Home » Spain holidays: Discover the secret bays and chic hotels of the smaller Canary Islands

Spain holidays: Discover the secret bays and chic hotels of the smaller Canary Islands

by Press room

If you think of Lanza-grotty or tacky Tenerife when someone mentions the Canary Islands, it really is time to ditch those impressions. Because away from the large resorts on the main drags are secret bays and charming interiors, with chic boutique hotels, haciendas and fincas for secluded stays. 

Or head to one of the smaller islands such as El Hierro, La Gomera and La Palma for spectacular scenery that’s ideal for hiking, or as a backdrop to a relaxing break.

Vineyards, volcanoes and yurts on Lanzarote

Cool: Away from the Canary Islands’ large resorts are secret bays and charming interiors, with chic boutique hotels, haciendas and fincas for secluded stays. Above is the pool complex at Lanzarote’s Finca Malvasia, which is nestled away from the crowds

They harvest about seven tons of grapes each year at Finca Malvasia, in the wine region of La Geria, which also has a clutch of rustic-chic self-catering apartments made from volcanic stone clustered around a pool. 

Take a wine tour of local bodegas, visit the Lanzarote wine museum, or just sip the dry white Malvasia and take in the views of the volcanic Timanfaya fire mountains from the finca. 

Be sure to explore the lava landscape of the Timanfaya National Park, home to volcanic cones, collapsed calderas and El Diablo restaurant, where food is cooked on a grill heated by the bubbling lava in a volcanic hole. The finca is a ten-minute drive to the beach.

Book: An apartment for four costs from £165 a night, plus a one-off £50 cleaning charge (fincamalvasia.com).

Stay in the yurts or cottages at the eco retreat of Finca Arrieta, pictured, in the rugged north of Lanzarote

Stay in the yurts or cottages at the eco retreat of Finca Arrieta, pictured, in the rugged north of Lanzarote

Above is one of Finca Arrieta's yurts, which can sleep up to eight

Above is one of Finca Arrieta’s yurts, which can sleep up to eight

In the rugged north of the island, the eco retreat of Finca Arrieta has stone and wood cottages and yurts sleeping up to eight, with private kitchens and bathrooms. 

Collect eggs from the hens for breakfast before wandering the 350 yards to the sandy beach. Be sure to visit the Cactus Garden created in a disused quarry by local architect and artist Cesar Manrique. Back at the finca, order boxes of farm produce for dinner and wash it down with wine from the honesty shop.

Book: From £83 a night for four (lanzaroteretreats.com).

Lighthouse living and lava pools in La Palma

If you like the idea of isolation, head for Faro Punta Cumplida (pictured) in the north of La Palma – a hotel with three swish suites in a working 18th Century lighthouse

If you like the idea of isolation, head for Faro Punta Cumplida (pictured) in the north of La Palma – a hotel with three swish suites in a working 18th Century lighthouse

A night’s B&B for two at Faro Punta Cumplida in September is from £240, or take the whole lighthouse for eight from £1,056 per night

A night’s B&B for two at Faro Punta Cumplida in September is from £240, or take the whole lighthouse for eight from £1,056 per night

You can swim in Faro Punta Cumplida's shared infinity pool, pictured, or drive to nearby saltwater pools and black-sand beaches along the coast

You can swim in Faro Punta Cumplida’s shared infinity pool, pictured, or drive to nearby saltwater pools and black-sand beaches along the coast

If you like the idea of isolation, head for Faro Punta Cumplida in the north of La Palma – a hotel with three swish suites in a working 18th Century lighthouse. The hotel has a yoga platform, barbecue area and shared garden, and you can swim in the shared infinity pool, or drive to nearby saltwater pools and black-sand beaches along the coast. In the evening, climb the 158 steps in the lighthouse tower to enjoy a sundowner in the Sky High Mini Bar. Breakfast is delivered by hamper, and each suite has its own kitchen and living area.

