Canary Islands

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Canary Islands (Spanish: Las Islas Canarias) is an archipelago of seven islands of volcanic origin in the Atlantic Ocean, near the northwest coast of Africa (Morocco and Western Sahara). The islands belong to Spain and are one of the autonomous communities of this country. Capitals two, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, but until 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the only capital.

Canary Islands - a picturesque archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, the edge of eternal summer with an ideal climate, emerald valleys, picturesque rocks and sandy beaches. Officially, the Canaries are an autonomous province of Spain, consisting of seven large islands (El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura) and several smaller islands. The title of the capital of the archipelago passes every 4 years in the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Despite the fact that the Canary Islands officially belong to Spain, the atmosphere here is by no means European. Tourists come here for real exoticism: beautiful tropical landscapes, soft ocean waves, black volcanic beaches and delicious ripe fruits. Fortunately, this exotica is close and accessible: only a few hours to fly to the islands, without considering transplants. On the Canary Islands, you can not just relax on the beach: all the islands are dotted with unique prehistoric monuments, volcanoes, waterfalls, "moon" valleys with frozen lava. And here is an excellent service and a true paradise for surfers and divers.

The largest island of the Canarian archipelago, Tenerife, offers a choice and a quiet, secluded holiday and great fun. For example, Los Cristianos, like the neighboring Las Americas, is a "lively" place frequented mainly by Englishmen and Germans looking for drinks and discos. And Puerto de la Cruz is well suited for a relaxing holiday "alone with nature". Only here is the coast steep and rocky, there are practically no beaches as such: tourists mostly splash in the hotel pools.

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The island of Gran Canaria is good on all sides. For lovers of large tourist centers with many hotels and apartments, shops, restaurants, bars and attractions to relax, he will certainly like. But there are small resorts on the island specializing in water sports and equipped with yachts. Here you can make excursions by sea, windsurfing, fishing in the open sea, jumping with a parachute - usually active to entertain. The true "pearl" of the island are the dunes (Dunas de Maspalomas). It is practically "Sahara in miniature" with the purest sand of golden color and a clear 5 kilometer long beach.

The sandy beaches of Fuerteventura, many kilometers long, wide and mostly abandoned in Africa - are the best and longest on the Canary archipelago.

After all, Lanzarote is an island reserve, but no flora or fauna, but volcanoes. "Lunar landscape" is the most important exotica of this place. The island is perfect for rest, not saturated with civilized entertainment.

The Atlantic coast of the Canary Islands is 1500 km of beautiful sandy beaches and steep rocky shores. The water in the ocean here is pretty cool (the Gulf Stream flows from north to south), but its color is just amazing: saturated blue due to its immense depth. The longest white beaches - in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. The coast of the western islands is steeper. Most of the beaches in Tenerife are covered with golden sand, which is extracted from the seabed or delivered from the Sahara.

A magnificent beach complex is located near the center of Santa Cruz de Tenerife: at the "Playa de Taganana" - black volcanic sand, at the "Las Teresitas" - familiar, flat and golden. A real attraction of Puerto de la Cruz is the "Playa de Martianes" with a huge lake with flowing sea water, beautiful fountains and numerous bars and restaurants built on small islands.

Los Cristianos is loved not only by visitors but also by local residents. Las Vistas is reliably protected from ocean waves by breakwaters. For the tourist crowd with all its attributes, it is better to go to Las Americas: Here and souvenir shops and restaurants with simple cuisine, and even the restaurant "Maroussia" - Knicks the generous "Russo Tourist". The best pebble coast is on the northern "Playa de San Roque" and "Playa de Beniho".

Los Cristianos is loved not only by visitors but also by local residents. Las Vistas is reliably protected from ocean waves by breakwaters. For the tourist crowd with all its attributes, it is better to go to Las Americas: Here and souvenir shops and restaurants with simple cuisine, and even the restaurant "Maroussia" - Knicks the generous "Russo Tourist". The best pebble coast is on the northern "Playa de San Roque" and "Playa de Beniho".

On Fuerteventura it is best to rest at the famous "Playa de Corraleho", the pride of Lanzarote - the beach "El Reducto".

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Diving in the Canary Islands is a pleasure. The local underwater world is dolphins and turtles, sharks and barracudas, stingrays and sperm whales, lobsters and whales. At a depth you can admire the amazing caves, caves, wrecks, picturesque lava formations. Diving is possible all year round: Due to the small differences between the winter and summer temperatures in the Canary Islands, there is practically no seasonal concept.

There are 3 zones for diving on the coast of Tenerife: the north is a rich fauna and a fantastic underwater landscape, the southeast is the place of the largest dive sites, in the west the calmest ocean is protected from the winds by the mountain range.

El Hierro is a national nature reserve with unspoiled nature, free of tourist crowds. Here diver wait for deep volcanic caves, canyons and uninvited sea creatures: from large turtles to humpback whales.

Around Gran Canaria - many secluded bays, sheltered from winds and currents and in the area of the port of Las Palmas - a whole collection of racks of the largest ships that ever sank in the waters of the Atlantic. The most memorable dives take place in the Arinaga Marine Reserve, which attracts thousands of divers from around the world each year.

On Fuerteventura - more than 60 dive sites, suitable for professionals and beginners. Off the coast of Homer - herds of barracuda, lobster, tuna and parrotfish. Diving in the west and east of La Palma - a whole adventure between the columns, walls, arches and tunnels. Lanzarote is located in the Chinijo Archipelago Marine Reserve - Europe's largest marine reserve.

Canary Islands - a free economic zone, so prices here are much lower than in Europe. The most profitable takeovers are crocodile leather accessories and clothing by Spanish designers. Standard souvenirs (magnets, cards, toys) are sold everywhere and cost a penny. But why bring the usual jewelery from the island when there are many more original possibilities: handmade products (embroidery, ceramics, wickerwork), interior decorations made of Canary pine, natural and artificial pearls, local wines and tobacco.

In mid-July and early January, local sales start selling. The most magnificent are in Santa Cruz de Tenerife with its many shopping malls and galleries. In El Corte Ingles (website in Spanish) you can buy clothes, shoes and perfumes from local brands. In the resort of Las Americas there is a shopping center Safari with the boutiques Escada, Versace, D & G and other premium brands.

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Separate entertainment is shopping at local markets. The most interesting are the Sunday Flea Market in the port of Las Palmas, the daily Nuestra Señora de Africa in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Friday port of Puerto de Mogan in Gran Canaria.

The cuisine of the Canary Islands consists of traditional Spanish recipes with Latin American and African notes. There are many good restaurants in the resorts and in major cities, prices are low by European standards. Dinner in the hippest institution costs 75 EUR per person for a variety of dishes with wine.

Popular fish taverns, where fresh seafood is prepared, and grill bars "Parillas", where meat and sausages are roasted on an open fire. Numerous small bars serve all kinds of sandwiches and other snacks. Be sure to look for home-cooked restaurants where you can taste cheap and pure Canarian dishes. Prices in democratic institutions - 5-20 EUR for lunch.

The Canaries like hearty soups: "Ripa Vieha" with meat and tomatoes, "Puchero" with meat and pumpkin and of course "Rancho Canario" - Vegetable soup with turkey peas. The most popular meat dish is marinated pork "Carne de Fiesta". Order freshly caught fish: sea bass, bream, tuna or cod. The best dessert is "Bienmesabe", the recipe contains lemon, sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon and egg yolks.

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