Canary Islands to enjoy the vast beauty I saw on the internet.
I knew that I wanted to see all of the beautiful places portrayed on Google by so many others. I thought to myself, “If others can be in The Canary Islands, why not me?” After doing more research on The Canary Islands, I started to understand just how beautiful, unique, and earthy the islands were.
The Canary Islands
There are seven islands in the chain of The Canary Islands. These seven islands are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro. They were formed from volcanic eruptions. To compare it to something more familiar to me, they were formed similar to that of the Hawaiian Islands of The United States.
Also, each island encompasses a different appearance, style, and traditional activities. I will start with the island where I teach and live, and then give a brief description of the other islands!
Transportation is so Easy!
Keep in mind that the islands are super easy to travel within and between! The islands have their own bus system, taxis, and trams. Although each island is slightly different, it is relatively easy to travel between locations on each island. There always seem to be flights between the islands which can take as little as 30 minutes. Also, there are ferry rides that can take as little as 1 hour and 15 minutes! I recommend Fred Olsen for your ferry needs.
Both are great ways to travel between the islands during long weekends, “puentes”, or just to have a little vacation away from the normalcy of life! I promise, whichever island you find yourself visiting, you will enjoy every minute of it!
Tenerife is one of the most beautiful islands, in my opinion. In Tenerife, the weather can vary depending on where you are. In Santa Cruz (the capital), where I live, the weather is more or less nice. A normal day can vary between 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit (10-30 degrees Celsius) depending on the season.
In some parts of Tenerife, the weather is drastically colder and may feel at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius). The south of the island is more touristic and with warmer weather than Santa Cruz. It is typical to go to the beach during any season.
Aside from the weather, the scenery is drastically different. There are forests and mountains to walk and hike. The Teide volcano to visit. The beaches to relax and enjoy. The cities to enjoy, shopping centers, and an abundance of food!
Gran Canaria is the third largest of the islands. Like Tenerife, Gran Canaria has beautiful beaches, sand dunes, and piers to walk along the ocean. The name “Gran Canaria” means “Big Dog”.
Some of the more popular destinations in Gran Canaria are the capital, Las Palmas, and a city in the south, Maspalomas. This one has enormous sand dunes, and the beach Playa del Inglés!
Although these are only three destinations of this well-known island, there are plenty more! Gran Canaria has seasons similar to Tenerife as well as beautiful hiking destinations.
Lanzarote is the fourth largest island in the chain of The Canary Islands. It is most well known for its numerous camels. The island originated through volcanic measures. You can explore this landscape in Timanfaya National Park, which is the most well-known park on the island, created by volcanic eruptions. Likewise, volcanic eruptions also shaped underwater caves in Lanzarote. You can explore them through guided tours!
La Palma is one of the smallest islands in the chain of The Canary Islands. Due to the size of this island, it has fewer people. This leaves the island in a more natural state. The island has beaches, forests for hiking, and a dormant volcano, Cumbre Vieja. After doing research on this volcano, I found that it is overdue for a volcanic eruption! La Palma is often named one of the most beautiful islands in the chain of islands!
Fuerteventura is the second-largest island. It is most known for the many goats that are on the island. I have often heard people saying an old joke, “There are more goats than people on the entire island.”
The island of Lobos is right off of the coast of Fuerteventura and is part of the larger island. This island is a very small volcanic island. It has few beaches, two restaurants, and fantastic views.
To visit this island, it is necessary to get permission in the form of a ticket. You must select your departure time to and from Los Lobos. It is a very short ferry ride. I highly recommend this island. It is incredibly beautiful and the crystal-clear water, coral, and fish-filled waters are perfect for snorkeling.
La Gomera is one of the smallest islands. It is most well-known for its Garajonay National Park, with its moss-covered trees and floors, luscious greenery, and well-marked trails. Here you can find beaches such as Playa de Santiago, La Playa de San Sebastián de La Gomera, and Valle Gran Rey, which are perfect for relaxation and enjoying the sun.
El Hierro is the smallest island in the chain of The Canary Islands. It also goes by the nickname “Isla del Meridiano” due to its location. El Hierro has the Gorona del Viento which allows the island to only use renewable energy and resources!
Besides, this beautiful island holds one of the UNESCO for the World’s Biosphere status. And it is also well known for its diving cliffs to explore different beaches, sea creatures, and underwater formations.
Hiking in La Palma, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife
There are hiking trails throughout all of the islands which are suitable for all levels of hiking. Also, there are busses that can bring you to many hiking hotspots, or you can find yourself “off the beaten path”. They lead to beautiful views that you would not believe to be real.
So far, I have only been hiking in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, but I would love to venture to La Palma for a hiking adventure. Although listed below are only some hiking hotspots, there are many more out there!
So, I encourage you to do research in the different areas that you plan to visit to see what hikes suit you best! Some well-known places to go hiking are:
El Teide National Park
Punta de Hildaga
El Roque Nublo
Punta de Maspalomas
Blick in die Caldera
Roque de los Muchachos
There are many popular beaches throughout all of the islands. Going to the beach in free time, during holidays, or the weekends is very common. The beaches differ between the islands and include white sand beaches, black sand beaches, and even beaches with sand made of broken-down coral and shells! Below are a few popular beaches that I have been to on the islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Fuerteventura. As always, there are far more beaches than this, these are just a few of my favorites!
The highest point of Spain and a now-dormant volcano. The Teide is in a national park and can be hiked. It is possible to hike the entire mountain, which takes roughly 4 hours, or you can take a cable car ⅔ of the way to make your hike shorter. During the winter, there can be snow here, however, it is not typical during other months. I suggest going to the Teide to see the sunset.
Although, the sunrise from the opposite side is also incredibly beautiful. When looking down the mountains, there are layers and layers of clouds that will take your breath away.
Like any other city and country, there is an abundance of different foods everywhere! Try all of the local cuisine, and you will find yourself falling in love with all of the islandic flavors! There are many options for all diets, and you will soon find yourself with a long list of different foods to try!
Here are some of my favorite foods that you should add to your list!
Pizza of tuna and cheese
Cachapa/Arepa (Venezuelan influence)
Potaje de verdura
Churros con chocolate
Tenerife has typical shopping centers, as any major city. There are many great shopping centers or shopping streets throughout the island. It is as simple as searching for the nearest shopping center to your home. Even if you live further from a shopping center, there are busses constantly running from the main cities. And they are incredibly easy to use!
By Katelyn U., 2020-2021.