The Canary Islands - Gran Canaria Holiday and Beach Guides.

Gran Canaria offers beautiful beaches to laze around on but also you can go out exploring towns and villages as well as the forests and barrancos.

We last went on holiday to Gran Canaria for just a quick November 7 day stay, having found a nice deal on the web and stayed in Playa des Ingles (San Fernando area). Being The Canary Islands the weather was pretty good with around 25 to 26 degrees during the day (although the day we were in Puerto de Mogan the temperature was 33 degrees which was pleasant).
Gran Canaria - Mountains views Gran Canaria views Lots of hotel and other construction has occurred in the area with seemingly just about every barranco between Maspolomos and Puerto de Mogan either already built on, being built on or marked out with roads so expected to be built on.
However once you get away from that coast and go inland you will find that there is plenty of open countryside and tremendous scenery to be had - from fairly barren but colourfull rock formations towering above barrancos to heavily forested areas. There are plenty of tracks inland for walkers and cyclists (as well as the so-called jeep safaris) - and up in the hills there are plenty of paths to use although making circular walks takes a little organising.
There are also scattered around a few GPS readings for those interested, given under WGS84 Latitude and Longitude. We had a 1:50000 AA Island Map (Island Series 7) which when we loaded up with some of our gps tracking data, showed the roads and tracks to be reasonably accuratey displayed. However please note that the N grid references given on the side of the map are not correct at all - presumably a mis-print (this at time of writing so possibly this has since been corrected of course).
Gran Canaria - Hills and Mountain views Hills and Mountain views Gran Canaria views of Gran Canaria's Interior views of Gran Canaria
Various photographs mostly taken around the really lovely interior of Gran Canaria - the mountains are particularly colourfull when the sun catches them at certain times of the day and the lava and rocks are excellent - it's all really good for sightseeing.
Gran Canaria's Interior views of Gran Canaria's Interior Gran Canaria The rugged interior of Gran Canaria

Peurto de Morgan street Eating Out at restaurants on Gran Canaria: On the Canaries you always seem to get a huge serving which is usually nicely cooked and well presented. The meat dishes - be it steaks, chicken or chops - are for us sufficient that we don't have starters anymore nor do we have the room for puddings - add in a litre of house red and maybe a couple of beers and it's all a real bargain.
As usual with the Canaries and this also applies of course to the Greek Islands (in fact probably applies to just about anywhere but England) - you are always made welcome and you can stay as long as you wish. It's more than likely that some of the restaurant staff will come and sit down for a chat too along with a glass or two of free house red - particularly if you have been previously to the place. The meals do tend to be chip orientated but you can get potatoes if you ask and also the meals usually have plenty of vegetables like carrots and peas and so on included.
Transport: Gran Canaria Car-hire is fairly inexpensive on all of the Canary Islands however it does pay to shop around a little because rates really do vary a lot. We only wanted 2 days and hired a small Nissan (which we promptly named "El Heap" mainly because it was a heap hence what was a fairly low price to hire). The roads are quite busy in the main areas like Gran Canaria's Puerto Rico and Playa des Ingles and of course Las Palmas is a total nightmare for not only driving around but even worse to try and park somewhere. Having such a luxurious car as El Heap did help - even the locals thought twice before trying to cut us up for some reason!.
Gran Canaria The colourful interior of Gran Canaria Gran Canaria roads are well surfaced even in the more remote areas in the hills with most having armco although a few have simple wooden barriers. On some of the really high parts where the roads are very hair-pinned and extremely narrow this is quite welcome. It is actually easier for the driver where some of the really bad drops occur than for the passenger - my son does not have a problem with vertigo but said - as the passenger - some of the bends and drops were quite unnerving. The bus drivers and their driving ability on these mountain roads is amazing - one time our bus and a tourist coach met on a steep hairpin bend - it took them about 3 minutes of back and forth maneouvring and we were through
The bus service around Playa des Ingles is very good and inexpensive but you do have to sort out where the buses actually go from - not all bus stops service all bus lines. We only used the buses to get to a couple of places but we know that Playa des Ingles to Puerto Rico and Puerto de Mogan is either bus number 1 or 32 - this service is frequent and fast. There is also a regular bus service to the airport - also very fast. The only other bus number we know is number 18 which goes into the hills (leaves Playa des Ingles at 08:00 11:00 and 13:00) passing the Camel walks centre and then on to San Bartolome de Tirajana and onwards - quite a good bus ride since the views on the at times high, very narrow hair-pin road are excellent. (The times given are just an indication and should be checked as things do change).

Gran Canaria places to visit:- Puerto Rico - Playa Ingles - Maspolomos - Puerto Mogan - Mirador/Pico and Caldera de Bandama.

Gran Canaria Playa des Ingles.

This is quite a sprawling area packed with hotels and so on and it all seamlessly joins into Maspolomos. With many of it's hotels quite inland i.e. around San Fernando, you can have quite a walk and also have to cross several busy roads to get down to the nearest beach. Also the majority of the restaurants are some way away if you are staying up near the "motorway". There is a local bus service whizzing around however if you don't want to walk there are usually of course plenty of taxis around.
Faro - Maspalomas beach, Gran Canaria Maspalomas sand dunes, Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria and a little about Maspolomos.

