Category Archives: Canary Islands

The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands

Satellite Map

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The seven Canary islands sit off the North African coast. In this map you can also see the Straights of Gibralter top right and the Madeira archipelago.
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The Canary islands are the only place in Europe will all-year round sunshine.

Travel Destinations: The Canary Islands

weather, incredible beaches, a Mecca for windsurfers and scuba divers,
boasting the highest mountain in Spain and over 800 unique plants; the
Canary Islands really are something out of the ordinary. It is little
wonder that almost four million visitors a year come to the Canaries on

While travelling between the islands is easy, either by modern ferry or
by airplane, most visitors to the archipelago spend most of their time
on a single island. Here is a brief summary of the different
personalities of each of the seven main Canary Islands.
Lanzarote is still volcanically active and is the only place I
know of where you can have your lunch cooked by hot lava flowing just
under your feet. It is a very picturesque island with whitewashed
houses with green or blue windows and a range of beautiful beaches,
some of them made up of black, volcanic sand.
Fuerteventura is the oldest of the islands and the driest. It
has some of the best beaches in the world and has become a world centre
from windsurfers and kite surfers. It is quite a windy island but
very peaceful. Fuerteventura is also popular with nudists.
Canaria is famous as a sun, sand and sangria destination for the
tourist hordes but deserves a second look. Its capital city Las Palmas
boasts one of the world’s great city beaches and its historical
district is the first city founded by the Spanish during their conquest
of the New World. The pine forest-clad mountains and valleys of Gran
Canaria are spectacular and well worth exploring. The famous Maspalomas
dunes and beach in the south of the island are the easternmost outcrop
of the Sahara Desest.
Tenerife is capped by the towering 3000 meter high Teide
volcano, the highest in Europe. Of all the islands, Tenerife is
probably the most complete destination, although all its large, sand beaches are
artificial. Santa Cruz is a pleasant city and the lush valleys of the
north of the island, hiding tiny villages and farms, are beautiful. On
Tenerife, you must stop at Icod de los Vinos to see the Millennial Dragon
tree, a huge and primitive tree said to be thousands of years old.
La Gomera is a small and rugged island covered with a forest of
laurel trees so unique it has been given World Heritage Status by
Unesco. The island is almost pristine and is a great walking
Hierro is the smallest and sleepiest of the islands and sees the
fewest numbers of visitors. Life on El Hierro moves at its own pace and
visiting is like stepping back in time. The island is famous among
scuba divers for its clear water and incredible variety and number of
La Palma is what remains of a giant volcanic caldera that has
now sunk into the sea. It is very rugged and almost completely covered
in forests. The island has become very popular with German visitors
looking for an undisturbed paradise.

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There are beaches on most of the Canary Islands.
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The Canaries are one of the best surfing destinations in Europe.
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The unique plants of the islands make them the Galapagos of the botanical world.
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Walking is becoming a popular activity on the Canary Islands.
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The Canary Island carnival celebrations are the busiest in Europe.

The Best Beaches in the Canary Islands

The Canary
Islands are internationally famous for their glorious weather and their
fantastic beaches. As the only place in Europe where good weather is
virtually guaranteed all year round, millions of people come to the
Canaries looking for sun and sand every year.
Of the seven Canary Islands,
only three boast world class beaches. The three small Western islands
are rocky and have no beaches to speak. Tenerife has lots of small rocky and black sand beaches and most resorts now have artificial golden sand beaches. Of the three remaining islands, Gran Canaria,
Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, all have
incredible stretches of natural sand.
Gran Canaria is famous for its impressive golden-yellow sand dunes at
Maspalomas and the long sweep of sand that fronts the twin resorts of
Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas. This beach is very popular with
visitors and has defined areas for nudism and even a gay nudist area.
The beach is so long that everybody coexists on it without any
A less well know but just as spectacular beach on Gran Canarias is Las
Canteras beach up in the capital city of Las Palmas. Las Canteras beach
can rightfully claim to be one of the best city beaches in the world.
It is golden yellow and sheltered by a long rock reef that runs
parallel to the shore, making it a very safe beach to swim on. Since
the area is a marine park, the snorkeling at Las Canteras is wonderful.
Another beach worth mentioning is Gui Gui on the remote west coast. It
used to be accessible only after a strenuous three hour hike down
mountain tracks and even boasts its own hermit. Now, yacht trips from
the resort of Puerto Rico stop in at Gui Gui and there is even a water
taxi service from Puerto de Las Nieves in the North that will drop you
at Gui Gui for the day.
island has the best unspoiled beaches in the Canarias, both at its
southern tip atMorro Jable and Jandia and up in the northern sand dunes
of Carralejos at Playas Grandes. Less developed than the other
islands, Fuerteventura still allows you to find you own little patch of
sand and spend a day without seeing anybody else. There are so many
great beaches on the island that it is hard to mention them all. Good
one include the half-moon beach at Caleta de Fuste with its attached
tourist resort, the beautiful and sheltered Cotillo beach and the
surfing Meccas of Toston and Esquinzo beaches on the East coast. The
spectacular Cofete beach in the south western tip is beautiful but
swimming is dangerous due to very strong currents.
Lanzarote island has great golden sand beaches at the resort of Playa
Blanca and the much more natural Papagayos. Lanzarote is also famous
for its unique black beaches made of black lava sand.

