Gran Canaria is one of the seven islands of the Canary Islands and is located in the southern part, about 100 kilometers from Africa. The area of Gran Canaria is 1532 square kilometers. The coastline is 236 kilometers long and approximately 50 of it consists of beaches, most of which are concentrated in the south. Among all beaches of Gran Canaria, the most notable one is Maspalomas, the dune beach about 8 km long and 2 km wide. This is a true mini-desert by the sea with palm-studded oasis. The dunes are the national reserve park.
The mountains divide the island into two parts; inhabitants just call them the South and the North. Both parts are remarkable for landscape diversity and rich nature. The island is often called “miniature continent”. Here the valleys adjoin to mountains, deserts to rainforests and banana plantations.
Holidays in Canaries is very popular because of the comfortable, mild climate. The winter is warm (+19…+23°C) while summer is hot (+24…+30°C). The average temperature of the seawater is +20…+23°C in summer and +17…+20°C in winter. A distinctive feature is an abrupt change of natural zones: from high, forested mountains on the tops of which there is a snow, to sun beaches. The mountain peaks prevent the entering of cold north winds in the southern part of island maintaining a warm and dry climate.
Sightseeing of Gran Canaria
If you plan a holidays to Gran Canaria you can be sure you will find a lot to impress you. The capital of the island, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is more than five centuries old. It’s one of the biggest harbors in the Atlantic Ocean that was founded by conquistador Juan Rejón in 1478. Today the city is home for almost half the population of the island.
In the old Vegueta quarter on the south of the city is situated the most interesting historical and architectural landmarks: Saint Anne’s Square with the Cathedral of the same name on it; The five centuries old Columbus House is now open as a Museum with exhibits showing the Canaries participation in the New World Discoveries. In the old city, there is Canary Islands Museum where you can learn about artifacts from the ancient Canary civilization.
The best place for walks is Canteras Boulevard, which stretches for 4 kilometers. You can find a lot of hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops here.
In the northern part of the island, near the city of Galdar, there is La Cueva pintada. It’s a cave made of tuff with rock paintings that were made over two thousand years ago. It’s the only cave where paintings have retained their color to the present day.
All plants of the Canary Islands and Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira Islands, Cape Verde) are collected in the Canarian botanic garden on the slopes of the Guiniguada Ravine about 7 kilometers from Las Palmas.
Telde is the second largest city on the island. Here is situated the oldest church on the island, the Church de San Juan built in the 15th century. Of interest, there is a Flemish gilded wooden altar of the 16th century. The image of Christ on it is made of corn kernels, which were gifted by Mexica Indians. Montana de Cuatro Puertas rises 4 kilometers from the city. On its northern slope, there is an esplanade near the big cave with four entrances. This is the platform where Guanches once held Council’s meetings. 10 kilometers from Las Palmas there is crater, Caldera de Bandama, which refers to the craters of recent formation; it is 1000 meters in diameter and 220 meters in depth. Going down the path to the bottom of crater, you can see the farm buildings. The best view on the crater is from the top of Bandama (575 m). Not far from La Caldera de Bandama, you can find a small village La Atalaya that is famous for its pottery, which is still made following the ancient Guanches methods.
Holidays in Canary islands promise a lot of surprises for tourists. In Agaete the festival Bajada de la Rama is held in August. Inhabitants of Agaete go to the mountains above the city and from there they go down to the sea armed with branches. These branches are used for hitting the sea, attracting the rain in this way. After that, the procession comes back to the city with songs and dances.
One of the most spectacular festivals on the island is the carnival that is usually held at the end of February or in the beginning of March. The main events of the festival are the election of the Carnival Queen, the Burial of the Sardine and grand costume procession. Actually, the holidays Canary Islands attract many people from all over the world.
There are two water parks on the island. The first one is situated in Maspalomas and the second one is in the mountains on the road to Palmitos Park. The water park in Maspalomas is the biggest one in the Canary Islands; it takes 90 000 square meters. It is open throughout the year except the days with adverse weather conditions.
For golf lovers there are six golf courses in Gran Canaria. There are also perfect conditions for tennis, volleyball, horse riding, fishing, windsurfing, sailing, water skiing and diving. There are centers of thalassotherapy, hydrotherapy and relaxation.
Not far from San Agustín, you can find the biggest track for karting in Spain, the length of which is 1650 meters.
Beaches and resorts of Gran Canaria
You never forget your Canaries Holidays. The southern part of the island contains beaches with incredible golden sands in the area of tourist zone Maspalomas or it’s sometimes called as Costa Canaria. It’s here the best hotels on the island are situated; the best conditions are available here for water sports and golf. The real treasure of Maspalomas are Dunes. It’s the piece of Sahara with the pure golden sand and a good five kilometers of beach.
There is also Palmitos Park 8 km from this resort. It’s a distinctive zoo and botanical garden with the area of 200 000 square meters, where you can see rare exotic birds. The route laid through the park ends with an amazing parrot show and house of butterflies where thousands of species are free flying.
One will never get bored in Maspalomas: fishing in the open sea, jeep-safari, camel rides, amusement park, 2 water parks, Arab Night, Show of Cowboys and Indians, casino. Maspalomas includes such resorts as Playa del Ingles, Campo Internacional, Meloneras, Bahia Feliz, Playa del Aguila and San Agustin. San Augustin is great if you’re looking for restful but cheap holidays Gran Canaria.
The northern coast contains small, deep bays with blue ocean waters, stones of volcanic origin and beautiful cliffs.
Puerto Rico and Puerto de Mogan are smaller centers with mooring for yachts which specialize in water sports. Puerto Rico has a small beach, where you can make excursions by sea, windsurf, fish in the open ocean, skydive, and so on.
Puerto de Mogan is spa resort which looks half-submerged in water: canals and bridges make it look like the famous Italian city. There are beaches for nudists not far from there, Maspalomas, and indeed on the usual beaches in Gran Canaria every second person goes naked. Don’t hesitate, you always will be able to find a cheap holidays to Gran Canaria.