The third biggest of the sun-dappled Canary Isles, Gran Canaria is indeed a giant resort – but it’s so much more besides. Once a favoured ‘wintering’ resort for the super-rich of the 19th century, it’s been a winner in the tourist stakes for fifty-odd years now, and it’s easy to see why. Besides the climate, lush foliage, gorgeous beaches and nightlife ranging from the sophisticated to the gloriously raucous, it has a splendid terrain, luxury resorts, sleepy and quaint villages, history and golf and water sports – a bit of a cocktail, in other words. Read on for ideas on how to get the most out of the island.
Set on the south-west coast, to call this fishing port town picturesque is barely doing it justice. The houses are whitewashed with pastel detailing, the streets are cobbled and there’s even a canal running through the town (which is also known as ‘Little Venice’). The beaches are broad and sandy, flanked by places to eat and shop.
The island’s capital, this busy and charming town has much in the way of history, in the form of a 500-year-old cathedral and several museums, including the Museo de Colón, where Christopher presented his credentials to the island’s governor back in 1492. Early governors of the island later lived in this residence, and the place now showcases artefacts and stories about Columbus and his journeys.
Anfi Tauro golf course
A renowned place for golfing enthusiasts, Anfi Tauro Golf boasts an 18-hole course covering an area of 650,000m2, designed by the revered course designer, Robert von Hagge. It’s suitable for players of all levels and is as scenic as can be – surrounded by waterfalls, lush vegetation, mountains and looking out over the azure waters of the Mediterranean.
This is a classy beach resort with a rugged backdrop of cliffs and also of peaceful dunes. There is also a famous waterpark here, which is great for kids (and big kids too, if you get our drift) having 33 water flumes of varying heights, speeds and themes – all fantastic fun. There’s more golf to be had here too, as well as some great designer shopping and of course, golden sands when you can lay supine as the sun beats down.
If your holiday goal is to be as indolent as possible, then you’ll never want for beaches here on which to live out that desire – but this one stands out. Not simply because of its silky, rippled, 500 metres of sand, but because it still partially belongs to relaxed locals (as opposed to giddy, volleyball-playing tourists) and rarely, if ever, gets anywhere near packed. You’ll always have room to stretch out, but will never feel lonely. There’s also a promenade lined with places to eat and drink.
Gran Canaria holidays are hugely popular with families and groups, and there are indeed a number of purpose-built resorts for that reason, some dating back to the 1960s. But as with anywhere, there are alternatives to the most visible places – you just have to be in the know. Now that you are, all you have to do is get there.