Which Is the Best Canary Island for You? (By a Local!)

Which is the Best Canary Island for You? (By a Local!)

Hidden away from the rest of the world off the northwestern coast of Africa, the Canary Islands is a dreamy archipelago made up of eight volcanic islands. With bizarre alien-like landscapes, black sand beaches that stretch on for miles, and enchanting laurisilva forests that promise a world of adventure, the Canary Islands share many similarities.

But each island has its own set of distinctive traits that make it stand out from its neighbors, too. It’s these differences that determine which of the Canary Islands is the best for you.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly resort brimming with top-class facilities, somewhere rugged with excellent surfing conditions, or centuries-old villages that time seems to have forgotten, the Canary Islands have what you’re looking for.

Here’s a breakdown of what makes each of the eight volcanic sanctuaries unique, so you can decide which is the best Canary Island for you!

Tenerife: The Best Canary Island to Visit for First-Timers

What Canary Island to Visit: Tenerife

This is where I live, and when it comes to which is the best Canary Island for first-timers, Tenerife is a safe choice. This diverse isle offers the best of all worlds, whatever you’re looking for in your perfect escape. There are purpose-built vacation resort towns home to 5-star hotels, international restaurants, high-end shopping, and world-famous attractions like Siam Park and Loro Parque

Plus, the dining scene is second to none, with everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to guachinches that serve local wine and a handful of unpretentious homemade dishes. If you ever get the chance to visit one, order a jug of blanco afrutado wine and a serving of queso a la plancha con mojo. You can thank me later!

Best Canary Island to Visit: Tenerife

The island boasts world-class golf courses, the gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage city of La Laguna, some of the most astounding cliffs you’ll ever see in your life in Los Gigantes, and El Teide – the highest peak in Spain which you can reach via cable car. 

Gran Canaria: The Best Canary Island to Visit for Families

Must Visit Canary Island: Gran Canaria

It’s a tough call to make, but I think Gran Canaria is the best Canary Island for families with children of any age. This gorgeous island boasts all kinds of things to see and do, such as the Poema del Mar Aquarium, the Holiday World Maspalomas fairground, and the Cocodrilo Park rescue center. If you’ve got older kids, they’ll have an amazing time sandboarding in the Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve.

Best Canary Island to Visit: Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is also the best Canary Island for the LGBTQ+ community. The Yumbo Center in Maspalomas is home to a huge number of LGBTQ+ bars and clubs. These lively nightlife spots host incredible celebrations, from Gay Pride parades and boat cruises to beach parties and drag events.

Fuerteventura: The Best Canary Island to Visit for Watersports

Must Visit Canary Island: Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is undoubtedly the best place to go in the Canary Islands for watersports. Thanks to the constant winds that come from both sea and land, the island enjoys the optimum conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing. The beaches in Corralejo are superb for these types of sports, while Sotavento is even better and hosts the World Windsurfing & Kiteboarding Championship each year.

Even if you’re not into watersports, I still recommend checking out Fuerteventura for its stunning beaches. The platinum-white sands of El Cotillo, the never-ending stretch of beach in Sotavento, and the blond shore lapped by aquamarine waters in Caleta de Fuste will convince you this is the best place to go in the Canary Islands.

What Canary Island to Visit: Fuerteventura

Majorero goats are native to the island and you’ll find loads of products in cafes, restaurants, and stores using their milk. I recommend you try the local Majorero goat cheese. It tastes so good that you don’t need to pair it with anything at all! 

Lanzarote: The Best Canary Island to Visit for Adventure

Best Canary Island to Visit: Lanzarote

When it comes to one-of-a-kind experiences, Lanzarote is, without a doubt, one of the best Canary Islands. There are more than 300 volcanic cones scattered across the land, with 25 of the most impressive volcanoes located within the Timanfaya National Park. 

A visit to this important landmark is an absolute must. Here you’ll find El Diablo restaurant, where you can gorge on fresh meats and vegetables cooked on the heat of the surrounding volcanoes! 

What Canary Island to Visit: Lanzarote

That’s not the only unique attraction in Lanzarote. This rugged island is also home to the mirror-like Cueva de los Verdes tunnel complex, which dates back more than 4,000 years. Los Jameos del Agua, created by local artist and sculptor Cesar Manrique, is also worth a visit. 