Book: A night’s B&B for two in September is from £240, or take the whole lighthouse for eight from £1,056 per night (floatel.de).

Or stay on a former sugar cane estate at the 17th Century Hacienda de Abajo. Surrounded by botanical gardens, it is filled with more than 1,300 works of art. Flemish and French tapestries, Chinese porcelain and European religious carvings are among the works found in the 32-room adults-only hotel with outdoor pool.

Stay on a former sugar cane estate at the 17th Century Hacienda de Abajo on La Palma. Above is the hotel's charming restaurant

Stay on a former sugar cane estate at the 17th Century Hacienda de Abajo on La Palma. Above is the hotel’s charming restaurant 

Follow some of La Palma’s 600 miles of waymarked footpaths, and cool down in natural pools formed by lava at Charco Azul (pictured)

Follow some of La Palma’s 600 miles of waymarked footpaths, and cool down in natural pools formed by lava at Charco Azul (pictured)

From here, make sure you get to see the amazing views at La Caldera de Taburiente, whose forest-fringed walls climb to more than 6,562ft, follow some of the island’s 600 miles of waymarked footpaths, and cool down in natural pools formed by lava at Charco Azul.

Book: A week’s B&B with flights in July costs from £1,098pp (classic-collection.co.uk).

Hike to the end of the earth on El Hierro

Surrounded on three sides by water, adults-only hotel Puntagrande, pictured, is set at the tip of a tongue of lava rock on El Hierro

Surrounded on three sides by water, adults-only hotel Puntagrande, pictured, is set at the tip of a tongue of lava rock on El Hierro

Eat from a menu heavy on seafood in Puntagrande's atmospheric restaurant, pictured, with tables and chairs carved from tree trunks

Eat from a menu heavy on seafood in Puntagrande’s atmospheric restaurant, pictured, with tables and chairs carved from tree trunks

Rugged and remote, the little island of El Hierro has an end-of-the-earth feel about it – so it’s no surprise to hear that before Columbus sailed to America, it was regarded as such. The dramatic, unspoilt island is packed full of peaks and plateaus, volcanic moonscapes and the huge bay of El Golfo, with a towering escarpment above a near-vertical cliff. See the highlights (and the island’s giant lizards) on a hiking holiday, walking up to ten miles a day, with your luggage transferred between simple hotels.

Book: A week’s B&B with five dinners and two picnics from £940pp until May 31 and from September 1. Flights from Tenerife included (inntravel.co.uk).

Puntagrande takes the term boutique to new levels – it has only four bedrooms, one of which is pictured above 

From the Puntagrande, it’s a two-mile walk along a wooden walkway to the natural pools of Maceta (pictured above)

From the Puntagrande, it’s a two-mile walk along a wooden walkway to the natural pools of Maceta (pictured above) 

At the tip of a tongue of lava rock on El Hierro and surrounded on three sides by water, the Puntagrande is an adults-only hotel in the fishing village of Las Puntas and takes the term boutique to new levels – it has only four bedrooms. At night, eat from a menu heavy on seafood in the atmospheric restaurant, with tables and chairs carved from tree trunks, then retire to the basalt stone rooms with blue and white furnishings and sublime sea views. The Cascadas del Mar outdoor swimming pool complex is nearby or it’s a two-mile walk along a wooden walkway to the natural pools of Maceta.

Book: B&B doubles from £290 a night in summer (hotelpuntagrande.com).

Whistling and whale watching in La Gomera

La Gomera’s landscape has given rise to some spectacular viewpoints, including the Mirador de Abrante, pictured on the right above the village of Agulo

La Gomera’s landscape has given rise to some spectacular viewpoints, including the Mirador de Abrante, pictured on the right above the village of Agulo 

Mirador de Abrante's glass floor projects from the clifftop

Mirador de Abrante’s glass floor projects from the clifftop

When you see the deep ravines that characterise La Gomera, you understand why the locals once used ‘silbo’ whistling to convey messages across distances. 

