Volcan de Tindaya Ferry
The Volcan de Tindaya Ferry that runs between Playa Blanca and Corralejo
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.

Flights

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.

Links

Binter Canarias
Canaryfly

Ferries

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.

Ferry Routes
From Lanzarote
OriginDestinationFrequencyLine
ArrecifeLas Palmas, Gran CanariaDaily sailing except MondayNaviera Armas
Playa BlancaCorralejo, FuerteventuraMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Armas, Lineas Romero and Fred Olsen
OrzolaLa GraciosaDaily SailingsLineas Romero and Biosfera Express
From Fuerteventura
OriginDestinationFrequencyLine
Puerto del RosarioLas Palmas, Gran CanariaDaily, Tuesday to SaturdayNaviera Armas
Morro JableLas Palmas, Gran CanariaMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Armas & Fred Olsen
CorralejoPlaya Blanca, LanzaroteMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Armas, Lineas Romero and Fred Olsen
CorralejoIsla de LobosMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Nortour
From Gran Canaria
OriginDestinationFrequencyLine
Las PalmasSanta Cruz, TenerifeMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Armas
AgaeteSanta Cruz, TenerifeMultiple daily sailingsFred Olsen
Las PalmasMorro Jable, FuerteventuraMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Armas & Fred Olsen
Las PalmasPuerto del Rosario, FuerteventuraDaily, Monday to FridayNaviera Armas
Las PalmasArrecife, LanzaroteDaily, Tuesday to SundayNaviera Armas
From Tenerife
OriginDestinationFrequencyLine
Los CristianosSan Sebastian, La GomeraMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Armas & Fred Olsen
Los CristianosValverde, El Hierro1-2 sailings per day Sunday to FridayNaviera Armas
Los CristianosSanta Cruz, La PalmaDaily Tuesday to SundayFred Olsen
Santa CruzLas Palmas, Gran CanariaMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Armas
Santa CruzAgaete, Gran CanariaMultiple daily sailingsFred Olsen
From La Palma
OriginDestinationFrequencyLine
Santa CruzSan Sebastian, La Gomera1-2 Sailings per dayNaviera Armas & Fred Olsen
Santa CruzLos Cristianos, TenerifeDaily sailings Tuesday to SundayFred Olsen
From La Gomera
OriginDestinationFrequencyLine
San SebastianSanta Cruz, La Palma1-2 sailings per day Sunday to FridayNaviera Armas & Fred Olsen
San SebastianLos Cristianos, TenerifeMultiple daily sailingsNaviera Armas & Fred Olsen
From El Hierro
OriginDestinationFrequencyLine
ValverdeLos Cristianos, TenerifeDaily Sunday to FridayNaviera 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.

Tips

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.

Links

Fred Olsen
Naviera Armas
Lineas Romero
Biosfera Express
Naviera Nortour
Trasmediterranea.es