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Mount Teide in Tenerife, Anaga Rural Park in Tenerife, Maspalomas sand dunes in Gran Canaria, Playa de las Conchas in La Graciosa, beach on Montaña Clara, and Güi Güi beach in Gran Canaria. Canary Islands off the beaten track.

Canary Islands holidays off the beaten track

Escape the crowds and explore the hidden gems of Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria.


Gran Canaria


With many of us heading out to the Canaries this year, why not try something off the beaten track? We've hunted down some hidden gems on these volcanic islands, so whether this is your first visit or your tenth there's something new to discover.

Tenerife off the beaten track

Visitors from the UK to Tenerife usually fly into Tenerife Sur airport and head out to the beaches and bars at the south-western edge of the island – Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje. But here are a couple of ideas for your holiday you might not have considered.

Stay on Mount Teide

Mount Teide in Tenerife.

Hire a car and visit the awe-inspiring Mount Teide. Tenerife's magnificent volcano dominates not just the skyline but also views from the western beaches of Gran Canaria 100 miles away. Even the drive up the mountain is memorable, along winding mountain roads and through the island's forests.

Up on Teide, the air is clear, the views spectacular and there's even a hotel you can book for a night or two to really soak up the peace and quiet of the park. Three million people visit the park in a normal year, but once the tour buses head back down the mountain and you have the peak to yourself, that's when you can really appreciate the serenity of Teide. Don't miss the opportunity for some stargazing before bed.

Visit Roques de Anaga and Fuera

View of the coastline in Anaga Rural Park, Tenerife.

The Canaries are made up of eight main islands as well as many rocks that jut out of the ocean. Most of the rocks are either inaccessible or protected bird sanctuaries – but not all of them.

To explore these natural wonders, head to the north-eastern tip of Tenerife, where you'll find Anaga. Noted more for cliffs and mountain trails than beach bars, it's the least-visited part of the island, and a real hidden gem. Just off the remote and rocky north shore of Anaga park, you'll find Roques de Anaga and Rocques de Fuera, both visible from the beautiful Anaga Rural Park.

If you drive to the remote coastal village of El Draguillo then hike along the cliffs, you can see the rocks from the northern shore of Tenerife. From there, either a very low tide, an adventurous swim or a boat trip can get you out to see the rocks.

There's plenty of accommodation throughout Anaga park to suit all tastes and budgets. While you're there, make sure to visit Taganana, sample the fresh fish at Benijo beach, and explore the hiking trails. Some of them are challenging enough to keep the most experienced walker entertained for a week or more.

Tenerife Travel Guide

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Gran Canaria off the beaten track

Gran Canaria is the third-largest but most populous of the Canaries. And with diverse microclimates throughout the island, including a pocket-sized desert, there's plenty to see and do.

Güi Güi beach

Güi Güi beach, Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria's famous secret beach – yes, we know what we said – is Güi Güi (pronounced 'wee wee'). Accessible either by a very demanding mountain hike or occasional boat trip from Puerto Rico, it's generally accepted that Güi Güi wouldn't get a second look if it was next to the tourist strip. But its seclusion makes it so alluring. The beach is fondly remembered for semi-legal camps of hippies and nudists, as well as the possibility of seeing Mount Teide across the water on a clear day.

It's a demanding 5km hike from the village of Tasartico, itself a relatively remote village on the far west side of the island. The trek is challenging for even the most seasoned walkers. If you do attempt it, set off by 9am at the latest to avoid being caught out in the midday sun without any cover, and carry a couple of litres of drinking water each.

You can also get there by boat, on weekends, from Puerto Rico. It does get busy though, so if you want to avoid the crowds and can brave the hike there, it's better to visit during the week.


Maspalomas sand dunes at sunset, Gran Canaria.

The National Dune Reserve of Maspalomas is a perfect miniature desert on the southern tip of the island. A 1000-acre nature reserve, the dunes are big enough for an adventure but small enough that you won't find yourself lost in the trackless desert. Bring plenty of water just to be on the safe side anyway. Like Güi Güi and much of the rest of Gran Canaria, the dunes are popular with nudists, resulting in its charming nickname – the 'Nudey Dunes'.

Gran Canaria Travel Guide

Here's everything you need to know for your big trip to Gran Canaria.

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Lanzarote off the beaten track

You can fly direct from the UK to the island of eternal spring, and once there settle in to see the cactus garden, the beaches and César Manrique's lasting artistic impact on Lanzarote. But if you want to see something a bit further afield...

La Graciosa

Playa de las Conchas, La Graciosa.

From Lanzarote, it's a short boat ride to the most recently formed, eighth Canary island La Graciosa. It's almost completely unspoiled, in the sense that there are no roads, almost no vehicles and very few people. If you want to get even further away in the Canaries, start at Lanzarote and take a regular boat to La Graciosa – it's super easy.

What's less easy is to stay there. Accommodation is in short supply on the island so book well in advance if you want to stay overnight. We definitely think it's worth it for the peace and quiet.

Once there, there are excellent watersports (including scuba diving and snorkelling), as well as seafood restaurants, hiking and biking trails, and of course the endless sunshine and beaches that the Canary Islands are known for.

Alegranza and Montaña Clara

Montaña Clara.

You've already hopped from one of the smaller Canary Islands to the smallest. But just how far does this particular rabbit hole go? From La Graciosa you can head even further out to Alegranza and Montaña Clara, two uninhabited islands, the former forming the northernmost tip of the entire Canary Islands.

There's a lighthouse on Alegranza, and both islets are populated with seabirds but otherwise deserted. If you arrive by boat at Alegranza you can visit the hidden lagoon, accessible only from the water, and the island is notable for a volcanic caldera and views from the peak of the volcano.

Lanzarote Travel Guide

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