Island hopping in the Canary Islands: the complete guide

Precious drops in the ocean!

The Canary Islands are the perfect destination for island hopping. The archipelago is famous for its diverse landscapes, amazing beaches, volcanic terrain, and exceptional culture. Read our complete 2023 guide with island hopping suggestions for the Canaries and start planning your trip with Ferryhopper.

The rocky viewpoint of Mirador Playa de Benijo in Tenerife, Spain

The beautiful coast of Tenerife, perfect for swimming or surfing

Canary Islands: travel information and tips

The Canary Islands belong to Spain and are located in the Atlantic Ocean, opposite Morocco. The best time to visit the Canary Islands is from April to October, but their warm weather means it’s great to visit throughout the year! So, if you're thinking of visiting the archipelago during the winter or for your Christmas break, we guarantee you'll love it!

There are a total of 8 major islands and more smaller islands, and islets to explore. The smallest of the Canary Islands is La Graciosa, while the largest island is Tenerife. The archipelago has 2 capitals: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.

Here are the major islands of the Canary archipelago:

  • Tenerife
  • Lanzarote
  • Fuerteventura
  • El Hierro
  • La Graciosa
  • Gran Canaria
  • La Palma
  • La Gomera

Tip: one of the best times to visit the Canary Islands is in February, when the famous Carnival of Santa Cruz takes place.

Road among the volcanic landscape in El Hierro, Spain

Driving among the volcanoes on the island of El Hierro

How many days do you need in the Canary Islands?

We recommend that you stay for at least 1 week in the Canary Islands to get a feel for the culture and the extraordinary landscape. Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria are perfect for a longer vacation too. In case you only visit the Canaries for a short vacation break, you can stay on one of the smaller islands, like La Graciosa, El Hierro, La Palma, or La Gomera.

The Spanish archipelago is a diverse destination with many holiday options. If you want to fully experience the local culture and to visit many impressive landscapes, you can travel by ferry between the islands.

Your island-hopping extravaganza in the Canary Islands can last from a single day to a whole summer!

Why are they called the Canary Islands?

The name “Canary Islands” literally means “islands of dogs”, deriving from the Latin phrase “canariae insulae”. The island group owes its name to the dog breeds found on the islands since ancient times.

As for yellow canaries, there might be some (why not?), but there's no connection to the name of the archipelago.

Tip: want to introduce your doggo to a local Canarian breed? Learn how to travel by ferry in Spain with your pet.

Canarian hound on a beach in Lanzarote, Spain

Canarian hound enjoying a sunny day on the beach in Lanzarote

Island hopping and ferry travel in the Canary Islands

Traveling by ferry in the Canary Islands is easy. There are frequent ferry connections between all the islands. You can catch a ferry throughout the year, and go island hopping with one of the following ferry companies:

How do you get around the Canary Islands?

You can get around the Canary Islands by ferry or plane. There are 8 major airports and more than 16 large ports.

The main transport hubs of the Canary Islands are Tenerife and Gran Canaria. From these 2 islands, you can travel by ferry to the whole archipelago.

Ferry routes in the Canary Islands

There are several routes to choose from when it comes to getting around the Canary Islands. Have a look at some of the most popular crossings below and find more info about ferry routes between the ports of the Canaries.

  • From Gran Canaria to Fuerteventura: there are up to 5 daily ferry crossings from Gran Canaria to Fuerteventura. Tickets start at around €47, and the journey duration ranges from 2 to 7 hours.
  • From Lanzarote to La Graciosa: the Lanzarote - La Graciosa ferry route is available with 16 daily crossings on average. It takes 25 minutes to reach La Graciosa and tickets are €15.
  • From Tenerife to La Gomera: the Tenerife - La Gomera ferry crossing takes place at least 5 times daily. The journey duration is 50 minutes to 1 hour and tickets start at around €43.
  • From Lanzarote to Fuerteventura: ferries from Lanzarote to Fuerteventura are in operation daily with several crossings. The cheapest ferry tickets to Fuerteventura are €17.50. The trip takes around 25-35 minutes.

Have a look here for more information about ferry schedules in Spain in 2023.

Tip: you can also get to the Canary Islands by ferry from mainland Spain. There are regular routes departing from the ports of Huelva and Cádiz. Read about the mainland Spain - Tenerife ferry schedules for example.

