We have spent the whole winter in the Canary Islands.
That wasn’t really the plan. Starting the “my way” project we decided to take it one step at a time. Since we were setting sails for the unknown, planning more than six months ahead was really making no sense. So we decided we will sail from Greece to the Canaries in summer 2018 and once in the Canaries we would decide what to do next.
We left Morocco late October unsure about which port of entry in East Canaries would be open to us. Our repeated efforts to contact the public marinas and the marine reserve of La Graziosa didn’t really work so we sailed off Morocco taking our chances.
After a long interesting and challenging passage, we ended up on the East side of Fuerteventura. Once we approached in 12nm and signal on the phones was back on, we started calling the ports but we would either have no-one who answered or simply no availability. Once we approached the South we decided that the next port who wouldn’t answer our calls we would just go in and go alongside or stern-to, to anything available. We were all exhausted and hungry and one of our team had to fly back the following morning so we were running out of options. We did enter Gran Tarajal and found a nice spot to spend the night and the following days. The security guy who welcomed us was very polite and accommodating.
In overall we stayed in the Canaries and sailed between Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Tenerife and Lanzarote for five months. The plan was for one. Not bad, ha?
What we have discovered is that each island has its own character and everyone can find their place. Although we left El Hiero, La Palma, and La Graziosa out of our visits due to long passages and uncertain safe ports availability, we did enjoy the locals and the lifestyle in all other islands.
Sailing wise I have to say that it takes a hardcore sailing enthusiast to visit all of them. The distances from island to island (West to East or vice versa) cannot be underestimated especially since the conditions between the islands can give you some serious winds and gusts which require skilled and experienced sailors. On the other hand, we also had zero winds which meant motoring was needed which is not fun if you need to do so for many miles. During summer winds get even stronger so a good season to sail the Canaries is considered basically the winter season (from October to April).
For us, the downside is the lack of swell free and safe anchorages. Due to our size, in many ports, we were considered a big boat so we couldn’t have a safe harbor whenever we wanted and due to lack of the anchorages we were put off from sailing at any time and to any destination. So we couldn’t just sail with the wind and that’s not fun if you are a sailing enthusiast as we are. I guess, we are also a bit spoiled from the Med which provides a safe heaven every few miles (or every other bay) and therefore sailing trips are easier to plan and you do not need to count on a port or marina to sleep safely at night or hide from an unexpected storm.
There are things to see on the islands so, one should definitely give them the chance. Especially those of you who love nature, hiking, driving in scenery cliff sides and local food and wine tasting, Canaries should get in your bucket list.
Sailing is also advisable but we would advise to do it during winter, definitely after the ARC is over so let’s say Mid November onwards. The reason is that due to the ARC all marinas are full and you will probably spend more time trying to find a marina for the night rather than enjoying yourself sailing.
We had the chance while in the islands, to check also the condition of the boats of our fleet operators and of course the surrounding areas. We are happy and proud to confirm that you will be in good hands!
I would hate to bore you with long descriptions although they include interesting stories that we would probably share on board “my way” if you get to sail with us, so lets put our highlights in a simple list here
- Teide is a national park in Tenerife with the homonymous mountain which is actually an active volcano. We love to call it the four seasons mountain as while driving up you get to have from Palm trees to wineries, oak trees, and mars look and snow! All that happens within 45min of drive and a cable car to the top! It’s definitely worth to visit and enjoy the nature and the panoramic view from the hiking trails around it to the Gran Canaria at the East and La Palma and El Hiero at the west
- Anaga in North Tenerife is a highland of mountains with sharp peaks and deep ravines covered with carpets of laurel trees and dotted with charming hamlets (stolen description but I liked it). All this less than an hour’s drive from La Laguna, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and the island capital, Santa Cruz. Anaga is since 2015 the new UNESCO Biosphere Reserve!
- Theme parks, hiking paths and picturesque little seaside ports, as well as Watersport centres, are everywhere around offering all sort of experiences one may desire.
- Wild beauty, amazing black beaches and an Aloe Vera plantation which offers you a tour and tells you all about it!
- Has it all. We loved the marina in Las Palmas as it was absolutely swell-free under all conditions in our place. This is why we stayed most of the time here and we celebrated Christmas and the famous Carnival. We had more parties than we can remember related to the local festivities so I would say, the locals know how to party.
- Don’t miss to visit the Vegueta (old city) on a Thursday evening for tapas tour and the La Canteras beach for excellent food, view and why not a swim in their natural aquarium where you can snorkel and enjoy the fishes in their natural environment and the Casa de Colon which is the Columbus Museum. All that in Las Palmas
- A must-see is an amazing valley in the middle of the island, close to the airport actually called the Barranco de Guayadeque which is where the first inhabitants of the islands were living. Bring with you something to barbecue, there are barbecue spots for public use in the middle of the valley.
- Agaete, is a stunning white little village with excellent fresh fish and 10 minutes ride from the Bodega, a coffee plantation and winery where you can easily spend a long afternoon among stories, myths and learning about the coffee stages, how they found out how to make the best wine and of course a tasting of their products on the spot.
- On the South, the Maspalomas Dunes and Puerto de Mogan (some call it the little Venice) will keep you busy with beauty, excellent restaurants, and cafes as well as shopping and sports.
- If you are missing white sand and excellent surfing conditions visit Corralejo
- If you want it dark, simple and quiet stay at Gran Tarajal
- Sand, sand and more sand beaches, here is your place!
is known for its year-round warm weather, beaches, and volcanic landscape. We stayed only a week or so and that in Arrecife which stole our hearts.
The marina is quiet, sufficient and puts you in a Zen mode. The little old city by the natural sea lake (Charco de San Ginés) which changes the scenery all the time due to the tides is a place you just want to sit and relax.
Just in walking distance, you will see the museum of the history of Arrecife which only costs 3 euro, it is tiny yet picturesque and full of information.
Once in the neighborhood do not miss to visit Iglesia de San Ginés (San Ginés Church) and enjoy some tapas or dinner in the picturesque narrow streets.
Last but not least In the city of Arrecife several markets are held weekly. Every Wednesday and Thursday the flea market of Arrecife takes place around the Charco de San Ginés. Every Saturday the tourist market that offers handmade products is held in Las Palmas Square, in front of the Church of San Ginés.
All in all, it has been a great experience and we are happy we have sailed and lived there for a while. We were waiting for favorable winds for almost four weeks to sail to Gibraltar and head back to the Med for the summer. Find out what happened, on our next blog!
Salty kisses and lots of love
the “my way” crew