25 reasons to visit the Canary Islands

THE CANARIES ARE A SPANISH ARCHIPELAGO off the northwestern coast of Africa. Under 100 miles from the Western Sahara and close to the equator, the climate here is more arid than tropical and stays in a spring-like time warp all year long. Between the 7 islands, there are over 500 beaches, any of which I’d rather be thawing out on rather than sitting huddled next to my heater here in the Sierra.

Despite it being one of Europe’s top tourist destinations (as evidenced by the swarms of timeshare pushers), there are at least 25 good reasons a trip to the Canary Islands is worth planning.

1. The end of the world

It was once believed that Los Gigantes, the cliffs on the west coast of Tenerife, marked the edge of the world. Don’t slip.


2. Friendly turtles

The waters around the Canary Islands are home to a huge variety of sea life, including representatives from about one third of the world's whale and dolphin species. Divers off Tenerife brag online incessantly about their encounters with sea turtles, manta rays, and the occasional octopus.


3. The sea of clouds

Gran Canaria's warm winds create cloud formations known as the mar de nubes, which is more pronounced during the spring and summer months.


4. Going naked on the dunes

A popular spot for nude sunbathing, the sand dunes on Gran Canaria stretch between Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles. To find the nudist areas, you walk from either end and stop when you realize nobody around you has any clothes on


5.Riding the wind

The winds of Gran Canaria make it a great location for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Pozo Izquierdo is frequently used as a venue for the World Windsurfing Championship.


6. Climbing the highest peak in Spain

Some of the best hiking in the country is at Pico del Teide on Tenerife. As measured from the ocean floor, it's the third-highest volcano in the world -- it tops out at 3,718m above sea level. Despite the warm temperatures in most of the Canary Islands, Teide's elevation means snow in the winter.