Cruising Guide: Canary Islands
By our travel expert Mike
Enjoy year-round sailing and explore the best parts of this amazing archipelago.
Situated 60nm West of Morocco and more than 1,000nm from the Spanish mainland, the Canary Islands are a popular winter sun destination for nearly 12million holidaymakers every year. With great year-round weather, thousands of beaches, stunning geology, and a natural and fascinating cultural history, it’s easy to see why these European islands are so popular.
Why are the islands so popular with sailors?
Most importantly, it’s the climate. The majority of the islands have great weather with nighttime temperatures rarely dropping below 15°C throughout the whole winter, and daytime temperatures seldomly topping 30°C in the middle of the summer, it’s a comfortable place to sail both night and day.
However, why most sailors head to the region is for the wind! Trade winds dominate the weather system throughout the year. In the trade wind belt, the prevailing wind direction is NE all year round, reaching its peak in power in July and August. Currents are around Force 3-4, getting stronger in the wind acceleration zones – so it’s wise to check the hyper-local forecasts before heading out.
This archipelago has a lot to offer sailors in terms of landscapes and urban areas to visit on its seven main islands.
Our favourite anchorages and marinasAlthough there are fewer marinas and anchorages in the Canary Islands than what you’d expect of mainland Europe, they are also rarely fully booked, so you’re never in a mid-afternoon rush to grab a berth or secure a top anchorage. Also, most of the marinas are government-run, and reserving a berth is done through their efficient website.
Caleta del Sebo, La Graciosa
Just North of its larger cousin, Lanzarote, La Graciosa is a little island full of character. Fewer tourists visit this island – and the ones that do tend to visit on day trips – which means the evenings are beautifully quiet.
Paso de la Orchilla, Isla Lobos
A stunning bay with crystal clear waters to anchor in. It has great protection from the North and North East. If you want to hop ashore to Isla de Lobos (highly recommended) make sure you pre-book your pass here as only 400 tourists are allowed onto the island every day.
Marina Rubicón, Lanzarote
A great visitor marina that has the bonus of a berth holder swimming pool – great to cool off in after a day on the water. The marina itself has everything you need and there are good tourist bars and restaurants peppered around the shore. However, make sure you head to One Bar (under the lighthouse at the entrance). This is one of the best true sailor bars in Europe.
Punta de Antequera, Tenerife
With no road or path access, sailing is the easiest way to visit this stunning bay, so it’s great to take advantage of being onboard a yacht! Cliffs tower over the blue water and black-sand beaches. This is a true Canary scene.
Muelle Deportivo de Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
We couldn’t talk about the Canary Islands without mentioning the sailor’s Holy Grail that is Las Palmas. Its popularity with mariners comes back to it being one of the best places to prepare and provision to sail across the Atlantic. Sailor’s Bay Bar in the marina is a popular watering hole, while the local yacht club, Varadero Maritime Club Gran Canaria, offers temporary members a bit of solace from the hustle and bustle
Puerto de la Estaca, El HierroOne of only two marinas on the Canary Island’s 2nd smallest inhabited island, El Hierro. As a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, El Hierro has limited construction, maintaining its traditional look and social structure. A truly charming stopover.
Puerto Calero, LanzaroteConsidered to be one of the most exclusive marinas in sailing, this marina has first-rate services capable of accommodating both small sports boats and superyachts alike. Head here early January to see the race fleet prepare for the annual RORC Transatlantic Race that takes crew 2,800nm across the Atlantic to Grenada.
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