The Canary Islands also know as 'the Canaries' is a volcanic archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa 100km west of the Sahara. The southern coast of Spain lies 1,120km south. Las Palmas comprises the islands of Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is made up of Tenerife, La Palma, Gomera and Hierro. All the islands are of volcanic origin and the climate is subtropical. The landscape is varied, and includes mountain ranges, valleys, deserts, cliffs, craters and forests. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union. Gran canaria is the third largest and second most populated of the islands. It is a mountainous island rising to a high point in the centre of the island at 1949 metres. Gran Canaria is sometimes referred to as a "Miniature Continent" due to the different climates and variety of landscapes found here. With long beaches and dunes of white sand, contrasting with green ravines, rocky peaks and picturesque villages, the island has become both a sought after tourist destination and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which is no mean feat.
Electric Supply and Plugs
The electrity supply is AC 220v at 50HZ. Plugs are the standard 'Euro' plug with two round pins
The time in Gran Canaria is the same as GMT (UTC) in winter and DST (+ 1 hour) is used in Summer.
The language of the Canary Islands is Spanish. The majority of people will speak some English but it is a good idea to bring a phrasebook or dictionary and learn common some greetings.
Summer sunshine is guaranteed on all the islands. At other times of year however El Hierro and La Palma can be cool, with a west European spring-like climate. Gran Canaria has a north-south divide with parched southern shores and cooler, slightly wetter northern climes. However, by European standards rainfall is low throughout the islands.
The unit of currency throughout Spain is the Euro. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com. You should take some euros with you on your holiday to the Canary Islands. These are readily available at most banks. If you run out of euros, dollars and sterling (cash or travellers cheques) can easily be exchanged once you are on holiday although not every bank will provide this service. Credit and debit cards can be used widely and you will also be able to obtain currency at cash machines (ATM's) in the usual way.
A passport with 3 months remaining validity is required. Visas are not required by holders of passports from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or any EU countries. Other nationalities should check with the Spanish Consulate in their own country.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. No special vaccinations are required for the Canary Islands. UK residents should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your holiday, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you will be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care. You can obtain an EHIC from the Department of Health by phone, online, or at the post office.