Turquoise water creates a stunning contrast with black volcanic cliffs and sunny skies in the Canary Islands. There’s no denying that many of the beaches across the archipelago belong on the covers of magazines. However, the true beauty is the sheer variety of seascapes you’ll admire during long, lazy days dipping in and out of the Atlantic.
The best beaches in the Canaries dazzle within what’s often called ‘the best climate in the world’. Basking beneath around 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, including winter sun, it’s never a bad time to go.
Once there, all you really need to think about is whether you want your beach served up with action, serenity, family-friendly activities or bars for sipping renowned local wine at sunset.
Beautiful Beaches in Lanzarote and La Graciosa
It’s just a 30-minute boat ride between the best Canary Island beaches in Lanzarote and La Graciosa. Both islands boast the white sandy beaches of your dreams.
Your first glimpse of Playa de Papagayo will likely ensure a return visit. The natural beauty is shaped like a shell of golden sand lapped by an emerald-green calm sea. It’s located in the Natural Monument of Los Ajaches, in the South of Lanzarote, and is ideal for relaxed snorkelling around the rocks.
When it’s time for a drink, head up to the bar perched on the hillside for enchanting views. You might not want to leave, but it’s easy to change beach scenes within the natural park that’s home to a dramatic volcanic formation.
Stroll along the barren cliffs to the white sand beaches of Playa del Pozo and Mujeres, the latter being one of the largest, and find a spot to yourself on the vast stretch.
Related Reading: The Best Beaches in Lanzarote
Framed by rugged cliffs and adorned with golden sand that stretches for more than five kilometres, Famara is a beach walking and photo-taking dream. Gaze out across the waves to the outline of La Graciosa in the distance. Sunset and low tide add further elements of enchantment with light reflections on the fine sand.
If you love water sports, this is one of the best places to kite surf in the Canary Islands. In fact, the breezy conditions and jump-worthy swell ensures windsurfers, surfers and bodyboarders are in for a treat year-round. Take the thrills up a notch with hang gliding from the cliffs above.
Caletón Blanco, Lanzarote
Lanzarote is often referred to as the best Canary Island for beaches and Caletón Blanco is one that belongs on postcards. Squish your toes in pristine white sand on your way to sinking into serene water so clear you can see nail polish shining brightly on the bottom.
Go at high tide to float to your heart’s content or poke around the volcanic rocks as it goes out. Afterwards, explore the fishing village of Órzola, known as the gateway between Lanzarote and La Graciosa. Along with eating fresher than fresh food, make time to discover other tranquil coves.
Las Conchas, La Graciosa
Set out on foot or by bike to Playa de las Conchas from La Graciosa’s main town, Caleta del Sebo. When it comes to the best sandy beaches in the Canary Islands, this one takes your breath away. There’s nothing to interrupt nature’s paintbrush here, with golden sand and azure water at the foot of Montana Bermeja.
The current can get a little forceful, marked by a red flag. Not to worry though, as a swimming pool-like lagoon forms on the tide change. Stroll along the beach in search of shells and climb to the summit of ‘the red mountain’ for spectacular views.
La Cocina, La Graciosa
Canary Island beaches are a photographer’s dream with colours that flow from rust to green and black. The stunning beach of La Cocina is no exception – a virgin, U-shaped cove with water of ever-changing blues that’s sheltered from the elements.
Climb to the top of Montana Amarilla to soak up the views before soaking up the sun on the strip of white sand. This is a popular spot for diving and snorkelling, whether you launch straight from the sand or take a dive tour.
La Francesa, La Graciosa
One of the most popular activities in the Canary Islands is to anchor the boat at picturesque coves. La Francesa is a gorgeous spot for it, framed by views across to the cliffs of Famara on Lanzarote.
You’ll find plenty of catamaran and sailing tours that make this stop. Otherwise, walk or cycle along the coast from Caleta de Sebo or La Cocina to immerse in the turquoise lagoon at high tide.
Best Beaches in Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria
Fuerteventura is the oldest of the archipelago and Gran Canaria boasts the largest city, Las Palmas. Both are worthy contenders for the best Canary Island to visit when it comes to spectacular beaches.
If you’re a water sports fan, windsurfing is one of the best things to do in the Canary Islands. Playa de Sotavento de Jandía appears custom-made for it with a vast lagoon that also attracts kite surfers. For everyone else, strolling along nine kilometres of soft, golden sand while dipping in and out of crystal-clear waters is heaven, too.
You’ll feel like you’re walking out into the ocean for miles on sandbanks at low tide. When it’s time to throw your towel down, choose a patch on one of the five beaches that stretch across the area. Water sports equipment and services are near the big lagoon, however, it pays to pack a picnic and find a secluded spot.
La Concha, Fuerteventura
If you’re travelling with the kids, the beaches surrounding El Cotillo are blessed with white sand and shimmering coves for safe splashing.
Situated in the north of the island, La Concha beach is, as the name suggests, shaped like a shell with a protective reef. Children love peering into the rock pools at low tide and you’ll love the ease of hopping from beach to beach and back to town with ease.
The Corralejo dunes are the backdrop for the Grandes Playas of Corralejo. Otherwise known as ‘Big Beaches’, vast swaths of white sand decorate one side of the Corralejo National Park. The other side boasts the Montaña Roja volcano for climbing and panoramic photography.
Nudist beaches in the Canary Islands are fairly common, and you’ll find small coves here for privacy. Spend time at the family-friendly stretches at the northern end, with hotel facilities to enjoy. El Médano beach is a hot spot for water sports close to Corralejo.
