Yacht Charter The Canaries
A yacht charter around the Canary Islands is an experience you are unlikely to forget! With its stunning beauty and often adventurous sailing, a yachting holiday in the Canary Islands won't be forgotten any time soon.
Closer to Africa than Spain, the Canary Islands are an Atlantic Ocean tropical paradise where sailing is possible almost year-round.
Though on the discovery of the islands by the Romans in the 1st Century AD they recorded them as uninhabited, in the 15th Century when Spain rediscovered and claimed them for herself there were natives that lived a basic tribal lifestyle. The ''Guanches" were subjugated as so many other native populations facing European empires, and often not without a fight.
The islands have seen boom times and bust throughout the last six hundred years. There was mass emigration to the Caribbean and South America in the 18th Century as those Spanish colonies competed with them for manpower and industry, with an estimated 50,000 Canarians heading to the western reaches of the Spanish empire.
In the 1970s boom came back to the islands as General Franco opened them up to tourism for revenues. Lanzarote and Tenerife became bywords for cheap package holidays. Thankfully the artist and hero of the islands Cesar Manrique fought to conserve much of the natural jewels and colonial architecture against the rapaciousness of 'progress'.
From a yachting perspective, the Volvo Ocean race now starts from the islands and they are a sailor's paradise. The North-East Trade Winds are so reliable and steady that you won't want to leave the boat! A Canary Islands yacht charter is a fantastic way of getting about the Canaries sailing area - do bring your walking boots as from various ports and anchorages you can explore everything from tropical forest to volcanic moonscapes and even the highest mountain in Spain, Teide. Wine and local gastronomy are other favourite activities - the latter to refuel you from a blast at sea and a walk up a mountain, with the former to relax those aching muscles! Did we say sandy beaches? Whether black or white sand you're spoiled for choice.
Hiring A Yacht In the Canary Islands
As an autonomous region of Spain, you will find that luxury yacht charter in the Canaries is as easy as on the mainland.
On a bareboat charter, you will need the sailing licenses that qualified you to take the vessel out in the first place. You will pay the fee and after a walk around the vessel to ensure you know what's what and how it works (as well as any wear and tear) you can slip your lines and get out to feel those trade winds!
Don't forget to bring either yacht charter insurance or a credit card with enough space on it for a refundable deposit.
There are the same issues as a Spanish mainland yacht charter too - keep your paperwork handy as the Garda Civil like to ensure that everyone is legal in their waters and are known to check paperwork while at sea in spot checks.
While Africa is a day's sail from the islands we would recommend you stay within the archipelago as there is enough fun to be hard to get around and between the islands themselves! With a climate that is described as 'eternal springtime', you'll find that the sailing conditions are almost invariably perfect. While in Northern Europe you may remember one summer's day with the crew sitting on the windward rail with foot wide grins on their faces, this can be a bit routine when island hopping in the Canary Islands!
Getting to the Canaries
There are direct flights from several airports in the UK. There are five airports on the four main islands, and ferry links to the smaller inhabited islands beyond. Once in the country in most cases, you can take a bus to the marina. Taxis a lot more expensive and save you very little walking over catching a bus.
Let's look at the five airports.
Las Palmas (LPA): For acess to all Gran Canaria yacht charters.
La Palma (SPC): Not to be confused with the Gran Canaria airport! This is for La Palma island.
Lanzarote: For access to all Lanzarote yacht charters
Tenerife North (TFN): For the north of Tenerife
Tenerife South (TFS): For the south of the island.
Ferries: The islands of La Gomera and El Hieroo for example lack international airports but can be accessed by regular ferries and public transport,
Best Areas To Charter
The island with everything? Spain's highest mountain Tiede and its almost Moon-like terrain can be completely forgotten as you party til dawn at the Playa las Americas on the south of Tenerife. Black sandy beaches and high cliffs are other features, while just off the coast you will see Great Whales feeding off the plankton in the rich ocean currents.
Tenerife has some wild parties but you won't find them in Las Galletas. Northern Europeans are famous for going overboard but Southern Europeans can go on all night without the police being needed to keep the peace. Las Galletas is very Southern European! It is a fishing port with seafront restaurants serving food that will blow your mind, and you can do a tapas run late into the night without crazies causing you problems. To recover? Enjoy the volcanic beach - a perfect adult retreat.
