One of Spain’s preferred family destinations is, without doubt, the island of Gran Canaria. The island offers a mild climate, a wide range of landscapes, a rich culture, a delicious cuisine and a thousand different secrets to discover on every trip, making it a truly unique and special holiday location. Nobody can resist its charms: why not try it for yourself!
An eternal sun
The tradewinds and a privileged geographical position join forces to bless Gran Canaria with a mild climate in which bright sunlight is an ever-present and where the year-round average temperature is a steady 24 degrees. Gran Canaria is therefore a destination that can be visited any time of the year, as its gentle climate means that the seasons blend into each other with hardly a noticeable difference between them.
Gran Canaria is serious about preserving its natural heritage, and to this end nearly half its surface area is now protected under the denomination of Biosphere Reserve. This enables the natural surroundings to remain unspoilt and can be enjoyed in a responsible way. When we look around at the landscapes in Gran Canaria we gain an insight into its whole history, and its volcanic setting is proof of this.
The Nublo Rural Park and the Special Natural Reserve of Maspalomas Dunes are the most remarkable locations that visitors come to marvel at in Gran Canaria. However, we should not limit ourselves just to these two places, as there are 31 viewing points spread all over the island, each affording stunning views.
UNESCO considers the Canary Islands to be an authentic window to the sky, thanks to the clarity and quality of its skies for star-gazing, something that is unfortunately not so easy to achieve in the world nowadays, with the exception of places such as Hawaii, Chile, New Zealand and the Canaries.
Gran Canaria has been awarded the distinction of “Starlight Tourist Destination” by UNESCO and, thanks to this, astro-tourism is one of the island’s most novel initiatives. The successful fight against light contamination of the night skies in Gran Canaria enables us to take part in night time guided tours in the company of a specialist who educate us on the stars and their constellations. In addition, astronomical markers once used by the island’s aborigines are being recuperated.
There are over 60 kilometres of beaches on the island of Gran Canaria which can be enjoyed any time of the year. Indeed, there is a huge array to choose from: fine, golden sandy beaches, dark, volcanic rock beaches, urban beaches and secluded beaches… We just need to decide which one we feel like visiting and set off for one of Gran Canaria’s wonderful beaches.
Sixteen of them boast the blue flag, awarded every year by the European Environmental Education Federation. This does not only certify the quality of its waters but also ensures that they are ideal for bathing and for nautical sports.
Sport in the great outdoors
Gran Canaria’s natural surroundings and its superb climate make the island the perfect place to take part in all kinds of outdoor sports. These range from walking or cycling around its footpaths to going down to the sea and riding the waves on a surf board or going diving: once more, our only concern will be to choose what to do and enjoy a great family day out while doing healthy exercise and breathing in pure air.
You needn’t worry if you are tackling these sports for the first time, as you will be ably accompanied by professional monitors who will teach you how to take those first steps in a fun way and always with the best safety measures for everyone.
Gran Canaria has a wide range of modern infrastructures that attract professional sportspeople from all over the world and this has led to the island being a host venue for international events such as the Transgrancanaria mountain race, the professional bodyboard championship World Cup Gran Canaria Fronton King 2018 and the Gloria Challenge Mogán in which 400 triathletes from 25 different countries from around the world participate.
Children are the stars
It goes without saying that families with children, especially young children, take centre stage in Gran Canaria. Wherever you go, there will always be something to excite them: the delicate sand for them to run and play on, theme parks for a great day out, the weird and wonderful streets of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, dolphins skipping along the waves… And of course, we too will have fun watching them discover the wonders of Gran Canaria.
Some places that are sure to delight them are the Poema de Mar Aquarium, Siam Park theme park, and Maspalomas Lighthouse, a Site of Cultural Interest and an authentic symbol of the town. We can also go on camel rides, visit zoos and stroll around botanical gardens.
One place not to be missed with children is the Science Museum where we can go around over 20 interactive areas in which we will see mankind’s greatest inventions. The museum’s slogan is “Not touching prohibited” so our youngsters are going to be in their element and amazed as they discover curious objects.
Culture, history and leisure in abundance
If Gran Canaria is known for anything it is its great love for its past and its traditions. To this end, there is a great presence of the pre-Hispanic period and the trail left by Christopher Columbus on the island on course for the Americas. In addition, the cheerful character of the Gran Canarians comes across in their many fiestas, especially its star festival, the Gran Canaria Carnival.
Gran Canaria is home to the largest pre-Hispanic remains in the islands, in the form of the Painted Cave in Gáldar. It is volcanic tuff rock which has cave paintings etched in its interior, making it the most representative archaeological settlement of the many settlements that illustrate just what daily life was like for the early inhabitants of the Canary Islands.
A flovour of the land and the sea
The sense of taste will also be a delight for visitors to Gran Canaria, thanks to a fine traditional gastronomy, packed with flavours waiting to be discovered. The island is home to the only coffee to be cultivated in Europe together with a delicious range of pastries, a characteristic rum distilled at an age-old bodega, plus fresh products grown at orchards that are bursting with flavour.
The famous Canary tomato, tropical fruits, apples, sweet bananas, olives and oranges are just some of the products that grow with such special flavours in Gran Canaria thanks to its superb climatic conditions.
Of course we must try any one of the local wines with Designation of Origin as well as the high quality cheeses that are produced on the island. At any of the many coastal restaurants we will have the chance to sample some lovely fresh fish from the Atlantic.
Relaxation for everyone
There is always time to put our feet up and to forget our day to day worries. In Gran Canaria we can find a fine selection of spas and wellness centres where water plays a fundamental role in relaxation sessions. Furthermore, it is worth remembering that the aloe vera plant abounds on the island, and of course, it plays a key role in healthcare.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the capital
The neighbourhoods of Vegueta and Triana make up the capital’s historic town centre, featuring typical colonial houses. These historic characteristics combine with a modern range of leisure and entertainment attractions which include wonderful shopping facilities and bars to go for a drink and get our strength back. Las Palmas is also home to Las Canteras beach, rated as one of the best urban beaches in the world.
In Vegueta there is a museum dedicated to Christopher Columbus which offers a fascinating collection of objects that highlight the ties Gran Canaria has with the then recently discovered New World.
On Sundays we can go along to a little market which showcases most of the typical crafts made on Gran Canaria, especially traditional basket weaving. It offers an ideal chance to sample some round sweet loaves of bread or sweet potatoes, typical dishes of the island that are prepared on site.
It is worth taking to the roads in order to discover some secluded villages on the island that seem to have hidden themselves away, including Agaete, Mogán, Teror or Tejeda, some of the places we definitely should not miss and where we will experience the great hospitality and generosity of the local inhabitants, together with some of their local traditions. The true identity of Gran Canaria shines through perfectly in any of these villages.
The hotels in Gran Canaria are ready and waiting to welcome families with children, and indeed, most of them offer services and activities aimed at entertaining children and giving them a fun time. This is yet another reason why so many families come back to the island every year, both for a quick break and for a longer holiday.
There are childcare facilities at the majority of the hotels as well as workshops and activity groups depending on the age ranges. It is a wonderful way for the kids to have fun while the parents are able to get some time to themselves, safe in the knowledge that they are being well looked after and having a great time.
But it is not all about hotels in Gran Canaria. We can also choose from other types of accommodation including rural cottages, apartments and bungalows if we are looking for a little more independence or more secluded environments