This enchanting attraction combines nature and art in perfect harmony and is home to 77 endemic species, including fascinating blind white crabs. Add into the mix the bizarre algae-filled green lake found at El Golfo and the question of which is the best Canary Island for unique experiences becomes easy to answer. 

If you’re a fan of wine, I suggest you take a tour of a volcanic vineyard. El Grifo is my favorite. Not only does this stellar spot create fantastic wines that practically dance on the palate, but the grapes are grown in such a particular way that you’ll struggle to believe the setup is real!

La Palma: The Best Canary Island to Visit for Couples

Must Visit Canary Island: La Palma

The best Canary Island for couples seeking a romantic retreat, La Palma is brimming with opportunities for unique, intimate experiences. The entire island has been declared a Starlight Reserve, meaning that light pollution is minimal and the stargazing conditions are incredible. 

I suggest you take a trip to the San Borondón viewpoint in the west of the island. From here, you can spot the North Star, as well as the Cepheus and Cassiopeia constellations. La Palma is also one of the best Canary Islands for hikes. There’s a diverse array of paths that take you over barren volcanic terrain, as well as through dense mystical forests. 

Best Canary Island to Visit: La Palma

My favorite is the Nacientes Marcos y Cordero Trail. This route follows an ancient aqueduct through laurel forests and ravines. It takes about 3 hours to complete, but because the path is mostly flat, it’s pretty easy to do. 

La Palma may fit the bill if you’re looking for the best Canary Island to visit for something unique. In 2021, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted, devastating a huge portion of the island. As lava flowed toward the sea, a new mass of land was created. So you could say that La Palma boasts the newest part of the Canary Islands!

El Hierro: The Best Canary Island to Visit for a Sustainable Stay

One of the lesser-visited islands, El Hierro is the best Canary Island to visit for a sustainable vacation you can feel good about taking. This humble, unspoiled place claims to be the first sustainable island on the planet, where trade winds are the primary source of energy. 

All the energy used on this small volcanic retreat is 100% renewable, resulting in the island receiving the UNESCO title of World Biosphere Reserve and Geopark. Just because it doesn’t appear on many people’s radars doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer. 

When it comes to which is the best Canary Island for dramatic landscapes, El Hierro is a solid contender. This natural escape is home to wind-stressed Sabina trees, which look like works of art and are scattered throughout the island. Some of them are more than 26 feet high!

Bananas, tomatoes, and grapes grow readily throughout most of the Canary Islands, but El Hierro is the only island where pineapples thrive. Throughout La Frontera, you’ll spot huge plantations that grow some of the sweetest, juiciest, (and cheapest!) pineapples you’ll ever taste.

La Gomera: The Best Canary Island to Visit for Hiking

What Canary Island to Visit: La Gomera

Searching for the best Canary Islands for outdoor experiences? La Gomera could be just what you’re looking for. The island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve teeming with dramatic valleys, forests over 66 million years old, and enchanting hiking trails that take you to all kinds of magical viewpoints. 

With more than 403 miles of impressive routes, you’ve got an almost endless number of ways to discover one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Best Canary Island to Visit: La Gomera

If your plans allow it, I recommend you spend a couple of nights camping at Camping La Vista. This incredible campsite is made up of tiered pitches that tumble into a valley. 

When you wake up, you’ll have a phenomenal view that stretches out to sea, and you may just spot some friendly goats who live in the area! There are loads of fantastic hiking trails in the immediate surroundings, too.

La Graciosa: The Best Canary Island to Visit for Peace

Must Visit Canary Island: La Graciosa

The newest of the Canary Islands, La Graciosa was declared the smallest island in the archipelago in 2018. It’s located just off the northern coast of Lanzarote, and the only way to get there is via a 30-minute boat ride from the neighboring island.

A marvelous place to escape to if you’re seeking a desert island experience, La Graciosa is the best Canary Island for peace, quiet, and simplicity. This hidden gem is home to just 700 people, with a handful more arriving on the shores each morning for a day trip.

What Canary Island to Visit: La Graciosa

What makes La Graciosa so special is that going there feels like stepping back in time. All life is centered around the humble capital, Caleta de Sebo, where you’ll find honey-gold sandy beaches, rustic whitewashed houses, and a harbor dotted with wooden fishing boats.

There you have it! My picks for which is the best Canary Island. Have you been to the Canary Islands? Which is your favorite and why?



  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

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