A yachtie's paradise with a large marina on the NE coast in the lee of Tenerife, you will soon find the black sands of the Playa de la Nea a very hot but different attraction to those of other towns. The restaurants and bars are appealing with a variety on offer. A good port of entry to Tenerife if island hopping - but you could easily be absorbed by the refreshments inside and close to the marina.
Another volcanic island that last saw eruptions in the 18th Century, Lanzarote is one of those places with human and natural history that will beguile you and stay with you long into the future. Much of the island's current economy is tourism but there are gems - try popping by the volcanic Timanfaya National Park and the island's former capital of Teguise that hasn't been overrun with tourists in recent years.
The tourism and commercial centre of Lanzarote you can choose to come back to the boat at dawn or to be on deck fresh-faced at sunrise with just a decent coffee in your system. For those of the latter persuasion do visit the two colonial castles and the Charco de San Ginés saltwater lagoon in the centre of town. The museum of modern art could well be fun, as well as the fine dining and great wines.
A continent in miniature - lush forest in the northwest, desert in the south and mountains in the interior. Though the third largest island in the Canaries Gran Canaria is the most populous and one of the busiest tourist destinations of all. The different terrains have their own microclimates too, with mountain weather in the middle giving way to high heat in the wind shadow and to the north, perfect growing conditions for natural and agricultural flora.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
This is the cosmopolitan, beating heart of the island. For those who want tinnitus from music throbbing through their skulls, you won't be disappointed as some of the world's top DJ acts play the night away. Las Palmas does manage to be a party town without losing the plot as certain other tourist towns such as those in the Balearic Islands seem to have done. You can eat well and enjoy adult or family fun without getting stuck in the 18-30 crowd!
With Unesco Biosphere Reserve status, Fuerteventura is the nearest Canary Island to Africa and probably best described a 'desert island'. Its dry volcanic landscape dominates, and for those bored of its 150km of beautiful beaches, goats cheese and excellent cuisine you will soon find solace in the world-beating sailing and kite surfing conditions.
Best Towns To Charter A Yacht In the Canary Islands
Without a doubt one of the best marinas on the island, you can use it as a jumping-off point to head east to Gran Canaria or simply to explore the coast of the island itself. The best airport is Tenerife North.
Las Galletas, Tenerife
A chilled fishing port on the south of the island, Las Galettas could be used to explore the west coast or island-hop to La Gomera and beyond to Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The best airport is Tenerife South.
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
The main city of the island. Has its own airport. Good for island hopping west to Tenerife, exploring the island itself or east to Fuerteventura.
Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife
Lanzarote's main charter marina is in the capital of the island, Arrecife on the east coast of the island. This is a good spot for circumnavigating the island or heading to nearby Fuerteventura for its legendary sailing.
Santa Cruz, La Palma
On the east of La Palma and with access to the rest of the Canary Island chain is the capital of La Palma, Santa Cruz. This is a buzzing tourist town with its own airport. Sail from here to explore the island or head off to the other islands in the archipelago.
Tazacorte, La Palma
On the west of the island of La Palma near Tazacorte, you will find several marinas with yacht charters available. This is good for sailing around the island but for the more adventurous, heading east and island hopping to the other Canary Islands.
Types Of Yachts To Hire
Where it comes to charter yachts you can hire a motor cruiser, a monohull sailing yacht or a catamaran. Each has their benefits.
Motor Yacht Charter
A motorboat charter can be just the way to chill out and enjoy life afloat on a luxury yacht. The wind doesn't stop you from going too far in any direction as upwind or down you still have the 'D-sails' pushing you. Motorboats come in a variety of sizes but all are well-appointed, often with en suite toilets and showers in all the cabins. These can cost anything from €450 per day and up.
Monohull Sailing Yacht Charter
The Canary Islands are a sailing purist's wet dream so why not go the whole hog and have a blast on a luxury yacht that's as happy on a beat as it is on a run or reaches? Watch the crew with their foot wide grins on their faces, sitting on the windward rail as you blast along in near perfect sailing conditions! Always comfortable and fun to sail, the monohull yacht charter can be quite economical, costing as little as €120 per day.
Canary Island Catamaran Charter
Very comfortable and going like a scalded cat when the wind is aft of the beam, a catamaran is just the thing for a luxury yacht charter on one of the planet's sailing paradises. Spacious and comfortable, and very manoeuvrable, their shallow drafts allow you to moor far closer to shore than other boats - perhaps while you have a barbecue in a secluded cove? A catamaran charter will set you back €450 a day and up.