Canary Island Books

Canary Islands: The Bradt Travel Guide
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Canary Islands (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
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Lonely Planet Canary Islands (Regional Travel Guide)
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Sporting Events And Activities On Gran Canaria

Sporting Events And Activities On Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria hosts world class surfing competitions every year.
Lonely Planet Canary Islands (Regional Travel Guide)
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Canary Islands (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
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Canary Island Song: A Novel
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The island has its own indigenous sports left over
from prehistoric times; plough lifting, rock carrying, stick fighting or
extreme pole vaulting anyone? It also hosts a pretty decent range of
international sporting events. If only the island football team would drag
itself out of the doldrums of the second division, then everybody would be

Las Palmas city now has its own annual marathon every
year. The 2011 event is scheduled for the 23rd of January and
inscription is open on the website at; .
For those who fancy a run but don’t want the blisters, there is also a half marathon
and a 10 Km fun-run going at the same time. The routes run through the streets
and along the beachfront of Las Palmas.

For some people, the marathon just isn’t long enough,
so in October we have the Ultra Trail Gran Canaria races, a 175 Km pair trail race and a 85 Km
cross-island run (from sea level up to 2000 metres above sea level and then
back down the other side).

In November Las Palmas goes boating crazy for a day
when the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC)
heads off to St Lucia. Over 200 yachts take part and the sight of them all
unfurling their sails outside the harbor is worth going out of your way to see.
Enterprising travelers, especially those who know their gunnels from their
jibs, have even managed to cadge a lift across the Atlantic on boats short of a
crew member or two.

At the end of April the petrol heads descend on the
island for the annual Rally
Islas Canarias for cars up to 2000cc. The 15 stage rally starts in Las Palmas
and consists of 15 asphalt stages through the windy mountains roads in the
centre of the island. It takes place over the last weekend of April; it’s a
good weekend to not be in the mountains with anywhere important to go as lots
of the roads are cut off!

In July, the tiny town of Pozo Izquierdo on the east
coast hosts a leg of the PWA world windsurfing championship. The nine-day event
turns the sleepy little town into an international centre for boarders thanks
to its guaranteed strong wind and waves. If you are on the island while it on,
a day trip out to Pozo, as it is known by the locals, is well worth it.

The famous El Confital surfbreak, a fantastic hard
right wave that tubes splendidly on the right day, hosts a stage of the IBA World Bodyboard Tour in December
and a stage of the ASP World Qualifying Series in October. The usually quiet
beach, within 15 minutes walk of Las Palmas city, turns into tent and board
city on these weekends! Just be aware that for the rest of the year, El
Confital is a local wave and outsiders are not exactly welcome!

Going Local in Gran Canaria. How to turn a holiday destination into a home.
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Lonely Planet Canary Islands (Regional Travel Guide)
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Top 10 Gran Canaria. (DK Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide)
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The Ultimate Gran Canaria Guide

The Ultimate Gran Canaria Guide
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Gran Canaria sits off the African coast and boasts the world’s best climate. It is the round one in the middle of the group.


Gran Canaria is a complete holiday destination thanks to its beautiful golden sand beaches, pristine mountains and forests and bustling capital city. Known mostly for the chain of tourist resorts dotted along its sand-fringed south coast, Gran Canaria has a huge variety of activities and attractions on offer.Active tourism such as mountain biking and hiking is taking off and rural hotels up in the mountains provide an alternative to the established resorts.

This article is meant as a guide to the island and is linked to lots of more in depth articles about individual resorts and activities. Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions about the island.

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Bougainvillea growing in Gran Canaria’s tourist resorts.
Source: Alex Bramwell
Going Local in Gran Canaria. How to turn a holiday destination into a home.
Amazon Price: $15.58
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Lonely Planet Canary Islands (Regional Travel Guide)
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Puerto Rico Video

The Resorts

There are a number of resorts on Gran Canaria, all located behind on of the beaches in the south of the island.

