Best Travel Tip – Head South for the Best of the Canarian Sun
Europeans, especially Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians and the British tend to think of the Canary Islands as a winter sun resort. Of these, the British are probably the most likely to holiday in the Canaries during the summer.
In actual fact it makes little difference when you visit from the point of view of what weather to expect. The islands experience a fairly constant springtime climate all the year round. However, my Canary Island travel tip is to always bear in mind that all of the islands are cloudier and wetter on their north coasts or in their more northerly regions. This is where the moisture bearing trade winds make their initial contact with a land mass as they blow across the Atlantic ocean, often quite forcibly.
The best guarantee of constant sunshine and warm, dry weather is found on the south coasts of every island where even mid winter days provide plenty of sunbathing and swimming opportunities. It is also important to realise that fairly strong winds are prevalent all the year round, making what would otherwise be a sizzling African sun feel much less intense than otherwise would be the case.
One November in Gran Canaria, I experienced a dramatic variation of weather conditions. The Yahoo weather forecast predicted heavy showers, thunderstorms and lower than average temperatures for the following five days period. Official weather forecasts for Gran Canaria are based on Las Palmas, the island’s capital which right on the northern tip of the island. When I arrived, the airport area which is a few miles south of Las Palmas was certainly experiencing some gloomy weather, although it wasn’t actually raining there. Looking northwards, the sky suggested that it was indeed raining over Las Palmas itself. The wind felt chilly and I shivered in my tee shirt and shorts as I walked to the airport car park, where my hire car was waiting.
My destination was Maspalomos, on the south coast of Gran Canaria and less than 40 miles from Las Palmas. Here the weather was sunny, dry and warm, making me want to dive into the pool as soon as I had checked into my accommodation. For the full length of my ten day stay this weather pattern continued. Cooler, cloudy weather, producing several heavy showers and a chilly wind prevailed in the north, whilst I enjoyed warm, sunny days and balmy evenings in Maspalomas.
A not so positive experience occurred a couple of years later on the island of Lanzarote. It was the last week of March and we were taking a one week vacation at a Charco de Palo. This remote and very beautiful, naturist resort is situated on the east coast of Lanzarote, only ten or so miles from the northern tip of the island. The weather remained dry for the whole week, even though rain clouds frequently swirled around us in the incessantly strong wind. This meant that every time some cloud blocked the sun, we were immediately chilled to an uncomfortable level. The locals told us that they were unused to such a strong wind chill and they demonstrated this by wrapping themselves up in thick pullovers or even fleeces. Despite this, it was actually warm enough for us to sunbathe whenever the clouds kept out of the way of the sun’s rays. It was the evenings that were really chilly. Without the sun, the wind blew from the north between force five and force seven, leaving us no option but to eat dinner inside every night.
Although a constant cold, northerly wind of this strength is an unusual phenomenon in the Canary islands, February and March are often more likely to experience cooler weather than December or January. When this happens, exposed areas on or near to the northern coasts are best avoided. Throughout most of our wind blasted week in Charco De Palo, the southern Lanzarote resort of Playa Blanca was enjoying much calmer and sunnier conditions. Despite this we loved Charco De Palo and will return there one day, keeping in mind our own travel tip and going later in the year.