The island of Gran Canaria is situated in the centre of the Canary Island archipelago and is the third largest island after Tenerife and Fuerteventura.
With its all year round warm climate, its diversity of landscapes, magnificent beaches and friendly, laid-back atmosphere, Gran Canaria is an ideal family holiday destination, anytime of the year.
The first existence of life on Gran Canaria dates back to 500BC when the Guanches, which were the aboriginal people of the Canary Islands, inhabitated the islands.
During the dark ages the islands were forgotten by Europe, and it wasn’t until the 13th century that they were once again rediscovered. In the 14th century they were conquered on behalf of the Spanish by the Norman captain, Jean de Bethencourt, who conquered Lanzarote.
When Christopher Columbus stopped on in the Canary Islands on his way to discover the Americas, it put the islands on the map as a
strategic stop-off point for many years to follow.
Natural Gran Canaria
Many visitors only see the rather barren coastline to the south of the island, between Las Palmas and the seaside resorts of the south. However, Gran Canaria’s landscape is contrasting and on further exploration you will see the beautiful sub-tropical habitat that is home to diverse species of flora and fauna.
The Canary Islands form a part of the biogeographical area known as Macaronesia, which incorporates the Azores, Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands, and they share much flora species with these islands, despite their
The landscape can be divided into different categories: Semi-desert, Pine Forest, Laurel Forest, Palm Groves and the Maspalomas Dunes and Lagoon.
The island is home to a wide variety of fauna species including bats, and shrews, mice, hedgehog, lizards, frogs and an abundant variety of birds.
Gran Canaria’s Resorts
Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria and is a wonderful cosmopolitan city, full of architectural and monumental interest. The picturesque district of Vegueta is the old part of the city and is full of
wonderful architectural attractions to visit.
If you want to shop until you drop, then head to the Triana quarter of Las Palmas. There are also lots of interesting cultural attractions here and lovely colonial-style buildings. The area of Canteras and the north side of the city is where you will find the city port, there is also a good
shopping area, Calle Mesa y Lopez, and the place to head for a great night out.
At the western end of Gran Canaria is the famous resort of Maspalomas, which is the oldest tourist centre of the island. This resort is famous for its beautiful, natural 6 kilometre coastline of sand dunes, wide sandy beaches and beautiful shallow
waters, which form a nature reserve.
Puerto Rico is one of Gran Canaria’s most popular family resorts and not surprisingly as it is well known for being one of the sunniest spots on the island. Situated at the mouth of a large valley, this once small fishing port, has today become a busy holiday resort, with its now smart marina and hotels and apartments, built on terraces rising
up along the steep slopes along the coastline.
The charming resort of Puerto de Mogan was like many seaside resorts, once a sleepy fishing village. The pretty streets filled with colourful flowers and small footbridges over the town’s
canal, remind many visitors of Venice.
Playa del Ingles is one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations and is a paradise of sun, sea and fun for tourists. The resort itself is very built up and attracts a predominantly British tourist crowd; it’s also famous for having a prominent gay community.
Moving away from the traditional seaside resort, visitors who want to learn a little more about Canarian life and culture, should visit the villages of Tejeda, Teror, Arucas, Puerto de las
Nieves and Agaete and Telde.
Gran Canaria is a beach bum’s paradise, with the phenomenal natural sand dunes of Maspalomas, the wonderful Playa de las Canteras, in Las Palmas, which is said to be one of the best city beaches in Europe, and the beautiful man-made beaches of Puerto Rico and Playa de los
Amadores, to name but a few.
Gran Canaria has a heavy influence from Latin America, because of the shipping routes and you can see this influence in the island’s cultural scene. If you want to get to know a bit about the culture of Gran Canaria then head to the capital Las Palmas, and especially the historic old quarter of Vegueta. Alternatively head to some of the smaller non-tourist towns and villages, where you will get a feel of real Canarian life and culture.
The great outdoors beckons on Gran Canaria, with a wide choice of outdoor pursuits and activities to choose from. On land you can take part in rock climbing and hiking excursions, jeep and camel safaris, and village to village coach excursions. Sea lovers can enjoy such pursuits as windsurfing, deep sea fishing, sailing, glass bottom boat
excursions, snorkeling and much more.
There is a heavy influence from Africa and Latin America in the cuisine of Gran Canaria, which they combine with traditional Spanish gastronomy.
Fish obviously plays an important role in the gastronomy of Gran Canaria and especially popular are locally caught Langoustines, Mussels, Octopus, Atlantic Mackerel, and Sardines.
Meat dishes are popular, especially steaks and stews, but most meat tends to be imported in, as there is not much livestock on the island.
A special accompaniment to many dishes is called Papas Arugadas, which literally translates to Wrinkly potatoes. The potatoes are boiled in their skins with sea salt, which leaves a fine crust and served with delicious Mojo sauce.
Gran Canarias’s climate like the rest of the Canary Islands is mild, enjoying pleasant temperatures all year round. Average temperatures during the summer months average 26-28C; during the winter months the temperature rarely drops below 22 degrees, making it a perfect all year round