There aren’t many places oﬀering year-round sun within a four-hour ﬂight. The Canaries are hard to beat but which of these much-loved islands is best for you?
The largest and most populated of the Canary Islands, Tenerife has enjoyed the love of Britons dating back to 1960s package holidays – and the tourism hotspot of the most southerly region of Spain is on a roll. The latest data from the Canarian tourism body, Istac, shows that there were 14,981,113 visitors to the Canaries last year (up by 11 per cent on 2015). Tenerife topped the table with 5.7 million visitors. More tourists travelled to the Canaries from the UK than from any other country. To help cope with this demand, Jet2 has announced extra flights to
Tenerife topped the table with 5.7 million visitors. More tourists travelled to the Canaries from the UK than from any other country. To help cope with this demand, Jet2 has announced extra flights to Tenerife in its summer schedule, while Norwegian Airlines has announced a new route from Bilbao to Tenerife. It’s the south of Tenerife, near the airport, that attracts today’s buyers, according to Suzie Perry Watson of the agent Clear Blue Skies, who has lived there for more than 20 years.
With a reputation for cheap and cheerful packages, its “Lanzagrotty” label has long gone, replaced with a growing reputation as an upmarket destination attracting families and a hip crowd to its wild and volcanic landscape. Just 37 miles long and 12 miles wide, the island’s near rain-free climate and stark volcanic sands have made it a Unesco biosphere reserve. Its eco-villages and laidback resorts now attract a younger set who come for surﬁng, mountain biking and the vineyards.
Just 37 miles long and 12 miles wide, the island’s near rain-free climate and stark volcanic sands have made it a Unesco biosphere reserve. Its eco-villages and laidback resorts now attract a younger set who come for surﬁ ng, mountain biking and the vineyards. “They are trying to advertise Lanzarote diﬀerently,” says Sophie Talbot-Imber of the agent Real Estate Lanzarote.
There’s a lot of investment in boutique hotels, more minimalist and stylish suites and sustainable eco-villages which are increasingly popular. Development has traditionally sprouted along either side of its bland, sun-baked capital Arrecife, and the big resorts of Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise still make good hunting grounds for a property.
Watch the tourist board’s promo and its strapline, “a miniature continent”, certainly rings true. This island truly does have different terrains, from the buzzing resorts in the southern dunes of Maspalomas, the near-tropical rainforest feel of the greener north or the food and shopping scene in its historic capital, Las Palmas.
The third largest in the archipelago, Gran Canaria attracts an eclectic tribe; but most British visitors (and the British are the second biggest number of visitors to the island) head south to the eponymously named Playa del Ingles where the agent Sunset Homes has two offices. The agent’s Graham Ditchburn says that this region has the best climate in the world. “It’s warm in winter but not scorching in summer — it even beat Hawaii and California,” he says.
Ditchburn sees plenty of buyers seeking a holiday home in the sun and “the pink pound” is a driver: “Seventy per cent are gay guys looking for a little bolthole,” says Ditchburn, adding that Gran Canaria’s laid-back lifestyle, friendly Canariones and festivals and carnivals appeal.
Most buyers like to be near the shopping mecca of Yumbo Centrum and the golf courses around Maspalomas. Resales form most of the market but Ditchburn has tips for adding value: “You could buy a 40-year-old apartment for around €120,000-€130,000; but, better still, buy for €90,000 and then spend €10,000 updating it — we have a team who will install a new kitchen and bathroom; then it’s worth around €30,000 more.”
Small bungalows start from €150,000. Despite Ditchburn’s love of the island’s varied landscape and historic Vegueta quarter in Las Palmas, he finds owners prefer to stay put: “They get to know their own little bar. People here are much friendlier than mainland Spain.”
Coming later to the tourist trail, Fuerteventura is certainly making up for it. It’s the second biggest island but one of the least populated, says John Goldacre, of the agent GoldAcre Estates, who has lived here for 17 years. His was the go-to agency for Spanish banks offloading developments during the crash. Those days are long gone but that doesn’t mean you can’t bag yourself a bargain.
“There are still great opportunities. One of Fuerteventura’s selling points is its value compared to more established islands: that’s one reason why the market is so buoyant,” says Goldacre, adding that interest is at all levels, from cheap flats to swanky villas around Villaverde, “the Beverly Hills of the island”, where he is based.“There are wonderful restaurants, it’s one of the most searched-for towns across Spain,” says Goldacre who believes that the sand dunes of Gran Canaria’s Maspalomas are dwarfed by Fuerteventura’s sandy beaches. There are 152 beaches, including those of the Isla de Lobos.
“There are wonderful restaurants, it’s one of the most searched-for towns across Spain,” says Goldacre who believes that the sand dunes of Gran Canaria’s Maspalomas are dwarfed by Fuerteventura’s sandy beaches. There are 152 beaches, including those of the Isla de Lobos, North of Fuerteventura. Sterling’s weakness isn’t a barrier, says Goldacre. “Prices are much lower than at their peak so your budget buys more.” Bargains include new three-bedroom apartments in the capital, Puerto del Rosario, for sale at €68,000 which were double that at the peak of the market. The agency recently took on a developmental role at the new-build Casilla de Costa near Villaverde. “We helped influence the design in terms of privacy which developers haven’t tended to do,” says Goldacre.
“We helped influence the design in terms of privacy which developers haven’t tended to do,” says Goldacre. Spacious one bedroom apartments, of around 60m2 plus a terrace of 15m2, start from €100,000. “They are modern in feel and style and will rent for €500 per week in peak season,” says Goldacre who believes that the Spanish government would never jeopardise tourism or property sales. “British buyers and holidaymakers are extremely important to their economy and they won’t let anything affect that.
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