The Canary Islands are rightly famous for their stunning beaches - but away from the playas, the islands are also natural adventure playgrounds where visitors can hike volcanoes, experience some of the world's best stargazing, or explore the incredible marine life beneath the waves. With locations at the very heart of nature all around the Canaries – from the seashore to the slopes of volcanoes – Spain's state-owned Paradores hotels offer ideal bases for guests to experience all that the islands have to offer.
Located close to the equator, the Canary Islands command exceptional views over the Northern, and even some of the Southern Hemisphere skies. Tenerife's Mount Teide was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site to be certified as a Starlight Tourist Destination and stargazing tours here draw growing numbers of tourists every year. A mountain lodge in the heart of the Teide National Park, 2152 metres above sea level, the Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide provides one of the best observation points. Boasting spectacular panoramic views, the hotel is a paradise for astronomy-lovers, hosting regular talks and stargazing sessions with astronomers equipped with the very best telescopes.
The astrotourism continues on the island of La Palma, the world's first Starlight Reserve, and home to the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory. Situated at the highest point on the island, the Observatory houses the 'Gran Telescopio Canarias', the largest telescope of its kind in the world. The nearby Parador de La Palma hosts regular 'gAstronomical' dinners featuring a menu with shapes and textures inspired by the cosmos, accompanied by talks on astronomy and stargazing sessions at the hotel's viewpoint.
The Canary Islands' otherworldly volcanic landscapes also make for some spectacular hiking. On La Palma, marked trails pass the serene La Fajana natural saltwater pools - a perfect spot for a cooling dip on a hot day. Gran Canaria also offers epic natural landscapes to explore, including the breathtaking Bandama Caldera route, featuring an adventurous 200-metre descent into a volcanic crater. Situated 1500 metres above sea level at the very centre of the island, the Parador de Cruz de Tejeda is the ideal place to unlock Gran Canaria's charms. After a day exploring the volcanic landscapes, guests can unwind in the hotel's spa, a serene retreat overlooking the adjacent Nublo Rural Park.
A favourite among diving aficionados, the turquoise waters around the island of El Hierro are renowned for the extraordinary sea life beneath. Divers can expect to see tuna, puffers, barracudas – and even sharks, dolphins and turtles depending on the time of year. Water temperatures are an inviting 18-25°C all year round, so guests can take the plunge whenever they like. Located right at the water's edge, within sea-spray range, the Parador de El Hierro is an ideal 'jumping off' point for anyone wishing to explore the wonders beneath the waves, and can arrange introductory lessons for beginners.
Prices start from €85 per room per night (room only) at the two-star Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide; from €75 per room per night (room only) at the four-star Parador de La Palma; from €85 per room per night (room only) at the four-star Parador de Cruz de Tejeda; and from €95 per room per night (room only) at the three-star Parador de El Hierro. For further information, reservations and the latest special offers, please visit www.parador.es/en or call tel: +34 902 54 79 79.
Paradores de Turismo is a State-owned company with eight decades of history, which currently manages 94 highly individual properties across mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. The group continues to expand its portfolio, with the objective of restoring and preserving Spain's cultural landmarks. www.parador.es