Every day the Canary Islands are closer to the “new normal”. The whole Archipelago is ready to continue advancing in the Spanish COVID-19 de-escalation plan. The islands of Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and La Palma have now joined La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa in Phase 2.
This phase allowed for the safe reopening of Canaries’ beaches for sunbathers on Monday 25th May 2020. As well as this, shopping centres and cultural spaces can now open their doors, with some limitations. As part of this second phase, restaurants and bars have been given some new, more relaxed guidelines to follow.
The eight islands are set to gradually restart activity. But, that’s not all. The Canaries’ major airports – Tenerife Sur, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura – have been reactivated for international flights and are expecting to open the ‘safe corridors’ in July 2020.
Canary Islands Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Yaiza Castilla said “this is one of the best announcements since the reactivation of the entire sector which necessarily requires the recovery of the air connectivity. We depend on the airlines to reactivate their routes with our Islands and that will be only possible if we are part of a ‘safe corridor’ that will allow us to connect with our main tourist markets“.
Every aspect of travel is being recast in the Canary Islands as Spain gears up to receive tourists as early as July, according to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. On top of this, the Spanish government is planning on lifting the two-week COVID-19 quarantine requirement for overseas arrivals on July 1st, 2020.
It’s time to get to know El Hierro, a quiet paradise that captivates visitors with its exquisite volcanic landscapes, lush green forests, pristine waters of its marine reserve and the calm lifestyle of its almost 11,000 inhabitants. This gem of the Canaries is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and Geopark and is a perfect example of sustainable tourism and is waiting to be rediscovered. Known in Spanish as the ‘Meridian Island’, El Hierro is recognised as a magical place. Read on to find out why…
El Hierro, the second smallest island of the Canaries after La Graciosa, aims to be the first 100% sustainable island in the world within four to eight years. The island has already set a world record last summer by covering the entire populations’ energy needs for 24 days using only renewable energy. One major factor in reaching this milestone was the construction of the Gorona del Viento hydroelectric plant, which supplies about 60% of the island’s energy needs. El Hierro has always been ahead of its time. Its search for a sustainable living began in 1997 when the islands established an innovative action plan that included energy self-sufficiency, organic farming and a zero waste, environmentally friendly tourism model.
Spectacular Marine Reserve
El Hierro is world-famous for its spectacular underwater scenery and wildlife. The La Restinga Marine Reserve is an internationally acclaimed diving sanctuary inhabited by numerous animal species. El Hierro is home to some of the best diving spots in the Canary Islands. The volcanic eruptions that took place between 2011 and 2012 led to a regeneration of the seabed that gave rise to very particular biodiversity and a unique underwater landscape full of life, including dolphins, turtles, stingrays, barracudas and peaceful white sharks to name but a few.
Designed by the great Canarian architect César Manrique and declared a Site of Cultural Interest, La Peña viewpoint is the most frequented standpoint in El Hierro. Set over the steep cliff, this balcony to the Atlantic Ocean lays El Golfo valley at your feet and offers one of the best views of the island, including views of the unspoilt Salmor rocks, a sanctuary for El Hierro’s giant native lizards.
Outstanding bathing spots
Charco Azul is without any doubt one of the most incredible bathing spots in El Hierro. Located in El Golfo, a magnificent valley along the rugged coastline, this natural pool is one of the finest examples of the exclusive volcanic flows. Created naturally by flowing lava, this area doesn’t just allow you to bathe in its turquoise pools, but also to relax, refresh and recharge yourself. Despite its small size, the cove of Tacorón in the south of the island is one of the best beaches in El Hierro. This quiet and secluded cove is known for its stunning views of El Julan and calm Atlantic waters.
The island of El Hierro has a special charm with its geological microcosm where 58% of the surface area is officially protected. Its 268 square kilometres of stunning landscapes will captivate you with the contrast between the dark volcanic ground and lush green forests. In just a couple of steps, the trails and ancient paths will take you from the sea to the mountains. Discover the Bimbaches rock carvings in El Julan and experience the incredible views on an excursion to Pico de Malpaso, the highest point of El Hierro.
In the town of San Andrés is where the Garoé Tree once stood. Adored by the Bimbaches, the ancient inhabitants of El Hierro, the Garoé Tree is a real symbol of island identity. Legend has it that its leaves could collect enough water to supply the whole population of the island until it was destroyed by a hurricane in the 17th century and a lime tree was planted in its place. About 500 metres from the tree is the Garoé Visitors Centre, where visitors can learn about the past of the native islanders and how they lived. The 16km water route trail also starts and ends in San Andrés, showing the importance of water and the history behind it. In the extreme west of the Island you can find El Sabinar, a forest full of centuries-old trees whose incredible ability to adapt to the elements will leave you in complete awe. This open forest is full of indigenous juniper trees with twisted trunks as a result of the trade winds and is a must-see on your trip to El Hierro.
