I lean on the terrace gazing longingly at the endless blue sea, on this quiet desert island, where bold coloured surfboards replace monochromatic motorboats, while skateboards and bicycles replace automobiles. The light breeze blows gently through my hair and I can also see the light dancing in diamond specks on the shore. The gentle hushing sound of the waves stroking the sand is also very comforting.
It sounds very romantic but it is even more so. An awakening of the senses! Quiet spaces where you can explore your feelings amidst unspoilt views of nature.
It is incredible how most of the Canary Islands have managed to remain beyond the clutches of mass tourism, thus securing the conservation of their environment while managing to retain a strong level of style and the preservation of their charm through minimal and simplistic details from their historical legacy.
The structures which surround the sea have spectacular views, with their interiors seemingly reflective of the different hues of the ocean, having blue and white striped fabrics accentuated by hints of turquoise.
Given that summer days are so close, it is natural to dream about a grand escape to sea, sunshine, and pristine and unpolluted environments. Making sure of being surrounded by nature’s blue is the first step. Studies have also proven that different shades of blue evoke serene and tranquil moods. Here, some buildings are painted in sandy hues inspired from the colours of the rolling sands of the surrounding desert, while windows are framed with white, softly weaved, chiffon curtains, embracing the breathtaking sea views beyond.
The style of the Islands encapsulates within it Moorish architecture, reminiscent of the neighbouring Arabic coast, with the West of Morocco a 100 kilometres away being the closest point.
Accent pieces, such as decorative brass lamps, hang distinctively in the minimalist, void, white spaces, while brightly coloured pottery lies as a centre piece to any main room. Carved, wooden mirrors contribute to the welcoming ambience, helping to project the real influence from across the African desert to the East.
Although there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the original settlers of these islands, tales of Spanish conquests tell of specific communities originating from the North African Berber tribes. Not to mention, that a lot of place names and Canarian words bear a striking resemblance to Berber tribal languages. There was even a tribe called Canarii, from where the name Canary possibly originates!
Similar to what is found in Moorish architecture, some of the structures are whitewashed to gleam in the bright desert sunlight. This is where the baking heat of the desert subsides into an oasis of pools, courtyards, spas and luxurious terraces. Being surrounded by these distinct details of exquisite white courtyards and bluetiled pools fenced by palms trees, evokes images of lush and romantic fantasies.
Lanterns with beautiful intricate motifs illuminate these isolated summer evenings, while painted, blue domes with gold and metal motifs contrast against the rugged lands. Just a few metres away, the coral desert invites you to break away from the beach and enjoy a fresh lunch on the sandy dunes and later, perhaps, also dinner under the stars.
Perfect moments to switch off, leaving the chaotic world behind!
If such quiet moments do not appeal to you , daily ferries take less than an hour to cross between most of the islands, making it possible to stretch towards a more adventurous end.
Lanzarote and Gran Canaria offer plenty of rural housing situated in high altitude spots. Gran Canaria is my favourite of the two, with a leafy mountainous landscape, fertile valleys, deep gorges and terraced hillsides planted with avocados, tomatoes, figs and delicious Canarian bananas.
Apart from the typical rural homes, the most unique are the cave-dwelling structures which date back hundreds of years, some of which are still inhabited by locals who choose to reject the material world and the sky high rental prices, for the loveliest sites with high rocky edges, woodland and absolute stillness.
One particualar cave, which is also open to the public, houses a very extraordiny species. It is home to the native white albino crabs called “Jameitos”. These crabs can only be found on this island, in the natural sweet water lake inside this cave.
Needless to say, these islands have excellent beaches and landscapes, but greater treasures lie below the surface. Given their position in the Atlantic, close to both the tropics and the Mediterranean, the sealife is a unique mix of the tropical, the temperate and the pelagic. Rough seas, secluded coasts, and the surrounding remote volcanic terrain, attract a diversity of life, making the surrounding seas a very special and unique marine environment.
As a last quest, dive into the great blue and you will not fail to spot the most colourful fish swimming around the coast: parrotfish grazing on the rocks harbouring moray eels, brightly coloured wrasse fish, and damsel fish. Whales, dolphins and turtles are also frequent visitors, while seahorses in the seagrass and huge stingrays patrol the bottom.
© 2018 – VIDA Magazine – Mandy Farrugia