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Make Island Hopping in the Canaries Worth Your While
Jun 26th, 2017 by Tom Kerswill

The Canary Islands are a popular holiday destination, but most people stick to just one for the duration of their break. However, it is possible to broaden your experience of the Canaries by island hopping.

Your self-catering holiday villa can provide the perfect base for exploring the different islands, whichever destination you choose.

Getting About

For island hopping purposes, the best means of getting about is by using ferries. With the hydrofoil and high-speed ferry services, island hopping is far less time consuming, while remaining relaxing and pleasurable.

The main airports of the Canaries are Fuerteventura, Tenerife South, Las Palmas for Gran Canaria and Arrecife for Lanzarote. Once at your main destination, you can explore the ferry and boat links to the other islands.

 

Tenerife

This is an ideal ferry destination for island hopping because it has a bit of everything, from imposing volcanic landscapes to the tourist-friendly centres of Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos.

Explore the vineyards of La Orotava, or go whale watching off the coast. Mount Teide is Spain’s highest mountain, and the world’s third highest island volcano, situated in Teide National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can enjoy the spectacular views by riding on the Teide Cable Car.

Tenerife is also the main hub for inter-island sea traffic, so you’ve plenty of choice for where to hop to next from here.

 

Gran Canaria

This island is home to Las Palmas, the capital of the Canaries, which dates from 1478. It’s on the eastern part of the island, and has two bays with the popular beaches, Playa de las Canteras and Playa de las Caravaneras.

Gran Canaria is often described as a continent in miniature, because it consists of such varied geography and climates. Places of interest include the large bird sanctuary at Palmitos Park, and the Maspalomas Dunes and Maspalomas Lighthouse.

Also check out the village of Puerto de Mogán, known as Little Venice because of its many canals; and the archeologically significant Painted Cave of Galdar.

 

La Gomera

With its dense woodland, lush vegetation and deep ravines, La Gomera is an ideal destination for walkers and hikers.

These green slopes form the Garajonay National Park, and there are some 350 kilometres of walking trails. On La Gomera, there are streets made of sand, and the inhabitants still speak an ancient whistling language, Sibo, devised to help them communicate across the island’s landscape.

 

Lanzarote

Beyond the beaches and clubs, Lanzarote presents an eerie, alien vista of red and black volcanic rock and its famous lava tubes.

Some of these form the Green Caves, or Cueva de los Verdes, a large cave system which includes a concert hall carved into of it.

Lanzarote’s vineyards grow celebrated local Malvasia wines, which you can enjoy while experiencing the island’s long, sunny days.

There are daily ferries from this northernmost of the Canaries to Fuerteventura, and the journey takes around 25 minutes.

 

La Palma

Another of the Canaries with a varied geography, La Palma is known as the beautiful island for its beaches, its stunning greenery and dramatic volcanoes

The entire island is a UNESCO-designated World Biosphere Reserve. It has 1,000 kilometres of paths for walkers, through prehistoric forests, past waterfalls and up the island’s peaks.

And at night you discover another quality to La Palma, its incredibly clear skies, making it a great place for star gazing. Astronomers love the island for this reason, but you don’t have to be an expert to experience the beauty of the stars from high on La Palma.

Exploring Volcanic Fuerteventura’s Varied Coastline
Jun 12th, 2017 by Tom Kerswill

Whether it’s the beach, the exploration, the food or the nightlife, the island of Fuerteventura has plenty to keep you occupied, while giving you the space to relax as much as you want.

Less than 100km off the African coast, this is the oldest of the Canaries, and the largest. It boasts 152 beaches along its coastline, many of which are dazzling white sand, while others are a contrasting black, volcanic shingle. There’s barely any rainfall here and the temperature rarely falls below 18º centigrade, or rises above 32º.

In short, for many it’s the perfect island destination. And if you choose a holiday villa as your base, this gives you an open itinerary for exploring and experiencing Fuerteventura’s varied attractions and locations.

The island’s natural coastline is, itself, a big draw, offering beaches, landscapes and places to explore.

 

The Best Beaches

Obviously, with 152 beaches to choose from, there is a lot of choice. However, some of Fuerteventura’s beaches are so strikingly beautiful that they set a whole new standard.

Sotavento has 17 continuous miles of unspoiled, white sand. This lengthy beach stretches down the south east coast of the island, and while some parts of it are popular, and therefore get quite busy, others are deserted.

Swimming conditions are ideal, with the sea a comfortable 21º all year round.

Getting to Sotavento beach is very easy. There are places to park all along the coastline, if you’re driving, or there are plenty of buses leaving from all the major towns on the east coast.

