Our country boasts a holiday destination that shines with own light when it comes to organizing a family vacation: Gran Canaria. Not only does it have a mild climate all year round, but also our stay here will be an adventure traveling along its coast, its deserts and its mountains. One thing is for sure: we will not regret choosing Gran Canaria.
Landscapes for all tastes
One of the names by which Gran Canaria is known is “mini continent”. This because the diversity of its landscapes creates the illusion of traveling the whole world on one single island. The natural wealth generated by this diversity of landscapes has led Unesco to declare 43% of the territory of Gran Canaria as biosphere reserve.
It goes without saying that the island of Gran Canaria has many sheltered and safe beaches for swimming, just what we are looking for when traveling with children. These beaches are also equipped with all kinds of services: umbrellas, toilets, playgrounds. They are very clean and their clear and calm waters are a constant invitation to bathe.
The more active families have a huge offer of aquatic entertainment around these beaches. Those looking for an adrenaline rush can go deep sea fishing, sailing, scuba diving, sport fishing or windsurfing always in a safe environment that will allow an absolute dedication to fun.
The fact that there are so many beaches in Gran Canaria gives us the opportunity to choose whatever we want to enjoy at any time. For example, in Maspalomas we can see the impressive sand dunes and on the beach of Las Canteras we will find plenty of atmosphere and animation. To be more relaxed, we can go to the unspoilt beach of Güigüi.
But as we said at the beginning, Gran Canaria has more than just beaches. On the island there are many hiking trails which take us to the interior of the island to discover the native flora while we take a walk with our family. The landscapes of the interior offer the opportunity for some adventure sports, such as climbing or cycling.
Accommodation with kids
Most hotels on Gran Canaria have a large number of services to entertain the youngest of the family. It is precisely this care offered to children that brings many families with children to Gran Canaria every year to enjoy their vacations.
These hotels have babysitting services but also organize various activities for children according to their age. This way they have a great time and parents can enjoy a little time alone knowing that their children are cared for by the best professionals.
On Gran Canaria we can choose from several types of accommodation: from rural houses to luxurious hotels along the beach as well as apartments and bungalows if we prefer to move more independently.
Theme parks for every taste
It is literally impossible to get bored in Gran Canaria since there is always somewhere to go for family fun. Practically the whole island is a theme park where it is almost impossible to decide what to do first.
Another place we can visit is the Jardín Canario garden. The garden is merged with the surrounding landscape and is an authentic treasure where we will discover different botanical species. The Museo-Parque Arqueológico museum of the Cueva Pintada de Gáldar cave helps us to get to know the Guanches, the first settlers of the Canary Islands.
The Casa de Colón house is a place children usually love. Here we find all the secrets of the discovery of America through the showcases and the rooms of the building, which is the authentic house where the discoverer lived and which helps us to get to know him better both as a man and his important achievement.
The Museo Canario museum is a very interesting place to visit with our children, since we travel through the life of the aborigines of Gran Canaria. In the Museo de la Ciencia museum we can discover the important inventions of humanity in its 20 interactive spaces. The motto of this museum is “Forbidden not to touch” and as soon as we tell our kids this they won’t want to leave.
Regarding open spaces, it is interesting to visit places where we can observe the flora and fauna in its natural habitat. Some of these places are the Finca de Osorio manor in Teror, the Pinar de Tamadaba pinewood and the areas of Tirma in Cumbre, not to mention the Charca de Maspalomas lake located next to the beach of the same name.
But we haven’t finished yet. There are many diverse theme parks so that there is always something new to discover. The Cactualdea in San Nicolás de Tolentino is a botanical park dedicated to cacti, palm trees and tropical plants. Palmitos Park in San Bartolomé de Tirajana is an exotic garden that combines birds and orchids, and the Parque de Cocodrilos park in Agüimes is specialized in alligators, crocodiles and other reptiles.
Sioux City in Bartolomé de Tirajana imitates a town in North America with its houses, church, ranches, bank, saloon, and more where Wild West life situations are recreated. The kids will love seeing the cowboys walking through the town and challenging each other to a duel right in the middle of the street. We can also have a lot fun at Aqualand water park and at Holiday World amusement park.