Playa del Ingles is the largest and busiest resort. It shares Maspalomas beach and sand dunes with the next door resort of the same name. Playa del Ingles is a party resort with lots of all night shopping centres full of bars and clubs. It is popular with the gay crowd (especially the Yumbo Centre) but also with families. Large areas of the resort are quiet with bungalows set in tropical gardens. It pays to check the location of your accommodation in Playa del Ingles to make sure you are as close/far away from the shopping centres as you want to be.

Maspalomas is next door to Playa but is much quieter and popular with an older crowd more interested in sunbathing and relaxation than all night partying. Maspaolomas dunes and beach are popular with nudists but the beach is large enough to accommodate all sorts. The newest and most upmarket hotels on the island are based on the seafront in Maspalomas resort.

San Agustin resort is quieter than the larger ones and has a pretty beach. It is the south’s little secret and many of its bungalows are taken up by long term residents rather than tourists.

Puerto Rico is another party resort with a buzzing shopping centre and a gigantic walk through McDonald’s. It attracts a British crowd and lots of Scandinavians in the winter. Puerto Rico beach isn’t all that great but nearby Amadores is fantastic with white sand and turquoise water.

Mogan is probably the islands most attractive resort. At is heart is the harbour with pretty whitewashed houses and bougainvillea arches. It is the place to go for seafood and has a small but pleasant beach.

Other, smaller resorts on the island include Tauro, Taurito and Arguiniguin.

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Maspalomas beach at the Playa del Ingles end.
Source: Alex Bramwell
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Maspalomas Dunes.
Source: Alex Bramwell
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Amadores Beach.
Source: Alex Bramwell

Playa Del Ingles Video

The Beaches

There are dozen’s of beaches on Gran Canaria, ranging from the Maspalomas dunes to tiny and often empty stretches of sand such as Guayedra in the north.many of Gran Canaria’s beaches are suitable for nudists, especially the smaller ones. Montana de Arena, Gui Gui, Guayedra and Maspalomas are the most popular nudist beaches.

The capital city Las Palmas boasts one of the world’s great city beaches in Las Canteras; miles of sheltered golden sand right in the heart of one of Spain’s largest cities.The north end is sheltered behind a natural rock reef and is calm and great for swimming and snorkeling while the south end is more for surfers.

Maspalomas beach is Gran Canaria’s biggest beach and includes a lagoon full of birds and Europe’s only Saharan sand dunes. It can be reached from Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles and continues all the way to San Agustin.

Gui Gui beach on the rugged west coast has attained almost mythical status thanks to its remote setting and clear waters. Getting to Gui Gui used to involve an arduous hike down steep cliff paths but can now be reached by water taxi or yacht cruise from the resorts.

Puerto Rico has its own half moon beach within its marinas but Amadores beach around the corner is much prettier. The timeshare resort of Anfi Del Mar has a great Caribbean style, white sand beach and Taurito bay and Mogan also have decent stretches of sand.

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The Mountains of Gran Canaria.
Source: Alex Bramwell
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Cloud Rock
Source: Alex Bramwell
Going Local in Gran Canaria. How to turn a holiday destination into a home.
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Things To Do

Gran Canaria is the island where you can do almost anything you want (except alpine skiing). It is becoming world famous as a scuba diving destination and hosts world championship events for windsurfers and surfers. Even extreme runners gather every year to run up one side of the island to the 6000 foot peak and then back down the other side.If that sounds like too much work then you can participate in the annual Las Palmas marathon or half marathon.

Most visitors to the island are more interested in taking it easy than breaking personal bests. All of the island’s beaches are free to use and most hotels and apartment complexes have swimming pools. The resorts are full or mini golf courses and there are several full sized golf courses on the island. Mogan has a fantastic submarine that takes people out to see the fish and Playa del Ingles beach has all sorts of water sports on offer right from the seashore. Palmitos park is a world class zoo specializing in birds but also has a dolphinarium and orangutans.

Renting a car on Gran Canaria gives you the freedon to explore the island’s mountains and forests at leisure. Towns like Galdar and the capital Las Palmas can be visited by bus. Walking has become very popular and the island’s old royal paths have been renovated and marked to international standards. For a short walk, head up to La Goleta and take the footpath up through the pine forest to Roque Nuble or Cloud Rock.

Don’t worry about missing the football or rugby when on Gran Canaria; most bars shop all the top premiership games and international rugby games.

Gran Canaria is a very safe island but is is always best to be aware of the few things that could go wrong.

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Vegueta streets and Cathedral
Source: Alex Bramwell
Going Local in Gran Canaria. How to turn a holiday destination into a home.
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Canary Islands Travel Guide: Holiday Guide To Tenerife, Gran Canaria & Lanzarote
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Las Palmas

Las Palmas is the capital city of Gran Canaria and one of Spain’s largest cities. It is a bustling sort of place with a large port and a gorgeous beach.The city is in the running to be Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2016.

