Which Are the Canary Islands?

The 7 Canary Islands

The seven main islands of the Canaries are the following, ordered from north-east to south-west:

  • Lanzarote – the one closest to Europe / first in the north-east; the one with the craziest volcanic landscapes
  • Fuerteventura – the one closest to Africa, south of Lanzarote and north-east of Gran Canaria; the windy one; the one with the best/largest white/gold sand beaches (the sand is blown here from Africa)
  • Gran Canaria – the second most popular by tourists behind Tenerife, approximately the same population as Tenerife but much smaller surface area; the one with the capital Las Palmas
  • Tenerife – the biggest one by surface area, population and tourist activity; the one with Mt. Teide, the highest mountain of the Canary Islands and the entire Spain; the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife shares the status of Canary Islands capital with the better known Las Palmas of Gran Canaria
  • La Gomera – the smaller island to the south-west of Tenerife, which you can see from Tenerife’s popular south coast resorts
  • La Palma – the one to the north-west of Tenerife, which you can see from parts of Tenerife’s north-west coast
  • El Hierro – the one furthest in the south-west; the smallest one; the quietest one

Canary Islands Map

Among the seven main islands, most of tourist activity is concentrated on the four busiest islands – particularly Tenerife and also Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. The three other islands (La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro) have significantly fewer direct flight connections from Europe and therefore are much quieter, although this has been slowly changing in the recent years.

Smaller Canary Islands

Besides the seven main islands there are several smaller islands and islets. Most of them are situated north of Lanzarote and form the so called Chinijo Archipelago, with the exception of Isla de Lobos, which is south of Lanzarote and closer to Fuerteventura. Most of the small islands don’t have much infrastructure, airports or even permanent population, but some may be accessed by boat as day trips from the larger islands.

  • La Graciosa – the only inhabited island of the small ones and the smallest inhabited island of the Canaries with population of about 650 (sometimes it is listed as “the eighth Canary Island”); less than 2km from the north-west coast of Lanzarote
  • Montana Clara – north-west of La Graciosa; the name means light-coloured mountain
  • Alegranza – second biggest of the small islands, further to the north from La Graciosa
  • Roque del Este – really just a rock in the ocean; the name means the Rock of the East
  • Roque del Oeste – same as above, the Rock of the West; the alternative name is Roque del Infierno, the Rock of Hell
  • Isla de Lobos – this one is situated between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura; a popular day trip destination particularly from Corralejo in the north of Fuerteventura