Naviera Armas ferry sailing in the Canary Islands, Spain

The Naviera Armas ferry on the route from Tenerife to Fuerteventura

Popular island-hopping itineraries for the Canary Islands

There are many ways to explore the Canary Islands. Whether you’re in the archipelago for a short time or you’re having a multi-week vacation, it is worth visiting some of the beautiful islands.

Here are some island-hopping suggestions by the Ferryhopper Team:

One-day island-hopping in the Canary Islands

The Canary island group is great for short island-hopping trips, as there are many islands and islets with frequent ferry crossings. Some of the best short trips are: Lanzarote - Fuerteventura and Lanzarote - La Graciosa.

Lanzarote - Fuerteventura island hopping

For a single-day island-hopping excursion, you can catch the ferry from Lanzarote to Fuerteventura. Lanzarote is a beautiful island, great for relaxing holidays and endless exploration.

Before you hop on the ferry to Fuerteventura, make sure you visit the national park of Timanfaya with its impressive lunar-like hills and swim at one of the magical beaches in the south, such as Papagayo.

Volcano at the Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote, Spain

Breathtaking volcano at the Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote

To get to Fuerteventura, you need to catch the ferry from the port of Playa Blanca on the southern coast of the island. There are at least 20 daily crossings from Playa Blanca to the port of Corralejo in Fuerteventura. The sailing duration is really short, just 25-35 minutes, and it’s ideal for island hopping. Also, tickets to Fuerteventura from Lanzarote start at around €17.

We recommend you start your island-hopping trip around 08:30 to make the most of it! Once you arrive at the port of Corralejo, you will find yourself on a beautiful beach, where you can have your first quick swim. From the port, you can be in the Corralejo Natural Park in 10 minutes by car. Walk among impressive sand dunes and admire the view of the ocean.

Continue your trip by visiting the capital, Puerto del Rosario. Explore the local markets, grab a quick coffee and snacks, and head to the beach of Castillo in Caleta de Fuste.

After a few relaxing moments, you can start driving to the southernmost part of the island. Pass by impressive landscapes, until you reach the Natural Park of Jandía, where you can hike among green hills, rocky beaches and sand dunes. 

Make your way inland and try delicious papas arrugadas and majorero cheese at the village of Antigua. Explore the island’s towns and villages such as La Oliva and Lajares, before driving further north to the famous Popcorn Beach, where you can take amazing photos with the popcorn-like rhodoliths. This would be your final stop before getting back to the port of Corralejo to catch the last ferry at 20:00.

Tip: if you prefer to stay on the northern part of the island, you can catch a boat from Corralejo to the islet of Lobos, a destination of great natural beauty, just 15 minutes away from Fuerteventura.

Extra tip: with so many ferry crossings, you can always return to Fuerteventura the following day. Surfers, in particular, will love riding the waves at one of the best surf spots in the Canaries: the Bubble.

The Morro Jable lighthouse in Fuerteventura, Spain

The Morro Jable lighthouse on the Jandía peninsula in Fuerteventura

Lanzarote - La Graciosa island hopping

The ferry route from Lanzarote to La Graciosa is one of the best island-hopping adventures you can try in the Canaries! The two islands are frequently connected and are very close. Also, island-hopping tickets are only €15 one-way with Líneas Romero and Biosfera Express.

So, head to the port of Órzola in Lanzarote and catch the 08:30 ferry to La Graciosa! The crossing only takes 25 minutes and, even though you cannot take your vehicle to La Graciosa, there are several transportation options on the island.

Once you reach La Graciosa, you will realize it is quite different from the rest of the Canaries, as it is very quiet and almost entirely untamed. We recommend that you focus on the outdoor exploration of the island, visit its majestic beaches, go hiking, enjoy the sunset from one of the awe-inspiring hills, and go on a jeep safari as well!

4x4 vehicles take visitors around the island to explore the must-see spots of La Graciosa, such as the Las Conchas beach and the Amarilla Mountain. You can also try snorkeling, diving and cycling!

Our favorite activity in La Graciosa is going on a boat tour around its coast. So, if you have enough time before you catch the last ferry back to Lanzarote which is usually around 19:00, hop on a boat and try to catch a glimpse of the magnificent dolphins that hang around this magical part of the Atlantic Ocean.

Tip: La Cocina beach is one of the most popular spots for dolphin-watching in La Graciosa.

