Sustainable outdoor activities in the Canary Islands

England is going into lockdown again on Thursday for a minimum of four weeks.  We were just getting some sort of normality back and even managed a four day break to Devon which really helped to refresh our minds to see some different scenery for a few days!

Right now our travel plans are on hold, again, but that doesn’t stop us thinking about where we’d like to travel once we get some sort of normality back.

It’s our ten year anniversary next year so it will be the perfect time to celebrate with a family holiday.  One of the easiest places to travel to from England with great weather all year round is the Canary Islands.

I’ve been to Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Fuerteventura for package/beach holidays, but I’m keen to return for a slightly different sort of trip next time.

We are keen to find our own accommodation via Airbnb if we can to support the local residents directly.  We’ll hire a car so we can explore more of what the islands have to offer. 

I’ve been researching ecotourism and sustainable tourism outdoor activities in the Canary Islands for some healthy outdoor activity ideas that support the local environment.

If you want to skip the crowded hotels and all-day English breakfasts, then here are some great suggestions to inspire a healthier and more sustainable holiday.

Cascada De los Tilos
Cascada De los Tilos – Canva

Take a waterfall walk

My trip to Gran Canaria was with my husband Ben for a babymoon!  It was before we had our first child and also our first holiday abroad together.

Our favourite part of the trip was an island tour that showed us the different landscapes across the island.  It is said to have microclimates as there are areas of the island which are dry, sandy and volcanic as you expect in the Canary Islands, but other parts of the island get a lot of rainfall and are rich in vegetation and so green.

Enjoy a hike and search for a beautiful Gran Canaria waterfall in the island’s luscious flora.  Cascada De los Tilos is voted the best waterfall to visit according to reviewers on Trip Advisor, but only when there has been rainfall.  In the summer seasons the waterfalls may not be as powerful.

There’s nothing more magical than finding a stunning waterfall and feeling the power of nature!

Lanzarote 2011

Climb a volcano

I absolutely love the volcanic landscape of the islands and Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park is the perfect place to experience their beauty up close.  The otherworldly volcanic landscape covers a quarter of Lanzarote!

Sadly when I went in my mid-twenties I took a camel ride along part of the volcano as part of a tour package.  I wouldn’t do this again as I don’t believe it’s fair on the animals to be traipsing up and down the volcano all day carrying tourists!  It doesn’t sit right with me anymore to use animals in this way.

Sadly you can’t roam freely around Timanfaya, but included in the entry fee is a coach tour along a winding road with spectacular views, that is closed to public traffic.

Or, instead, it’s much healthier to explore the volcano on foot!

Get some exercise, leave the animals alone and see the volcano on your own two feet!  This is how I plan to explore the volcano when the children are old enough.

The Spanish Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs offer free guided walks for those aged 16 years and over through Timanafaya National Park.  There’s more information about the walks at

Many of the other islands have volcanoes and there are lots of guided walks, some with fees, so you can find the perfect one.

Go whale watching (responsibly)

Absolutely avoid going to zoos like Loro Parque and funding keeping whales in captivity.  Instead, visit animals responsibly in their natural habitats with companies like OCEANO Whale Watching. 

They organise small group trips to see whales and dolphins in their natural habitats.  They aim to educate and inform, not coop up animals and make them perform tricks for you!

Using Canarian fishing boats they keep at a distance and follow the international whale watching guidelines.  They combine scientific research with taking a small number of tourists to respectfully experience these magnificent creatures without causing harm.

Tenerife Horse Rescue and animal sanctuary

If you love animals and want to do something really good, then consider a holiday at Tenerife Horse Rescue.  This is a non-profit set up to rescue horses, and other animals, to provide them with a safe home to live out their lives.

They do not offer horse riding or work the animals in any way at all.  It is a peaceful sanctuary where their goal is to rescue and look after the animals.

You can volunteer at the site if you have skills to help them, or you can book their cave house or yurt for your holiday with 100% of your holiday costs going to the charity to fund their important rescue work.

Stargazing in Tenerife

Stargazing in Tenerife

GuiaNatura Ecotourism offer visitors the chance to explore the wild environments of Tenerife whilst “preserving nature, culture and local populations”.

Your astronomical guide will take you to watch the sunset and to the highest point to stargaze and explore the universe.

Wildsea marine ecotourism

Wildsea offer a variety of marine ecotourism activities in the Canary Islands from surf to scuba diving and snorkelling to kayaking.

If you love getting in the water, then do it responsibly with a tour operator who has respect for the ocean and whose mission is “empowering small, local businesses of coastal communities, supporting sustainable livelihoods, enhancing ocean literacy through citizen science and preserving our marine ecosystems.”

From responsibly exploring the natural landscape, seeing animals in the wild and partaking in responsible water activities, there are lots of healthy outdoor adventures to be had with sustainability in mind in the Canary Islands.

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ecotourism activities canary islands
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