The Canary Islands were once known as the Fortunate Islands; they earned the name for good reason. They are a winter free Nirvana boasting an almost perfect climate which attracts nearly 10 million visitors each year.
Where there are tourists in such high numbers, there are usually plenty of work opportunities. However, the issue with islands like Tenerife and Lanzarote, two of the most popular Canary Islands, is that the bulk of opportunities are connected with the tourism industry. This is fine for anyone whose main objective is to jump on a plane to Tenerife or Lanzarote with Monarch to notch up some quality sun time but it isn’t going to satisfy the appetite of travellers wanting to get to know the true character of the islands.
The Resort Areas
Because both islands have sizeable English speaking ex-pat communities, Tenerife and Lanzarote have online English language forums which can be used to find out what type of work is available. This will more often than not be the same for both islands; bar work, sales, PR touts, waiting staff and, if you can sing or play an instrument, entertainers.
Tenerife especially has a few of these forums and they can also be useful for making contacts before taking the plunge and booking your Tenerife flights with Monarch.
The downside is that the main ex-pat scene tends to be focussed around locations that are most popular with mainstream tourists rather than the areas where Canarios live. Therefore, the forums and their content aren’t representative of either island, only of the English speaking community and tourist resorts.
Outside of the Resorts
Finding jobs away from the resorts isn’t easy. English isn’t widely spoken, so being fluent in Spanish is a must to be able to find paid employment outside of the tourist industry. However, searching in Spanish online for job opportunities opens up a completely different world of job vacancies. Simply enter ’empleo en Tenerife’ or ’empleo en Lanzarote’ and search engines will throw up the types of jobs that you will never, ever find on English language forums or websites. These jobs will result in an experience of Tenerife or Lanzarote that reveals a very different world to that of the tourist resorts.
You don’t necessarily need to be fluent in Spanish to be able to experience the more authentic faces of Tenerife and Lanzarote. There are a number of interesting voluntary work options where being able to speak Spanish isn’t essential (although a basic knowledge always helps) which will bring people into contact with the more authentic Tenerife and Lanzarote.
There’s a strong culture of hunting with dogs in the Canary Islands. When dogs outlive their usefulness, they’re often dumped in the hills. Additionally, many locals don’t neuter their pets, opting to dump offspring rather than pay veterinarian fees. All of which means there are a lot of abandoned cats and dogs and, as a result, animal sanctuaries to try to care for them. Many have been set up by non-Canarios and survive on a shoestring budget so volunteers are always welcome.
Fincas, Communes and Hostels
Workaway.info publishes information about a diverse range of opportunities that have excellent potential for getting to know the real heart and soul of both islands. These range from working in hostels on Tenerife to helping out at organic fincas (farms) and holistic centres on Lanzarote.
In many cases, being internet-savvy and able to help small businesses with their online presence, especially in relation to social media, makes applicants extremely desirable.
Possibly the cream of volunteer opportunities is working with Whale Nation to monitor the cetacean communities in the seas around Tenerife. A contribution is required, but the pay-off is accommodation in a Canarian hill town and the chance to observe pilot whales and dolphins in their own environment off the coast of a sub-tropical island. That’s something pretty special.
Overall, as just under 900,000 people live on Tenerife as opposed to Lanzarote’s 142,000, there are more opportunities to be found on Tenerife.
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