Photo Essay – Canary Islands

In 2011 I had the pleasure of visiting the Canary Islands. Located off the coast of Africa, the volcanic chain of islands are a Spanish province and have a history that goes back to the colonization of the Americas. I was able to explore 5 of the islands in the Canaries: Gran Canarias, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Gomera, and La Palma. Each island’s unique geography gives it a character distinct from its neighbors. These images capture some of the culture and diversity I found on the Canary Islands.



A natural land bridge on the island of La Graciosa

La Graciosa is a small island off of Lanzarote. One of the interesting features of the island is a small natural land bridge near the coast.


In the village of Teguise on the island of Lanzarote, the doors can only be green or brown.

If you visit Timanfaya National Park, you can take a ride on a camel. The metal cage over their mouth is to prevent passengers from being bitten.


The island of Lanzarote is covered with lava. It is extremely dry, very windy and there is little in the way of natural plant life on the surface. Nonetheless, there is agriculture. In vineyards on Lanzarote, each grape plant is protected by a semicircular wall to protect the plant from the wind.


By law, all of the houses on Lanzarote have to be white. This makes for very a very dramatic contrast between buildings and the volcanic soil.


The city of Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canarias is one of the two capitals of the Canary Islands.


The cathedral in the city of Las Palamas


The city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna on the island of Tenerife is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Many of the churches in the Canary Islands were built around the same time period as Spain colonization of the New World. Many of the architectural styles are similar to what you will find in former Spanish colonies.


The island of La Gomera is home to the most extensive terracing I've seen anywhere in the world outside of the Philippines. The terraces can be found almost everywhere around the island. Due to changes in weather patterns in the early 20th Century, most of the terraces have been abandoned and are slowing blending back into the landscape.


El Tiede is the highest point in Spain and is the centerpiece of the El Tiede National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The island of La Palma is home to one of the largest collection of telescopes in the world, including the world's largest telescope: the Gran Telescopio Canarias.


You can see why La Palma is considered such a great place for astronomical observations. I took the image on the southern tip of the island near sea level. Viewing conditions higher up are even better.


There has been a great deal of cross cultural pollination between the Canary Islands and the Americas. One tradition which came to the Canary Islands from Cuba was cigar making. This cigar factory is located on the island of La Palma.


In the middle of La Palma is Caldera de Taburiente National Park, which is the center of a volcano. The is the image as it appears looking down from the top of the volcano.


Inside Caldera de Taburiente National Park is very serene as it is surrounded by rock walls that keep out the wind.


One of the unique features of La Palma is the cascade of clouds which goes over the mountains on the middle of the island. You can go from totally sunny to being immersed in clouds in a matter of minutes.


Sea Salt evaporation pools on La Palma.


Sunset on La Palma.

  • 13 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. Wow, Gary. These are amazing images. Absolutely gorgeous. Wonderful photo essay.

  2. Great pictures really amazing

  3. Amazing photos! In a way the Canary Islands don’t seem like Spain.

  4. Cat says:

    My boyfriend is in the Spanish military and sometimes travels there for week-long or month-long trips. I tagged along to a wedding of one of his buddies working there and we trekked all over Gran Canary Island. Here’s some tips for driving and a suggested itinerary: http://www.backpackingmatt.com/gran-canaria-360%c2%ba-driving-europe%e2%80%99s-miniature-continent/

    A lovely photos, too!

  5. Kurt W says:

    Quality captures….especially the ones in Caldera de Taburiente National Park!

  6. Kevin says:

    Gary, these pictures are just amazing. We bring a couple of Groups to The Canary Islands every year. But I do not believe I have seen such beautiful pictures from there, and I have been there at least a dozen times…. great work.

  7. First of all, these pictures are amazing, wow. I love the variety the most, along with the beauty, I mean you’re including stars, mountains and views of palm trees all in one blog post, I love it.

  8. Cailin says:

    Great photos Gary! I was on Tenerife after WTM this year and loved it, I hope to go back and explore more of the islands :)

  9. Jack says:

    Great photos Gary – they show the amazing differences between the islands.

    DJ you can fly directly from Gran Canaria to Marrakech.

  10. DJ says:

    Hey Gary – Awesome picks. My wife and I are planning a trip in ’12 that goes something along the lines of Spain – Portugal – Canary Islands – Morocco. Do you know of any airlines that fly directly from the Canary Islands to Marrakesh? Or is there a ferry to the coast of Morocco? How did you get to the Canary Islands?

    • Gary says:

      There are many flights you can get from Spain to Tenerife or Gran Canarias. It really isn’t that difficult. They get millions of tourists each year.

  11. Hello Gary,

    Obviously, next time around you will have to come to Fuerteventura! When you do, pls. contact me in order to show you the island – it is well worth it!

    Kind regards,

    Bernhard

  12. Gary, I think these are some of the most magnificent photos you have ever taken. Just stunning!

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