SUPERYACHT DESTINATION GUIDE: CANARY ISLANDS
Last updated: 18/06/2018
Located a little more than 100km from the coast of the Saharan desert in Africa, the Canary Islands – or Islas Canarias – are a popular year-round destination for sun-seeking visitors, and Tenerife in particular attracts a large number of yachts and superyachts. Tenerife is the largest and most populous of the Canary Islands, encompassing 2,034km2 of volcanic landscapes and idyllic beaches.
Yachting Pages spoke to Tenerife Offshore & Shipping Agency to create a handy guide for captains and crew to follow when cruising the Canary Islands, offering tips and advice on locations, berthing, bunkering, excursions and more.
Visiting the Canary Islands aboard a superyacht
The Canary Islands have often been seen as a convenient stocking-up and jumping-off point for Atlantic crossings in the past, but over the years more and more people have discovered what the islands have to offer and are enjoying them as a cruising ground in their own right.The archipelago is a culturally European location due to its close relationship with the Spanish mainland. Direct flights are regularly scheduled to many destinations across Europe, and more recently to the U.S.A., and superyacht visitors can take advantage of perennially clement weather thanks to the island’s proximity to the African mainland and subtropical climates.
The seven main islands that make up the Canaries are all close together, making it roughly a day’s sail between each, but if you’re looking to make a stop then Tenerife and Gran Canaria offer more than enough to keep yacht guests satisfied for any length of time.
On Tenerife, the stark volcanic grandeur of the unique Parque Nacional del Teide (or El Teide National Park) beckons. Offshore you can find hidden rocks, caves and sunken wrecks ideal for diving or snorkelling, and the many beaches around the islands’ coastlines are also the domain of trade winds, providing power for windsurfing, kite-surfing and sailing.
Gran Canaria islanders like to think of their island as a continent in miniature, and you will come across this phrase frequently when visiting the Island, with a fertile north and arid south characterising the third largest Island of the archipelago.
Lanzarote is different; this extraordinary landscape seems to be of another world, and the inhabitants of the islands used to say that, “God forgot Lanzarote on the Seventh Day of the Creation”. Despite the seemingly inhospitable landscapes, Lanzarote's inhabitants made a great effort to cultivate this land, and today you find large plantations of fruits and vegetables. Most surprising is perhaps the region of Geria, with vineyards between volcanic craters.
On all of the Canary Islands, amid the melting pot of Andalusian, Berber, Portuguese, Italian, French and even British migration, the Guanches, the indigenous islanders displaced during the Spanish conquest in the 15th century, also left their mark.
When do superyachts visit?
According to Tenerife Offshore & Shipping Agency, more than 75 different superyachts call in to the Canary Islands each year. Where previously it was just during the main season from spring to autumn that the yachts would be visiting, now they are passing more and more for refuelling, storing and stays between February to May, and from October to December many of them stop by for a well-planned fortnight away.
Tourist attractions in Tenerife
The Canary Islands boast a broad variety of things to see and do for visitors – tourist attractions here include anything from the extravagant and famous nightlife, to whale and bird watching. There are also nature parks, such as Loro Parque on Tenerife, which has a collection of 3,800 parrots and is perfect for younger children. Other attractions in the park include alligators, chimpanzees, jaguars, penguins, porpoises, killer whales, sharks and tigers.
Siam Park (Tenerife Aquatic Park) opened its doors in 2008, and over the years has grown into one of the most impressive water parks in Europe – and for the past four years it’s been considered the best water park in the world by Trip Advisor.
Sightseeing in Tenerife
The bustling port city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is one of the busiest in Spain, and definitely worth a visit during any trip to the island. It’s a fun-loving city with a tropical feel, and you will find a clean centre full of historic buildings, many shopping areas to visit and explore, and hundreds of local tapas eateries and bars.
Santa Cruz is a busy port city, and simply meandering around is a pleasant way to while away the day. Starting to wander from Plaza de España, which features a controversial memorial to the fallen of the 1936-39 Civil War, you could head inland along Plaza de la Candelaria, the pedestrianised shopping strip of Calle del Castillo, and San Jose, which is full of bars, restaurants and many different shops.
Outdoor activities in Tenerife
You can find the gamut of water sports, including diving, sailing, fishing and windsurfing, as well as scuba excursions, helicopter trips and many more activities, mostly concentrated in and around the south-western resort areas.
There are 11 trails within the popular El Teide National Park – the park’s rangers also lead guided walks daily – and other attractive areas include the Anaga mountains in the north east, and around La Orotava Valley, which is full of local traditional restaurants and vineyards.
Tenerife Volcano experience
El Teide volcano, based in the heart of the island some 3,718m above the sea level, is the highest Spanish mountain, and from base to peak is the tallest volcano in the world outside of Hawaii. Before you get to the cable car (which is a €27 return ride per person) you will drive through stunning scenery known as the Moonscape.
Ms. Lidia Villegas from Tenerife Offshore & Shipping Agency informed us that films such as Planet Of The Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek were all filmed there. The Parque Nacional del Teide is declared a UNESCO Biosphere reserve along with all surrounding adjacent towns and hamlets.
Sport on Tenerife Island
Tenerife Island is a 365-day destination for mountain biking. There are very few rainy days and sunshine is almost guaranteed, giving you dry and dusty trails to enjoy from your doorstep every morning. There are a number of golf courses and Tenerife as well, with some designed by the likes of Severiano Ballesteros, John Jacobs and Donald Steel.
