Spain’s Islands include the Balearics in the Mediterranean (Menorca, Mallorca, Ibiza, and Formentera), and the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa (Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro). Both groups are frequented by millions of visitors each year for their beautiful beaches, laid back vibe and warm weather year round.
Each group, and each island for that matter, has its own personality and unique attractions. Menorca’s countryside is scattered with surprising prehistoric megaliths, Ibiza abounds with contrasts of old and new, up-tempo and calm, and Mallorca offers spectacular cliff hugging drives, illuminated stalactite dripping caves, and the attractive capital Palma de Mallorca, which exhibits overlaying architectural reminders of past Roman, Moorish, and Catalan presence. Tiny Formentera, once uninhabitable due to piracy, is now an easily accessible paradise for cyclists and nature lovers.
Situated six hundred miles south of mainland Spain, the Canary Islands offer a completely different backdrop from the Balearics. The main seven Canary islands are divided into two provinces – in the east (Provincia de Las Palmas) is Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria. In the western province (Provincia de Santa Cruz de Tenerife) are Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro. The western islands tend to be more lush and verdant, while the volcanic, black sand landscape of Lanzarote projects an unusual other-worldly beauty all its own. Tenerife’s snowcapped Mount Teide volcano is the highest peak in Spain.
Four of the Canary Islands (La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, and Lanzarote) have their own National Park. The parks and nature reserves of the Canary Islands thrive with abundant flora and fauna, including many endemic species and some found nowhere else on earth. In Lanzarote contemporary art harmonizes beautifully with nature, thanks to the works of local artist César Manrique; and cultural and culinary traditions are proudly preserved.
The history and experiences to-be-had in each of the Spanish Islands are extensive. Those who diligently venture from the sun (and tourist) saturated beaches – black sand or golden, remote or packed to the brim with European holiday makers, will see what those content solely with beach lounging and nightclubbing are missing.
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