At the north of Fuerteventura is Corralejo beach. This is six miles long, bordering a national park. With its palm trees and sand dunes, it’s another idyllic setting. You can reach it from the island’s highway, the FV-1.

From Corrlejo there are regular boat trips to Isla Lobos. You can explore this tiny island on foot in just a few hours, but it has some wonderfully secluded beaches, and it has great snorkelling – its protected status means there are plenty of fish in its waters. Lobos island also comes with its own volcano, so if you tire of beach life you can always hike to the top for some spectacular views.

 

The Protected Peninsula

The south westerly tip of Fuerteventura is another protected area. This is the Península de Jandía, a rugged landscape of cliffs and empty plains.

It provides a dramatic contrast to the beaches of the north and east, and is an opportunity to explore another side to the island.

If you’re feeling confident and adventurous enough, you can hire your own four-wheel drive to drive along the winding cliff roads, or alternatively, take the bus to experience the ride and views.

 

Caves and Coves

On the west coast is Ajuy, an area full of rocks, caves and coves. It’s a great area for walking and taking in the natural, dramatic atmosphere.

The footpath makes the caves more accessible from the top of the cliffs, and you can also reach them from the beach.

The beach at Ajuy is black, volcanic sand, contrasting with the crystal clear water. It rarely attracts many visitors, so provides a peaceful place to relax after exploring the caves and coves.

Ajuy town is small but welcoming, and it has plenty of seafront restaurants offering great local food.

This varied coastline is just one of the many aspects making Fuerteventura an ideal destination for a villa holiday.

Fascinating Betancuria at the Heart of Fuerteventura
Jun 5th, 2017 by Tom Kerswill

Much of the Canaries’ attraction comes down to them being the ideal holiday destination, with glorious weather and vast stretches of white, sandy beach.

However, if you’re going on a self-catering break to a holiday villa in Fuerteventura, you might just want to consider what else there is to do there, because, strange as it seems, you can have too much relaxing on a beach in the sun.

Luckily, there are plenty of other things to see and do in Fuerteventura when you want a break from the beach, due to the island’s history and heritage.

The Old Capital and Turbulent Times

Betancuria is the old capital of Fuerteventura, before the advent of tourism transformed the island so dramatically. Along its cobbled streets, you’ll experience a sense of a past that still resonates beneath the modern island, and is carried on through its culture.

Jean de Béthencourt founded Betancuria in 1404, hence the name, during the Castilian invasion of the island. Because Betancuria was some distance from the coast, many there believed it would be safe from invading pirates, and therefore the ideal spot for a settlement.

In fact, Moors and Berbers raided it several times during the early 15th century, and the British had a go at invading it in 1740, but were defeated at the Battle of Tamasite by the Spanish.

From the 19th century onwards, as the island’s power and economic centre shifted, Betancuria declined in importance until it was officially stripped of its capital status in 1834.

With the growth of tourism in the 1960s, more inhabitants migrated to the coast, leaving behind Betancuria and the island’s interior.

 

Historical Architecture

The Iglesia de Santa María was the first church built on the island, and is a combination of different baroque, renaissance and gothic architectural styles.

This is because it was rebuilt several times during the island’s more troubled history, with the Berbers burning it down in 1593.

The historic bell tower survives, however, as do other aspects of the church; and the interior has several elaborately decorated baroque altars.

On the outskirts of the town are the ruins of a late 15th century monastery, San Buenaventura. This convent was last used in 1937 and now stands as a ruin, alongside its small, disused companion church, which has undergone extensive restoration.

In the heart of the designated Betancuria Natural Park, is the Casa de Santa María, a house dating from the 17th century. It has been carefully renovated in the traditional Canarian style and is now home to a local museum and craft centre, along with a café and restaurant. It also has a 3D cinema showing spectacular underwater footage.

Also in Betancuria are the Museo de Arte Sacro (Musuem of Sacred Art), containing many historically important religious relics, and the Casa de Museo de Betancuria, displaying various architectural objects found at excavations in Fuerteventura.

 

Great Views

A little way out from the town centre are a couple of vantage points presenting spectacular views of the island.

The Mirador Corrales de Guize is located at an altitude of 600 metres and provides a panoramic view of the stunning local scenery. It’s hard to miss as it’s marked by two enormous bronze figures. On a clear day, you can see the El Rincón Valley, the mountain peaks of Morro Veloso, Morro de la Cruz and la Atalaya, and Betancuria itself.

The other vantage point is at Mirador Morro Veloso, north of Betancuria, towards Antigua. This has a café bar at the viewing point, and offers great views of the dramatic landscape.

