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The most in-your-face activity in the islands is beach-lazing, but you don't have to look hard for more active pastimes. Mountain bikes are readily available, and the islands lend themselves to cycling. Plenty of tracks in the country are fine for hiking, and by the coast conditions for surfing and windsurfing are excellent. For windsurfers, the Bahía de Pozo Izquierdo is the best beach on Gran Canaria, which is the windiest of all the islands. The swimming is generally better in summer, as the Atlantic has powerful swells in winter. Go snorkelling or scuba diving and you might see rays, grouper, barracuda, turtles, tropical fish and the occasional shark. Deep sea fishing and sailing are good for those with a little more money to spend, and the fishing off Gran Canaria is excellent.


Like many of their mainland cousins, Canarios kick back and celebrate at plenty of fiestas and ferias throughout the year. Carnaval in February/March is the wildest time, and brings several weeks of parades, fancy dress and general good times across the islands. In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the party rivals the Rio Carnaval. From 21 to 30 June, the Bajada de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves is the premier religious festival on Isla de la Palma, but is held only every five years. The most important religious celebration held on Gran Canaria is the Fiesta de la Virgen del Pino, and festivities last for two weeks, culminating on 6 to 8 September.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria hosts several important arts festivals, including the Festival Internacional de Música (January); the Festival de Opera (February-March); the Festival de Ballet y Danza (May); and the Muestra Internacional de Cine, an international film festival held every two years in October and November. If that's not enough, the Encuentro Teatral Tres Continentes draws theatre companies from Europe, Latin America and Africa to Agüimes (Gran Canaria) in September.

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