HalalBooking guide to halal-friendly holidays on the Canary Islands
The Canary islands are an archipelago which floats off the west coast of Morocco and the western Sahara, benefitting from the African sunshine and a mild temperate breeze, courtesy of the Atlantic Ocean, all year round. Researchers have awarded the Canary Islands the title of ‘the best climate in the world’. In the colder seasons, temperatures average a temperate 19°C, with highs reaching 26°C! The Canary Islands are perfect for halal travellers who desire a sunshine holiday any season of the year.
These islands have lived on the periphery of the Muslim world for centuries. The history of Islam on these fabled islands trails back to Moorish labourers, Muslim Mauritanians, Saharans and Moroccans working in the textile trade and more recently, at the turn of the 20th century, an increased Arab migration to the Islands. The islands have had many names in the Islamic imagination such as ‘Juzur al-Shadat’ (‘Fortunate Islands’) and Eternal Islands (Juzur al-Jalidat). We hope that fortunate encounters and eternal joy are exactly what you can experience on the islands!
You can find a wonderful array of accommodation on HalalBooking.com to use as a base whilst you explore these islands. It may be worth booking accommodation on different islands for an island-hopping holiday.
How to get there?
A popular destination all year round, there are flights from the UK and most other European centres direct to the islands throughout the year - check for low-cost carriers and other airlines flying from your local airport. The flight from the UK takes around 4 hours and transfer times on the islands are generally short, making it a convenient short-stay destination. It is also possible to reach the Canaries by ferry with a minimum of 4 ferry journeys from Spain per week, as well as regular ferry crossings from mainland Morocco.
Car rental is an easy, cost-effective and accessible way to explore the islands. There are car rental agencies available at the airports, island centres as well as at the numerous ferry ports.
The Canary Islands are a unique destination to add to your Europe and Africa Tour. Likewise, travellers from the Northern Hemisphere can find themselves on the African continent, within a couple of hours, far away from the cold seasons and in time for a Canarian lunch overlooking the sea.
The islands and their characters
The archipelago is a family of 7 islands known as Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The rest of this fascinating archipelago is completed with a host of smaller islands, islets and rocky outcrops. Despite being a family, each isle has its own set of characteristics.
The most known and visited, Tenerife is the big boss of the island family. It’s geographical diversity fosters sandy beaches; micro-climates surrounding the active Teide Volcano, the 3rd tallest volcano in the world; and diverse valleys with deep set ravines of azure streams. The Teide National park is a natural reserve suitable for most types of travellers. Drive around the reserve with a rental car, ride the 8 minute cable car up the volcano or walk up the live volcano at your own pace. The altitude permits a spectacular view of the Saharan and Atlantic sky.
Gran Canaria is an island for the versatile traveller with opportunities for culture, nature and water adventures. A trip down culture lane takes you to a traditional pueblo Canario (Canarian village), where you may stumble across neo-gothic architecture. However, just a few feet away lie urban beaches and the opportunity for panoramic star-gazing at the top of the Gran Canaria rock.
Fuerteventura & Lanzarote
These two Islands experience the hottest weather due to their Eastern proximity to the African continent. The beaches of Lanzarote are characterised by their dark volcanic sand. The sand on Lanzarote and Fuerteventura was imported from the Sahara.The beaches attract both sunseekers and surfers. Lanzarote is also home to dormant volcanoes and fascinating lava fields, which are well worth exploring. These islands are best for getting away from it all, soaking up the sun, enjoying the sea and exploring nature.
EL Hierro, La Gomera & La Palma
These three islands are the least explored by tourists, allowing for a more authentic and serene experience. The less-touristy nature of these islands means it is impossible to miss the natural volcanic remains on these islands: black volcanic cliffs contrasted against deep blues and palm trees denoting a tropical touch are unspoiled. The historic architecture is untouched and an opportunity to understand the colonial empire, which Spain once possessed. These islands can be reached by cheap flights from the bigger islands or by ferry trips . La Gomera looks like a dystopian tropical haven, La Palma, a stargazing sight of wonders and El Hierro, a beautiful isle composed of the magic of volcanic minerals.
Halal food and restaurants on the Canary Islands
Don’t worry, the Arab migration of the 60s, Moroccan heritage and the interchange of culture on the Island has left a heritage of food suitable for Muslims.
Immigration from the Levant region in the 60s catalysed a halal restaurant food scene rooted in Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian cuisine. Restaurante Libanes Los Cedros, Las Palmas and Restaurante Libanes Beirut, Gran Canaria are among the most famous Levantine restaurants on the Canary Islands.
The proximity of Morocco to the Canaries, means that there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy wholesome Moroccan delicacies on the islands. Check out Marhaba Restaurant, Las Palmas and Hookah Restaurante, Fuerteventura.
It should come as no surprise that due to the huge influx of British tourists, Indian restaurants are not hard to find. A holiday on an archipelago caused by volcanic eruptions could not be complete without the explosion of Indian flavour available at Taj Palace III, Gran Canaria and Taste of India, Gran Canaria .
