These mistakes people make when visiting the Canary Islands can put a damper on your tropical getaway. Like most tourist destinations around the world, this Spanish archipelago has its fair share of less-than-desirable aspects like petty crime and scams.

    It’s always a good idea to be well-prepared for common inconveniences, such as weather changes, vague transportation options, and some local laws you might’ve not known about before. Figuring out where to stay can be a challenge, too – you have 8 main islands and several smaller islets to choose from. This guide is especially handy if you’re visiting the Canary Islands for the first time. 


    Choosing the wrong island to stay

    There are 8 main islands, plus several islets in the archipelago

    The Canary Islands is made up of 8 main islands, each of which has its own set of idyllic beaches, picturesque landmarks, and excellent hotels. While island-hopping is a great way to explore the archipelago, choosing the right island as your base can be challenging. It all depends on the type of vacation you're looking for.

    Fuerteventura is great for those who enjoy golden beaches and thrilling water sports, while Tenerife is known for its vibrant nightlife, world-class golf courses, and upmarket resorts. If you love hiking, El Hierro, Lanzarote, and La Gomera boast miles of trails through lush rainforests and volcanic mountains.


    Ignoring beach flags

    Stay safe while having fun in the Atlantic

    The beaches of the Canaries are among the safest in the world – over 60 stretches of sand have received the coveted Blue Flag award. Lifesavers often patrol the beaches, so everyone can safely enjoy the ocean.

    It’s always a good idea to watch out for the color of beach flags along the coastline. Red indicates strong currents unfit for bathing, while yellow means moderate surf or currents. Green flags indicate calm conditions, but good to exercise caution when bathing. When purple flags are posted, it means there are sightings of jellyfish, stingrays, and sharks in the water. 


    Drinking on the streets

    You can only imbibe in designated neighborhoods

    Avoid drinking, smoking, or vaping in public spaces – either on the streets or on the beach. It’s prohibited across all the Canary Islands. You could face a hefty fine if caught.

    Instead, look for any bar, restaurant or cafe that has quiet outdoor seating with designated smoking neighborhoods. Only at such spaces will you be able to enjoy a drink and have a smoke while enjoying Spain’s beautiful weather.


    Getting around by public transportation

    Rent a automobile to save time

    Most of the main islands in the Canaries are simply too large to explore without a motorized vehicle. While there are local buses on each island, it’s relatively challenging to get around on them, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area.

    The best way to get around the Canary Islands is to rent a automobile or motorcycle, though we prefer the former for added safety. Not only can you save waiting time, but you also have the freedom of exploring the islands at your own pace.


    Falling for timeshare scams

    It’s always too good to be true

    Timeshare scams are common across the world, including the Canary Islands. Vendors approach unsuspecting visitors with a scratch-off ticket that promises heavily discounted stays at a popular resort. A rule of thumb: if an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.


    Only packing beachwear

    It can get rather chilly in certain parts of the islands

    The Canary Islands is known for its sunny weather, even during the winter months (December–February). While the average daytime temperature is 24°C year-round, certain parts of the archipelago can get rather windy and chilly.

    It’s a good idea to pack for unexpected weather conditions, so bring a light jacket, covered shoes, and scarves. You might not need them for the beach, but these are essential if you’re planning to hike the Canaries’ mountains and national parks.


    Carrying valuables around busy neighborhoods

    Always keep your personal belongings close to you

    Like everywhere around the world, petty crime is common in neighborhoods frequented by tourists. The Canary Islands is no exception, especially on Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote – basically the main islands in the archipelago. 

    Avoid getting pickpocketed by storing valuables in your hotel’s safety deposit box. If you’re out and about, always keep your passport and billfold close.


    Thinking there are only volcanoes and black sand beaches

    This archipelago is abundant in natural wonders

    The Canary Islands is volcanic in origin, which means many of its beaches feature jet-black sand. There are also several volcanoes across the islands, including Mount Teide in Tenerife and Cumbre Vieja in La Palma.

    However, the Spanish archipelago boasts plenty of natural wonders, including pristine beaches with fine, golden sand. Fuerteventura boasts 10 Blue Flag beaches, including La Concha and Corralejo Viejo. There’s even a Sahara-like sand dune in Gran Canaria, called the Maspalomas Dunes.


    Missing out on stargazing in the Canary Islands

    Take advantage of high peaks and exceptionally clear skies

    Stargazing is often overlooked by many first-time visitors to the Canary Islands. The archipelago has exceptionally clear night skies, with plenty of vantage points for you to marvel at constellations.

    La Palma and Tenerife are among the best islands to enjoy a night of stargazing. Must-visits include the Teide Observatory on Mount Teide and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory at the edge of the Taburiente National Park. Both venues have professional astronomists who can teach you how to use their gigantic telescopes. 

    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveler

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