Tourist Attractions on Gran Canaria
The capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is worth a visit for its historic old quarter, bar scenes and the golden sands of Playa de Las Canteras. It’s here that surfers can pick up some waves (Maspalomas is also a prime spot), and windsurfers will find perfect conditions on the island’s southeast coast.
Things to do and see on Gran Canaria
Crew might simply enjoy a relaxing break during their time off on Gran Canaria, but if they are looking for something more active, there is ample potential on the southern coast, with nice beaches and water activities. There are also several boats for deep-sea fishing, and on land you can bike or hike, independently or as part of a group.
Superyacht berthing in the Canary Islands
Marinas with superyacht berths and facilities
To cater to the recent increase in visiting superyachts for longer stays, a number of newly built and renovated marinas are popping up in the major settlements of Tenerife and its neighbouring islands.
Among the Tenerife-based marinas recommended by Tenerife Offshore & Shipping Agency includes Marina Santa Cruz, which features berths adjacent to the city’s bustling centre and space for over 150 superyachts with a 40m LOA and another 45 berths for those up to 72m LOA. Puerto Colón, which boasts space for up to 364 anchored vessels up to 24 metres in length, and Marina San Miguel, which has 344 berths with a maximum LOA of 40m, are also recommended on the island.
Gran Canaria features a number of dedicated superyacht marinas as well, with Pasito Blanco offering 388 berths for superyachts up to 40 metres in length and Puerto de Mogán featuring 217 berths for yachts up to 40m LOA.
On Fuerteventura, Morro Jable Harbour has space for 244 vessels with a maximum LOA of 35m, and on Lanzarote the main Marina Lanzarote can host up to 380 boats between four and 60 metres in length. Lanzarote also features Puerto del Carmen, which has 117 berths for superyachts up to 26 metres in length, and the sprawling Marina Rubicón, which features almost 500 berths for yachts up to 70 metres.
The Canary Islands’ main marinas include all kinds of marine services and complimentary facilities for guests and crew alike, including 24-hour port immigration services, making them the ideal place for business and pleasure.
Berthing costs in the Canary Islands
Tenerife Offshore & Shipping Agency advise that it would cost around €250 per day in a Canary Islands marina, and €240 per day at a commercial pier in a port to berth a yacht of approximately 60 metres (197 feet) in length, with a beam of 10.5 metres.
Both the Las Palmas and Tenerife ports comply with the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) security code. All marinas in the Canary Islands feature 24/7 CCTV with their own staff, along with Port Police and National Police forces which patrol all adjacent areas from the main ports and marinas.
Berthing procedures in the Canary Islands
Berthing of yachts and superyachts can be pre-cleared in advance to go into the commercial port or marina – contact port control on VHF12 for commercial berths or contact marinas using channel VHF09 for more information.
If the vessel weighs more than 500 GT, it will receive pilot assistance when arriving at, or departing from, the port. Additionally, a call to the Marina is compulsory for berthing instructions. For yachts less than 500GT, pilotage is not compulsory but it is advisable for captains wanting a little extra advice from local experts.
Fuelling in the Canary Islands
As a common Atlantic stopover and cruising destination, superyachts are easily able to refuel when visiting Tenerife, Gran Canaria or any of the larger islands via various bunkering locations around the archipelago. A number of marinas are also able to supply fuel by road as well as (or instead of) on-site petrol stations, and costs are in line with international rates found in the wider European market.
Crew and Yacht Safety in the Canary Islands
All marinas in the Canary Islands feature 24/7 CCTV with their own staff, along with Port Police and National Police forces which patrol all adjacent areas from the main ports and marinas.
What’s popular for yacht crew in Tenerife?
In Santa Cruz Marina – which is located in the centre of the Tenerife capital – there is plenty for yacht crew to do during any time off, and there are many bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and shopping malls near the dock.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Main Port
Yacht supplies, provisions, services, repair and maintenance shops are available at Santa Cruz de Tenerife’s main port. Tenerife Offshore & Shipping inform us that a wide range of supplies and provisions are locally available, so any requests received from a yacht can be easily obtained. The Canary Islands are an international destination for many ships, and most international brands are in the local market.
Also, there are dedicated shops for refits and repairs, providing technical assistance for everything from fibreglass, aluminium and steel repairs to hydraulics, electrical and radio engineers. Supermarkets, laundry services, medical and dental services, and modern clinics, can be easily found on site near the marinas, and all kinds of fuels are available in the port.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Main Port is an ideal place for crew changes when they are required, since Tenerife Island has two international airports and port immigration is in attendance 24/7.
Customs processes in the Canary Islands
Clearance of the yacht and crew
Clearance of the yacht and crew is a simple procedure in the Canary Islands according to Tenerife Offshore & Shipping Agency, and most of the time boarding clerks grant straightforward clearance as all documentary matters are prepared in advance. As per standard European procedures, all passports are presented to immigration on arrival and departure by the agency clerk.
Transit Schengen Visa procedures
As per European regulations, all passports must be seen when yachts arrive or set sail from both commercial ports or marinas, or where it is possible to be attended by immigration authorities. All crew passports will be stamped if yachts are calling at the Canary Islands for the first time from a non-E.U. port or if they are departing to visit a non-E.U. port. Tenerife Offshore & Shipping Agency, as the main representatives from NPCS Spain, are able to provide Schengen visas in all Spanish Ports where immigration offices are present. Contact NPCS Spain for direct information.