The Canary Islands—which are located not far off the coast of Morocco—have long been celebrated as the ideal getaway for travelers who love the desert just as much as they love the beach. If your dream vacation includes strolling along a black-sand beach, visiting a lush forest, and riding a camel through a bone-dry stretch of desert—a trip to the Canary Islands is an absolute must.
Considered an autonomous community of Spain, the Canary Islands are composed of 8 main islands with diverse geography which includes a volcano, sweeping sand dunes, and sheer cliffs with twisted juniper trees clinging to them. Needless to say, there is also plenty of coastline that is ideal for surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and cycling parallel to crashing waves as the sun sets.
One of the most popular destinations in the Canary Islands is Mount Teide which is a towering volcano on the island of Tenerife. Mount Teide last erupted in 1909 and is considered an active volcano. Visitors can explore the lunar landscape surrounding Mount Teide on foot or via a trolley which transports travelers over 11,000 feet above sea level. Access to the summit of Mount Teide is currently restricted, but visitors can still enjoy a sweeping view of the slopes of Mount Teide and the long shadow that the volcano casts over the Atlantic Ocean.
Several tour companies offer camel rides through the Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve on Gran Canaria. If you have ever dreamt of trekking through the Sahara Desert but questioned if you’re rugged enough, the Maspalomas Dunes are an excellent spot to ride a camel through seemingly endless sand dunes without worrying that you will get stranded without adequate food or water. Even if you feel like you’re in the heart of the desert while you’re exploring the Maspalomas Dunes, the shimmering waters of the Atlantic Ocean are minutes away.
The tiny island of El Hierro features black-sand beaches, cavernous lava tubes that cave enthusiasts delight in exploring, and a verdant fern-filled forest that offers a stark contrast to the blonde sand dunes of Gran Canaria. El Hierro is also known for its delectable quesadillas—pastries which feature locally produced cheese, sugar, and lemon.
Travelers who delight in seeing landscapes that change dramatically over the course of a short trip will be beside themselves with wonder in the Canary Islands. The arid sand dunes and soothing trade winds of the Canary Islands will invigorate your soul.