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Island Hopping in the Canary Islands

Island hopping is the easiest way to explore multiple destinations in a short amount of time. Conveniently, archipelagos like the Canary Islands are best for this, since they are made up of numerous small and big islands not far away from each other.

Several island groups like the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Caribbean Islands are ideal for this kind of traveling. However, there are also places to hop islands in Europe. For example, there are the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the islands belonging to Greece, and the Canary Islands, which belong to Spain and lie in the Atlantic, off the West African Coast.

Curious about how to start your very own island hopping adventure? Then read on, because in this article we explain what island hopping really is and how it works. We will also recommend the best island-hopping route for the Canary Islands.

What is Island Hopping?

This is a totally different method of traveling. When you island hop, the goal is to systematically explore all the islands of an archipelago. To do that, you will probably use transportation methods like ferries or boats, but maybe airplanes too.

Island hopping of course is only doable with islands near each other and not with those on opposite sides of the planet. Either way, you should keep in mind how much money the whole journey will cost. It goes without saying that the longer your journey will be, the more expensive the overall costs.

How to Plan Your Island-hopping Adventure

Things will sail a lot smoother if you plan your route in advance. When you hop islands, try to visit each island in the most logical order. This way, you’ll have more time and money to actually explore the islands.

In the Canary Islands, if you start the adventure in La Palma, it wouldn’t be ideal to head to Fuerteventura straight afterward, as this island is on the opposite side of the archipelago. Instead, it is way more practical if you head to Tenerife and Gran Canaria before ending your tour on Fuerteventura.

Of course, it isn’t obligatory to explore the whole of the archipelago. Some even create a home base on one of the central islands in the archipelago and head in different directions for shorter trips.

How to Cut Costs

Traveling costs money, as we all know. But the overall expenses in the Canary Islands can vary wildly based on how you plan your tour. As backpackers, we already know the art of planning trips solo and can forgo expensive travel agencies.

Not to say travel agencies are bad, but they can rack up the bill quite a bit. Plus, it goes without saying that for us backpackers, we like to plan our own adventures, even if we have to invest a bit of time. Though, for people who like to have things planned for them, travel agencies are perfect.

In addition to forgoing travel agencies, it also matters when you plan to island hop. As with all popular vacation destinations, accommodation is more expensive in the summer. So, consider the low season if you want to save money.

Another thing to account for, is the method of getting from one island to the other. A plane ticket is usually more expensive than a ferry ride. Similarly, you should also account for what kind of accommodation is best for your budget. After all, a bed in a hostel is a lot cheaper than a room at the resort.

Why the Canary Islands?

The Canary Islands is an optimal destination for island hopping. To start, the islands are rather close to each other – in fact you can often see one island off in the distance from another! That means it won’t take much time getting from one to the other. This also the case in the Galápagos Islands and the Maldives. Although, this isn’t the only reason why we think the Canary Islands is perfect for island hopping.

To continue, each island of the Canaries is unique, and that is why the Canary Islands are hardly comparable to other island groups. For example, Lanzarote is characterized by its desert-like nature, while La Palma is mostly covered by lush pine and laurel forests. On Tenerife, you can climb the imposing volcanoes, and on La Gomera, you can really relax and immerse yourself in dreamlike landscapes straight out of a fairy tale.

Perhaps even better, a ferry ride from one island to the next will feel like stepping into a new world as you cruise through the Atlantic. Best of all, the ferry rides between islands are surprisingly short. A trip from Lanzarote to Fuerteventura takes approximately half an hour, and it is also only 30 minutes to La Graciosa.

The Optimal Route Through the Canary Islands

To explore all the Canary Islands, it’s best to go from east to west. Starting in Lanzarote, the easternmost island, is the ideal since this island has an airport that is accessible from many European cities. On the western islands, only La Palma has an international airport. The westernmost island, El Hierro, can be reached by ferry or inland flight.

If you want to create a home base like we’ve previously mentioned, we recommend choosing Tenerife or Gran Canaria as these two islands have airports and are in the middle of the island group. In particular, we suggest settling in on Tenerife and explore the western islands, then change to Gran Canaria and tour the eastern islands. Then, you can wrap up your trip by catching a flight from the Lanzarote airport.

Top Islands

Gran Canaria

The sun is the main attraction of this island. It shines almost all year round. Plus, hiking is a prime activity on this island, too. As we’ve said, each island is different from the others, and Gran Canaria is the best example of the archipelago’s diversity. The lush greenery in the north offers a huge contrast to the desert dunes in the south. With this, the third-biggest island is surprisingly diverse.

Tenerife

The archipelago’s biggest island also has many faces. Up north, you’ll not only find sandy beaches but also beaches with black volcanic sand. Pretty interesting, right? If you’re not looking for the beach, then the mountains offer fantastic hiking opportunities, all while providing you with an exceptional view of the island. In fact, Spain’s highest mountain, the 3,700-meter-high Pico del Teide, is located here and a total must-visit. Not to mention, you will find an abundance of beautiful,  exotic plants.

La Palma

The splendor of nature is on full display here. The prettiest bays and beaches we’ve ever seen are all in La Palma. You’ll find a considerable number of hiking routes and trails bound to make you fall in love with the untouched nature of the Canary Islands.

One of the island’s highlights is undoubtedly the Caldera del Taburiente. This volcanic crater is one of the biggest on earth. Moreover, La Palma is the place to go if you want to watch the stars. Thanks to the sparse population, this island’s sky is hardly affected by light pollution. That being said, watching the sky freckled with stars is one of the most romantic and dazzling experiences ever.

Conclusion

If you want to go island hopping, choosing the right archipelago is vital. If you want to stay close to Europe, one of the best options is the Canary Islands.

The islands are near each other, yet each has a totally different character, and no two islands are the same. While La Palma impresses you with its nature and starry sky, Tenerife’s sandy beaches and warm sun are sure to captivate you.

There are plenty of other archipelagos suitable for island hopping. But if you end up choosing the Canary Islands, rest assured you made the best decision.

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