The best beaches in the Canary Islands for every kind of traveler

May 24, 2022

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The Canary Islands are a favorite among international travelers, with millions of tourists heading to these popular Spanish islands each year. The archipelago is one of the few places that sun-seekers can count on to have warm rays year-round in Europe.

It goes without saying that the best spots to enjoy some Canarian sun are the beaches — and there’s no shortage of sandy shores on these islands. From windblown white sands to rugged volcanic coastlines, you’ll discover stunning beaches fit for any traveler.

Here are the best beaches in the Canary Islands for your next vacation.

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A volcanic coastline in the Canary Islands. (Photo by LuismiX/Getty Images)

In This Post

Getting there and around

Thanks to United’s brand-new flight launching June 9 from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Tenerife South Airport (TFS), it’s much easier for U.S.-based travelers to explore the Canary Islands than ever before. These flights operate three times per week on United’s Boeing 757-200 aircraft.

Oneworld flyers should opt to fly Iberia from a number of U.S. hubs like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Boston and Miami to islands like Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Palma with a layover in Madrid.

Visitors who want to combine a trip to the islands with another European city are in luck, as many full-fare and low-cost carriers fly from major European destinations to the Canaries. Consider flying an airline such as Ryanair, Wizzair, Jet2, EasyJet, Tui, Condor, Eurowings, Air France, KLM or British Airways from hubs like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich and beyond.

If you want to arrive at the smaller islands like El Hierro and La Gomera, consider taking a Fred Olsen Express or Naviera Armas ferry. Or, fly from Tenerife or Gran Canaria on local airlines like Canaryfly and Binter Canarias.

Once in the Canary Islands, car rental is key for anyone who wants to explore and visit many of the beaches. It’s easy to rent a car from one of the major providers such as Hertz or Avis, or you can rent a vehicle using a local company like Orlando or Plus Car.

Public transport, such as buses, can be slow and unreliable. Taxis are available on the islands, but there are no ride-sharing options and many drivers don’t speak English. Distances can be long, especially on the larger islands, so leave a couple of hours if you want to lap an island like Fuerteventura from top to bottom, or drive the coastal circular route in Tenerife.

Best beaches in Tenerife

Kitesurfers at El Medano. (Photo by Allan Baxter/Getty Images)

Travelers staying in the north, in or near Tenerife‘s capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, should head to Playa de las Teresitas, a crescent-shaped golden stretch of sand frequented by tourists and locals alike. Just be aware that the north end of the island is often cloudier than the south, though going early in the morning often yields some sun.

Related: 7 reasons why you need to visit Spain’s Canary Islands this summer

Los Guios near Los Gigantes. (Photo by Marek Stefunko/EyeEm/Getty Images)

In the south of the island, visit the tourist-heavy, white-sand beaches of Los Cristianos and Playa del Duque. Surfers and kitesurfers might prefer the windy waves of Medano or the sand and volcanic rocks of Playa Montana Pelada, a hidden, windblown alternative. For the perfect sunset, consider Los Guios, hiding in the shadow of the island’s famed Los Gigantes cliffs.

Best beaches in Gran Canaria

Maspalomas sand dunes. (Photo by Allard Schager/Getty Images)

City dwellers will love the easy access to the white sands of Playa de las Canteras, located in the island’s capital Las Palmas. Much further south, skip the massive, touristy beaches of Playa del Ingles and instead head to the iconic sand dunes of Maspalomas. Nearby, the town of Meloneras has all the tourist amenities but a quieter feel.

Las Salinas de Agaete. (Photo by Gerold Grotelueschen/Getty Images)

Families can enjoy the shallow, child-friendly waters of coves in Gran Canaria like Puerto Rico, Amadores and Mogan. Back up north, they can also dip into Las Salinas de Agaete, three natural swimming pools separated from the rest of the ocean by volcanic tubes. Agaete’s waters are also good for divers, who may spot species such as angelfish and whale or basking sharks. Hikers should start in Tasartico and trek an hour or two down to the remote Playa Guigui.

Best beaches in Lanzarote

Playa Papagayo. (Photo by RudolfT/Getty Images)

The one beach you absolutely can’t skip when visiting Lanzarote is Playa Papagayo. It’s located within Los Ajaches Natural Park, so you’ll have to pay 3 euros ($3.20) per car or motorcycle to enter. The beach, flanked by two large cliffs, is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling within its clear turquoise waters.

