The weather is great everywhere in the Canary Islands during the summer months, though the situation is more complex in the winter.
Micro-climates abound in the Canary Islands with significant local variation in temperature, rainfall and wind – even on the same island. Rainfall is also very irregular in the islands in general, with some years wet and others very dry. It is not unknown for the entire average yearly amount of rain to fall during a single intense storm.
The following satellite image illustrates the prevailing weather pattern in the islands (North-easterly trade winds). The islands (particularly the islands with higher mountains) act as barriers to the cloud and produce ‘wakes’. In general, the northern parts of the islands receive more rain and have more cloud cover while the driest, sunniest and warmest conditions can be found in those sheltered resorts along the Southern coasts of Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
The eastern islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are slightly different due to the absence of high mountains, however since clouds have to pass over Lanzarote before they reach Fuerteventura, Fuerteventura tends to be sunnier than Lanzarote. The Jandia/Morro Jable area of Southern Fuerteventura also benefits to some extent from the position of the Jandia mountains, which are just high enough to afford some protection.
When is the best time of year to visit?
During the summer, the weather is consistently warm and dry throughout the islands, though it can get windy in some resorts – e.g. Costa Teguise in Lanzarote and Costa Calma in Fuerteventura – the presence of world championship wind and kite surfing events is a good indicator of strong winds! Resorts located with mountains to the North or North-east, tend to be sheltered from the prevailing wind (Puerto Rico and Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, Playa de las Americas in Tenerife and Morro Jable in Fuerteventura). Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are generally slightly hotter than the more Western Islands during the summer months.
June, July, August and September tend to have little or no rain at all.
From November to April, the weather can be less predictable, some weeks will be beautifully sunny, while others will be cloudy and wet. There is also considerable variation from one year to the next with some winters wetter and colder and others warmer and drier – though temperatures never really get too cold and frost is unheard of at sea level. Average daily maximum temperatures are around 23°C in the winter months (with the highest highs in the Southern resorts), and nightly minimums of around 14°C. Average temperatures are warmer in the Western Islands during the winter months – a reversal of the trend in the summer.
October is a great month to visit the islands, though the transition to winter weather (if you can call it that) tends to happen towards the end of the month or in early November. The sea is still warm at this time of year, the days are summer-like without being too hot, nights are warm and there are less tourists than in the peak season. The only downside is a risk of rain towards the end of the month.
As a general rule, the sea temperature is warmer in the Western part of the Canary Islands: The waters around El Hierro are a full 2°C warmer than those around Lanzarote. The sea reaches its maximum temperature in late-September (23°C) and then cools until March (18°C) . It should be noted that the sea is warmer in December than it is in May – it takes a while to warm up again!
The water temperatures at some beaches are much cooler than others: as a general rule, beaches with very shallow water tend to warm up more than those that have steep slopes to depth. Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Puerto del Carmen in Lanzarote are both quite shallow and tend to have warmer water than other beaches on those islands.