7 Islands of Paradise | Cycling the Canaries

Tristan Bogaard take you through his seven week bicycle tour through the beautiful Canary Islands.

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7 Islands of Paradise 

Cycling the Canaries

Tenerife 8
Gran Canaria 10

In this article I’d like to take you through our seven week bicycle tour through the beautiful Canary Islands, south of mainland Spain. 

Every one of these islands has been created by erupting volcanoes, which is why they’re pretty mountainous, with gorgeous landscapes and full of natural miracles to discover. Conveniently, the islands are connected by ferries which makes flying unnecessary, but also makes it possible to skip the islands you’re less interested in / don’t have time for — since some connections make this possible. Over the course of seven weeks we have climbed several thousands of meters and sweated profusely. 

But, by showing you this journey from our perspective, we hope to encourage you to take out your bicycle and go for a ride. Make it a weekend, seven weeks, or even longer!

Also, did you hear? I'm hosting a bicycling tour with my beautiful girlfriend, Belén, to Kyrgyzstan with Moment Travel. We only have four spots left for July, 2019 dates — so act fast!

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El Hierro 9

#1 Lanzarote

We arrived on this first island by plane, from the Netherlands. The relatively small airport is, like on all other islands, very well connected with the main city. One major plus; it’s an island! Small in size, so much easier to explore! We cycled through The Timanfaya National Park - an other-planet-like experience as you ride through a landscape of volcanic rock. Also famous for its volcanic rock is Yaiza, where fields of grapes used to make wine are growing in little holes amongst the rocks. Since it’s highly absorbent, the moisture of the night hydrates the grape vines. And finally, Mirador del Rio. Designed by the island’s famous architect Cesar Manrique, it’s more or less the main touristic spot of Lanzarote, and offers a view on the nearby island of La Graciosa.

What: Timanfaya National Park, Yaiza, Mirador del Rio

When: We visited in mid September. But, you can see these islands year-round as the climate is pretty stable. Note that the winter and summer months can be quite busy!

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#2 Fuerteventura

Conveniently, the second island (and all the others) can be reached by ferry, as there are daily ferries shuttling between the Canaries. Fuerteventura is a dry, pretty barren place with the main purpose being beach tourism. We set out to cycle the more unknown parts of the island and were surprised at the lack of tourism once you go inland. Quieter villages, a lot of pretty roads and little oases in seemingly undiscovered valleys. Fuerteventura is even home to a preserved plot of land through which a gravel road meanders, so it makes it a little more difficult to reach the protected beach of Cofete. This is where turtles come to lay their eggs every year, and we think the effort to keep people away is a great example of preserving what is to be preserved! However, since the weather was extremely hot we’re not sure if we’d recommend this island for cycling. You can skip it by ferry if you’d like, but if it’s cooler and you like adventurous cycling them you might want to reconsider!

What: La Oliva, FV-30 road, La Pared, the road to Cofete

When: We visited during the end of September, but if you’re bringing a bicycle, this island is at its nicest around November or April - low season, and better temperatures!

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Fuerteventura 1

#3 Gran Canaria

Arriving by boat either from Lanzarote, or Fuerteventura (or even Tenerife), Gran Canaria looms at you with its high peaks and many coastline cliffs, a little miracle out in the big ocean. Gran Canaria is one of our favorite islands to cycle, due to its low gradients, quiet roads and spectacular views. We set out to Agaete  from the capital Las Palmas, a quant town on the north-western shore, after which we climbed all the way up to the top of the island through roads with uncountable curves. We slowly reached a place that, especially if you get lucky with clouds forming like we did, represents the true Canary feeling. A landscape of canyons, pine and palm trees, small white towns, mountain trails and smooth, curvy roads around the many peaks. Our two favorite towns called Tegera and Artenara, along with a forest area called Tamadaba are as stunning as it gets!

What: Agaete, Tegera, Artenara, Tamadaba

When: Gran Canaria is popular in the northern European countries for its all-year-round sunshine and… we can confirm. But instead of laying on the beach, you should explore the upper areas whether the weather is good or bad!

