Gran Canaria – Tropical, Mountains and Beaches
We wanted some winter sun and decided on Gran Canaria for a few days after reading about it’s diverse landscapes, and the fact it has a tropical climate in the centre of the island appealed, it sounded like a good island for us to explore and relax.
We hired a car and stayed at The Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort after seeing some bargain offers online we bagged ourselves a good deal for 5 nights. Although we aren’t golfers we’ve stayed at a couple of golf resort hotels and they’ve all be really nice. The hotel itself was perfect, luxurious, with classy guests, well behaved children (and not too may of them either!) It was set in the mountains away from the popular tourist resorts. Most days we perched ourselves at their adults only infinity pool with Bali style daybeds, quite romantic, but you had to bagsie early morning despite signs asking guests not to, it was worth it.
The food was stunning all meals were served buffet style and each evening there was a different type of food. Breakfasts were to die for, so much choice. We were asked on the way into the Breakfast room if we wanted Champagne? She didn’t need to ask twice! Well she did actually, to see if we wanted white or pink!
So we headed out to see the different landscapes and some culture and started with the island’s capital city Las Palmas, if you happen to be visiting on the first Sunday of a month, then museums are free to enter.
Just head to the old town and Vegueta – as it’s the nicest part, we loved the quiet strolls wandering the colourful and historical streets, it manages to retain much of its original colonial character, the Santa Ana Cathedral is also worth a look.
Mountains and Teror
From here we went to Teja, high up in the middle of this mountainous island. The beauty of Gran Canaria comes into its own, so well worth hiring a car for the mountain vistas and hiking opportunities.
Teror was also a lovely historic town high up in the mountains, and clouds! the town has lots of colonial architecture. It was a long drive and took up a fair portion of the day, because of all the winding roads as you need to drive slowly, but the scenery was stunning, even Phil was impressed!
Playa del Ingles
Another day we stopped by Playa del Ingles and the Yumbo Centre, a popular party haunt with the LGBT community. It’s a 4 floor complex of nightclubs, bars, restaurants and markets full of touristy stuff. The cabaret and karaoke clubs looked like they’d be good fun in the summer. However the whole place is a little bit tacky (sorry!) once you’ve been to Mykonos other places are hard to beat! but we did have a fun time at Yumbo and great pizza.
We then walked to the promenade which was lined with more lively bars, it’s one of those fun’n’sun resorts. If you’re looking for culture then Playa del Ingles is not for you, but it does have one outstanding feature – the beach.
Gran Canaria’s Dramatic Dunes
Not far away are the sand dunes of Maspalomas, they are absolutely spectacular and protected as a nature reserve, it was one of our favourite views on the island. You really felt like you had been transported to the Sahara Desert, we walked about half an hour from Playa del Ingles but turned off a bit too soon to get to the Dunes. There were a few people around and Phil noticed that they didn’t appear to have any clothes on! We’d accidentally found ourselves right in the middle of the nudist beach! So if you are traveling with Aunty Maud be aware! Phil found the situation hilarious! there are a couple of designation nudist zones on the vast beach which seems to go on for miles. The Dunes are an incredible sight, and worth a decent walk amongst them, although we found them quite hard work hiking up and down the steep drifts, as they are deceiving to look at. Garth always thought he’d get a better shot from the next one!
Puerto de Mogán
For an authentic Spanish experience we headed to Puerto de Mogán, a very pretty fishing town. The residential streets behind the harbour are lined with stunning Bougainvillea crawling over the buildings and making canopies of flowers, in lots of different vibrant colours. We arrived on market day, so the place was very busy, the market had all the usual tourist tat stalls, mixed with a couple of decent stalls, but the town itself was charming, and we finally had some tapas!
Try the Gran Canaria local tapas dish ‘Papas Con Mojo’ – small roasted potatoes, that are boiled in sea water to make them really salty, they are then covered in a garlic sauce. We also love Allioli – garlic mayonnaise served with fresh rustic bread, which is served all over Spain.
Phil & Garth’s Top 5 Gran Canaria Tips
- Tip #1: Rent a car to get the most out of the island
- Tip #2: Gran Canaria is a perfect UK winter destination – warm temperatures and hotels have heated pools.
- Tip #3: It’s tropical climate and mountainous landscape makes it an ideal hiking destination
- Tip #4: Don’t bother with all-inclusive, try half board, get out and eat delicious tapas!
- Tip #5: Gran Canaria is close to the equator, so take extra care to avoid sunburn