The bravest families can enjoy discovering the old, hidden and barely explored trails used by the aborigines as natural paths when they still lived on Gran Canaria. Families who have a great time on the water can take a glass-bottomed boat to observe the dolphins and whales or take a diving trip. Finally, in the dunes of Maspalomas we can take a ride on a dromedary.
Let’s watch dolphins!
Children and adults alike love to watch the dolphins swimming and jumping. For this reason we shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them in their natural habitat, since the island is one of the best places for watching them. The south of the island is one of the favorite places for dolphins to swim.
We can board one of the ships which bring the visitors to the best places for watching dolphins, always with appropriate safety measures and accompanied and supervised by experts who will inform us at all times about what’s going on. The children will have a great time while they watch the dolphins jumping and swimming and approaching the ship without any fear.
The trip takes about two hours and is absolutely thrilling. The experts search the surface of the sea with their binoculars to find signs of dolphins coming closer to the ship. A competition of who is the first to see one of these beautiful animals is fun and exciting at the same time.
A walk through the town
After taking the sun at the beaches, climbing the mountains and exploring the dunes it is time to visit the capital of the island, a city with a long and living history that can teach us many things. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has a strong personality that is visible in the colonial architecture, especially in buildings such as the cathedral or the Casa de Colón house. On the island there was a crossroads of cultures whose tracks we can see at every step.
The cosmopolitan and modern part of the town joins its most traditional side. Just beside the fishermen repairing their work tools after a long day at sea, we can see the posters for the next contemporary performances at the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus.
Visiting Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a good occasion to sit down to eat some good food and talk about everything we have seen and explain to the kids how Christopher Columbus discovered America. After the meal, a walk on the beach will help us digest and enjoy life on the coast, where we can always see swimmers, street artists, people doing yoga…
One of the most recommended neighborhoods to visit is Vegueta, where we will discover the origin of the city in the 15th century by the hands of the first Andalusian craftsmen. We will also discover the raids of the corsair Van der Does and the caravel of Christopher Columbus. Peering into the old patios of the houses will give us an idea of life in those times.
Every Sunday we have the opportunity to stroll through a flea market, where we can see the crafts of Gran Canaria, especially the traditional basketry. It is also a good time to taste the “dulce de batata” (cit. sweetmeat made of sweet potato) or the round “pan dulce” (cit. sweet bread) that is made right in front of our eyes.
Partying on Gran Canaria
We can get to know the most traditional character of Gran Canaria through its traditional festivals. Throughout the year and thanks to the feasts dedicated to saints and virgins we can enjoy the traditional dances and songs whose origins date back centuries.
Gran Canaria preserves celebrations which belonged to the aboriginal habitants of the island, like La Rama. At this festivity of national touristic interest, after a procession, the people hit the surface of the sea with huge branches, symbolizing an ancient petition for rain. The Charco, another feast of the aborigines, is a fishing competition for mullets in which only the hands and a basket can be used.
And of course we cannot forget the carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, one of the most popular all over the world thanks to the color and the joy that fills the streets with parades, dances and contests held outdoors. The good weather and the open character of the islanders contribute without a doubt to the fun in and around Santa Catalina park where most of the carnival activities are concentrated.
Five centuries of gastronomy
The Gran Canarian cuisine is very peculiar because it fuses traditional ingredients of the Island with new ones coming from the other side of the Atlantic from America. In an absolutely natural way and for 500 years these ingredients have been mixed creating the great cuisine of Gran Canaria we enjoy today.
The good climate of the island throughout the year allows the production of foods such as the famous canary tomatoes, apples, olives, tropical fruit, oranges, sweet banana and a wide variety of fish we can find at the markets of Gran Canaria.
We can’t miss tasting the delicious Flor de Gran Canaria cheese, which is strong and flavorful. Furthermore, tasting the Bienmasabe is a must, this sweet is prepared with cinnamon, egg yolk, sugar and almond and soon it will be the favorite dessert of the sweet tooth of the family. And of course, at some point we have to try the famous “papas arrugás” with mojo dulce o picante (cit. wrinkled potatoes with sweet or spicy sauce).