We have chosen the three main islands of Tenerife, Lanzarote and
Gran Canaria because they all benefit from direct flights, making
them perfect winter sun Big Short Break material. The wonderful climate
also allows for year round exploration.
First up, Tenerife, which is so much more than sun, sand and
sangria - although those three have a certain appeal. The island's
beaches and surfing are outstanding, and many of the excellent
hotels have outstanding settings, panoramic views of the Atlantic
Ocean and, often, a comprehensive range of family friendly
In addition, there's Spain's tallest mountain - Mt Teide - to climb, and the second biggest
carnival in the world in the capital Santa Cruz
every February. And when Santa Cruz isn't over-run by hundreds of
thousands of revellers, it's a delightful and civilised city with
nary an Irish Pub in sight.
Just 40 miles to the east lies Gran Canaria, the almost
perfectly spherical island that is home to half the entire
population of the Canaries. Don't let that put you off, though,
because as with all the islands there are areas of remote beauty
that are far removed from the concrete jungles of the main cities.
In fact, the island is often referred to as a miniature continent,
with various differing landscapes - lush and green in the North and
arid desert in the south - and microclimates to explore. Offshore,
there is surfing, windsurfing and kite-surfing, and the island's
rugged interior is criss-crossed by 230 miles of signed walking
routes. For the ultimate aerial view, try paragliding from some of
the North's finest vantage points.
Last but not least, Lanzarote is even further east, towards the
Moroccan coastline. Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve back in
1993, the island is over 50% (52%, to be exact) National Park and
home to a mere 300 volcanoes. There hasn't been an eruption since
1824, so chances are your holiday will be lava-free but the
geological evidence of previous eruptions are one of the highlights
of any visit, and particularly the lava tunnels at Jameos de Agua.
There's also the usual range of activities and watersports
available, including probably the best surfing in the entire
archipelago, as well as some extremely characterful boutique hotels
from which to explore. Finally, and for a more sedate pleasure, the
Malvasia grape thrives on Lanzarote's ash.