The influences of the Mediterranean can still be found in the form of Turkish, Spanish and Italian cuisine across the islands. Benim Kebab & Cafe provides turkish classics in Tenerife and Label Lounge, a mixture of Mediterranean cuisine is available in Gran Canaria.
Halal Canary Island Specialities
The Canaries, just like their Spanish motherland, are known for their love of meaty and alcoholic food. If you wish to be cautious it is advised to check that the food is vegetarian with ‘la comida vegetariana’ and non-alcoholic with ‘sin alcohol’.
Those who love fish and seafood are in luck - it is perfectly possible to forego meat and chicken on your stay in the Canary islands. Instead enjoy the wide variety of seafood dishes including meaty swordfish, exotic parrot fish, organic tuna and buttery sea bass.
Mojo picón - The Canary islands are known for Mojo Picon, a delicious explosion of flavour, this spicy sauce is a mix of garlic, olive oil, red or green pepper, cumin, salt and vinegar. Perfect as a side to any dish including fish or chips, if you fancy.
Anything Potatoes - This may come as a surprise, but potatoes grown in volcanic soil are unlike your run off the mill British potatoes. The minerals and vitamins of the soil develop a complex taste to Canarian potatoes.
Almogrote - This sauce is one for cheese and chilli fans, this sauce blends left-over matured cheese, hot pepper and paprika to create a dip to flavour everything savoury.
Bienmesabe - This dessert is for tourists with a sweet-tooth. Spanish almond cream offset by a zesty lemon, this ancient dessert is believed to have Moorish origins and a very famous place in Canarian cuisine. Remember to ask if the variant is ‘sin alcohol’ since the Islamic roots have been adapted by some.
Mosques and prayer facilities on the Canary Islands
The Islamic Federation of the Canary Islands has endorsed 40 mosques across the islands. This guarantees halal travellers with a place to pray wherever they are. A lot of the mosques have been funded and maintained by the Muslim inhabitants of the Canary islands, a powerful collective of Canarian converts and Muslim migrants.
Las Palmas Mosque
Built in the early 1980s and funded by a Saudi Arabian, Las Palmas mosque was the first mosque established in the city of Las Palmas. The mosque is an impressive structure with a theme of green and white and worth the visit as a place of worship and example of modern Muslim architecture.
Founded in Los Cristianos, where the headquarters of the Islamic federation of the Canary islands is also found, the Tenerife Mosque was built in the early 1990s.
Although this place is a Lebanese restaurant/cafe, the owners are gracious enough to offer a prayer room at any time, upon request.
Imam Malik Mosque
This mosque was founded by the considerable Maghrebi community who follow the Maliki school of thought. This mosque offers all the comforting simplicities needed in a mosque.
Beaches and watersport on the Canary Islands
Water caves - Experience fascinating escapades where volcano rock meets the sea: Cueva De La Reina Mora, Monumento Natural de Ajuy and Los Hervideros are just a few remarkable water cave locations.
Take a boat trip - Sailing from island to island will give you the unique opportunity to observe the volcanic remains and dive in the sea. Fuerteventura to Lobos Island, Charco Azule on El Hierro and whale watching on La Gomera are a few options to experience.
Beaches - The choices for beaches on these Islands are endless, but here are some notable family-friendly ones. It is worth noting that topless sunbathing for women is common on the islands, which may be disturbing to halal-conscious visitors.
El Cotillo, Fuerteventura - Lagoons, rock pools and kid-friendly beach
El Medano, Tenerife - A family-friendly beach.
Maspalomas, Gran Canaria - Family safaris are available on the sandy dunes of this desert beach.
Costa Teguise, Lanzarote - Laid-back beaches, shallow waters for children and water-sports are available.
Surfing - Whether you are a beginner or expert, the best surfing beaches are on the beaches of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
Hiking and nature
Cueva de los Verdes - On the island of Lanzarote, shows and performances are held in a mysterious tube cave created by volcano lava.
Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote - After you survive what are known as the Mountains of Fire, try the unique experience of eating a meal cooked over the volcanic heat at El Diablo Restaurant.
Tenerife’s Teide National Park, Mount Teide - Home to the third tallest volcano, explore the area and enjoy the stunning panoramic views.
Caldera de Taburiente National Park on La Palma- This National park is famous for its ‘sea of clouds’ and impressive views.
Shopping on the Canary Islands
Biosfera Plaza Shopping and Leisure Centre, Lanzarote - A family friendly shopping experience in an open shopping mall with a soft play and golf area.
La Villa Centro Comercial, La Orotava, Tenerife - You can shop for all your requirements here with stops for ice cream and designer bags.
Centro Comercial El Mirador, Costa Adeje, Tenerife - A luxurious shopping mall with global and national brands only a few metres away from the beach.
Pueblo Canario, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - A traditional experience, this shopping village is inspired by Canarian architecture and sells artisanal handicrafts. Traditional music and dance shows are run every week.