Top 5 Must-See Beaches in the Canary Islands

In layman’s terms, The Canary Islands are the “Hawaii of Spain”: a series of seven main – and several smaller – volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, offering 365 days a year of near-perfect weather, beautiful beaches, and even a few vineyards and cheeseries. While Spanish territory, the Canaries are located just off the northwest coast of Africa and are closer in proximity to Africa than mainland Spain.

With more than 500 Canary Islands beaches, it can be hard to pick just one. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly spot, an action-packed adventure, or something completely off the grid, the Canary Islands beaches have it all. Here’s a roundup of our faves:

5.) Playa de Maspalomas, Island of Gran Canaria

Canary Islands Beaches

The dunes of Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

While Gran Canaria is the 3rd largest of the Canary Islands, it is the most populous and home to half the islands’ population. The north of the island tends to be more of a locals haunt, while the south is a mecca of resorts and perfect for families and couples seeking a bit of entertainment. Our favorite Canary Islands beaches on Gran Canaria, Maspalomas, is located in the south of the island.

Maspalomas is the second largest beach on Gran Canaria, with miles of white sand and turquoise water. What is most striking, however, are the 1,000 acres of sand dunes which set the backdrop for the beach. The beach itself is divided into different zones, with a family-friendly section, a nudist area, and a gay community.

Where to Eat

There are countless places to eat in Maspalomas, but our favorites lie along the water:

Surf Burguer – An amazing little beachfront shack, this dive is perfect for a lunch burgers, sandwiches, and cold beer. While the establishment isn’t anything fancy, the views are spectacular.

Canary Islands Beaches

Lunch views (with fresh seafood and local wine) at El Senador. Photo credit: Leigh Kunis

El Senador – A beachfront seafood restaurant at the entrance to Maspalomas, El Senador is perfect for lunch or dinner. Fried calamari, sea bass, and paella are just a few of their can’t-miss cuisines. Come for lunch and stay for sunset, when their live jazz begins.

Cafe de Colon – A more upscale restaurant offering everything from pasta to fresh fish to kobe beef burgers, Cafe de Colon is located just behind Maspalomas’s lighthouse and offers beautiful views of the sea.

Where to Stay

Maspalomas offers everything from 5-star resorts to charming bungalows, both along the sea as well as further in town. There’s something for everyone – and every budget. A few of our favorites are:

Hotel Riu Palace – Just behind the dunes, this resort offers amazing views is perfect for couples and families with its freshwater pools, spa, and live music shows.

Costa Meloneras – A Lopsean 4-Star resort, spa, and casino, Costa Meloneras is perfect for active guests. Located along the sea and just steps from the dunes, it offers tennis courts, paddle courts, mini golf, and more. A kids club is also available for younger guests.

Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia – Rated #1 by Tripadvisor and perfect for couples seeking a romantic getaway, this 5-Star luxury resort is comprised of Spanish villas set in a tropical garden and is just steps from the dunes and beach.

How to Get There

Gran Canaria’s airport (LPA) is located in the center of the island. There are no direct flights to Gran Canaria from the US, but multiple options on local airlines out of Spain, the UK, and Germany, among others. Maspalomas is about a 20-minute drive south of the airport. Taxis and local buses, running every 30 minutes, are also available.

4.) Playa El Bollullo, Island of Tenerife

Canary Islands Beaches

Tenerife’s Playa El Bollullo. gegemaunt/Shutterstock.com

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and boasts nearly 250 miles of coastline and the Mount Teide – the highest mountain in Spain.

With so many miles of coastline, there are dozens of beaches to choose from, but Playa El Bollullo is our top pick. Located in the north of the island and behind rows of banana plantations, this black sand cove lies at the intersection of volcanic cliffs and turquoise waters. There are no hotels on the beach, making it less populated than some of the other beaches on the island and perfect for those seeking a bit of zen. The waves and current here can be rough, so exercise caution.

Where to Eat

There is only one restaurant on Playa El Bollullo: a small shack built into the side of the cliff offering tapas and local seafood dishes. Pulpo (Spanish for octopus) and fried calamari are a few of the highlights.

Where to Stay

While there are not any hotels directly on the beach, we recommend staying in nearby La Orotava (a charming town with traditional Canarian houses whose center was declared a Historic-Artistic site) or Puerto de la Cruz, a beautiful beachfront town.

How to Get There 

La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz are both about a 20-minute drive to Playa El Bollullo. Those wanting a bit more exercise can also walk, which takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes from either town. Local buses are also available.

Tenerife has two airports, North Airport (TFN) and South Airport (TFS). Unfortunately, direct flights from the US do not yet exist, but once in Europe, there are numerous options on local carriers such as Iberia, Ryan Air, Easy Jet and countless others out of Spain, The UK, Germany, and more. We recommend setting a flight alert, as flights can occasionally be found for under 20 Euros.

3.) Playa de Las Conchas (The Shells), Isle of La Graciosa

Canary Islands Beaches - Playa de las Conchas

Lanzarote’s Playa de las Conchas. Photo credit: Anna-Maria Satran

If you’re looking to get away from it all, La Graciosa is our top pick of the Canary Islands beaches. One of Canary’s secret islands off the north coast of Lanzarote, this small desert oasis features miles of golden sand and was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The island is small – just 5 miles long and 2.5 wide – and has a population just under 700.

Given the island’s size, there aren’t many beaches to choose from. Playa de las Conchas (Beach of the Shells) is a favorite of the island and completely remote with white sand and turquoise waters set against a landscape of rolling volcanic hills. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen as the sun is strong and the beach rarely shady, and umbrellas are not available. Note that currents are strong, so the beach is not advisable for children or weak swimmers.

