There’s a lot to explore when you hire a car and take a drive across the beautifully rugged, volcanic landscapes and discover what’s beyond the tourist resorts. Early summer is a great time to sidestep the peak season crowds and make the most of the comfortably warm weather.
From hiking along sand dunes in Gran Canaria to kite surfing in Fuerteventura, here are some of the outdoor activities to seek out on the wonderfully sun-soaked, wind-swept Canary Islands.
From tranquil villages with traditional architecture to lively coastal spots, Gran Canaria offers something for everyone.
Be sure to take a drive towards the southern tip of the island, where you’ll find the beach of Maspalomas backed by a nature reserve. Several hiking routes lead you along rolling sand dune, between Faro lighthouse and Playa del Ingles, bordered by the glistening Atlantic Ocean.
If you want to explore below sea level, you’ll find superb scuba spots, such as Playa Jinamar. With around 30 metres of sharp visibility, you’re likely to get a good look at the local wildlife, such as angel sharks and rays, as well as wrecks and volcanic rock formations.
Although Tenerife is known as a lively tourist destination, you can still find moments of calm if you steer your car away from the bustling resorts.
A scattering of traditional fishing villages and small black sand beaches can be found along the southern shoreline. The strong breeze makes El Medano ideal for wind-powered water sports. And calmer bays, such as El Puertito and Radazul, are great for snorkelling.
Don’t miss the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Teide National Park, dominated by the planet’s third tallest volcano. You’ll drive past stunning rock formations and mesmerising moonscapes on your way there. Tackle the hiking trails or take the cable car to view the crater from above. Then drive over to the northwest side to discover the huge, hollow lava tubes of Cueva del Viento with a caving tour.
The island of Lanzarote offers a more natural experience, with sandy beaches coming in a colour palette of black and gold shades.
Venture off to the wild and untamed north, towards Playa de Ozorla, a hidden gem of a beach. Follow the LZ-1 road to Caleto Blanco where you’ll find sheltered coves with dazzlingly white sands. Or grab a surfboard and take on the beach breaks at Playa de Famara.
Make time to explore the UNESCO-listed Timanfaya National Park and its active volcano. You can take a guided tour to soak up the dramatic lava-laden scenery, or sample fresh food cooked straight over the volcanic heat at the local restaurant.
Fuerteventura is all about water sports. The laid-back island is perfect for enjoying the great outdoors and the picturesque beaches are generally easy to reach by road.
To the south, Playa de Sotavento encompasses 17-miles of golden sand and plays host to the annual Windsurfing World Championship every year from mid-July until early August. The windy northeast coastline is also perfectly primed for windsurfing and kite-surfing. Or head a little further north, past the tranquil lagoons and coves of Playa El Cotillo, where you’ll find powerful waves to surf, as well as stunning sunsets.
If you’d prefer to stay on dry land while you explore, mountainous Fuerteventura is scattered with hiking routes featuring sweeping vistas of jagged rocks and crashing waves.
Whichever islands you choose to visit, be sure to follow the spacious, cacti-lined roads through volcanic panoramas and along dramatic coastlines to uncover all kinds of thrilling activities. With scenery this spectacular, the Canary Islands can turn any drive into an epic adventure.