Since its inception, Secret Barcelona has chosen to develop slowly but surely to offer authentic and unique tailor-made travel experiences in Spain. First in Barcelona, our city of heart, we went to meet the inhabitants, local shops, guides, boutique hotels and restaurants in order to find partners who share the same philosophy as us: quality of service, promotion of local know-how and respect for the environment. With our expertise in the Catalan capital, we have decided to develop ourselves gradually to acquire a detailed knowledge of each territory that we would like you to discover. Thus, after having trudged through all of Catalonia, and discovered the true face of the Balearic Islands after many stays in Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, we went to the Canary Islands with the firm intention of unraveling all its mysteries during a “made in Secret Barcelona” trip!
A disrupted program
For this trip, we had selected a few islands that we wanted to explore in depth for a month. Our first stop: Gran Canaria and its capital Las Palmas. As temperatures in continental Europe begin to drop seriously, our first satisfaction is to enjoy a mild and pleasant climate: the Canary Islands are known as the archipelago of eternal spring! We are pleased, nonetheless we are following the news closely. And after a few days of visiting Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the ax falls: the Spanish regions are confining themselves locally one after the other, and the 2nd lockdown is announced in France. One exception, however: the Canary Islands. Despite strict health measures such as the wearing of masks and a curfew on some islands, the Canary Islands retain their freedom of movement and their bars, restaurants and shops remain open. The choice is quickly made to extend our trip at the expense of confinement upon our return…! This long stay allowed us to visit the Canary Islands in depth and to find magical places in Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma, Fuerteventura or even Lanzarote. This is also Secret Barcelona: responsiveness and adaptation to make each trip to Spain an optimal and unique experience!
“Exceptional” travel conditions
Here we are with two months of travel ahead of us, enough to explore each island, take the time to meet local parners, and create authentic travel experiences! While Europe is closing in on itself, here we are almost the only tourists on the huge and fantastic playa del Ingles in Maspalomas, then visiting the pretty colonial town of La Laguna, and climbing the Teide mountain in Tenerife, the highest mountain in Spain! Each new stage of our trip to the Canary Islands is an authentic tour memory with breathtaking landscapes and above all a peaceful atmosphere. We are fortunate but also aware of the exceptional nature of the situation. It is certainly pleasant to travel to the Canaries in these conditions but the destination suffers: 86% of its GDP depends on the tertiary sector and mainly on tourism. Guides are out of work, businesses sell, and hotels keep doors closed. So we make the most out of our time there but above all we put all our energy to create new original local experiences, to find the most beautiful boutique hotels, and to meet the best local guides, hoping the the situation gets better really soon for all of us, and especially for our local partners.
Let’s talk about stereotypes
We had some preconceived ideas of the Canaries before leaving: idyllic beaches, a sometimes disfigured coast, sun and arid landscapes. There is right and wrong, and it is thanks to this trip to the Canary Islands that we can now break or confirm all stereotypes!
Preconceived idea #1: the Canary Islands are concreted
FALSE, well almost. The Canary Islands have 8 islands (yes, with Graciosa island, that makes 8!), And if the south of the islands of Gran Canaria and especially Tenerife have suffered the frenzy of real estate developers, this is only a very small part of the Canary Islands. Elsewhere the archipelago offers unspoiled landscapes, small traditional villages, quiet beaches, in short, it is still possible to book a small charming hotel in the Canaries! One of our favorites is Garachico on the island of Tenerife, a former fishing village with preserved traditional architecture. Close to the vibrant little town of Puerto de la Cruz, La Laguna, and Teide National Park, Garachico is an ideal place to stay in Tenerife and a very convenient starting point for authentic private tours!
Preconceived idea #2: The Canaries are a beach and sun destination
TRUE but not only. It is indeed a good choice of destination all year round if you are looking for pleasant temperatures and a favorable climate by the sea. But beware, the Canary Islands are all different, and despite their small size, each of them has great climatic disparities and local microclimates. So, if Gran Canaria is very popular for its sublime beach in Maspalomas and its sun, it is thanks to its high volcanoes in the center of the island which keep the clouds and precipitation in the north. In short, this is good news because Gran Canaria is thus a complete destination, between cultural visits to Las Palmas, natural landscapes in Tejeda and wild west settings in the Pilancones Natural Park! But that will be the subject of another article 😉 As for the other Canary Islands, while we cannot advise you enough to discover their fabulous jagged coasts during your trip, it would be a shame to stop there. Each of them is full of surprising local treasures: thousand-year-old trees in Icod de los Vinos in Tenerife, dense Laurel forests in La Gomera, salt marshes at the end of a sensational hike in the middle of volcanoes in La Palma, and many other curiosities!
Preconceived idea #3: The landscapes of the Canary Islands are dry and volcanic
NEITHER TRUE OR FALSE. The Canary Islands archipelago is a group of volcanoes whose eruptions took place at different times in the life of our beautiful planet, and whose erosion is more or less marked on each island. Thus, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are known for their arid landscapes and strong winds. Extreme climatic conditions but from which the inhabitants were able to take advantage. This is how Fuerteventura has become the Mecca of kitesurfing: in the sublime lagoon of Sotavento or off the dunes of Corralejo, a sky of sails appears as soon as the wind blows! As for Lanzarote, people come here for its delicious white wines from vines planted in the volcanic sand, and for its pretty villages all dressed in white, preserved thanks to the intervention of the artist César Manrique in the 1960s. We head west and the landscapes become more green, until we find ourselves on the islands of La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro, where a dense laurel forest has covered a large part of their territories! Time for a hippie retreat and hiking on these small islands of the archipelago where nature lovers come in search of lost paradises…
After 4 ferries, a domestic flight, 6 rental cars, a paragliding flight, tastings of Malvasia wines and goat cheese, an unforgettable excursion to watch whales, a gofio cooking class with a local, an introduction to cigar making, and dozens of visits to hotels, villages and national parks, we came back to the continent with memories in our heads but above all with an address book rich in encounters and local secrets that we hope to share with you very soon! If you want to know more about the Canaries, contact us!