Spain’s Canary Islands sit out in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of North Africa. As one of the most popular winter sun destinations for Northern Europeans, they unsurprisingly are rocking some wild and wonderful beaches too.
Between them, these 7 islands are home to a wide variety of landscapes and climates – Gran Canaria alone is known as a mini continent for its sheer variety. You’ll find striking white sand, sparkling black sand, glistening lagoons, and everything in between.
So if you’re looking to hit the beach in the Canary Islands, here are 10 of the most beautiful beaches you should definitely consider checking out:
EL MEDANO, TENERIFE
Tenerife is more often associated with black volcanic beaches and brash mega-resorts. But for something a bit different head to the wild expanse of El Medano.
This beach is one of the world’s top windsurfing and kitesurfing areas – so bring your windbreaker! It’s named after the ‘medanos’ – sand and rock dunes that seem to glow red as the sun goes down.
The atmosphere is super laid-back and a bit alternative.
Another kitesurfing hotspot, this time on the island of Fuerteventura. One of the eastern islands that’s closer to Africa, it’s regularly blasted by hot Saharan winds (which are also responsible for the island’s wonderful sandy beaches).
All things considered, Sotavento beach is probably the most beautiful beach in the Canaries. Actually, it consists of 5 beaches that altogether sport 9km of fine golden sand, much of it undeveloped. Sotavento is famous for its large sand barrier and low-tide lagoon that give an effect of swirling sands.
Kitesurfers and windsurfers flock to the lagoon, but there are many miles of undiscovered beach to enjoy.
EL COTILLO, FUERTEVENTURA
On the northwestern shore of Fuerteventura lies El Cotillo, a small coastal village with a variety of beaches.
Surfers will love the epic Playa del Castillo, which is popular with the local surf schools thanks to its consistent conditions.
But those who prefer sunbathing and paddling will prefer Playa de la Concha and the El Cotillo lagoons, with its beautiful turquoise waters, white sands, calm waters and lava reef.
As will most Fuerteventura beaches though, the wind is ever-present.
PLAYA DE LAS TERESITAS, TENERIFE
The image of pretty Playa de Las Teresitas is well known on Tenerife for its golden crescent of sand dotted with palms and backed by green mountains.
Located on the north coast near the town of Santa Cruz, it’s one of the few sandy beaches on Tenerife.
In fact, it’s not naturally that way – originally black sand like most of the beaches on the island, the golden sand you see today was imported from the Sahara during the 1970s.
One beach that has no shortage of powdery white sand is the enormous beach at the Parque Natural de Corralejo.
Not far from Corralejo – the popular resort town of the same name – is the natural park containing the largest sand dunes in the Canary Islands.
Here you’ll find 11km of almost deserted beach, frequented occasionally by surfers and kitesurfers. Behind you is mile after mile of sand dune, almost like the Sahara in miniature.
And from the beach, you can see tiny Los Lobos island and Lanzarote in the distance.
MASPALOMAS, GRAN CANARIA
The famous beach of Maspalomas on Gran Canaria is also known for its expanse of sand dunes right by the water’s edge, making for some striking scenes.
Here the beach extends as far as 17km. It’s one of the most built-up areas in the Canaries though, with several major beach resorts in the vicinity.
The dunes have been a designated natural park since 1994.
Deservedly Lanzarote’s most famous beach, the otherworldly Papagayo, is one of the must-see sights on the island and a favourite with boat trippers.
Its lunar landscape and turquoise seas are typical of the northern Canaries. And the crystal clear seas here are protected from the worst of the winds by rocky headlands, meaning crystal clear seas for excellent swimming and snorkelling.
If you want to escape the crowds on Lanzarote then a good choice is to head north to the wild beach of Famara.
It has an awe-inspiring setting, with 5km of golden sand backed by the huge Famara cliffs.
It’s popular with surfers, but when the tide is out the shallow pools of water form incredible mirror-like surfaces that stretch as far as the eye can see.
LAS CONCHAS, LA GRACIOSA
The larger islands of the Canaries get all the attention, but little La Graciosa just 2km off the north coast of Lanzarote is an unspoilt gem.
Despite having some of the best sandy beaches in the Canaries, if not in Europe, it has somehow escaped mass tourism. On the island, you’ll find just one sleepy village, a handful of apartments, and no roads. Perfect if you’re looking to get back to nature.
The pale sands and electric blue waters at Las Conchas have to be seen to be believed.
EL BOLLULLO, TENERIFE
In contrast, on the north coast of Tenerife, you’ll find striking black volcanic sands.
Tenerife is better known for its black sand beaches than its white, and El Bollullo is one of the most dramatic and beautiful.
This secluded natural wonder near La Orotava sums up the wild attraction of the Canaries with its soft sparkling sands, clear waters and volcanic rock formations.
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Sotavento: © NicoElNino / Adobe Stock
El Medano: © Pawel Kazmierczak / Shutterstock
Sotavento: © wjarek / Adobe Stock
El Cotillo: © dziewul / Adobe Stock
Teresitas: © Olena Tur / Shutterstock
Corralejo: © Tamara Kulikova / Adobe Stock
Masopalomas: © Valery Bareta / Adobe Stock
Papagayo: © mrks_v / Adobe Stock
Famara: © Marques / Adobe Stock
La Graciosa © nito / Adobe Stock
El Bolullo © lunamarina / Adobe Stock