With the Med already representing a well-known option for cruise lovers and the Caribbean demanding higher budgets, you might be looking to go somewhere a little bit different. Fortunately there are still cruise deals that are just a short flight away and yet are incredibly exotic.
The Canary Islands enjoy a rather unique geographical setting: they lay off the west coast of Africa, they belong to Spain yet represent a platform into the Atlantic Ocean. With a total of 13 islands forming the archipelago, and Morocco’s coast being situated just 100km to the East, the opportunities to explore and discover are manifold.
Tenerife would be the most common starting point for most cruises around here, and the beaches need little introduction: with sands ranging from volcanic to golden, there is enough variety to suit all sorts of needs. Sandy Los Cristianos is among the most popular (thus crowded) ones, but make sure to check out El Medano and Costa Adeje, too. Both are impressive and have a more relaxed vibe to them.
And there’s much more to Tenerife than a string of beautiful beaches: towards the island’s centre is the Pico del Teide, a majestic volcano which is the highest mountain in Spain at 3,700m. Surrounded by rugged landscape, its summit can be reached via cable car: we recommend getting there early as to avoid queues of adventurous tourists.
As it leaves Tenerife, your boat will probably be headed east towards Gran Canaria: with waters above 18°C all-year-round, you’d be excused for indulging in some more diving and swimming. Playa de las Canteras is the most famous beach here, but to enjoy the real Gran Canaria experience you’ll have to head towards Maspalomas and its fabulous dunes – the Sahara is not that far away after all, and here’s there’s something to remind you.
Where the beach ends and waves crash, that’s where the Tenerife fun kicks in: diving is fabulous in the El Cabron Marine Reserve and La Catedral, with all the caves, tunnels and exotic fish you love to see.
Finally, smaller and a bit more secluded, the last of the Canary Islands usually reached by cruises is La Palma. You will start your experience of what is the greenest and quaintest island of the lot with a visit to Santa Cruz de La Palma and its picturesque, old-fashioned houses.
A few hours are enough for Santa Cruz: as soon as you got some time, head towards Caldera de Taburiente and its crater. This volcano has a 28-km circumference, which makes it the largest in the world. If Caldera makes you want to get lost in the wilderness even more, next stop in the island is Los Tilos and its tropical forest: here, more than anywhere else before, you’ll realise that you didn’t have to cross the Ocean to enjoy the power of pristine tropical nature.
Hardly could your cruise ever be better value for money than around the Canary Islands.