In our hectic world it can often be difficult to disconnect and take time for yourself. The stunning scenery of the Canary Islands are the perfect place for reflection. The beauty of its landscapes, its volcanos, beaches, cliffs and forests, allow tourists to relax and be present.
The Canary Islands has become one of the world’s leading destinations for mindfulness – the practice of living in the moment. The atmosphere of calm which stretches all the way around the islands has led to the establishment of groups and associations with specially designed wellness facilities.
There are teachers on hand to enable guests to enjoy the pleasure of the ‘here and now’ amongst the island’s extraordinary natural beauty. Yoga classes and meditation are offered all over the islands. However, mindfulness isn’t only about slow, gentle movements, it can also mean strenuous activity. So, the Canary Islands mindfulness network offers guests the option of sports such as surfing, diving and trekking as well.
Tenerife Home to Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain and the third tallest volcano on earth, Tenerife sits close to the top of the world. Many visitors choose to climb Mount Teide and meditate during the early hours of the morning when the sun rises up from the ocean. Others choose to stay on the foothills, a unique landscape which has been described by many as resembling the moon. The 4,000-metre-tall peak seen from below gives a calming influence on the human mind.
Antequera beach is sandwiched between the ocean and a vertical cliff. Between two such powerful natural features, the benefits of practicing yoga and meditation on the sand here has long been proclaimed by locals. The beach is an off-the-beaten-track spot which, although there is a walking path open, is best accessed by boat from Santa Cruz or San Andrés.
One particular retreat, Estilo Verde in Güímar, deserves a mention for its yoga, mindfulness and meditation expertise. Located amongst volcanoes, avocado farms and the Atlantic Ocean, this centre offers accommodation, experienced teachers and a calm atmosphere.
Gran Canaria Famed for its varied landscape, Gran Canaria has been described as the world in a miniature form. The north of the island is green and lush while the scenery on the south coast is arid. There are mountains reaching almost 2,000 metres in height, such as the Morro de la Agujereada, with envious views. Some beaches have crystal clear waters, startling rock faces and yellow sand-like Guayedra, while others have black volcanic sand and spectacular glimpses of mountains in the distance, like Güi Güi which overlooks Mount Teide.
Recommended retreats on this island include the Mahalo Healthy House, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. A typical eight-day stay would involve 19 hours of yoga classes, mindfulness and holistic workshops as well as four excursions to notable locations on the island.
Lanzarote Lanzarote’s antidote to your worries is its unsurpassed natural beauty – home to hundreds of volcanos, lava fields, palm-lined valleys, dreamy beaches with turquoise water and charming towns with white houses. A 10km leisurely walk around the Caldera Blanca crater is a great way to absorb this wonder of the world. To the south of the island, five minutes by car from Playa Blanca, the isolated natural pools of Los Charcones are a brilliant place to take a dip, plunge under the water and remember the pleasures of life. Afterwards, take some time for meditation whilst cooling off on the rocks around the pool.
Further inland, surrounded by vineyards, Shama Retreats have a reputation for exceptional accommodation and healing activities. Their double cabins and vegan and vegetarian menus has made this a very popular retreat.
Fuerteventura In the more than 150 kilometres of shoreline, no two beaches on the island of Fuerteventura are the same. Those that practise yoga, meditation and other mindfulness activities on the pristine sands and pebbly shores understand that each beach has its own personality. La Concha is a beach where sea lions used to live and is part of the natural park on Lobos Island known for pure tranquility. It can be reached in just 15 minutes by boat from Corralejo in the north of Fuerteventura.
Casa de La Pared is a retreat which offers an 11-day course of Mindful Surf and Yoga. In a package which combines the thrills of the waves and the serenity of contemplation, the schedule includes daily yoga and meditation sessions as well as six surfing lessons. A vegan menu is provided along with surfing and yoga equipment.
La Palma From
the very early days of human existence, the night sky has been a
source of tremendous exhilaration and the island of La Palma is famous
for its clear skies. It is for this reason that an astronomical
observatory was built on top of Roque de los Muchachos, a rock formation some 2,420 metres above sea level.
to La Palma can join scientists in staring at the celestial phenomenon
in the night’s sky. This is the perfect opportunity to let go, gaze up
at the stars and imagine the origins of the earth and the universe.
La Gomera Laurel
forests are a type of subtropical forest which date back millions of
years. La Gomera is one of the few places in the world in which they
still survive. On top of this, the island is renowned for its dizzying
gorges, valleys coloured by green palm trees, black sand beaches,
crystal clear waters and lush forests with springs. Along any stretch
of the 650 kilometres of walking paths, ramblers discover the calmness
of being removed from the commotion of civilisation. The Parador de le Gomera
offers retreats for tired minds with yoga, detoxes, meditation,
massages, mindfulness talks and excursions. Peaceful rooms allow for
deep sleep, along with food developed specially to purify the body.
