how to protect our environment sailing the
              atlantic

VISITING  - CANARY ISLANDS

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Whilst here in the Canary Islands, why not visit some of the fantastic wonders that nature has given us - many of the attractions help the environment and aim for a sustainable future.
We all know to re-cycle, to not throw plastics in the oceans or pollute any part of our world, but how can we go further and not only help the environment, but enjoy ourselves at the same time.  The islands all have their own unique ways of helping the environment, below are just some - take a look at the resources and info section for more information (external links).

ISLANDS: LANZAROTE (ISLA GRACIOSA) / GRAN CANARIA / TENERIFE / LA PALMA / EL HIERRO / FUERTEVENTURA / LA GOMERA /


RESOURCES AND INFO: OIL PROSPECTORS / MUSEO ATLANTICO / TIMANFAYA / GRACIOSA / GRAN CANARIA TOUR / WALKING TOURS LA PALMA / LA PALMA BY BIKE / HISTORIC LA PALMA / FUERTEVENTURA / GRAN CANARIA DIVING GUIDE / OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES LA PALMA /




LANZAROTE


timanfaya lanzarote
              sailing the atlantic


The Canary Island of Lanzarote was unique when it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on 7 October 1993. It wasn't the first Canary Island to be declared a Biosphere Reserve, that honour belonged to La Palma. But it was the first time a whole island, including centres of population, had been designated one.

What is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?

To be designated a Biosphere Reserve, specific areas have to show that there is a strong historic link between man and nature.

Why is Lanzarote a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?

It is no exaggeration to say that Lanzarote being give Biosphere Reserve status is mainly thanks to one man; local and environmental hero César Manrique.
Manrique's vision and quest to champion and encourage the relationship between nature and humans, with a good slice of art being thrown into the mix, helped keep his island from being ravaged by the demands of mass tourism. Where the more popular of the Canary Islands threw up resorts with little thought for the impact on the environment, Manrique's interventions and influence resulted in the tourist development of Lanzarote being one that was more sympathetic to the environment. Subsequently there is almost a complete absence of high rise hotels on the island.

Manrique was also a member of the Spanish arm of the MAB (Man and Biosphere), a factor which didn't harm Lanazarote's cause.

Unfortunately, since Manrique's death in 1992, the commitment to maintaining his vision has been diluted somewhat. The island's UNESCO status was threatened a few years ago thanks to indiscriminate tourist developments in popular coastal areas.

Aside from César Manrique, the symbiotic relationship between the local population and Lanzarote's manic volcanic landscape was also a key factor. The most obvious example being the ingenious way in which water and rainfall is trapped for agricultural use, such as the technique of planting vines in inverted volcanic ash cones in Geria, creating the most unusual vineyards you're likely to see anywhere.


Timanfaya National Park

There must be few visitors to Lanzarote who haven't taken an excursion to these unusual badlands populated by over one hundred volcanic cones. Witnessing a bush explode above a red hot fumarole, watching water being spewed into the sky from a geyser and having chicken cooked by volcanic energy is too good an opportunity to miss. Whilst you can explore some of the park for free, there is an entrance fee (€9) to access the area with the Montañas del Fuego centre where all the volcanic fun takes place.

Anything by César Manrique

All of Manrique's creations are perfect for showcasing the harmonic relationship between man and nature. Los Jameos del Agua (€9) on the north east coast are a series of pools and volcanic grottos; the Mirador del Río (€4.50) is a classic Manrique styled viewpoint on the Famara Cliffs; the Monumento Al Campesino (free entrance) in Mozaga pays homage to Lanzarote's agricultural heritage whilst the Cactus Garden (€5.50) in Guatiza is devoted to art and nature, using some of the oddest looking cacti going.


Museo Atlantico


museo atlantico


It's now back to the water and the Museo Atlantico.

The underwater Museum Lanzarote ” Museo Atlántico” was conceived as a place to promote education and preserve and protect the marine and natural environment as an integral part of the system of human values. Jason deCaires Tayor sends us a latent message in his work: the defence of the oceans. This museum project is creating a huge artificial reef made up of a series of pH neutral cement sculptures which, over time, will help the marine biomass flourish and facilitate the reproduction of species on the island.

Location

The museum is 12 metres deep down pristine waters near the south coast of Lanzarote, in the Bahía de Las Coloradas, a place that was chosen mainly due to the physical characteristics of its sea bottom. It covers a 2,500-square-metre surface that divers and scuba divers will have access to.


ISLA GRACIOSA (Chinijo Archipelago)

For more information regarding anchoring and visiting the marina see our lanzarote page here.


