100 kilometers off the West African coast, the Canary Islands archipelago is not exactly a well-kept secret in the Atlantic. Notorious as Europe’s warmest winter destination, the population of just over 2 million inhabitants will have welcomed 15 million tourists by the end of this year! In this Boutiq Stories feature, we’re defrosting with Canarian local Sonia Rodriguez as she gives us the lowdown on some not-so-obvious Boutiq places for each of the seven islands…
When she’s not working in Berlin to strengthen all things Community at Boutiq, you’ll find Sonia relaxing with family and friends on the beaches of her island home Gran Canaria. “The beach is always the meeting point, it’s not even unusual to see businesses take clients to the beach as a midday ritual!” says a homesick Rodriguez. With the average annual temperature exceeding 20ºC, the subtropical oceanic climate offers an enviable outdoor lifestyle for locals. “The islands are obviously so well known for being a magnet for resort holidaymakers, but there are so many hidden gems to be found”, Sonia says, “especially for some of the less visited islands, each with such a distinct mesmerizing landscape.” Here’s her local’s breakdown on every island:
"The standout island for me is Lanzarote and it’s the most protected island of all. It boasts a dramatic landscape with its volcanic black sands and cacti, stunning clean water, and most of the island is actually protected by UNESCO. The island produces great white wine and is dotted in vineyards built in sunken, horse shoe formations to be sheltered from the wind. My personal favourite quality of Lanzarote? All houses in Lanzarote must be painted white!"
SLEEP: Bungalows in Famara
"Less than a 2 minute walk from the beach, this is a perfect secluded spot. Next to a little sand village where there are just a few fresh fish restaurants and surf shops, this is a quiet retreat where you can relax, walk along the beach or take advantage of the windsurfing if the conditions allow."
DO: The Cactus Garden
"This is the last remaining work by artist and architect César Manrique on the island, where he was born. The garden contains over 1400 species of cacti from all over the world, in an amphitheater shape that blends into the landscape."
2. Gran Canaria
"Gran Canaria, where I come from, is very special to me due to its microclimate. It can drop below 0 degrees in the north of the island, yet at the same time people are swimming and tanning in the south of the island. It’s cool that the best spots are totally unexplored by tourists."
EAT: Restaurante Que Leche
"Located in the historic quarter of the city, you can find the best restaurant on the island. They recently boomed with their fusion cuisine and it’s locally loved. You must reserve a table within a couple of days’ notice."
EAT: Locanda el Roque
"This is a secret restaurant on top of a cliff. It’s hard to access as you need to park under the cliff and walk through the narrow streets of the village. The owners are Italian so you can find home made pasta, but also the freshest fish and local food. Cool off in some of the natural swimming pools right beside the cliff, they are clean and easy to reach at low tide."
"This island is special for its white, long sandy beaches, turquoise fisherman's village and windsurf spots."
"The southwest coast of Fuerteventura is wild and rocky, quite a contrast to the rest of the island, which is predominantly white sand and crystal clear water. Due to the big currents inside the cave, I recommend you get there during low tide. To head to Ajui you need to travel by car from the inside of the island, where you will drive through different small villages with tiny white houses and farms. When you arrive at this magic spot you can take in the visual spectacle of the sea view between the gaps created by the rocks."
4. La Palma
"Particularly special for its clear starry sky, this island is full of treasures and possible activities. You’ll find spectacular high-altitude hiking and mountain-biking through lush forests, as well as paradisiac beaches. La Palma has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, thanks to enchanting forests like El Canal and Los Tiles, and the Caldera de Taburiente National Park."
DO & EAT: El Charco Azul & San Andres
"This is a group of natural swimming pools located in the northeast of the island. As always, it’s better to go at low tide and enjoy more space to stretch your towel out. It’s where the locals go and spend the day when it’s windy. To find it, you’ll need to drive through the beautiful village of San Andres- also worth a visit, with some great fresh seafood restaurants."
5. La Gomera
"La Gomera is the ideal trip away from the tourist hordes. You can get there from Tenerife in only 50 minutes with a high-speed ferry, during which time you might even be lucky enough to spot dolphins playing. It’s most famous for the trails in the ancient National Park and world heritage listed Garajonay National Park. The island also hosts many international yoga retreats throughout the whole year, due to its peacefulness and direct contact with nature."
DO: Garajonay National Park
"Trek through the Laurisilva forest, a humid evergreen forest protected in the centre of the island. This wild jungle area is an example of what contributes to this island’s remarkable identity."
6. El Hierro
"El Hierro is especially known for its crystal clear waters, a worldwide attraction for divers every year who photograph one of the best sea beds on the planet. Its small territory concentrates so many wonders that it has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, with 60% of the island considered a protected area."
SLEEP: El Parador de El Hierro
"If you are looking for tranquility and peace this is the place to stay. This rural hotel is set between the volcanic mountain backdrop and the striking blue ocean vantage point. You will be able to hear the sound of the waves from your room."
"Diversity is one of the distinguishing features of Tenerife- from the green laurel forests, the vineyards and banana plantations, to the black and yellow sand beaches. It also offers rugged landscapes due to the various volcanoes distributed throughout. Tenerife is home to the highest point of Spain, interestingly it's the active snow-capped volcano of El Teide."
EAT: Gastrobar Gusto por El Vino
"This bar was started recently by Antonio Armas, the main distributor of wines on the island. You can find the gastrobar inside the local market, which is a must if you are in Santa Cruz. Modern Gusto Por El Vino is decorated tastefully, with a small kitchen behind the bar, completely open to the street with some casual stools to relax on. The chef prepares a short menu of street tapas with everyday specials. The best part is their cupboard showcasing hundred of wines, all under 10 euros a bottle, and all served by the glass if you wish. It’s open everyday from 11am-4pm."
Like Sonia, you can also remember your best food and travel places on Boutiq, the app turning unforgettable discoveries into everlasting recommendations between you and your friends. Use it as your memory bank, and the best way to find hidden gems.