New flights to Fuerteventura
Jul 17th, 2014 by elisa

It may have taken a 10 year break, but British Airways is reinstating flights to Fuerteventura from December 2014.

The flights will operate from Gatwick twice a week, all year round and start from 13th December. The route will be operated on Airbus A319 and A320 short-haul aircraft, which the airline announced would be receiving a new look in the cabin, featuring stylish new seats.

British Airways already serves the Canary Islands with flights to Lanzarote leaving twice a week and Tenerife flying seven times a week.

Villaseek has lots of villas in Fuerteventura, but how about checking this lovely two bedroom villa with private hot tub, sun terrace and panoramic view to Lanzarote!

Hot tub

Hot tub

Sun terrace

Sun terrace

Panoramic views

Panoramic views

 

 

 

 

Electronic devices with flat batteries not permitted to fly to US
Jul 9th, 2014 by elisa

Enhanced security checks mean any electronic devices that will not switch on will have to be left behind by passengers travelling to the US.

US homeland security confirmed that these checks would be implemented immediately at some airports abroad as it believes that there is a very real threat of terrorist attacks with the potential for phones to be turned into explosive devices that can avoid detection.

It said passengers at airports which offer direct flights to the US may be forced to switch on their electronic devices to prove to security officials that they do not contain explosives. This comes after it was announced last week that extra security measures would be put in place at airports and on flights due to an increased threat of terrorist activity.

The US Transportation Security Administration warned: “Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”

Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind warned against complacency on the issue because there are more threats than have been made public. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Sir Malcolm said: “It is simply foolish to believe that the threat is either minimal or now behind us.

“We have, indeed, been fortunate but, sadly, this has not been because the terrorists have, since 2005, given up trying to do us harm.”

Security tightened at UK airports
Jul 4th, 2014 by elisa

Security is being tightened at UK airports following fears from the US of increased terrorist threat levels.

The security threat level remains at ‘substantial’, meaning that an attack is a strong possibility. The changes come after the White House voiced fears that terrorists were planning to bring down a plane with help from radicalised European jihadists returning from Syria.

President Barack Obama told American TV news channel ABC: “They’ve got European passports. They don’t need a visa to get into the United States”.

The Department of Transport has issued a statement confirming increased security, but would not provide further information on the details of this.

“We have taken the decision to step up some of our aviation security measures,” it said.

“For obvious reasons we will not be commenting in detail on those changes.”

The majority of passengers should not experience significant disruption, but travellers to the US should arrive earlier to allow for any additional time it takes to get through the extra security checks.

“The safety and security of the public is our paramount concern. The UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures and we will continue to take all the steps necessary to ensure that public safety is maintained,” added the Department of Transport.

The Department of Homeland Security said changes to aviation security in the US would be made in the “upcoming days”. Airlines have responded to say they are ready to bring in any new security measures when instructed.

Six-day French air traffic controllers’ strike
Jun 24th, 2014 by elisa

Delays and cancellations are expected from today as French air traffic controllers begin a six-day strike. 

The strike over budget cuts is not as large as first feared, as one of the two unions that announced the action backed out at the last minute. However, flights to and from France, and also many flights that travel across French airspace will still be cancelled or delayed.

Eurocontrol, a European air safety organisation, estimated almost 14,000 hours of delays over the strike period. A similar walk out last year led to the cancellation of around 1,800 flights a day across Europe.

Ryanair has cancelled 26 flights to and from France, and British Airways has cancelled three return flights from Heathrow to Toulouse, Marseille and Lyon. Easyjet has cancelled 28 flights, but none of these are from UK airports.

Airlines have said that they will update customers daily on further cancellations.

BA said: “The level of disruption is likely to fluctuate in different parts of France at different parts of each day.

“Unfortunately this industrial action is also highly likely to lead to delays on other short-haul services which have to overfly France.”

“We expect to receive information from the French authorities the day before each strike event as to the levels of mandated cancellations for all airlines on each route.

“We aim to publish our revised schedules by 1400 GMT each day for the following day’s flights.”

Advice for travellers affected by the strikes

  • If your airline cancels your flight you are eligible for a refund. You are not, however, eligible for additional compensation from the airline as it is not directly responsible for the cause of cancellation.
  • If you are left stranded abroad (in the EU) as a result of the cancellation of your flight, then the airline are required to pay for accommodation and subsistence until another flight is available to take you home.
  • Travel insurance may pay out small amounts for long delays, but not always for subsequent losses such as hotel bookings. Check your documentation carefully to see what you are entitled to.

A statement on the Easyjet website said: “For cancelled flights, all our customers will be offered a free of charge transfer to a new flight or a full refund.

