Surprisingly, island hopping is not a well-known or well-developed concept in the Canary Islands. There are some historic reasons for this (more on this below), however many of the obstacles to island hopping have now disappeared and it is now much easier to fly to one island, travel to another, then fly back to your home country from there. Nowadays, there are plenty of inter-island flight and ferry connections, so it’s easy to get around, once you have a basic understanding of the locations of the ports and frequency of sailings.
So why do so few people Island-hop in the Canaries?
The main reason is a government subsidy of inter-island flights and ferries that applies only to residents of the islands. This means that inter-island travel is very expensive for tourists – ferries cost roughly double that of equivalent routes in the Greek Islands. The 50% subsidy for residents has allowed a near-monopoly to develop for inter-island flights, where it is often cheaper to fly to London than to fly to a neighbouring island.
Another historic reason, which no longer applies, was the dominance of package holidays in the islands, though the emergence of low-cost airlines and hotel booking websites means that it is now much easier for the independent traveller to make their own arrangements. We would still recommend booking your room in advance though, as you won’t find people waiting to sell you a room at the ferry port, and most Hotel’s published ‘rack’ rates are a lot higher than those that you’ll find online.
Binter Canarias is the largest inter-island airline and operate in all of the main Canary Islands airports. Although they don’t operate direct flights between all of the islands, connecting flights without re-check-ins can be booked with ease on their website. Travellers should note that Tenerife has two airports, with most inter-island flights operating from Tenerife North. For a supplemental fee, a ferry transfer to La Graciosa is also available.
Binter also offer flights to the Azores, Cape Verde Islands, Madeira and several African cities.
CanaryFly are a relatively new airline and operate flights from Gran Canaria to Fuerteventura, Tenerife North and Lanzarote, and from Tenerife North to La Palma, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria.
As well as avoiding the security process in the airport, the ferry connections in the Canary Islands will often bring you closer to your accommodation, since most of the Islands’ airports are quite far from the main cities and tourist towns. A ferry will bring you right into the heart of major cities such as Las Palmas or Santa Cruz de Tenerife, or large tourist centres such as Playa Blanca or Los Cristianos.
|Arrecife||Las Palmas, Gran Canaria||Daily sailing except Monday||Naviera Armas|
|Playa Blanca||Corralejo, Fuerteventura||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Armas, Lineas Romero and Fred Olsen|
|Orzola||La Graciosa||Daily Sailings||Lineas Romero and Biosfera Express|
|Puerto del Rosario||Las Palmas, Gran Canaria||Daily, Tuesday to Saturday||Naviera Armas|
|Morro Jable||Las Palmas, Gran Canaria||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Armas & Fred Olsen|
|Corralejo||Playa Blanca, Lanzarote||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Armas, Lineas Romero and Fred Olsen|
|Corralejo||Isla de Lobos||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Nortour|
From Gran Canaria
|Las Palmas||Santa Cruz, Tenerife||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Armas|
|Agaete||Santa Cruz, Tenerife||Multiple daily sailings||Fred Olsen|
|Las Palmas||Morro Jable, Fuerteventura||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Armas & Fred Olsen|
|Las Palmas||Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura||Daily, Monday to Friday||Naviera Armas|
|Las Palmas||Arrecife, Lanzarote||Daily, Tuesday to Sunday||Naviera Armas|
|Los Cristianos||San Sebastian, La Gomera||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Armas & Fred Olsen|
|Los Cristianos||Valverde, El Hierro||1-2 sailings per day Sunday to Friday||Naviera Armas|
|Los Cristianos||Santa Cruz, La Palma||Daily Tuesday to Sunday||Fred Olsen|
|Santa Cruz||Las Palmas, Gran Canaria||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Armas|
|Santa Cruz||Agaete, Gran Canaria||Multiple daily sailings||Fred Olsen|
From La Palma
|Santa Cruz||San Sebastian, La Gomera||1-2 Sailings per day||Naviera Armas & Fred Olsen|
|Santa Cruz||Los Cristianos, Tenerife||Daily sailings Tuesday to Sunday||Fred Olsen|
From La Gomera
|San Sebastian||Santa Cruz, La Palma||1-2 sailings per day Sunday to Friday||Naviera Armas & Fred Olsen|
|San Sebastian||Los Cristianos, Tenerife||Multiple daily sailings||Naviera Armas & Fred Olsen|
From El Hierro
|Valverde||Los Cristianos, Tenerife||Daily Sunday to Friday||Naviera Armas|
Trasmediterranea operate a ferry between Cadiz (in Mainland Spain) and Santa Cruz de La Palma, stopping in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas, Puerto del Rosario and Arrecife. It is slow, but does offer a direct route between Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de La Palma.
Fred Olsen offer some bus-ferry combination tickets; e.g. from from Puerto del Carmen in Lanzarote to Corralejo in Fuerteventura (with bus transfer between Puerto del Carmen and the ferry port in Playa Blanca included). Connecting tickets with stop-overs are also available.
Sometimes ferry tickets are available at a discount through alternative channels such as excursion ticket offices or as part of a coach excursion. Return tickets between Playa Blanca and Corralejo are usually cheaper from one of the small excursion offices at Playa Blanca port.