Spain has long been a favorite destination for gays in Europe. The sun, the prices, the parties, the food, the hopenness... Not only for its major cities, Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia. Spain also knows how to use its island charms, attracting gay travelers to the Balearic or Canary islands. Together, these archipelagos count 5 of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Spain according to the 2015 Tripadvisor barometer
THE BALEARIC ISLANDS
80 kilometers east of the Spanish coast, the Balearic archipelago is a Mediterranean paradise, with over 1,000 kilometers of coastline, 400 beaches, five natural parks and an island, Menorca, classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.
Majorca is the largest of the islands, with beautiful beaches and a very active gay life. The capital Palma has one of the best preserved historical centers in Europe, with two impressive monuments worth visiting, La Seu Cathedral and the castle of Bellver.
Among the 200 beautiful beaches of the island, the Es Trenc beach, which stretches for 4 kilometers of crystalline waters, is a favorite rendezvous of gay tourists, with or without swimwear.
At night, don’t miss the action in the capital Palma where all the gay places are located, including La Démence Palma (not to be confused with the Brussels party), the iconic gay club of the island for almost 15 years.
Ibiza, the white isle
For ten years, Ibiza has been snubbing the gay travelers, who have been avoiding it in return. But this could not last for ever. With its beaches, natural parks and breathtaking landscapes (Unesco World Heritage since 1999), Ibiza is the perfect jewel for an unforgettable gay vacation : secret coves and white sand, crystal clear waters and postcard sunsets, and of course Ibiza’s phenomenal parties.
This year, Ibiza is willing to re-open its arms to gay tourists with two big events. Ibiza’s first ever gay pride, 08-12 July, hopes to attract nearly 50,000 participants for 5 days of activities, events and parties all accross the island and its major gay places, including club Ushuaia, La Troya or Privilege (Supermartxé). Not without humor, the promoters have even planned a huge Bear pary in the zoo of Ibiza!
The other big summer event is the Magico Festival, a huge gay clubbing festival, 19-23 August, with 25,000 gay travelers expected, following the closing iof Barcelona Circuit Festival on August 16.
Apart from this intense holiday season, it’s easier to quietly enjoy the narrow streets of the old citadel, its hippy markets and the island’s most famous gay beach, Es Cavallet (accessible by bus N 11), said to be one of the finest beaches in Spain.
Minorca, among the quiet coves
For those who prefer to stay away from large tourists gatherings and enjoy rugged landscape and discrete coves, Menorca might be the alternative. Classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, it offers idyllic landscapes hardly altered by the passage of time, megalithic monuments and beaches where the sun shines more than 2700 hours per year.
THE CANARY ISLANDS
Less than four hours flight from major European capitals, the seven islands of volcanic Canary Islands are called "the sun of Europe". Off Morocco, lulled by the trade winds, they display an average temperature of 22 degrees throughout the year, one of the most stable climates in the world, thus promoting tourism in all seasons.
With 1,500 km of coastline, the archipelago is a paradise for nature or water sports lovers, windsurfing in partiucular. In addition to its beautiful beaches, it offers spectacular volcanic landscapes, 4 national parks and an island listed as world heritage (La Gomera).
The sand dunes of Maspalomas as featured by Addicted, the Spanish underwear brand
The dunes of Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is the gayest of the seven islands. Each year, almost 300,000 gay tourists from all over Europe come to party in Maspalomas in the south of the island. This is where all the gay resorts are located, including a branch of the straight-friendly hotel chain Axel Hotels.
Vacation are quite easy there : first to the Beach No. 7, the gay beach, for sunbathing and enjoying the ocean; then the vast sand dunes of Playa del Ingles back from the beach and finally, at night, the Yumbo Centrum, a huge shopping mall that becomes the epicenter of the island’s gay nightlife at nightfall.
Peak of the season is the gay pride, held in mid-May. This year it attracted nearly 120 000 people for its 14th edition, an absolute record. The next edition is already scheduled from 1 to 15 May 2016.
With this success and thanks to the constant climate of the archipelago, the promoters had the idea to set up a new gay event in the midst of the European autumn: Maspalomas Winter Pride will take place 9-15 November.
The carnival of Tenerife
Tenerife, the largest of the seven islands, also has the highest peak in Spain, El Teide volcano. Pretty wild and craggy in the north, it offers wide beaches in the south including Playa de la Americas, with most of the local gay life. To the north you will find gay places in Puerto de la Cruz and in the capital Santa Cruz. Playa La Tejita, the main gay beach is located southeast near El Medano.
The main event of the year, Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival takes place every year in February / March. This is one of the most spectacular carnivals in the world after Rio de Janeiro. Next dates are January 31 to February 14, 2016.
White sand, black sand
Fuerteventura, a diving and surfing destination is the second largest island of the Canaries, with the largest beaches. Their turquoise waters bathe kilometers of white sand pristine and uncrowded beaches. Gay life there is less visible, with the notable exception of Corralejo, a resort in the north where the Rainbow Fuertaventura festival is held annually in December.
Fuertevenura offers the widest beaches of the Canary islands
Lanzarote is the most volcanic island, sometimes offering a lunar landscape. Thanks to its steep-sided coves, you can practice nudism in tranquility, while its black sand stretches offer a unique landscape.
Last but not least, El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera are the three smallest islands with steep cliffs and black sand beaches open to the ocean.
For more information about the Balearic and Canary islands and prepare your next trip to these gay-friendly destinations, go to Spain's official portal.