“We strongly advise customers who wish to travel and want to rebook Easyjet flights to AVOID rebooking flights for any day between 24th-30th June as there is a high likelihood of further disruption that could cause further cancellations.”

Ryanair has urged the French Government and European Union to intervene, calling for the air traffic controllers’ right to strike to be removed and in the meantime to allow neighbouring air traffic providers to keep the skies over France open over the strike period.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said: “It is high time the EU Commission removed these air traffic controllers’ right to strike, in the same way as ATC in the US, and many of Europe’s armies and police forces, are prohibited from striking by law, to stop Europe being held to ransom by a small number of air traffic controllers every summer.”

 

Passport delay? Tourism minister promotes ‘staycation’
Jun 20th, 2014 by elisa

Tourism minister Helen Grant has been criticised for telling Brits affected by the passport processing delays that there’s a lot to be said for the ‘staycation’.

The Maidstone MP told House magazine that she was confident people will get their passports on time, but if they don’t want to go away “we have some fantastic places to visit and holiday not that far from here”.

She then went on to promote sporting events in the UK this year, including the Tour de France Grand Depart, the golf, Commonwealth Games, and the “football that we can watch on the TV”.

Her comments have been defended by her Tory colleagues, saying that as tourism minister, she is right to champion the domestic tourism market, but claim that she was in no way linking it to the passport backlog.

Her words, however, have angered consumer groups and the Public and Commercial Services Union, particularly as she is reportedly planning a holiday abroad in Spain later this year.

Richard Simcox, spokesman for the union commented: “It is incredibly unhelpful while people are desperately trying to get hold of their passports for ministers to be making this sort of glib remark.

“They should be focusing their efforts on sorting out the problem in the Passport Office. It is all very well for her to go off to Spain while suggesting people who can’t get hold of a passport should stay at home.”

Last week we posted advice for anyone urgently waiting for their passports.

Passport processing advice
Jun 11th, 2014 by elisa

Urgent contingency plans have been put in place at the Passport Office to cope with the huge demand in passport applications. 

It has recruited extra staff to operate telephone helplines with extended opening hours from 07:00 to 22:00 weekdays and from 08:00 to 18:00 at weekends. Back office staff have been redeployed to help clear the reported backlog.

Travellers facing an anxious wait for their passports and are due to travel in the next few days are advised to contact the Passport Office directly on 0300 222 00 00. Anyone who applied for a passport by post or the Check & Send service may be able to upgrade to a Premium service.

Standard adult passports cost £72.50 to renew or £81.25 if you use the Post Office’s Passport Check and Send service. Child passports cost £46 or £54.75 respectively.

The premium service costs £128 and means passports can be collected within four hours of being approved. The fast-track service costs £103 with the passport returned within a week of the application being approved.

Passport chief executive Paul Pugh denied a backlog, claiming that 97% of passport renewals and child passports are being processed within the three week turnaround.

“Staff were brought in immediately to respond to the extra demand; we are operating seven days a week and our couriers are delivering passports within 24 hours of being produced.

“We have issued almost three million passports for UK customers in 2014, including over one million issued in the eight weeks since the start of April,” he said.

Mike Jones, of the PCS union, told the BBC: “Thousands of people complain that it has taken more than two months for them to get passports. That clearly is a backlog.”

 

Passport delays threaten summer travel
Jun 9th, 2014 by elisa

Thousands of holidaymakers could miss out on their summer holidays because delays at the Passport Office mean they won’t receive their passports on time. 

The Telegraph reports that some new applications are taking as much as two months to process, leading to fears that the backlog could worsen as the holiday season approaches.

According to some estimates, the backlog has already reached half a million and staff from other departments have now been drafted in to help cope with demand. Unions claim that staff are being forced to “paper over the cracks” by working overtime, and they may be forced to take industrial action unless urgent measures are taken to improve the situation.

Labour’s shadow immigration minister, David Hanson, said the party’s MPs have been “inundated” with complaints from constituents struggling to get their passports in time for holidays, despite applying three weeks in advance as recommended. Mr Hanson said 75 Labour MPs had reported more than 370 complaints, the majority concerning the office in Durham, which processes passport applications for children and people who have changed their names.

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union said staff are frustrated that they’re unable to provide the level of service that the public expects from the passport office.

The Passport Office denies the extent of the backlog, claiming 97% of straightforward renewals and child applications are being processed in the three week turnaround. It puts the “exceptional early summer demand” down to the improving economy and a rise in holiday bookings.

The guidance on turnaround times are three weeks for straightforward renewals and child passports and six weeks for new adult passports.

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