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#4 Tenerife

After having conquered the first three islands and their relatively low-laying volcanoes, it was time for the mightiest of them all: Tenerife and her creator, El Teide. This volcano is the highest mountain in Spain, and one of the highest mountains in Europe, and her base can be reached at about 2400 meters. Which we did. A long and tiring, but rewarding climb as you slowly immerse yourself in the other-worldly scenery of the dry lands below this tip. Rising above the clouds as usual, spectacular sunsets and star-filled skies at night. Before El Teide though, we cycled through the centuries old forest of Anaga, a green and dense forest covering the entire north of the island. Whichever way you go on Tenerife, you’ll always end up finding gorgeous views.

What: Anaga, Teide National Park

When: The temperatures up on the base of El Teide (2400m) can be quite cold during the later months of the year. We recommend visiting Tenerife in October or June, as you’ll have a better balance of temperatures throughout the islands. Not too warm on the coast, not too cold on top.

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#5 La Gomera

This is where our tropical part of the Canary Islands bicycle tour really started. La Gomera is famous for its story of Gara and Jonay, the couple from Tenerife and La Gomera, that fell in love but never managed to be together, and ultimately died together on the top of the island, which is now the Garajonay National Park. It is home to one of the most impressive sights in all of the Canary Islands - Roque de Agando. The whole island is essentially one volcano, which makes for many ups and downs on the roads up to the top. With its many lush, wet forests, and fruits virtually everywhere, one might wish to spend an entire spring here…!

What: GM-1 road, Hermigua, Garajonay National Park

When: As the summer in the Canary islands brings a lot of heat, La Gomera is a perfect pick for a spring trip. Fall brings a lot of rain (and with that a lot of fog, which makes it all quite mystical) and winter may be too cold for one’s expectations. Consider March and April for a low season, green and wild adventure!

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#6 La Palma

After having traveled back to Tenerife and on to La Palma with the Naviera Armas ferries, we found ourselves to be pretty tired from having cycled five volcanic islands so far. We therefore took it easy on this sixth island of our trip. Spending our time tasting coffees in local cafes, camping in beautiful resting areas, picking sun ripened fruits by the roads and huffing and puffing our way up to Roque de los Muchachos - La Palma’s highest point coming in at 2426 meters. This island is also known for the observatory on top of the island, as it is one of the best in the world along with the observatories of Chile and Hawaii. As you might expect, camping near the top with clear skies was an experience one doesn’t easily forget.

What: LP-1, 2 and 4 roads, La Caldera de Taburiente National Park, Mirador de los Andenes

When: Much alike La Gomera, La Palma is much more tropical than the other Canary islands. Amongst its overload in fruit (especially bananas), it’s also quite prone to rain. We would recommend the spring and summer months as a perfect time to visit, due to the comfortable temperatures and amount of sunshine.

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#7 El Hierro

Last but not least, the final island of our bicycle tour through the Canaries! El Hierro, which means ‘the iron’, is the smallest of all seven islands and, surprisingly, just as tropical as La Palma and La Gomera. We were told it was a dry and deserted island but found this to be untrue, as it is filled with flora and fauna of all kinds. Aloe vera plants thrive, along with rich forests and other vegetation. Having cycled only 75 kilometers on this island due to bad weather, we can only show you so much - but still encourage you to venture out to this remote but beautiful island just as much as the others.

What: HI-1 road, Mirador de Jinama, La Llania forest

When: We cycled around El Hierro in early November, which may be slightly too late for those of you considering taking a bicycle as rain and a cold climate could disturb your tour. Early or late summer on the other hand would offer the perfect temperature and climate for any kind of journey, and with limited access to the island (only one ferry per day) you might just have the entire island to yourself…

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Whichever of the seven islands, or ways to travel around them you pick, they will all present you with something unique of their own. Whether it’s Lanzarote’s enchanting white villages, El Hierro’s silence or Tenerife’s giant volcano, virtually any type of traveller can find an interest in the incredibly diverse and richly cultured Canary Islands. Personally we can of course recommend a bicycle tour and (spoiler) organized a journey or two with our friends at Moment Travel. It is the absolute perfect place for a tropical getaway, digital detox, wedding anniversary, stargazing trip and certainly a place to practice some Spanish.

In short, the islands are seven little pieces of paradise.

'Till Next Time!

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