SUPERYACHT DESTINATION GUIDE: CANARY ISLANDS
Last updated: 11/04/2019
Located a little more than 100 kilometres from the coast of the Saharan desert, the Canary Islands – or Islas Canarias – are growing in popularity with the superyacht set, with the archipelago establishing itself as much more than just a stocking-up and jumping-off point for north and south-bound crossings. Made up of the seven main islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, Thierry Verstraete from Tenerife Offshore & Shipping Agency talked us through the highlights and hotspots of the island for superyacht crew and guests, along with berthing and service options for the superyacht itself.
Visiting the Canary Islands aboard a superyacht
With an approximate land area of 7,500km² and hundreds of kilometres of coastline, the Canary Islands are a varied and fascinating destination for sea travellers, facilitating trips with rest, relaxation and recreation combined.
Belonging to Spain, the archipelago is a culturally European location with an added subtropical climate. The main islands each have their unique allure, and with roughly a day’s sail between are close enough together to allow seabound guests to experience everything in just one short trip.
Verstraete said, “Tenerife is the largest and most populous of the Canary Islands, with a rugged and volcanic landscape, while Gran Canaria is like a continent in miniature; sub-tropical and fertile in the north and reminiscent of a desert to the south.
“On the other hand, La Gomera, La Palma and La Hierro islands are more mountainous and green, dotted with brief strands of black volcanic sand; a startling contrast to the desertscapes and sparkling white beaches of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, which has an extraordinary landscape that seems to be of another world. “Together, the islands offer a melting pot of Andalusian, Berber, Portuguese, Italian, French and British cultures, while the indigenous Guanches islanders have left their own mark. These changing characteristics make the islands more than enough to keep yacht guests satisfied for any length of time.”
When do superyachts visit the Canary Islands?
The peak yachting season in the Canaries traditionally stretches from June to November, but Verstraete told us that the season is extending, with more and more yachts stopping for refuelling, storing and stays between February and December each year.
What to see and do in the Canary Islands aboard a superyacht
The Islands’ main draw for charter superyacht guests are arguably its unique landscapes, bustling ports, beautiful beaches and ample watersports opportunities, but each boasts a wide variety of things to see and do for visitors young and old.
Tenerife boasts 2,034km2 of volcanic landscapes and idyllic beaches. The bustling port city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is one of the busiest in Spain, and is definitely worth a visit during any trip to the island; it’s a fun-loving city with a tropical feel, where you’ll find a clean centre full of historic buildings, many shopping areas, and hundreds of local tapas eateries and bars.
Verstraete said, “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 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.”
Further Tenerife tourist attractions include anything from extravagant nightlife, to whale and bird watching. There are also nature parks for younger guests, such as Loro Parque on Tenerife, which has a collection of 3,800 parrots. Siam Park (Tenerife Aquatic Park) is also nearby, and has grown into one of the most impressive water parks in Europe, earning it recognition as the best in the world by TripAdvisor between 2014 and 2017.
Tenerife offers superyacht visitors the gamut of watersports, 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 also 11 walking trails within the popular UNESCO El Teide National Park, where El Teide volcano, Spain’s highest mountain, can be found. Standing at 3,718 metres above sea level, it’s the tallest volcano in the world outside of Hawaii and has a circumference of 48 metres. Visitors will arrive by car through the stunning scenery of Moon Scape before taking the cable car to the top.
Other attractive hiking areas include the Anaga mountains in the north east, and around La Orotava Valley, which is full of traditional local restaurants and vineyards. Furthermore, with very few rainy days and sunshine almost guaranteed, the island is a 365-day destination for mountain biking, with dry and dusty trails to enjoy from your doorstep every morning. There are eight golf courses and two pitch-and-putt courses to enjoy as well, with some designed by the likes of Severiano Ballesteros, John Jacobs and Donald Steel.
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 and in Maspalomas that surfers can pick up some waves, while windsurfers will find perfect conditions on the island’s southeast coast.
Golf courses are another big feature of Gran Canaria, which hosts several PGA tournaments on its long, flat courses surrounded by sand dunes. The island also has ample beautiful beaches and biking and hiking routes, plus opportunity for big-game fishing.
Lanzarote is home to 287 different dormant volcanoes, giving it its unique volcanic landscape. Great expanses of its surface of covered with ash and lava, yet its inhabitants have made great effort to cultivate the fertile land, and today guests will find large colourful plantations of fruits and vegetables. Verstraete recommends a visit to the Geria region, which hides beautiful vineyards in between volcanic craters. The island is also home to the great works of Canarian architect Cesea Manrique.
Superyacht berthing and marine services in the Canary Islands
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 the Canary Islands, a wide range of supplies and provisions are locally available.
Marina Santa Cruz
Marina Santa Cruz features berths for vessels up to up to 72 metres (236-foot) in length adjacent to the city’s bustling centre. As the islands’ main port, yacht supplies, provisions, services, repair and maintenance shops are easy to come by here.
Marina San Miguel
Marina San Miguel has berthing for 344 vessels up to 40 metres. It’s located on the island’s southern coast in San Miguel de Abona, close to two golf courses and a number of amenities. The quayside has a crane and 60-tonne Travelift, as well as engineering facilities, replacement parts and 24-hour fuel services.
Gran Canaria features its own number of dedicated superyacht marinas, with Pasito Blanco and Puerto de Mogán offering berthing for yachts up to 40m LOA. Other recommended options include Marina Anfi, Puerto de Arguineguin, Puerto Deportivo de Las Palmas, Puerto Deportivo Puerto Rico, Puerto de Moraán and Puerto de las Nieves.
Further marina berthing can be found for superyachts on Fuerteventura in Morro Jable Harbour (max. 35m/114ft LOA), and on Lanzarote in Marina Rubicón (max. 70m), Marina Lanzarote (max. 60m), and Puerto del Carmen, which has been the subject of much renovation work over the years, to allow it to host superyachts up to 70m LOA, and welcoming in what are some of the world’s most luxurious.
The Canary Islands’ main ports and marinas include excellent superyacht services and facilities for the yacht and guests alike with excellent transport links and 24-hour port immigration services. This is also seeing the Islands increasing in popularity as a crew-change destination.
Verstraete said, “It currently costs around 250 euros (approx. 290 U.S Dollars) per day in a Canary Islands’ marina to berth a yacht of approximately 60 metres (197 foot) in length, and 240 euros per day at a commercial pier in a port.
“Both the Las Palmas and Tenerife ports comply with the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) security code, and all marinas in the Canary Islands feature 24/7 CCTV with their own staff, along with Port Police and National Police forces patrolling all adjacent areas from the main ports and marinas. A local yacht agent will be able to help yachts clearing in and out of the Islands.”
Berthing procedures and clearing into the Canary Islands
Yachts and superyachts can be pre-cleared into commercial Canary-Island ports and marinas in advance, and should contact port control on VHF12 on arrival. Those clearing into marinas should contact VHF09.
If the vessel weighs more than 500 GT, it will receive pilot assistance when arriving at, or departing from the port. For yachts less than 500GT, pilotage is not compulsory, but it is advisable for captains wanting a little extra advice from local experts.
Verstraete said, “Clearance of the yacht and crew is easy in all respects: The boarding clerk will usually grant the clearance immediately, as all documents are prepared in advance.
“As per new European regulations in force, all passports must be presented to immigration on arrival and departure when yachts arrive or sail from commercial port or marinas. All crew passports will be stamped if yachts are arriving from a non-EU port, or when leaving to a non EU port.”
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.
Find a yacht agent to support you on your visit to the Canary Islands.