El Hierro Amongst the marine eco-system, in a spectacular volcanic landscape, El Hierro is a great place to experience the new craze of underwater meditation. The waters around the island are part of La Mar de las Calmas which is one of the three marine reserves in the Canary Islands.
Freediving El Hierro
specialises in freediving and underwater meditation classes taught by
professional scuba diver Francisco del Rosario. He explains, “the
course isn’t about acrobatics. It’s about profound relaxation and
getting to know ourselves on a deeper level than before”.
La Graciosa Surrounded by miles and miles of turquoise sea, La Graciosa is the ideal place for silence. The smallest of the Canary Islands has around 700 inhabitants and is the perfect setting for those seeking a holiday away from the world. Organised out of his little paradise hideaway, the retreats of Yogi José Antonio Machado (connected to Mundo Armonía Lanzarote) are a great place to discover this tiny island for the first time
Post Covid-19 the countdown has started. Every day we are closer to our next holiday, dreaming of destinations that now don’t seem that far away. As you may know, the Canary Islands are beginning to return to a sense of normality.
The islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa are “Covid-19 free” islands, are leading Spain’s de-escalation from the Covid-19 lockdown. So, when it comes to planning your next adventure, these Canary Island jewels are the best destinations to choose, not only for their safety from the pandemic but also for their incredible landscapes, extraordinary weather and glistening waters.
Now, it’s time to find out why should add La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa to your bucket list.
La Gomera – The Magical Island
La Gomera was awarded UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status in 2011 thanks to the pristine nature of its marine and terrestrial ecosystems. La Gomera is known as the most magical of the Canary Islands and is home to species that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s also renowned as a hiker’s heaven! The islands highest peak is found in Garajonay National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986. The park is covered in low-lying fog which creates a perfect microclimate for one of Europe’s last remaining cloud forests. This green paradise stands at the heart of La Gomera’s 650km network of beautiful walking trails.
Situated just 40 minutes by ferry from the southern coast of Tenerife, La Gomera is home to a perfect combination of lush green forests, black lava palm-studded beaches, ancient forests and banana plantations. Its capital, San Sebastián, is full of history and is famous for being Christopher Columbus’ last port of call on his voyage to America.
One of the most captivating features of La Gomera is the Silbo Gomero, its unique whistling language. Recognised as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, this pre-Hispanic language has been used on the island since ancient times to communicate over long distances.
El Hierro – The Sustainable Island
El Hierro aims to become the first island in the world that will be 100% sustainable within the next four to eight years. For now, El Hierro, the westernmost island of the Canaries has already set a world record. In Summer 2019, the island reached the milestone of covering the entire population’s energy needs for 24 days using only renewable energy.
El Hierro is the second smallest island of the Canaries and is world-famous for its spectacular underwater scenery and wildlife. La Restinga Marine Reserve is an internationally acclaimed diving sanctuary frequented by numerous animal species. The volcanic eruptions that took place between 2011 and 2012 led to a regeneration of the seabed that gave rise to very interesting biodiversity. El Hierro boasts the best diving area in the Canary Islands, where you could find dolphins, turtles, stingrays, barracudas, peaceful white sharks and more.
Charco Azul is without any doubt one of the most spectacular bathing spots in El Hierro. Located in El Golfo, a magnificent valley along the rugged coastline, this natural pool is one of the finest examples of the famous volcanic flows.
The island’s 268 km sq. of beautiful landscapes captivates visitors with the contrast between the dark volcanic ground and lush green forests. Be sure to include an excursion to El Sabinar on your adventure to El Hierro. This famous open forest is full of indigenous juniper trees with twisted trunks due to a never-ending battle with the trade winds.
La Graciosa – An Oasis of Tranquillity
Located to the north of Lanzarote, La Graciosa is the least explored and the most peaceful island of the Canaries. The spot of only 700 inhabitants is a protected area included in the Chinijo Archipelago and has not registered a single case of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Its golden sand virgin beaches are now wilder than ever, its volcanic landscapes remain untouched and time seems to have stood still along with its fishing villages.
Did you know that La Graciosa is one of the last places in Europe with no tarmacked roads? This oasis of tranquillity can perfectly be explored on foot or by bike. Within a less than an hour walk from Caleta de Sebo, La Graciosa’s main city, visitors can find the most popular beach in the south of the island, La Francesa Beach. Its golden sand and glistening waters are of outstanding quality. Also, on your trip, make sure to check out Playa de la Cocina and Playa de las Conchas. You will love exploring La Graciosa.