Beach and sun, Europe, Family

February is a notoriously depressing month, with the partying of Christmas and New Year over and the weather drab at best. So this is a great time to head for sunnier climes, and you don’t get much sunnier than the Canaries. Just off Africa’s west coast, the seven islands and six smaller islets of the Canaries group are the perfect place to lap up the sun and indulge in a range of activities, from trekking to water sports in the crystal clear waters.

The beaches here are legendary, and the four national parks provide some of the most stunning scenery on earth. From the fabulous nightlife of Lanzarote to wild volcanic landscapes, the Canary Islands offer all you need for a great getaway from the winter blues back home.

Things to do

The five main islands here for tourists are Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and they’re all packed with great things to do and see, with a rich nightlife as well, perfect for rounding off a day of sunbathing, boating or exploring the coastline. The major natural reserves of Spain are also located in this chain of volcanic islands, so the scenery is guaranteed to be spectacular and unspoilt. Some of the best beaches in the world are here for water sports enthusiasts and sun worshippers, and the islands have their own unique cultures as well, so a walk around the streets will reveal many hidden treasures.

Fuerteventura has some of the longest beaches to be found here, and all-night ravers will also find plenty to keep them occupied. Visitors more interested in whales and birds will have a field day too, with whale-spotting one of the big attractions and Tenerife’s Parrot Park home to over 300 different types of parrot. Check here for more information.

Cuisine in the Canaries

The hugely varied cuisine you can look forward to on a trip to the Canary Islands has been greatly influenced by Latin American, Spanish and African elements because of their colonial background and geographical location. Sailors brought lots of different foodstuffs here from their travels, and as ships stopped here first after leaving the Americas on their way to Spain there are things like beans, potatoes, avocados, maze and cocoa on many menus. But the staples remain corn, fish and bananas.

A fantastic variety of fish is consumed here, from white sea bream and sea bass to parrot fish, dentex and damsel fish, and most of these are covered in salt before being baked or fried. If you aren’t really partial to fish, by the time you leave the Canaries you’ll have become something of an expert! Try here for further information.

Where to stay in the Canaries

There are many different types of accommodation available in the Canaries, and it really comes down in the end to personal preference. For those looking for luxury and full board there are grand and boutique hotels on all the islands, whilst at the other extreme self-catering provides just the accommodation and cooking facilities and you do your own shopping in the markets. This is actually a great way of getting closer to the indigenous culture here and learning something of the customs and language of the native people.

Alternatively, stay at a family-run guest house or got for bed-and-breakfast with no frills, heading out after breakfast and returning at your convenience. Check out this site for more accommodation advice.