Located off the northwest coast of Africa but an autonomous region of Spain, the Canary Islands are a hugely popular year round holiday destination for Europeans -but are little known in the U.S.A despite a number of cross-cultural historical connections.
All that could be set to change soon however – as flights to the main island of Tenerife are now available from Miami, making it possible to visit and tour this unique archipelago via direct flights.
What’s In A Name?
Despite the feathery connotations of this island group’s name, the Canaries are in fact named after the Latin word for dog….canis, rather than little yellow songbirds.As according to Pliny The Elder, the island of Gran Canaria was populated by pack of fierce roaming canines.
Lost City of Atlantis?
As long ago as 350 BC the famous philosopher Plato postulated that The Canary Islands were the remnants of the mythical Lost City of Atlantis. Incredibly, a recent Google Ocean image (part of the Google Earth project) taken of the sea floor surrounding the islands suggests that there may well be some truth in this.It depicts a perfect rectangle the size of Wales, within which are contained criss-crossing lines that look remarkably like a city street map, all located some three and half miles below the waves.
Dr Charles Orser, curator of historical archaeology at New York State University – and one of the world’s leading authorities on Atlantis – called it “fascinating”. “The site is one of the most prominent places for the proposed location of Atlantis, as described by Plato. Even if it turns out to be geographical, this definitely deserves a closer look.”
The seven islands contain some of Spain’s most spectacular scenery, including the nation’s highest mountain – Teide.Teude is actually an active, yet currently dormant volcano located on the island of Tenerife.The mountain peak reaches 3718 meters above sea level and is the tallest mountain in Spain.
Voyage of Discovery
When Christopher Columbus first ´discovered’ the American continent in 1492, he set sail on the historic voyage from the Canary Island of La Gomera. On seeing land, he thought he had in fact arrived in India – thus naming the natives “Indians”.
The Canaries have not one capital city but two. This status is shared by the fierce rivals of Santa Cruz de Tenerife – administrative capital of the western islands, and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – the central hub of the eastern islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
Walking On The Moon
The eastern most island in the chain, Lanzarote, was subjected to a massive series of volcanic eruptions in the 1730´s which completely remodeled much of the terrain of the island.This left it looking like the surface of the moon. Visuals of these lava fields and volcanic peaks were presented to the Apollo 13 astronauts in order to prepare them for their moon landing.
These same eruptions forced many islanders to flee Lanzarote in the early 1700’s to start a new life abroad.One group headed for Texas – and founded the city of San Antonio.
The Canary Islands are located on the same line of latitude as mid-coast Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, and are synonymous with sunny holidays in Spain.During the winter months, Spaniards escape to the Canary Islands to enjoy better, sunnier weather.Whilst during the summer months, the islands are cooled by the Trade Winds and offer an escape from the oven like temperatures on the mainland. Average temperatures are balmy all year round ranging between 65 & 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do The Continental
Gran Canaria is often referred to as a Miniature Continent due to the island’s wide range of micro climates and landscapes, encompassing everything from verdant palm packed valleys through to arid, dramatic volcanic areas.
Little La Palma is known as the Island of the Stars. Not because it is a refuge for visiting VIP´s, but because stars sparkle with exceptional brilliance here because of the lack of light pollution and the clarity of the sky. As a result, scientists from across the globe converge at Little La Palms to conduct research at one of the world’s most important astrophysical observatories.
The Canary Islands offer a wealth of interesting vacation experiences for travelers seeking European culture, fascinating landscapes and glorious weather both summer and winter. Our thanks go to Nick Ball, travel guide author of the Lanzarote Guidebook (packed with great info and images on everything to see and do on the Island of Lanzorote) for sharing all this wonderful information about the Canary Islands.
Take a minute to download Nick’s (Free) Lanzarote Guidebook and to visit his website Lanzarote Guidebook.com. You’ll find information on villa rentals, hotels and resorts, and all the info you need to plan a great vacation to Lazarote and the Canary Islands.