Vegueta is Las Palmas’ historical old town. Built just after the Spanish conquistadores took the island from the original Guanche inhabitants in the 15th and 16th Centuries, it is a compact and well preserved window into the past. Check out the Museo Canario for prehistoric mummies and the Casa de Colon for a glimpse of how Christopher Columbus lived as he planned his voyages to America. The Vegueta cathedral, dedicated to Santa Ana, is worth visiting (either go up onto the roof for the views or through the silver museum to see it domed interior). If you go inside, don’t leave without finding the mummified Bishop!

The shopping in Las Palmas is among the best and cheapest in Europe with most large clothing chains present either in Las Arenas or El Muelle malls or on Mesa Y Lopez or Triana shopping streets. Perfume is a good buy as sales tax on the island is very low and electronics and cameras are cheap if you know where to go (try Duke’s on Ripoche for camera equipment).

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Carnival In Las Palmas.
Source: Alex Bramwell
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Local romeria fun.
Source: Alex Bramwell
Going Local in Gran Canaria. How to turn a holiday destination into a home.
Amazon Price: $15.58
List Price: $19.00
Canary Islands Travel Guide: Holiday Guide To Tenerife, Gran Canaria & Lanzarote
Amazon Price: $8.96
List Price: $9.95


Gran Canaria is a pretty laid back place and the locals a very friendly bunch; there is always some sort of fiesta or street party going on and visitors are always welcome.

Las Palmas hosts its world famous carnival party in February and March with parades, all night street parties and drag shows. The weekends are liveliest but action is centered around Santa Catalina park and there is always something to see. Other towns on the island have their own carnival parties in the first few months of the year.

In November, Las Palmas hosts the annual Womad festival with music from around the world. Also in November, the ARC yacht race departs from Las Palmas harbour on its way to St Lucia. The whole city turns out along the seafront to watch hundreds of yachts put up their sails.

Romerias are Gran Canaria’s version of a Spanish fiesta. Most are based on a local saint’s day but are more about fun than religion. Each town has its own traditions: The remote town of La Aldea de San Nicolas has an annual party where everybody gathers to catch fish from a lagoon while in Agaete everybody heads down to the sea with branches and beats the water to encourage rain. San Juan in Las Palmas has a bubble festival and most seaside villages take the Virgin Mary from the church and give her an annual boat trip accompanied by fireworks.

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Canarians love their seafood, especially squid and octopus.


Canarian food is quite unique and based around rich stews and soups. The most famous dish is Papas Arrugadas or wrinkly potatoes; small new potatoes boiled in sea water and served with a spicy sauce. A complete guide to Canarian food can be found here.

Seafood is popular, especially squid and octopus, and most bars and restaurants will do a great plate of fried squid rings or whitebait.

Tropical fruit is always available on the island and the bananas are particularly good. Pineapples, mangoes, papayas and guavas are common and can be found in markets and shops.

Canarians love their coffee and deserts.

Getting To Your Resort

The Gran Canaria airport is well connected to the resorts by motorway. Package tourists will be taken to their accommodation  by their tour operator but independent travelers have a choice of local buses or taxis. A taxi ride for the airport to the resorts of Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles runs to about 30 euros. People staying in Puerto Rico or Mogan can expect to pay at least 40 euros.

There are blue Global buses running from the airport to Maspalomas seven days a week with linking buses to the other resorts. Buses run to Las Palmas 24 hours a day. A bus from the airport to Maspalomas is about 5 euros per person. The bus stop is just outside the arrivals loungue.

An alternative is to rent a car and drive to your resort. Local operator Cicar is cheaper than the big multinational brands.

Gran Canaria Video

Gran Canaria Links

Sunshine Guide to Gran Canaria
A great blog all about Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria Info Guide
Gran Canaria search engine, tourist guide, weather, photos, cheap accommodation, maps, hotels, bars & discos, restaurants, rent-a-cars, gay info, property. Entry page to Playa del Ingls, Puerto Rico, Maspalomas and much more!
The ultimate hiking guide for planning your walking holiday in Gran Canaria, the Canary Island in Ca
Walking and hiking on Gran Canaria with an English guide.
Gran Canaria Guru
Everything you need to know about living and working in Gran Canaria. Jobs, events, paperwork, forums, classified ads …
Official Tourism Website
The Gran Canaria Official Tourism Website
BinterCanarias: Vuelos entre islas Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, El Hi
Inter Island Airline with links to mainland Spain and Morocco.
Gran Canaria – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedia page on Gran Canaria
ULPGC – Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Website For Gran Canaria’s University