Skippered Yacht charter or Bareboat?
Where it comes to a Canary Islands yacht charter you have two choices for your sailing trip - a bareboat charter or skippered yacht charter. Both have their own advantages.
You don't need to be an experienced sailor for a Canary Island yacht charter. Why? You can hire a skipper to go with the boat. He or she will be able to get you wherever you want to go. If you want to play a role in sail handling and all the fun of getting the boat around one of the world's sailing Meccas then they will guide you through everything from helming to sail handling. If you're feeling a bit ropey from too much goat's cheese and Canary Island wine then you can chill and let them carry you a bit. Don't forget the tip at the end of the trip!
For more adventurous types, a Canary Island bareboat charter could be your thing. If you have the right sailing qualifications (see below) then you can let go of the lines and go on your adventure around one of the best places to sail on the planet. Do remember to bring your license with you as the authorities can be a bit hot on paperwork!
Do you need a licence to charter in the Canaries?
If you want to bareboat charter you will need an approved boating qualification, below is a list of relevant qualifications:
International Certificate of Competence (ICC): Standard European Qualification for bareboat sailing
ASA 104 Bareboat sailing certificate: The American Sailing Associations skipper minimum qualification for hiring bareboat yachts
RYA: The Royal Yachting Association's qualifications (minimum day skipper level) is necessary for bareboat charter hire, it's also worthwhile seeing do you need to have done a VHF radio course, as well as some boat owners, will require this.
There are also many other European national boating qualifications that are accepted here too, it's worthwhile checking these details before hiring.
If you want a skippered boat rental as a charter yacht then you don't need any sailing certification at all, you just turn up and off you go.
Best Times To Hire
Being semi-tropical the Canary Islands are a year-round sailing destination. It does get cooler in winter but a Northern European would soon find themselves in a teeshirt come mid-morning - no need for woollies and mittens here! The sailing season as such might be said to be 365 days a year.
The quieter months can bring a bigger trade wind but you pay a lot less and can still enjoy a winter escape sailing holiday. If you can get over during school term times it will be quieter and cheaper too.
As ever, July and August is very busy as the world seems to stop for their summer breaks. It can get hot (but nothing like Athens for example thanks to the sea cooling the air) but also quite crowded.
It ultimately depends on what you want from a yacht charter in the Canary Islands - the buzz and fun from mad crowds or a quiet escape to the sunshine from the grey skies and drizzle of home?
The archipelago sits at the northernmost reach of the NE Trade Winds, so you are almost guaranteed a steady wind for sailing every day throughout the year. The wind can build and you can be challenged under a reef or two on an odd day but come summer it is just about a perfect Force 4-5.
The weather itself can vary from island to island. Mountains cause their own weather by forcing moist air upwards where it unloads as rain. Tenerife and Gran Canaria are two islands where you will feel the temperature drop and grey skies roll in to moisten and green the land. With these weather systems comes a changing wind direction but offshore you'll soon feel the trade winds again.
The flatter islands - Lanzarote and Fuerteventura - are more consistent in weather patterns with it cooling to around 15 degrees C in winter and heating to not much more than 25 degrees in summer. Do bring some warmer clothes but even in winter, they may never come out of the bag!
How much does it cost for a Canary Islands Charter?
There's a yacht charter to suit every budget in the Canary Islands. If you have a large budget you can charter a superyacht for opulent luxury as you waft around the best places in the islands for €35,000 a day and up.
For those with a midrange budget, you can still get a very comfortable sailing yacht or motorboat for as little as €450 a day. A sailing catamaran is a classic example with en suite heads and showers in most of the staterooms and plenty of socialising and entertaining space on deck.
At the lower end of the scale expect to pay €120 a day for a monohull sailing yacht. Cheap isn't boring either - better upwind you can get about more easily without relying too much on the engine to get where you want to go.
On top of this you will need space on your credit card for a security deposit (or pay yacht charter insurance in advance) as well as food, fuel and nights out. Don't forget money for marina fees too!
Explore the Canaries By Renting A Yacht
With some of the best year-round sailing conditions on the planet, you can explore the Canaries by renting a yacht from Borrow A Boat for a price that won't break the bank. See the marine life from humpback whales to dolphins and sea birds. Enjoy the wild volcanic landscape, or party until dawn at a world-famous nightspot. The Canary Islands are paradise islands with all you could possibly want from a holiday, no matter your age or sailing experience!