The Canaries: Vegan Travel to a Wind-Swept Island Paradise

The Canary Islands have become a year-round favorite of ours, especially during the dark, grey winter months — and they lately turned out to be one of the very few destinations in pandemic Europe, especially Fuerteventura, welcoming (conscious and responsible!) travelers again. Definitely weird times for a travel guide, but we sure hope you can enjoy, even if it’s just for an imaginary trip for now.

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March 2, 2021

Words — Cort Cunningham
Photography & Research — Brix & Maas

Off the coast of northwest Africa, rugged volcanic isles beckon with their black- and white-sand beaches. The Canary Islands, aka “Islands of the Dogs”, have become a year-round vegan travel favorite of ours, especially during the dark, grey winter months.

No matter which of the seven main islands you arrive, it’s likely you’ll land amid sunshine and perfect temps. Rent a car and drive along the coast for breathtaking views. Of course once you start exploring, the islands’ true beauty will become apparent.

”Bizarre rough rocks, majestic cacti and windswept desert valleys.”

Bizarre rough rocks in blacks and reds, majestic cacti standing tall, and windswept desert valleys. Although the islands are not far from each other (just a ferry ride away), each one’s landscape and climate can be quite different.

Gran Canaria

Take Gran Canaria for example. On its southern coast, the sand dunes in Maspalomas are hot and dry. In the far west of the island, the pine forests 1,000 meters above sea level in Tamadaba National Park are cooler in climate and home to several varieties of indigenous trees and plants.

In the more populated northeast, it’s very humid, ideal for the triploid variety of the Musa banana. More intensely yellow and sweeter than the common banana, your senses will be primed for the plentiful, fresh vegan food on the island.

“How about a post-beach meal… Papas Arrugadas, anyone?”

In the capital city of Las Palmas, Bioloco and Zoe Food are our go-to spots. Either place is ideal for a post-beach meal. (Papas Arrugadas, anyone?)

Must-dos while you’re on Gran Canaria: Drive the coastal road from Agaete to Los Caserones, through Tamadaba National Park. Hiking and camping spots are along the way if you’re looking for a detour. Another hiking spot further inland is to Roque Nublo, a geological site with a giant volcanic crag.

Anam
Eco cafe and shop with vegan croissants
— Calle Alonso Quesada, 7

la CruzBioloco
Vegan burgers, smoothies and sweets
— Calle Alfredo L Jones, 33

Healthy Be Good
Vegan cafe with house-made nut milks
— Holiday World Maspalomas, Av. Touroperador Tui

La Hierba Luisa Cocina de la Huerta
Vegan restaurant with tapas and house-made pasta
— Calle Mendizabal 39

Zoe Food
Organic and vegetarian breakfast & lunch spot
— Calle Domingo J Navarro, 35

Casa Vegana
100% vegan, charming guest house, offers yoga retreats
— Calle la Cruz N3, Arus

Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is one of our favorite islands, with an active young surfing scene. It’s rather flat and less populated, so it’s a magnificent place to explore… and eat. Especially in the north you’ll find all the vegan places and health shops with organic products.

Our favorite lunch spots are Baobab in Corralejo and Happy Cactus in El Cortillo. They both have amazing juices and healthy meals, but you definitely want to try the cakes!

While you’re on the island, don’t miss the Agro-Artisan Market Fuerteventura‘ every Sunday near La Lajita. Shop for local veggies and fruits, Mojos or handcrafted, artisanal goodies here. And even though Google might tell you it’s open until 2pm, trust us, it’s closing at 1.

“A magnificent place to explore… and eat!”

Must-dos on Fuerte: Drive the coastal road between Corralejo and El Cortillo with black volcano pools formed by waves, the sand dunes of Corralejo, the quaint village of Betancuria, Cuevas de Ajuy with its caves, and the road to Playa de Cofete (again with the amazing views!). Or even a visit to Finca Esquinzo, a home for rescued dogs, as if you needed one more reason to never want to leave this island.

Baobab
Vegan juice bar and cafe
Calle Segura Torres 14, Carralejo

Delicias y Namaste
Italian vegan cafe and bakery
— Calle Primero de Mayo, 40, Puerto del Rosario

H20 Juice Bar
Vegan cafe and smoothie bar
— Calle de la Milagrosa 29, Puerto desl Rosario

Happy Cactus
Organic restaurant and grocery store
— Avenida los Lagos 42 local 3, El Cortillo 

Sanus Fuerteventura
Gluten-free restaurant with an extra vegan menu
— Calle Anzuelo 4, Corralejo

El Chigre
Serves meat, but has a vegan menu. We asked: Vegan food is prepared separately.
— Calle Almirante Nelson 3, Corralejo

Lanzarote

Lanzarote, the northernmost island of the Canary Archipelago, is a bit more chic with its chalk-white houses and artworks by the island’s artist-hero César Manrique. Manrique’s multi-dimensional work embodies environmental values. He found Lanzarote to be the most beautiful place in the world and helped the island be named Biosphere Reserve.

The must-sees on this island include: Timanfaya Vulcano National Park, Marador del Rio (built by Manrique and embedded in a clifftop), the village Haría in the middle of the island and the Papagayo beaches in the south. And if you’re wondering about the unusual grape vineyards on this volcanic island: with little to no soil, each vine is placed in a small depression with a semicircular wall of lava stone to protect it from the wind. The plants take root in the lava rock, where they get water from the moisture that condenses on the rocks.

Argentinian Vegan Grill
Argentine barbecue with delivery of vegan holiday packs
— Calle Diseminado de Los Valles, 14

Bistro Arbol
Mostly vegan bisto with local wines
— Calle Timanfaya 2, CC Playa Blanca

The V Factor
Vegan fast food spot with burgers and shakes
— Calle La Porra, 52, Arrecife

Tenerife

Bambu Zenter
Vegan cafe with no-chicken and no-tuna sandwiches
— Calle de la Rosa, 47

Buenavida Vegan
Beautifully presented vegan dishes in the Costa Adeje resort
— 200 Av. de Bruselas, Costa Adeje

El Guanche
A remote vegetarian eatery with valley views from the terrace
— Calle El Lomito, Masca

La Pajarita
Vegan bakery
— Calle de Cairasco, 13

Samelo Veg
Vegan restaurant by the beach with a seasonal menu
— Calle Dieciséis de Mayo

Veggie Penguin
Vegan food with traditional recipes while supporting animal rights
— Quintin Benito 25

Vía-Orgánica
Organic cafe with seasonal food made from scratch
— 39 Calle San Clemente

Vegan Travel Goals

We could talk for days about this corner of the world. No matter your vantage point—whether seaside along the volcanic beachscape of Playa del Charco de los Clicos on Lanzarote or high above the clouds atop Mount Teide on Tenerife, Spain’s highest peak, Manrique’s words might call to mind:

“There is a necessity of coming back to Earth. Feeling it, smelling it. That’s what I feel. I miss the purity of nature.”

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