Maspalomas, Gran Canaria
The nicest beach in Gran Canaria rests next to the island’s star attraction. Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve is 400 hectares of protected sand dunes, complete with a palm grove and lagoon. The golden, undulating natural landscapes are at their most beautiful at sunset.
Maspalomas Beach extends for around three kilometres with sections to suit every mood. Families flock to the sunbeds and action close to Playa del Ingles, while the Maspalomas Lighthouse marks more space for yourself and water sports areas.
Sardina del Norte, Gran Canaria
For some of the best scuba diving in the Canary Islands, the red and white striped Sardina del Norte Lighthouse leads the way. The wild coastline surrounding it is home to varied marine life such as seahorses, giant anemones and blue jack mackerel in a thriving underwater world.
The port village oozes charm with colourful buildings on the hill facing the golden sand of petite Sardina Beach. This is a great place to sample the authentic side of Gran Canaria.
Best Beaches in Tenerife and La Palma
Both famous for hiking trails that weave through surreal volcanic landscapes, the islands of Tenerife and La Palma are home to the beautiful black sand beaches of the Canary Islands.
Los Guios, Tenerife
The dark lava sand of Los Guios Beach rests beneath the awe-inspiring cliffs called Los Gigantes, once called ‘the wall of hell’. It’s enough to swim or laze on the sand and simply stare at the backdrop. However, there’s plenty more to do within a short walk.
Choose a restaurant at the neighbouring marina and stroll around the pretty resort. Dive centres take you offshore to delve into volcanic underwater magic. Or visit the natural sea pools at Acantilado de Los Gigantes – ideal if you have young ones in tow.
Benijo Beach decorates Anaga Rural Park, a top spot for some of the best surfing in the Canary Islands. The coastal drive to get here is an exciting part of the scenic adventure, so pull over to snap selfies with the panoramic views before finding the beach at the end of the road.
Stroll along the shiny black volcanic sand of this often-secluded stretch before riding the waves or swimming, depending on the conditions.
Playa Jardín is the gem of Puerto de la Cruz and it was designed by celebrated Canarian artist César Manrique (the same artist who made his mark on Lanzarote) in the 1990s. Meander through dreamy gardens with waterfalls on your way to the black sand beach.
You’ll find three sections connected by a scenic promenade lined with playgrounds and restaurants. Admire the views of Mount Teide from your sunbed and enjoy live entertainment at various times of the year.
Echentive, La Palma
A natural spa surrounded by volcanic wonders awaits at Echentive Beach. It formed after the eruption of Mt Teneguía in 1971 and it’s part of the Volcanoes of Teneguía Natural Monument.
What’s most striking is the contrast of the deep blue sea with the black sand. Of course, you can dive straight into the surf. However, the area’s natural springs also provide a rejuvenating dip. While you’re there, explore the walking trails through lava landscapes.
Puerto Naos, La Palma
In terms of the best beaches in La Palma, Puerto Naos delivers all the facilities you want for an action-packed day. The Blue Flag beach features black sand tinged with green olivine crystals. Wander along the palm tree-lined promenade and choose a restaurant for local cuisine to accompany your ocean views.
The hillside overlooking the beach is a launching pad for paragliding and it’s suitable for beginners and experts. If you prefer underwater adventures, head out on a diving tour to explore the protected marine environment. Night dives are particularly thrilling.
Best Beaches in La Gomera and El Hierro
After La Graciosa, La Gomera and El Hierro are the smallest islands, and home to some of the best diving and snorkelling in the Canary Islands.
La Caleta, La Gomera
Flanked by interesting rock formations, La Caleta is the perfect place for a family holiday, as it has soft, black sand and a sheltered bay with tranquil water for easy swimming and snorkelling around the rocks. Pack a picnic to take advantage of picnic areas or enjoy the nearby restaurants.
It’s just 10 minutes from the charming town of Hermigua and is surrounded by the green peaks of the Garajonay National Park.
Santiago, La Gomera
Dive and snorkel to your heart’s content at Playa Santiago in Alajeró. One of the island’s largest beaches, it’s home to tour companies for trips into thriving seascapes of trumpet fish and sea turtles swimming around volcanic caves. Alternatively, hire a kayak for a relaxing paddle around the coastline.
Off the water, stroll along the promenade to pop in and out of shops before dinner and drinks at sunset by the sea.
Tacorón, El Hierro
Don’t bother putting your snorkel down in El Hierro, with serene natural rock pools tempting you at every turn. The dazzling blues of the water at Tacorón invite you to dive right in with the help of ladders over the volcanic rocks.
It’s near the coastal town of La Restinga for a fresh feast after marine explorations.
El Verodal, El Hierro
Get your camera ready for the stunning scene of reddish sand against the turquoise waters at El Verodal Beach. The volcanic sand matches dramatic volcanic cliffs that frame the beach and feature a kaleidoscope of ochre hues.
There’s a lifeguard on duty during busy seasons, otherwise, just beware of strong currents when swimming. Pack a picnic to enjoy as the sun sets and lights up the cliffs with a magnificent glow.
Beach holidays in the Canary Islands are like exotic cocktails of all colours and flavours. Choose the sparkling black sands of Tenerife or the golden, undulating dunes of Gran Canaria.
Whether you bask beneath the sun on a backdrop of landscapes shaped by volcanic eruptions, or within steps of water sports and lively promenades, you’ll need to return time and again to try every flavour on the incredible menu of beautiful beaches.