The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are nestled at the Atlantic Ocean roughly 150 kilometers off Africa’s Northwestern coastline and around 1, 350 kilometers from the European Continent. Ironically, the African Archipelago is an independent community of Spain.

History books say these islands were annexed by the Spanish kingdom in 1496 after vessels of Christopher Columbus stopped there while on their way to the New World.

Ancient Greeks and Romans gave it the name, Happy Islands (Garden of the Hesperides and Atlantica). This group of islands enjoys gentle temperature all year round. The Canary Islands are dotted with a multitude of rural settlements with unique small houses. Travelers love the destination because of unspoiled beaches (more than 80), relaxing atmosphere and lively resorts.

Tenerife or Island of Eternal Springtime is the biggest of the Canary Islands. It is surrounded by the 3718-meter high Mount Teide, a volcano known for its enormous crater. This mountain is the highest in Spain and the highest distance from the ground within the Atlantic Ocean. Abundant valleys with banana and tomato farms envelop the mountain range that traverses the Island. Tenerife has two airports in the North and South. It welcomes millions of visitors yearly.

The Island’s bubbly capital city of Santa Cruz is the venue for the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife from February until March. It draws in tourists from different parts of the world.  It is acclaimed as the second most popular international festival next to that of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Dancing in the streets begin on the Friday before the celebration with a parade and goes on nightly until Ash Wednesday. The Carnival’s climax is the so-called “ENTIERRO DE LA SARDINA” or Burial of the Sardine. Revelers bid goodbye to the merriment by grieving over the sardine which is the symbol for Tenerife’s carnival season. A huge cardboard sardine is burned during a massive bonfire. People get rid of their multi-colored costumes and wear dark clothing to lament (amusingly) the closing of the Carnival. Hundreds of musical groups or Rondallas join the festival while thousands of individuals wearing gaudy attire flock the streets to join the dancing and singing.

The south west coast of the Island is one of the best places in the world for whale-watching. There are 26 species that can be found of the coast which include Blue, Baleen, Pilot, and Killer whales as well as dolphins. Charming landmarks are the Arucas Historical Center; Valverde Old Town; Santa Cruz de Tenerife Old Town; Chejelipes; and, Tegueste.

Numerous tourists choose Tenerife because of the sunshine throughout the year. It is the top winter sun destination of the United Kingdom. The Island’s primary holiday hub (Playa de las Americas) is the preference of families, couples and backpackers. Tenerife’s seashore is predominantly precipitous and uneven although there are 70 kilometers of pristine sand beaches.

I stayed at the  stylish, nautical-themed hotel Radisson Blu Resort, Gran Canaria.

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