Sun, sea, sports and adventures
Monday 30 January 2012
There are many reasons why the Canary Islands are among Europe’s most popular holiday destinations – the year-round rays and value for money to name a few. But if you’re looking for something a bit more edgy and adrenaline-inducing, this sunny archipelago 100km from the coast of Africa has that too.
Everywhere on the seven islands is a potential playground for sports and adventure buffs. Gaze skyward and you’ll see paragliders weaving a steady trail from mountaintop to coastline.
Even novices can take to the skies on a tandem ride. If you like the thrill of heights but prefer to stay on terra firma, thousands of vertical challenges are waiting to be climbed, canyoned or abseiled, from the iconic Roque Nublo on Gran Canaria to La Catedral in Tenerife’s Teide National Park.
The lunar landscape of Teide National Park is just one of the stomping grounds favoured by trekkers who want more than a stroll in the park.
And where walking boots go, spokes and saddles can usually follow, through scented pine forests, cacti-studded deserts and timeless villages hidden in the mountains of Gran Canaria and Tenerife. With an average temperature of 24C and spectacular scenery, its hard to find more agreeable year-round cycling. You could even take a horse ride along ancient trails between volcanic cones or a canter along a quiet beach. Another adventurous activity available in the archipelago lies far below the haunts of most holidaymakers.
An astounding network of lava tubes offers the opportunity to venture into a secret subterranean world.
Take a guided tour of Tenerife’s Cueva del Viento or Lanzarote’s Cueva de los Verdes and Jameos del Agua. Experienced cavers can get deep and dirty in many other potholes and grottos in the bowels of this region.
But it’s not just on land where the action is. The ocean provides plentiful activities in calm and balmy waters any time of the year. Below the waves, surreal volcanic rock formations draw an extraordinary assortment of marine life. As well as kaleidoscopic views of exotic underwater residents, suitably certified scuba divers can explore caves, shipwrecks and even a DC3 plane.
Meanwhile, on the surface, surf dudes and sailors do battle with wind and water, zipping across the briny onboard and boat. In Fuerteventura, watersports are almost obligatory, such is its global fame for outstanding conditions. You’ll rarely see a sandy stretch of coastline without some kind of board skimming the blue either towed by kite, blown by sail or propelled by a curling wave. Surf camps abound to cater for the clamour from the uninitiated. Sailors too can learn their craft in these Atlantic waters, while those who know the ropes can charter a boat, with or without crew, to hop from cove to cove or island to island. Several activity centres provide sea kayaks to explore the hidden beaches and coves of the coastlines.
For sun, sand and sea lovers the Canary Islands may have one of the most desirable climates in the world, but it’s also a giant adventure playground.
It’s easy to immerse yourself in a world of excitement only four hours away from the UK. All you need to pack is a passport, tickets, money… and an adventurous spirit.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
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