We have recently returned from a week in Gran Canaria. This was a wonderful break not only because we were joined by our two sons and one girlfriend but also because we were also able to escape a UK winter, if only for a week.
Unbelievably, it is over twenty years since we first visited this attractive island and we have been going almost every year since! We usually go in February as a respite from the British weather and for some serious rest and relaxation.
You might be wondering what entices us to visit the same island on such a regular basis. Here, in no particular order, are my main reasons for visiting the Spanish island of Gran Canaria:
- Accessibility – We always travel from Gatwick, as the airport is approximately 25 minutes by car from where we live. Flights take about four hours to the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and the airport is just 18 kilometres outside the city. Transfers are very straightforward from the airport. On some visits, we have hired a car so that we could explore more of the island. On this most recent visit, we organised a taxi and walked an awful lot!
- Climate – One of our main reasons for returning to Gran Canaria, in the winter, is because of the weather. The island is warm all year round and at just 150km from North Africa’s west coast, it has the benefit of almost no rain and long days of sunshine. Temperatures rarely drop below an average of 24 °C throughout the year. We always stay in the south of Gran Canaria to enjoy the best weather.
- Cuisine – There is a wide variety of food to be enjoyed on the island, including local specialities and international dishes. I could actually write a separate post about all the delicious food we sampled but for now I’m just going to talk about a few dishes.
Papas Arrugadas or Canarian Potatoes are very popular. The translation equates with ‘wrinkled potatoes’ but these are actually new potatoes boiled in very salty water. I read that these were originally cooked, unpeeled, in Atlantic Ocean water. They are usually served with mojo.
Mojo translates as sauce and there are two types: red or mojo picon and green or mojo verde. The red mojo sauce is spicier than the green but both are delicious.
Fish – being an island, Gran Canaria offers a wonderful selection of fish and seafood, including paella, bream, sea bass, squid and octopus. One is really spoilt for choice.
Meat – if you are a carnivore, there is plenty of options. Excellent steaks, pork ribs, goat and rabbit dishes are available and more besides.
Fried milk – this was a desert that we had never come across until our most recent visit. I didn’t order it but felt compelled to at least try a morsel! I was very pleasantly surprised because I don’t like fried food and the notion of a fried egg custard was less than appealing. However, I did enjoy my taster although I couldn’t have eaten a whole one!
- Diverse landscapes – Gran Canaria is said to resemble a miniature continent with its dramatic scenery, perfect beaches and volcanic mountains. In the photo below, I was standing in the sea, at Maspalomas, looking at sand dunes, a lagoon and the mountains. Amazing!
This area is a unique part of Maspalomas and Gran Canaria because of its beauty and range of ecosystems. It totals 400 hectares which is protected by the Canarian government as a Nature Reserve of special value and includes an amazing beach, an impressive sand dune system, as well as a palm grove and a lagoon.
The lagoon (Charca de Maspalomas) is an ideal location to watch aquatic birds. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of some of the 24 species of migratory and resident birdsthat can be found here.
- Culture – there is a lot more to Gran Canaria than sun, sea and beaches! Gran Canaria is home to several interesting museums and cultural centres. The majority of these can be found in the capital Las Palmas. Gran Canaria has long been a port of call for travellers and many of them settled with their families on this beautiful island, bringing with them their own cultures and traditions.
Festivals are extremely popular in Gran Canaria and one of the most popular is Carnival. Unfortunately, I can’t find any photos I have taken of the Carnival Processions, we have seen but the image below works well, I think!
- Activities – There is a wide range of activities that are available on Gran Canaria. Here are just a few of them: golf, tennis, swimming, diving, hiking, cycling, participating in water sports…
We haven’t actually played golf on Gran Canaria but we have seen the beautiful settings of the courses! We have played a lot of tennis, swum, walked and cycled and enjoyed that precious activity known as Rest and Relaxation 😎
I hope you have enjoyed my brief synopsis of reasons to visit Gran Canaria and I’d be interested to know if you have visited any of the Canary Islands.
I will be sharing this post with the PoCoLo link up.