Boat arriving at La Cocina beach in La Graciosa, Spain

The unspoilt beach of La Cocina in La Graciosa

Multi-day island hopping in the Canary Islands

The Canary group consists of large and small islands with impressive nature and beautiful sites. There’s something for everyone in the Canaries. From family-friendly attractions and calm beaches to extreme water sports and hardcore hiking, each island has a special tapestry of experiences.

Find some of the best multi-day island hopping trip suggestions in the Canary Islands below.

La Palma - La Gomera - Tenerife island hopping

For an extended island-hopping trip, you can travel by ferry from the island of La Palma to La Gomera and then catch the ferry from the port of La Gomera to Tenerife. In La Palma, you can hike along the impressive Volcano Route, go scuba-diving in Cancajos and visit the old town of Santa Cruz.

Volcanic mountain peak above the clouds in La Palma, Spain

Hiking among volcanoes on the island of La Palma

Start your island-hopping vacation by catching a ferry from the port of Santa Cruz in La Palma to San Sebastián in La Gomera early in the morning. You’ll arrive in La Gomera in a little less than 4 hours. The port of San Sebastián is located on the eastern coast of the island.

The black-sand beach of San Sebastián near the port is a worthy first stop right after you drop off your luggage at the hotel. Enjoy the clear waters and head to the city center for a delicious meal or a short walk around the town. The Torre del Conde Park is one of the best parks in the Canary Islands.

La Gomera is an adventure-lover’s paradise, so you should visit some of the impressive natural sites, such as the Garajonay National Park and the Roques viewpoint. This is one of the best places to admire the ocean view and take amazing photos with a beautiful background.

Follow the island’s trails either by bike or on foot, and get to witness the grandeur of nature in an untouched landscape. For the thrill-enthusiasts out there, there are also whale-watching and horse-riding centers!

Mountain view from Alto de Garajonay in La Gomera, Spain

Hiking to Alto de Garajonay, the highest point on the island of La Gomera

You’ll need at least 3 days to explore the whole island, before catching the ferry to Tenerife. There are around 5-6 daily crossings between La Gomera and Tenerife, so there is a lot of flexibility for you to plan your trip.

We recommend catching the ferry from San Sebastián to Los Cristianos. The port of Los Cristianos is on the southern coast of the island and the journey duration is less than 1 hour.

While in Tenerife, make sure you visit some of the most majestic beaches. El Duque, Antequera and San Marcos are some of our favorite coves on the island. You can go hiking, visit the Siam Water Park and play golf at one of the golf courses. The Teide National Park and the Orotava Valley are surely worth a visit. You will be amazed by the incredible natural landscapes of the island.

If you want to experience the local way of life and taste amazing food, you can spend a morning browsing the Mercado Municipal Nuestra Señora de Africa in Santa Cruz. This amazing local market has everything you need for a great day in the capital: cafes, bars, shops, and traditional products.

You’ll need at least 5 days to explore the island of Tenerife. From there, you can catch a flight back home or travel by ferry to Huelva and Cádiz in mainland Spain.

A sign in Antequera beach, Tenerife, Spain

The remote beach of Antequera on the northern coast of Tenerife

Useful tips about island hopping in the Canary Islands

Here are some useful travel tips about island hopping in the Canary Islands:

  1. We recommend that you drive or rent a vehicle when going island hopping in the Canary Islands. Although public transportation is good on most of the islands, a private vehicle gives you freedom to explore every hidden spot.
  2. Island hopping in the Canaries is all about nature exploration and amazing landscapes. Bring your best hiking shoes to walk comfortably among the hilltops and volcanoes.
  3. One-day island hopping is great if you’re short on time. Make sure you bring enough water and snacks for the whole group; you'll surely feel hungry spending a whole day on the road.
  4. One of the best ideas for island hopping in the Canary archipelago is to plan your trip so that you fly back home from the last island-hopping stop of your itinerary.
  5. Most of the islands have multiple ports, where you can catch a ferry. Make sure you find accommodation close to the port of departure to minimize traveling time.
  6. For the latest 2023 ferry schedules in the Canaries, follow the Ferryhopper updates!

Book island hopping tickets for the Canary Islands online

On Ferryhopper, you can easily book island-hopping tickets for the Canary Islands. Find all the information you need about available ferry routes on Ferryhopper’s Map of ferries, compare ferry companies and itineraries, and plan your trip in the Canaries with confidence.