Seven islands, seven landscapes: The Canary Island's busy network of ferries offers the chance to see plenty of great sea life and shore-scapes

There are two essentials to island hopping, namely islands with enough contrast to warrant a hop, and an easy means of making such a hop. These days, it's easy to take in the multiple personalities of the Canary Islands in only a few short hops by hydrofoil and high-speed ferry.

Although the islands have an airport each, the ferry offers greater flexibility as well as the chance to absorb some amazing sights. If you want a little bit of everything, Tenerife is the Canary Island-hopper's catch-all – with Mount Teide dominating the landscape from every angle, the lush vineyards of La Orotava and the main tourist playgrounds of Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos. It's also the main hub of inter-island seaborne traffic, allowing access to all of the other islands either directly, or with just one change. The connections are made on large, modern ferries or fast catamarans from Los Cristianos or Santa Cruz.

Ferries are just part of the traffic in and out of the busy Las Palmas port in Gran Canaria. Cruise liners and ferries bring in almost a million passengers a year, and cargo ships glide out laden with tomatoes and bananas. From here, you can sail to Fuerteventura in three hours, home to more than 150 sub-tropical beaches of near-white sand and gin-clear ocean. Morro Jable is the island's southernmost port, and the gateway to the Jandía peninsula with its wild, wide swaths of sand and perfect windsurfing conditions.

Ferries from Gran Canaria also dock in Puerto del Rosario, half-an-hour's drive from Corralejo, the island's most popular resort. If you like the beach, it'll feel like Nirvana. If not, you'll need to move on. And that's easy: hop on a hydrofoil for half and hour to Lanzarote. The island presents a bucketful of drama. Over the years, natural pyrotechnics have created a landscape of volcanic cones, caves and cinders like nowhere else on Earth.

After such dry and harsh surroundings, an eyeful of greenery might be a welcome respite. The waters between Tenerife and La Gomera are home to one of the largest pods of pilot whales in any ocean. Whales and dolphins are frequently spotted racing alongside the ferries. By hydrofoil, La Gomera is half an hour from Tenerife. It's an island of ancient laurel forests and fishing villages that has been unchanged for centuries. La Palma, too, provides dense clusters of pines and palms, and precipitous ridges of volcanic cones.

Finally, five hours' sailing from Tenerife, the most western island of El Hierro offers arid plains of wind-twisted juniper trees and rolling tumbleweed. It might feel like you've reached the end of the world, but it's plain sailing back to civilisation on the network of ferry routes that unites all these very different seven sisters.

Travel essentials: Island hopping

Getting there

* The main airports in the Canaries served year-round from the UK are Tenerife South, Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), Arrecife (Lanzarote) and Fuerteventura. They have flights operated by a range of airlines, including easyJet (0905 821 0905; easyjet.com ), Monarch (0871 940 5040; flymonarch.com ), Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com ), Thomas Cook (0871 230 2406; flythomascook.com ) and Thomson (0871 231 4787; thomson.co.uk ). In summer, there are also direct flights to La Palma, and in the near future the link with Tenerife North may be re-established.

* If you prefer to stick to a maritime journey, then the best approach is from Cadiz on the regular ferries of Acciona Trasmediterranea (00 34 902 454 645 trasmediterranea.es ).

Getting around

* La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro have connecting flights, with local air links centred on Las Palmas. But for the best seaside experience, you can take advantage of the range of inter-island ferries. Acciona Trasmediterranea (00 34 902 454 645; trasmediterranea.es ) operates from Santa Cruz de Tenerife and sails to Arrecife, Fuerteventura, La Palma, Las Palmas and El Hierro. In addition, Fred Olsen ( fredolsen.es ; 00 34 902 100 107) sails from Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Las Palmas (the largest port in the Canaries) and Agaete on Gran Canaria, between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and from Los Cristianos to various points on La Gomera plus El Hierro. Naviera Armas (00 34 902 456 500; naviera-armas.com ) has a parallel comprehensive network of routes, with some interesting additions such as ferries from Madeira. The islands are also connected by some smaller ferry links, such as the launches linking Lanzarote's northern tip with Graciosa.

More information

Spanish Tourist Office: www.spain.info/uk

Turismo de Canarias: www.canarias.es

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power