Sailing in the Canaries

The Canary Islands’ strategic location and favourable trade winds have given rise to a long and illustrious nautical history and the islands have always been an important port of call on transatlantic voyages – Christopher Columbus even stopped here during his expedition to the New World. Nowadays, many sailing rallies and races stop off in the Canaries, considering it an easy and safe place for provisioning, repairs and maintenance.

The Canaries are increasingly becoming known as one of the best sailing grounds in the world. A growing number of yachtsmen are choosing to relocate here as it gives them the option to use their boats more regularly and discover a new cruising area of unspoilt natural beauty, exploring the unique characteristics of each of the islands, in uncrowded waters. As an offshore training ground, these waters offer significant benefits with a range of accessible conditions, constant supply of breeze, low tidal range and training possibilities just outside the marina. Many Volvo Ocean Teams have chosen to train in Lanzarote benefiting from the dry, gentle climate to be able to sail whenever they wish and of course proceed with a maintenance programme whenever necessary.

By dint of their location, the depth of water and the rich, nutritious currents feeding this area, together with the protection provided by the islands, the Canaries are home to an extraordinary abundance of sea-life and on shore, a marvellous array of flora and fauna. The archipelago is famous for the sheer number of endemic species identified here and such a wealth has helped to create the level of ecological protection for which this area is known.

It is common to see huge schools of bottle-nosed dolphin and pods of pilot whales and happen suddenly upon large turtles serenely sunning themselves belly-up. The craggy rocks provide great nesting opportunities for osprey, shearwater and petrels with egrets, herons and hawks frequently seen across the islands.

More pelagic varieties of sea-life include the great whales, a dramatic sight and often surprisingly close to land during late spring. The yearly pursuit of tiny fish and sardines by iridescent tuna, accompanied by monstrous cetaceans is a truly privileged spectacle.

To help with a sailing trip around the islands, download the latest Canarian Ports and Marinas Guide.