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Sailing in the Western Canaries - La Gomera, La Palma, Tenerife, El Hierro

The Western Canaries has become a favorite sailing ground for the tall ships of Europe. The deep waters, mix of windy acceleration zones and calm seas in the lee of high volcanic cliffs provide great sailing for all levels of experience from beginner to experienced sailor. The warm temperatures and reliable winter sun, a chance to swim in the ocean, climb the rigging or walk in pine covered mountains often make a winter sailing holiday here in the Canaries a great alternative to ski-ing or other active winter holidays.

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Why we love this sailing ground

Lush Atlantic Outposts

Forget any preconceptions you may have about the Canary Islands. Tenerife is a good launching pad to visit the Western Isles of La Palma, La Gomera and El Heirro and the best way to island hop is on a live aboard sailing ship. There are many cheap package flights to Tenerife. You will see the real beauty of the Canaries archipelago and the people that live there. Unlike the wierd and wonderful volcanic and desert landscapes of some of the Eastern Isles these have green and verdant vegetation if you know where to look, and brilliant mountain walking.

Winter sunshine, a variety of wind strengths & bright stars

As a winter sailing destination there are many attractions:- the sunshine with typical average temperatures of 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) in January; good prevailing winds; and located on the migration trail for dolphins and whales. There are wind accelerations zones where the wind blasts between the mountainous islands, and quieter areas closer inshore.

Exploration ashore with your shipmates

There is nothing to beat being the main event as you come into a new harbour. Sailing is not only about arriving but also the chance to have a look around ashore. You will have this opportunity and sometimes a group tour can be organised in a minibus. There would need to be an additional charge for this. The permanent crew have ideas on the best things to see ashore, a beach BBQ or meal ashore might be proposed.  Car hire is also quite check if you fancy the switch back roads and tunnels on la Gomera.

Georgia on Bessie Ellen in La Gomera port

Sailing in Tenerife - Mount Teide as your Mountain Backdrop

Tenerife’s Mount Teide is actually the highest mountain in Europe and forms part of a large National Park with walks and nature trails. It is easy to organise a day trip from Santa Cruz to Mount Teide if you are so inclined. There are other walks in the north west of the islands where you can walk on sign posted paths from one village to another. 

Grayhound Anchored off the Canaries


Mardi Gras on Tenerife

No mention of Santa Cruz is complete without mention of the two week Mardi Gras or Carnaval Celebrations at the beginning of lent each year. Under the dictatorship of Franco Spain was not allowed to hold Mardi Gras Carnivals but little old Tenerife out beyond the mainland somehow got away with it. As a result a lot of Spanish managed to holiday in Tenerife at the right time of year causing the Festival to grow and grow. The Santa Cruz Carnival has genuinely become 2nd only Rio de Janeiro.

La Gomera for Sailing with Pilot Whales

This round little island hides many of its assets from the casual observer and to appreciate its full value you need to venture inland. La Gomera has many splendid walks and the north west of the islands is a lot greener than the rest with terracing and banana plantations.  The port of La Gomera San Sebastian has a small marina and an intriguing Yacht Club situated through a tunnel in a large cave adjoining a beach.
Also on the island  of La Gomera is the Parque Nacional de Garajonay. A park, listed on the World Heritage Site by UNESCO, with one of the oldest natural forests in the world. 

Between La Gomera and Tenerife is a regula breeding ground for pilot whales

Sail to La Palma—nature lovers and walkers island

La Palma, La Isla Bonita, is indeed “the beautiful island”, also known as flower island. The port of Santa Cruz, La Palma, has much old world charm and sitting outside a bar is a delight. We do recommend that you take a tour of this island to visit its verdant forest, huge Caldera now full of pine forest and trails, sherry making and volcanic sites. our crews have even been in the church for Christmas Eve.

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