Lush Forests, Volcanos and Superstars

The diverse landscape of the Canary archipelago has been a favorite destination for the fulfillment of millions of tourists. Its volcanic origin, by itself, gives it a unique aura, with as much of inhospitable as of exotic, on its seven islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, near the Moroccan coast: the tropical nature contrasts with fine sand dunes, the coastline rough with the endless beaches, the multicolored culture combines with a peculiar island cuisine.

The mountains and forests of Gran Canaria.
Gran Canaria in all its sub-tropical splendor – Image by adamkontor from Pixabay

However, not everyone has yet had the privilege of visiting these islands, blessed by the “best climate in the world” as they promote themselves by referring to favorable year-round conditions with average temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius. But for those people, the film industry has been in charge of showing the world the Canary attractions through the big screen. Let’s get to know some of these places that appear, sometimes only at a glance behind famous actors, and which are undoubtedly worth a visit.

A lavish beach in south Gran Canaria.
Anfi del Mar, Los Caideros, Gran Canaria – Image by Mariusz_Busiek from Pixabay

Since the 1950s and 1960s, American products have felt on these islands a strong attraction to shoot some of the world’s most remarkable films. Who doesn’t remember the iconic leather bikini that perpetuated Raquel Welch as a diva in One Million Years BC (1966)? Or take John Houston’s Moby Dick (1956), starring Gregory Peck, filming on Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmass (for accomodation suggestions, click here) – although the action on the high seas was filmed off Madeira Island with native harpoon whale fishermen.

Gran Canaria

The Vegueta neighborhood in the historic center of Las Palmas has replicated colonial cities in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, as happened in Allied (2016), a Robert Zemeckis novel about espionage during World War II with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.

The neighborhood’s narrow, cobbled streets with well-preserved architecture also hosted the filming of the comedy Wild Oats (2016), directed by Andy Tennant, and with a cast brightened by actresses Jessica Lange, Demi Moore and Shirley MacLaine. In both films, the imposing architectural jewel that houses the Literary Office in the tropical Plaza de Cairasco has been chosen by studios as the set of the “Casino” scene.

The iconic Gabinete Literario in Las Palmas, famous for its detailed architecture and decoration.
Gabinete Literário, Las Palmas

Also in Gran Canaria was the use of Finca de Osório in the typical village of Toror, where a cocoa plantation was recreated, and Sioux City, a theme park often used for shooting Westerns, such as the fidelity of its buildings, and in which visitors can watch live shows, performances and stunt shows. Justin Lin’s famous sequel to Fast & Furious also settled on the island, though in a controversial way. In its drive to protect the already significant (and lucrative) audiovisual cluster, the local government closed a 10-mile stretch of freeway over 7 weeks so that some of the most dizzying sequences of episode 6 of the saga could be filmed at Puente de Silva.

A warm, scenic sunset in Gran Canaria.
A warm, scenic sunset in Gran Canaria – Image by KKFotostyle from Pixabay

Perhaps only on the island of Tenerife can a sub-tropical forest be combined with the aridity of the volcanic desert, picturesque villages and ancient colonial cities. While the majestic Pico del Teíde, the highest point in Spain, in the Cañadas del Teíde National Park, an extinct volcano, is surrounded by a sweeping landscape in the north of the island, less than an hour away, the Valle de La Orotava is home to an ancient lush forest leading to the sunny Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This city was for the first time part of a mega-production, having been transformed into Athens for the fifth sequel to the Bourne franchise (2016) with Matt Damon.

On the remaining islands, such as La Gomera, Lanzarote, where Pedro Almodovar was enchanted by Timanfaya National Park, or Fuerteventura, the landscaping is perhaps even more majestic, with Hollywood’s great productions settling in to capture ravishing prospects of the island’s geography.

The vast dunes and hills of Timanfaya National Park, in Lanzarote.
Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote – Image by neufal54 from Pixabay

In addition to the aforementioned Allied, it was also there, on its endless shores, that Blade Runner‘s filmmaker Ridley Scott shot the colossal biblical images of Exodus: Gods and Kings. The island of Fuerteventura has been preserved from tourist overcrowding, as were La Gomera, Hierro and La Palma, so the magnificence of its natural landscapes continue to attract an increasing number of visitors, especially in the Jandía National Park, where in the past year, the characters of the Star Wars saga landed, replicating the original planet of the protagonist, Solo, in the eponymous spin-off movie.

The rocky beaches with crystal clear water in Fuerteventura.
Beach in Fuerteventura – Image by Bonnie Woblack from Pixabay

With a release date already assured for June next year is the next Wonder Woman sequel, whose heroine is embodied by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who along with the film crew led to the temporary closure of the must-see Corralejo Dunes.

Reliving the dazzling scenarios featured on the silver screen can be a daunting challenge, as it turns out that only small bits are shown in the film, and yet there is so much to discover! Only by being there you can see the whole picture!

About the Author:

Biblion’s founder and current Editor-in-Chief, Paulo Sérgio Gomes has a deeply proactive background within tourism, marketing and publishing markets, enjoying over 20 years of professional experience in the area.

A regular content contributor for magazines, books and online media, he is always looking to impact other people lives. His work and service instills a passionate commitment to consistently achieve excellence.

An avid sports enthusiast, with a keen interest to uncover hidden young talent, Paulo is also a long time supporter of environmental awareness and ecumenical dialogue.