Gran Canaria is one of the Spanish Canary Islands lying just 210 km off the coast of Africa and 1250 km away from mainland Spain. The volcanic terrain of the island isn’t particularly attractive yet the mild year round climate and excellent infrastructure has enabled a large scale tourism industry to thrive. The island’s most popular resorts are located along the south coast where there’s an enormous amount of accommodation built into the mountainsides with access to a number of golden, sandy beaches which use imported sand.
Along this southern stretch of the coast you’ll find Playa del Ingles which is Europe’s 2nd largest holiday resort after Benidorm. A little further along is Puerto Rico which isn’t as large but is the island’s other main tourist destination for package holidays. Between them is Meloneras which has some splendid accommodation and is considered the region’s upmarket resort whilst furthest west is Puerto Mogan which is a lovely spot for a relaxing holiday well away from the pubs and clubs of the main resorts. Considering the small distances involved it’s surprising to learn that 30% of all visitors to the Canaries find their way to the resorts around Maspalomas.
Holidays in Gran Canaria
Most of the holiday resorts of Gran Canaria are concentrated in a relatively small area in the south of the island. The best known resort is Playa del Ingles which is one of Spain’s largest resorts. Nearby is the up-market resort of Meloneras and San Agustin.
Sandy beaches run along this part of the coast, the most well known being the dunes at Maspalomas which stretch for 6 km into the distance. Take a strenuous walk over the dunes or better still, take a donkey ride so the hard work is done for you! Further down the coast is Puerto Rico, a bustling resort with two harbours and two beaches. A few more smaller resorts are dotted along the coast until we reach the laid back Puerto Mogan. Its old town of Pueblo Mogan is 5km inland.
Map of Gran Canaria
The following map of Gran Canaria shows all the main tourist destinations on the island. To give you some idea of distances please note that from the airport on the east coast to the popular resort of Playa del Ingles is only 30km.
Off the Beaten Track
The centre of the island has an alpine climate and stunning peaks of up to 6400 feet with fabulous picnic and viewing points from where Mount Teide in Tenerife is often visible on a clear day. Scattered around the mountains are small villages where local crafts are sold on street market stalls and restaurants offering all sorts of mouthwatering delights made from fish caught in the lakes and fruit and vegetables grown locally.
The north and north western coast is very green with a series of mountainous cliffs breaking up only for small villages such as Arucas, well known for its honey rum factory, which is well worth a visit. On a more “sober” note, the neighbouring village of Firgas provides Gran Canaria and the other Canary Islands with their bottled water supplies. A little further along the coastline is the historic town of Galdar with its pre-historic painted caves, open for viewing to the public. In the far north west is the port of Agaete, famous for its fish restaurants and harbour from where you can catch the fast ferry over to Tenerife in only 50 minutes.
The city of Las Palmas is home to more than 380,000 people which represents half the population of Gran Canaria. It’s a busy cosmopolitan port, the seventh largest city in Spain, and the governing capital for Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Las Palmas has several shopping areas such as Triana for boutiques and smaller shops, and Avenida Mesa y Lopez where you can lose yourself within some of the island’s and the UK’s leading department stores. There are numerous street cafes where you can relax with a drink and sample a varied selection of tapas dishes. For the sun worshippers there are four main beach areas, the largest being Las Canteras with its long sweeping promenade.