The island’s landscape has also given rise to some spectacular viewpoints, including the Mirador de Abrante, with its glass floor projecting from the clifftop. There are views, too, of Tenerife’s Mount Teide from the Parador de la Gomera, with 52 traditional bedrooms in its whitewashed buildings and a pool in the tropical gardens.

Book: A week’s B&B in August from £1,539pp with flights and transfers (prestigeholidays.co.uk).

Enjoy views of Tenerife’s Mount Teide (pictured in the background) from hotel Parador de la Gomera

Enjoy views of Tenerife’s Mount Teide (pictured in the background) from hotel Parador de la Gomera 

Parador de la Gomera boasts 52 traditional bedrooms in its whitewashed buildings and a pool in the tropical gardens

Parador de la Gomera boasts 52 traditional bedrooms in its whitewashed buildings and a pool in the tropical gardens

A view towards San Sebastian in La Gomera, where Christopher Columbus stopped in 1492

A view towards San Sebastian in La Gomera, where Christopher Columbus stopped in 1492

Hike two and a half hours from San Sebastian, pictured, and you'll reach La Gomera’s remote valley of El Cabrito

Hike two and a half hours from San Sebastian, pictured, and you’ll reach La Gomera’s remote valley of El Cabrito 

Remote takes on a whole new meaning at La Gomera’s valley of El Cabrito, which can only be reached by boat or by hiking two and a half hours from San Sebastian. Here, an old banana and tomato plantation by the black stone and sand beach is now an eco finca which grows its own produce and has 20 simple stone houses with wooden furniture, tiled floors and no televisions – the soundtrack comes from the sea, the cry of birds and the croaking frogs. Go snorkelling or diving, take whale and dolphin-watching excursions, or hike to the abandoned village of Seima.

Book: From £65pp per night, full board with buffet-style meals (responsibletravel.com).

Catching the wind in wild Fuerteventura

Ocean road: The road above hugs the wild shore of Fuerteventura as it cuts through the sand dunes of the adjacent Corralejo Natural Park

Ocean road: The road above hugs the wild shore of Fuerteventura as it cuts through the sand dunes of the adjacent Corralejo Natural Park

Try your hand at windsurfing or kitesurfing on Fuerteventura's wind-lashed coast

Try your hand at windsurfing or kitesurfing on Fuerteventura’s wind-lashed coast

The ferry terminal on the Isla de Lobos, a nature reserve off the north of Fuerteventura, is just a 10-minute drive from the handful of dazzling white properties that make up Katis Villas Boutique, in a quiet part of Corralejo. 

Each has its own pool, hot tub, kitchen and outdoor dining area. 

Explore the sand dunes of the adjacent Corralejo Natural Park and try your hand at windsurfing or kitesurfing on the wind-lashed coast.

Book: From £517 for six staying three nights (katisvillasboutique.com).

Double up on islands with a yacht excursion

Sail to the lesser-known shores of La Gomera and La Palma on a week-long boat trip from Tenerife. 

Explore San Sebastian in La Gomera, where Christopher Columbus stopped in 1492, and pretty Santa Cruz on La Palma. 

Sail to the lesser-known shores of La Palma, exploring pretty Santa Cruz (pictured), on a week-long boat trip from Tenerife

Sail to the lesser-known shores of La Palma, exploring pretty Santa Cruz (pictured), on a week-long boat trip from Tenerife

There’s time for hiking, biking, kayaking and snorkelling. La Palma was the First Unesco Starlight Reserve, and the constellations at night are spectacular. Take a group tour or charter your own boat, with a skipper.

Book: A week on a ten-berth yacht in an over-16s group is from £899pp in October (gadventures.com) or clickandboat.com has a four-berth yacht with skipper from £8,500 for six nights in September. 

Flights cost extra for both holidays.

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