Photo: Victor Gonzalez

Why I hate the Canary Islands, by Gordon Devonshire

I resisted going to the Canaries for years. Many friends went, but it never interested me one little bit. Then, when I finally did go, my suspicions were confirmed.

People like to call it the ‘European Hawaii’, but I’d say that’s fairly generous. The last time I checked, Hawaii was a series of lush, green tropical islands, fringed with pounding surf, steeped in a cool, colourful, ancient surf culture. In ‘Europe’s Hawaii’, I just saw barren, dry, treeless expanses of sharp rock. The wind howled. Howled. Even when it’s glassy, it’s howling, or that’s always how it used to look in the pictures that made me not want to go. Then I went, and it howled. I drove around the north coast and just saw kind of depressing looking beat towns looking a bit like that place in Star Wars. The towns made me sad. Then I went surfing. I parked on a dusty track. Everyone around, going to or from or checking the surf thought they were hard. In the water, one boogie boarder wiggled his take off and thirty-five others all screamed in unison. He screamed himself down the face, all the rest screamed and howled. Every single wave someone took off on, everyone else let out a chorus of shrieks and howls. It was all a bit… wrong. They stared me down. I went to the end of the wave to be alone, but one of them noticed me semi having fun and paddled down to neutralize it. He did a great job.

Photo: Villalba/WE

I went to the south of the island, full of those minging resorts where all the chavs go for pints and full English breakfasts. Yuck! I drove back to the coast, opened the hire car door and got sandblasted in the face. Then stared out. Among allies of mine that I saw occasionally, there was always talk of these spots and breaks and all this cool stuff to do somewhere off in another part of the island but it sounded a bit like the talkers were trying to sell it to me, or themselves. I didn’t buy it. I think I’d sooner paddle to the actual Hawaiian Islands than go back to ‘Europe’s Hawaii’. If I was actual Hawaii, and heard that comparison made in earnest, I’d consider suing for defamation.

Alex Zirke by Villalba/WE

Why I love the Canary Islands, by Gary Browningstone

Where else? You like to get bronze? Liar! Yes you do! You like surf in 3/2? Cheap as chips. There’s even chips! Proper fish n’ chip shop chips! If you like lava, well, I got a little something for you. You’ve probably heard the hecklers, the naysayers, the cynics. The thing is, good. Less of them, more Canaries for you.

Do you like bang for your buck? It’s not Africa, but it ain’t Switzerland either. Cheap, for the EU anyhows. Cheap flights, many of them. Why, I just looked the other day and saw returns for… not much. Here’s the best part… in mid winter, when the rest of Europe is doing an impression of Siberia, Canaries is sunny n warm. Mmmmm. Warm. Every day. Water is blue. Not Atlantic grey. Not Atlantic grey-green. Not Atlantic green-grey. Atlantic blue! Yeah. Did I mention it was cheap?

Ooh and the surf. They’ve got a Pipeline, they’ve got lots of other breaks. Breaks right, breaks left. Do you like getting barrelled? Course you do! Well guess what, Canazas has above average percentage of Barrilyn Mansons! So let’s recap, cheap to get to, cheap when you’re there, hot in winter, blue water, pumping surf. Oh did I mention nightclubs? Or did I forget? Nightclubs, where people from more northern lying lands go to drink and dance in ritual sexual exchanges. Do you like higher education? Do you thirst for knowledge, carnal and academic? Well you can even go to uni down there! Yeeha!

Someone complained about the wind. Well, they are islands, those Canazas. That means like, round-ish. So the wind is offshore somewhere, genius. Anyhows, the wind is warm and friendly. Looking for a cheap, warm, hollow winter surf trip? Who isn’t? Sure, you could check Iceland, if you got a Faberge egg to swap for a week’s vacation. But I’ll take my igneous basalt somewhere nearer the Tropic of Cancer than the Pole, thanks.


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