When many of us are looking for a sun-filled vacation, we typically look for the closest island destination. In North America, many of us venture to the islands of Hawaii, Mexico, or the Bahamas, but there are islands across the globe that are also worthy of exploring.
Off the coast of Northwest Africa are Spain's Canary Islands. Filled with volcanic history and black sand beaches, the Canary Islands are a sight for sore eyes. With fresh food and the soft language of Spanish drifting through the air, spending a few days on the Canary Islands is exactly what vacations are all about. While visitors can spend their time lounging in the sun, they can also partake in a bundle of outdoor activities that can only be done on the Canary Islands. Here are 10 things to know before booking your trip!
10 ONE OF THE LARGEST VOLCANOS IN THE WORLD CALLS THE CANARY ISLANDS HOME
Mount Teide is the third largest volcano in the world. Located in Tenerife (the largest island in the Canary Islands), the volcano has the highest elevated peak on the islands.
The last eruption of this volcano was in 1909 and is still active. And if you're not too scared of this volcano, it's surrounded by Teide National Park, where you can explore the grounds and soak in the scenery.
9 ThERE ARE TONS OF VOLCANIC ACTIVITIES
Considering how prominent the volcano is on the Canary Islands, there are a few activities you can do involving the volcano (if you're brave enough). There's one restaurant in Timanfaya National Park that actually cooks its food in a volcano!
Using the natural heat from volcanic rock, you've never seen a "kitchen" like this before. You can also hike along the volcano and take tours to learn its history.
8 THERE'S AN UNDERWATER MUSEUM
You don't need to be a museum-goer to enjoy this museum. Museo Atlantico was created by Jason deCaires Taylor and can be found under the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
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The underwater museum has 12 art installations all created with cement that safe enough to endure the ocean's changing environment. The amazing part about these 300 pieces of art is that over time the ocean transforms these sculptures into mystical creations. You are allowed to rent gear and do a diving tour of the museum, which includes oxygen, and you're allowed to take pictures and videos as well.
7 TAKE A DIVE INTO LAVA POOLS
Swimming in a lava pool doesn't really sound all that safe, but in the Canary Islands, it's a tourist destination. In Tenerife, the area of Garachico was once taken over by lava hundreds of years ago.
The city rallied together, though, and rebuilt everything, including incorporating swimming pools out of the solidified lava. There are tropical fish swimming in these pools, along with different depths depending on what the tourist is looking for.
6 A LANGUAGE LIKE NO OTHER
As islands off the coast of Spain, it may seem obvious that the main language spoken on the islands is Spanish. However, there's another native language spoken that many tourists can't pick up on too easily.
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There is a native whistling language, called Silbo Gomero, that's mainly heard on the Island of La Gomera. Through whistles, the centuries-year-old language is passed down to natives. It comes in handy over the crashing waves on the beach or hiking through the mountainside. You can watch videos of this unique language on YouTube.
5 THE ISLAND IS NOT NAMED AFTER BIRDS
When thinking of Spain's Canary Islands, one would assume it was named after canaries — the bird species. However, that's not the case! Canaria is actually the Latin word for dog, which translates to the island's history.
According to Everything Everywhere, settlers found dogs on the island when it first found, calling it Dog Island. Over time, however, many think the island's name wasn't about dogs at all, but perhaps about sea dogs (seals)!
4 HOME OF GREEN WATER
Volcanoes, lava pools, a whistling language, an underwater museum — is there anything else that separates the Canary Islands from every other island in the world? Actually, yes. They have pools of green water.
The El Golfo is a crater off the shores of Lanzarote created from the volcano. Inside the craters is a "greenish" color in the water, which is actually coming from the algae living inside the crater. This water does not evaporate because the crater is connected to the ocean, so it doesn't matter what time of year you visit — this green hue will be waiting for you.
3 THERE ARE SEVEN ISLANDS WITHIN THE CANARY ISLANDS
Are you wondering how many islands actually make up Spain's Canary Islands? Seven! The seven islands range from large, bustling islands to small and quaint.
Regardless, you can hop around to see them all: Tenerife (the largest of the islands), La Palma, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and El Hierro. All seven islands are found in the lowest part of Spain.
2 YOU CAN ROAM BANANA PLANTATIONS
It's not every day we see banana plantations and since so many of us eat them daily, it would be amazing to see how our favorite fruits come to be. Not only can you take a tour of banana plantations on the islands but you can even stay at one!
According to Travel Supermarket, tourists can stay at El Patio, a family home that's been passed down by generation. Guests can stay in the home with bananas growing from practically every view. There are also palm trees and fruit orchards to get lost around.
1 IT'S HOME TO THE LARGEST DRAGON TREE
The Canary Islands truly is home to some one-of-a-kind things that you won't find anywhere else in the world. Another item making that is it's home to the largest Dragon Tree in the world.
Found on the island of Tenerife, scientists and locals spread rumors claiming the tree is anywhere from 200 years old to 3,000 years old; nobody knows for sure, but it's one of the most stunning trees you'll ever see up close and personal.