Maspolomos is probably mostly well known for it's sand dunes - which are quite extensive and nice to walk through - except for the (mostly) oldish nude men who seem to frequent the thicker scrub. Considering that naturism on parts of Maspolomos beach as well as in fact on most beaches on Gran Canaria is perfectly acceptable it is hard to imagine why they need to hide in here.... anyway walking through the dunes in some places might make you a little uncomfortable if you were on your own. Much of the wide beach between Faro and Maspolomos is red flagged meaning that going very far into the sea for a swim is hazardous. In fact the broad and longish stretch of the actual beach is perhaps most notable for the large number of people simply walking along it enjoying the sea air and waves. The Maspolomos end of the beach is ok for swimming - it also has 3 lots of sunbed areas for nudists - when we previously visited Maspolomos beach a few years ago these were mostly split between one for men, one for women and one for couples but this time all three seemed to be being used by everybody. There are several beach bars along the beach so no problem for sustenance.

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan.

Although a lot of building is continuing further up the barranco this little port is really nice and definitely where we would hope to stay on any future Gran Canaria holiday. There are plenty of restaurants and bars, a really nice harbour area for an evening stroll and a really good beach.
Puerto de Mogan beach - Gran Canaria boats at Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria harbour at Puerto de Mogan in Gran Canaria lovely streets at Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
Also the small car free streets are full of flowers and fauna and a delight to walk round. The temperature always seems higher here too (3 degrees higher than Maspolomos on two visits) - maybe because the area is sheltered from the wind.

Gran Canaria town of Puerto Rico.

Many people stay up at Puerto Rico whilst on holiday in Gran Canaria - the hotels and apartments are built right up the sides of the barranco and go quite a distance inland as well. The top part of Puerto Rico is at around 1257 metres. The sandy beach is quite large but usually very busy - it certainly isn't the type of beach where you would expect to find naturists.
Gran Canaria's Puerto Rico is set up entirely for tourists shoreline at Puerto Rico on Gran Canaria Puerto Rico harbour, Gran Canaria Puerto Rico on Gran Canaria
There are plenty of food restaurants and cafes around the beach area varying from fast food types to those which offer proper food. Puerto Rico has been set up purely for the tourist industry and there is nothing of particular note scenically to speak of unlike for instance the much more picturesque Gran Canaria town of Puerto de Mogan.

Visiting The Mirador/Pico and the Caldera de Bandama on Gran Canaria.

Located just south of Tafira the Mirador on Gran Canaria is certainly a place to consider visiting whilst out sightseeing on Gran Canaria as it gives you really good views of Las Palmas and the surrounding countryside. There is parking for a few cars but many coach day-trips and "round the island" coach trips go to it so it's useful to arrive earlier rather than mid morning onwards if possible.
When returning down from the Mirador park at the bottom by the restaurant (or just drive along the road a little way towards the golf club and park and walk back), then walk down through the houses on a marked path to take a look at the crater way below. You can go down to the bottom but the path is extremely slippery so decent soled boots or shoes should be worn plus perhaps taking a walking stick might be a good idea.
Mirador de Bandama, Gran Canaria Caldera de Bandama, Gran Canaria Gran Canaria - Caldera de Bandama Way down into the Caldera de Bandama, Gran Canaria
beautiful cliffs at Puerto de Sardina, Gran Canaria Gran Canaria - Puerto de Sardina Puerto de Sardina cliffs, Gran Canaria Puerto de Sardina. This little port is at the top of the island near Galder - it's a very quiet place and not remotely touristy and is in fact farming country. There is a small restaurant in the port which we found to be very reasonably priced when we had a meal and a drink there.
around Tejeda on Gran Canaria Tejeda's Church - Gran Canaria Tejeda on Gran Canaria
Tejeda. This small town is in the centre of the island and on coach day-trip itinerarys so an early visit is well worth planning for if possible. It has one of the nicest churches on the island though the church is quite difficult to photo from the square - the best view is on the road as you come into town.

Gran Canaria valley - Los Cercades

Gran Canaria driving day trip for some enjoyable touring around Los Cercades.

This deep Gran Canaria valley is well worth a visit during a driving tour of the Island and makes for a really scenic drive on the way - (take the GC60 out of Playa des Ingles and then take the GC604 from San Bartolome). The small hamlet of Los Cercades is way down in a valley and the Embalse de Chira is at the far end just before a barranco starts.
There are still extensive Prado there, one of which can be walked along to make up a reasonable circular-ish walk and you can see another disappearing along a narrow barranco heading for the coast (although this latter Prado looked to be quite badly covered in thistle and scrub unfortunately).
Los Cercades Prickly Pears - Gran Canaria Embalse de Chira, Gran Canaria Embalse de Chira GC

Puerto de la Aldea - Gran Canaria Puerto de la Aldea
Puerto de la Aldea.
This is located on the west coast of the island and reached by taking the GC810 out of San Nicolas. There are just a few small fishing boats anchored there plus a quite small beach - actually this area is very much farming territory and not at all touristy.
Caldera de Bandama, Gran Canaria Lovely rocks at the Barranco Hondo on Gran Canaria area aroaund Cues de Silva GC Cues de Silva Bridge in Gran Canaria
Above and below are some more photographs taken whilst driving around the hills and mountains on Gran Canaria.
scenic rocks on Gran Canaria inland Gran Canaria Gran Canaria scenes Gran Canaria
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