La Graciosa is a tiny desert island made up of sand and volcanic cones. It's around 8 kilometres in length and 4 kilometres wide. There are two small villages, Pedro Barba and Caleta del Sebo, which are home to the island's population, numbering somewhere between 600 and 700. Pedro Barba was the original settlement, its residents made a living from salting fish until the 19th century.
Now most people live in La Caleta del Sabo, a fishing village and port for the boats which ferry people across from Lanzarote.Being dropped in La Caleta del Sabo can feel a bit like being deposited in a North African outpost. The sea ebbs and flows almost to the walls of some buildings and roads through the town aren't tarmacked. There are only a handful of cars on the sandy streets, curiously mostly Land Rovers.


The Spanish Government has produced a wonderful PDF full of information regarding the Chinijo Archipelago (of which Graciosa is a part), download it here and find out for yourself.


GRAN CANARIA


gran canaria sailing the
                atlantic


Probably better known for it's night life at its southern tip, and Las Palmas marina in the north.  However there are some great walks and outstanding scenery if you just travel that little bit further.


Adventure travellers will appreciate the outdoor pursuits offered by Andén Verde. This coastal cliff stretches from La Aldea de San Nicolás in the west of Gran Canaria to the north-west's Agaete.


For those wanting a guided tour, this is about as good as it gets.



TENERIFE


mount teide tenerife sailing the atlantic


Tenerife is home to many of nature's creations. The landscape of the island was formed by massive volcanic eruptions and some of these awe-inspiring natural wonders hold places on the list of the best natural sights of Spain. Let us introduce you to six of the most spectacular natural formations of Tenerife.


On the northeastern tip of Tenerife you´ll find the oldest part of the island, an amazingly green valley called Anaga. The curvy road from Santa Cruz to Anaga seems like it goes on for eternity, but the landscapes that you pass along the way make it worth the effort. Sublime mountains, deep gorges, green valleys and turquoise sea are simply picture-perfect, as if from a whole other world.

Anaga is also one of the best hiking spots on the island. Even the most experienced hikers find that the trails here provide a very rewarding challenge. Anaga's seven million year old landscape was awarded a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status in 2015. The atmosphere is enchanting, like something out of a fairy tale.

MOUNT TEIDE

The highest mountain on Spanish territory is also the most popular sight of Tenerife. The volcanic Mount Teide can be seen from almost every part of the island. Imagine enjoying a sunny day at the beach whilst glimpsing the snowy peak of Teide in the background!

The landscape surrounding the volcano is surreal and magical. You can visit the volcano by a cable car and there's also night tours to Teide, where you´ll be given the opportunity to admire the famously clear hemisphere of Tenerife.

LOS GIGANTES

Los Gigantes (The Giants) was named after the imposing cliffs that rise to a height of 800 metres from the sea right in front of the village. The mountains drop to the sea almost vertically, making them some of the most impressive natural sights on the island. Los Gigantes is also one of the most popular holiday resorts of the island.

There is a true gem hidden in these remote Los Gigantes mountains: the Masca valley, which is also said to be the most beautiful village on Tenerife. Visitors are normally awe-struck at the striking green beauty of this village in the middle of nowhere. This is the perfect place for anyone keen to get away from it all.

MONTANA AMARILLA

One thing which makes Tenerife so special is the various volcanic rock formations which can be found all over the island. Montaña Amarilla (Yellow Mountain) is a fantastic example of a natural landmark created by volcanic activity that'll leave you breathless.

Montaña Amarilla is an old volcanic crater situated on the southern part of the island - Costa del Silencio. When Montaña Amarilla erupted thousands of years ago the lava reacted with the sea water, creating unusual lava formations on the coastal side of the mountain. Later, waves carved their own pieces of art into the yellow wall of the mountain, making the place look extraordinarily beautiful.

Nowadays you'll find a small and charming chiringuito (seafood restaurant) in the sheltered bay and you can enjoy dip in the turquoise waters via a set of man-made ladders. 


LA PALMA


la palma sailing the atlantic


As is said above La Palma was the first of the islands to be awarded as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

As La Palma's other name is La Isla Bonita (the beautiful island) it's no real surprise that it is one of the Canary Islands where the whole island has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (the others being Fuerteventura, La Gomera and Lanzarote). La Palma's distinction is that it was the first of the Canary Islands to become a reserve way back in 1983.

Initialy the reserve title only extended to the areas of El Canal and Los Tilos. In 1997 a larger part of Los Tilos was included and finally, in 2002, the whole island deservedly earned reserve status.

What is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?
To be designated a Biosphere Reserve, specific areas have to show that there is a strong historic link between man and nature.

Why is La Palma a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?
la Palma is the elegant lady of the islands. In spring its hills and valleys are illuminated by glorious displays of wild flowers. It boasts some of the most stunning walking of all the Canary Islands and the clearest skies, making it a haven for scientists who specialize in exploring the heavens from futuristic looking observatories around Roque de los Muchachos.