Caleton Blanco. (Photo courtesy of Balate Dorin/Getty)

Surfers should head to Playa de Famara, which sits in the shadow of the Penas del Chache, the highest peak on the island. Expect strong winds and big waves here. Families might prefer Caleton Blanco, full of natural swimming holes and volcanic rock scattered among white sands. Playa Blanca is a long, sandy stretch dotted with bars and restaurants.

Best beaches in Fuerteventura

Playa de Cofete. (Photo by Artur Filipczak/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Fuerteventura is a long island, so it’s best to either stay north or south to minimize your time driving and maximize your time beaching. Southern beaches like the white sandy curves of Matorral are ample and breezy, within easy reach of restaurants and bars. For something truly off the beaten path, go off-road through Jandia Natural Park until you reach the almost otherworldly Playa de Cofete, where empty golden sands unfurl to red-hued volcanic rocks and foamy white waves.

Playa El Cotillo. (Photo by Philippe TURPIN/Getty Images)

Slightly farther north of Jandia and Morro Jable, Costa Calma has an array of white-sand beaches, such as Sotavento. This set of lagoons, which ebbs and flows during high and low tides, is perfect for teaching little ones how to windsurf for the first time. Up north, the 4-mile-long Flag Beach, near the resort town of Corralejo, is ideal for surfing and kitesurfing. Nearby, El Cotillo mixes white sand with black volcanic rocks for a celestial-like beach experience.

Best beaches in El Hierro

Playa del Verodal. (Photo by cuellar/Getty Images)

For a family-friendly black-sand adventure, head to Timijiraque, a secluded beach that’s best for swimming during low tide. The reddish sands of Playa del Verodal are a sight to behold, but watch out for falling rocks and riptides — this beach is more suited to advanced swimmers.

La Restinga Marine Reserve. (Photo by Marc Volk/Getty Images)

Snorkelers should visit La Restinga Marine Reserve, where low winds and currents ensure divers and snorkelers see lots of marine life, including whales, dolphins, parrotfish, barracudas, manta rays and even sharks.

Best beaches in La Palma

Trail to Playa de Nogales on La Palma. (Photo by Unaihuiziphotography/Getty Images)

Visitors to La Palma shouldn’t expect white sands. The volcanic beaches on this island (known as “La Isla Bonita,” or “The Pretty Island”) have crashing waves and shimmering black sand and stones. The savage waves of Playa de Nogales are an arresting sight — surfers, enjoy them at your own risk. Just note you’ll have to carry your board along the cliff path to reach the beach, which affords spectacular scenery.

Tazacorte, La Palma. (Photo by querbeet/Getty Images)

For a black-sand experience that’s more conducive to sunbathing, swimming and relaxing, visit Playa Tazacorte, which offers beachcombers amenities like restaurants, bars and sun chairs.

Best beaches in La Gomera

Vueltas on La Gomera. (Photo by Travel_Nerd/Getty Images)

The small fishing boats that line the waters of Playa de Vueltas on La Gomera are especially quaint, and its calm waters are ideal for swimming or for families with small children. Bohemian types can enjoy the vibe at Playa del Ingles (a very different beach ambience from the touristy Playa del Ingles on Gran Canaria), where waves are surprisingly quiet for such a wild cove backed by La Merica cliffs. At sunset, don’t be surprised if the beach gets more crowded with families, drum circles and groups of friends primed to witness the brilliant hues.

Playa del Ingles on La Gomera. (Photo by Ulrich Schoen/Getty Images)

For a more isolated beach, visit the dark sands of Playa de la Negra, where snorkelers can enjoy crystal-clear waters. You can park nearby, but note you’ll still have to walk a little to reach the peaceful sands of this beach.

Bottom line

Playa Corralejo on Fuerteventura. (Photo by wallix/Getty Images)

From sweeps of fine white sand to volcanic black-sand coves and beyond, the Canary Islands have beaches to suit every traveler. Whether you’re a family looking for plenty of amenities or a surfer looking to catch a wave, the islands offer diverse sands perfect for many types of vacations.

Featured photo by Maya Karkalicheva/Getty Images.

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