Where to Eat

Given its remoteness, there are no restaurants on the beach. We recommend bring a picnic lunch.

Where to Stay

Most people stay in Lanzarote and take day trips to La Graciosa, but limited accommodation is available in La Graciosa’s two towns, Pedro Barba and Caleta del Sebo. Airbnb’s are a more popular option, with many beachfront apartments available, as well as the chance to stay on boats.

How to Get There

Inaccessible by car, the options are to walk, bike, or hire a 4×4. The beach is about a 45-minute walk from the main town or a 20-minute bike ride.

La Graciosa is reachable by ferry from Lanzarote. Ferries run several times a day out of Órzola, Lanzarote to Caleta de Sebo. The ride takes approximately 30 minutes.

2.) Playa de Papagayo, Island of Lanzarote

Canary Islands Beaches

Lanzarote’s Playa de Papagayo. Photo credit: Leigh Kunis

Sun, sand, and local volcanic wine? What could be better! Lanzarote is the island in the Canaries famous for its wine production. Most of the wineries can be found in the center of the island, and beaches flank the outskirts.

Playa de Papagayo is a small beach in the south of the island tucked behind volcanic hills and our favorite on Lanzarote. A cove of white sand and turquoise green water, this beach is sheltered from the wind and has calm, flat water – making it a perfect spots for kids and families (and snorkeling). It does get crowded during high season, so go early to claim your spot.

Where to Eat

We recommend going early and packing a picnic lunch so you don’t lose your spot; but, if you’d like to grab a bite on your way out, Casa Angelina is a great hole in the wall on the outskirts of the beach famous for its shrimp, octopus, and fresh fish.

Where to Stay

There are not any hotels directly on Playa de Papagayo, but several options nearby. A few of our favorites are on nearby Playa Blanca:

Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort – This 5-star, beachfront resort located in Playa Blanca is less than five miles from Playa de Papagayo and has 6 pools and 8 restaurants. It’s perfect for families and couples alike.

Timanfaya Palace – An adults-only resort in Playa Blanca, Timanfaya Palace is perfect for couples or girls’ trip. Take advantage of their all-inclusive package, as well as their cooking classes, pilates, yoga, and more.

Iberostar Lanzarote Park – This recently refurbished 5-Star beachfront hotel is perfect for couples and families, with it’s three distinguished areas (and 7 pools!): one for families, one for adults-only, and for “ultimate relaxation.”

How to Get There

About 15 minutes away from Playa Blanca, the drive to Papagayo is bumpy, dusty, and filled with potholes – but the destination is worth it. Bring cash, as there is a 3 Euro parking fee. You can also reach the beach via water taxi.

Lanzarote’s Airport (ACE) is well connected to major cities in Europe via Iberia, RyanAir, and other local carriers. Unfortunately, direct flights from the US are not yet available.

1.) Sotavento, Isle of Fuerteventura

Canary Islands Beaches

Fuerteventura’s lagoon in Risco El Paso at Playa de Sotavento. IndustryAndTravel/Shutterstock.com

Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands. Considered the “jewel of the Canary Islands” and home to the best of the best of the Canary Islands beaches, it’s famous for its white sand beaches which span nearly 100 miles. In 2009, it was deemed a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. In addition to its beaches, the island is famous for its cheese – specifically, Majorero, a goat’s milk cheese and numerous cheeseries adorn the island.

Sotavento is our favorites beach on Fuerteventura, 17 miles of continuous white sand stretching down the south-east coast of the island, with many areas deserted and perfect for those looking for a bit of tranquility. Set against a backdrop of dormant volcanos and hills, Sotavento is actually comprised of five beaches: La Barca, Risco del Paso, Mirador, Los Canarios and Malnombre. A sand barrier just off the shore creates a lagoon nearly 2 miles long, making it ideal for kitesurfers and windsurfers. It’s no surprise that The World Kite Surf Championship is held here every August.

Where to Eat

Our favorite thing to do in Sotavento is grab some cheese, tomatoes, jamón ibérico, french bread and a bottle of local wine, and enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach. However, if you’d prefer to eat out, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from whether you’re in the mood for pizza, tapas, or fresh seafood. A few of our favorites are:

Palmita Snack Bar – Situated in the rocks above the surf, this gem of a shack is perfect for a casual just-off-the-beach lunch, offering affordable seafood, cheap drinks, and amazing views.

Restaurant Terraza del Gato – Fresh fish and delicious seafood paella (call in advance for paella) make this open-air restaurant a perfect dinner spot for couple and families alike.

L’Aperipizza – An unpretentious little pizzeria, this dive serves thin crust pizza that tastes like it’s fresh out of Napoli. While not on the beach, if you’re craving a laid-back delicious lunch or dinner, this is your place.

Where to Stay 

Melia Gorriones Fuerteventura – This 4-Star beach-front hotel is perfect for honeymooners. More remote than other resorts and located on the Jandía Peninsula, it is surrounded by sand dunes.

Crystal Beach Hotel & Suites – This adults-only, 4-Star beach-front resort is perfect for couples looking to be a bit closer to the action.

Sotavento Beach Club – This family-focused resort offers apartments and a kids club. It is a German-language hotel, but English, Spanish, as well as other languages are spoken fluently on the premises.

How to Get There

Fuerteventura’s airport (FUE) is located on the east side of the island. Similar to its surrounding islands, there are no direct flights to Fuerteventura from the US, but multiple options on local airlines out of Spain, the UK, and Germany, among others. Sotavento is about an hour’s drive south of the airport. Driving takes approximately one hour. Taxis and local buses, running every 30 minutes, are also available.

Love the Canary Islands, but don’t see your favorite Canary Islands beaches in our roundup? Comment below and tell us where we should check out next!

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