EL HIERRO


el hierro sailing the atlantic


Back when people thought that the Earth was flat (yes, it really is round), El Hierro seemed to be the last place in the west where you could sail without falling off the planet into outer space.

Nowadays, travelling to this green Canary Island is much easier. The majority of people who visit the island are independent travellers who plan and organise everything themselves.

In a very short time, El Hierro´s reputation as a great nature-lovers destination has spread widely throughout the world. The green paradise of the Canary Islands is extremely beautiful, unique and has remained fairly untouched - unlike its better-known neighbor islands. You can´t find shopping centers or noisy English bars here. Therein lies the true attraction of El Hierro.


El Hierro is the smallest of the Canary Islands and a mere 10,000 people have the privilege of calling this amazing place home. The beautiful scenery of the island hasn´t been spoiled by hotels and artificial beaches. El Hierro offers travellers a chance to get in touch with the nature while travelling through these stunning landscapes, sleepy villages and fascinating forests.

The true charm of El Hierro is its completely unique nature. On this tiny island of 30 kilometres across the landscapes and weather change constantly, heavy rain storm can change into clear skies in a matter of minutes.

El Hierro also has an exceptional underwater world and an ocean full of secrets. Many divers travel here to discover the unique marine life of the island.

Nature lovers, this one´s for you.




FUERTEVENTURA


fuerteventura sailing the
              atlnatic


Since 2009, the island has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In 2015 it was also recognised as a Starlight Reserve thanks to its dark skies filled with sparkling jewels rather than artificial light.

What is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?

To be designated a Biosphere Reserve, specific areas have to show that there is a strong historic link between man and nature.

Why is Fuerteventura a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?

The oldest Canary Island has been shaped by nature for over 20 million years. Once it had mountains reaching as high as 3000m into the sky. Now its landscape is mainly made up of wide plains and softly curved hills, the highest of which is just over 800m. As a contrast, many of the walking routes I follow on Tenerife don't start until the 1000m above sea level mark.


The one big beach tag isn't that much of an exaggeration, according to UNESCO Fuerteventura has the largest desert in Europe. I walked some of it once, a sandy landscape that seemed to go on forever. It's not a habitat that makes life easy for farmers.

And yet within its hidden ravines are surprises; splashes of greenery and streams. There are olive trees, pistachios and palms. The western coast of Fuerteventura stretches for over 100 kilometres with hardly any human presence. It's a land with a surprising variety of bird-life, ranging from Cory's shearwaters to Bulwer's petrels and from kestrels to Egyptian vultures. Fossils show an even wider range of creatures now lost to the world, like the odd sounding lava mouse. On sacred mountains there are ancient engravings, whilst the orange landscape is peppered with lovely old windmills. It lies closest to Africa of all the Canary Islands and that gives it a different vibe.
Fuerteventura looks as though it has more in common with the continent lying to the east than its neighbouring islands to the west... and its night skies are black.


Isla de Lobos

Fuerteventura in miniature, the little Isla de Lobos near Corralejo is worth a day trip. For more information read our Fuerteventura page here.



LA GOMERA


la gomera sailing the atlantic

Considering La Gomera has long been regarded as one of the most unspoilt of the Canary Islands, a ruggedly wild island where nature still calls most of the shots, it seems incredible that the island didn't gain UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status until 2012.

The award completed a treble of UNESCO titles. Garajonay National Park was already a World Heritage Site whilst the intriguing whistling language, Silbo, could boast the prestigious but clumsy title of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.


Why is La Gomera a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?

Despite being lush and lovely, La Gomera's shape has made it a difficult place for humans to settle and work the land. A mix of volcanic activity and the effects of weather and erosion by the sea over the centuries has created a circular island with a central plateau at approximately 1000m above sea level. From this central ridge, steep barrancos radiate outwards to the sea. Getting anywhere on La Gomera involves a lot of ascending and descending. Even now, there are some places where it's quicker to get to on foot than to drive between them. Subsequently the island has remained nature's stronghold. Laurisilva forests, lost to most of Europe and Africa, continue to thrive and farming and fishing is small scale, more like cottage industries.





RESOURCES AND INFORMATION FOR THE CANARY ISLANDS


link to external source sailing the
                  atlantic ISLANDS THREATENED BY OIL PROSPECTORS

link to external source sailing the
                  atlantic MUSEO ATLANTICO

link to external source sailing the
                  atlantic TIMANFAYA

link to external source sailing
                  the atlantic GRACIOSA

link to external source sailing the
                  atlantic GRAN CANARIA TOUR

link to external source sailing
                  the atlanticWALKING TOURS LA PALMA

link to external source sailing
                  the atlanticLA PALMA BY BIKE

link to external source sailing
                  the atlanticHISTORIC LA PALMA

link to external source sailing
                  the atlanticGRAN CANARIA DIVING GUIDE

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                  the atlanticOUTDOOR ACTIVITIES LA PALMA

 


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