There is no destination in our country as well prepared for receiving children as Gran Canaria. Beginning with the mild climate which can be enjoyed throughout the year and ending with the varied natural landscapes of the island, and with theme parks, hotels and restaurants, Gran Canaria is a safe choice for families with children seeking fun and adventure.
Beach, mountain and desert, all in one!
Gran Canaria has been called “a miniature continent”, due to its landscapes making us believe that we are travelling across the world without leaving the island. In fact, this great natural wealth has led UNESCO to declare 43% of its territory a Biosphere Reserve.
To begin, the island has a large number of sheltered, safe beaches for swimming, which also have all kinds of services for our comfort: parasols, toilets, children’s games, etc.). These are clean, well equipped beaches with clear waters which are appealing for swimming.
For more active families, an enormous range of maritime leisure activities has been developed around these beaches. We can practice deep-sea fishing, sailing, scuba diving, sport fishing and windsurfing, always supported by an efficient infrastructure which will allow us to have fun in total safety.
Even within this large number of beaches, we have the option of choosing: perhaps we like the impressive sand dunes of Maspalomas, or would prefer a little more atmosphere and entertainment on the beach of Las Canteras. If, on the other hand, we fancy a bit of peace and quiet, we can enjoy the calm of the unspoilt beach of Güigüi.
However, Gran Canaria is not just beaches. There are routes for hiking which will allow us to discover the island’s interior and marvel at its indigenous flora while taking a walk as a family. Furthermore, we can enjoy various adventure sports such as climbing or simply cycling, whatever we want!
Hotels for families
Practically all of the hotels in Gran Canaria have a large number of services and options intended for entertaining children. Many families with children are attracted to the island specifically due to the attention to children, treated as special guests in all places.
Many of these hotels not only have a childcare service, but also organise various activities for children depending on their age, so that they too can have fun, and we can have some free time alone with the peace of mind that they are being well looked after.
There are all kinds of accommodation to choose from in Gran Canaria: from rural houses to luxurious hotels on the beachfront, not to mention a large number of apartments and bungalows, if we prefer a more independent atmosphere.
An enormous theme park
Whether in the open air or in enclosed spaces, in Gran Canaria we will always find a place to go to discover something new and have fun as a family. The whole island can be considered as an enormous theme park with so many options that it is sometimes difficult to choose.
There are botanical-zoological parks combined with the terrain such as the Jardín Canario, an authentic natural treasure in which we can discover a large number of different botanical species in one garden. The Museo-Parque Arqueológico museum of the Cueva Pintada de Gáldar brings us closer to the Guanche people, the first people of the Canary Islands.
We can also visit the Casa de Colón, a place which children usually love. There we will see the intricacies of the discovery of America through the display cases and rooms which are exhibited in the building, the authentic residence in which the explorer lived, and which today serves to teach more about his life and exploits.
Other very interesting places are the Museo Canario museum, in which we will have an overview of the life of the indigenous people of Gran Canaria, and the Museo de la Ciencia, a science museum with over twenty interactive spaces in which the great inventions of humanity are portrayed. Do you know what the slogan of the museum is? “Forbidden not to touch”. Children will love it!
In terms of open spaces, there are places where the flora and fauna of the island can be contemplated in its habitat, such as the Finca de Osorio in Teror, the Pinar de Tamadaba and the areas of Tirma in la Cumbre, not to mention La Charca de Maspalomas which tourists can contemplate next to the beach of the same name.
That is not all: there are theme parks with diverse contents, so that there is always something new to discover. Cactualdea (San Nicolás de Tolentino) is a botanic park with a wide variety of cacti, palm trees and tropical plants; Palmitos Park (San Bartolomé de Tirajana) is an exotic garden which combines birds and orchids; and Parque Los Cocodrilos (Agüimes) is specialised in caimans, crocodiles and other kinds of reptiles.
Sioux City (San Bartolomé de Tirajana), with an extension of 320,000 metres, resembles a town of North America, with its houses, churches, ranch, banks, and “saloon”, etc., where wild west scenarios are performed. Children will love seeing the cowboys there.
Intrepid, exploring families will have a great time passing through the royal roads, hidden, barely used hiking paths which served as natural trails when the indigenous people still lived in Gran Canaria. If we prefer the water, we can sail on a glass-bottom boat to see dolphins and whales, or take submarine excursions. What would you think of a camel ride through the dunes of Maspalomas?
Other options for fun are visiting the Aqualand water park and the Holiday World theme park. As you can see, Gran Canaria has everything for delighting families with children seeking a holiday full of adventure.
The sea of dolphins
What child – or adult – would not be excited about seeing dolphins swim and jump from the water? In Gran Canaria we are lucky because there is no better place for contemplating these gentle mammals in their habitat. The south of the island is one of the dolphins’ favourite places for swimming.
There are boats in which you can approach the best areas for dolphin watching, always safeguarded by safety measures and with the supervision of experts who will inform us of everything. Children will have fun seeing these animals, which are not afraid of approaching boats, jumping from the water and swimming.
The trip lasts two hours and is exciting even before the dolphins appear, as the experts will scan the horizon with their binoculars in search of the signs which indicate the presence of dolphins. There will then be a competition to see who can be the first to see them.
Gran Canaria, a walk through the city
We have covered beaches and hiking, climbed mountains and dunes – and it is now time to discover the capital of the island, a city in which History is alive and breathing and from which we can learn a great deal.
The city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has a strong personality, notable for the typical colonial architecture which we can admire in buildings such as the Casa de Colón and the Cathedral. The combination of cultures on the island can be observed in this city, and we can see it in every step we take.
Modern, cosmopolitan life is combined with a more traditional side, as while we see the posters for the next shows of the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus auditorium we can admire the hard work of the fishermen who, just a little further away, clean and arrange their tools after a hard day of fishing in the sea.
In between, we can sit down to eat, discuss what we have seen and tell children the story of Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America. After lunch, we must go for a walk on the beach and see how the people there live their lives: from people swimming alone to street artists and people taking advantage of the evening to relax, doing yoga.
We can’t miss out on seeing the Vegueta neighbourhood, where we will discover the origin of the city in the 15th century, along with the arrival of the first Andalusian craftspeople, the forays of the privateer Van der Does and the presence of the caravels of Christopher Columbus. The old patios of the houses seem to still talk about those adventures.
On Sundays a traditional market is held in which the crafts of Gran Canaria can be discovered, particularly traditional basketry. It is also a good occasion for sampling the dulce de batata and round sweet bread made right there.
Festivals, festivals, festivals
Another good occasion for discovering the more traditional side of Gran Canaria is during its festivals. Only the Saints and Virgins celebrations throughout the year offer the possibility of contemplating traditional dances and songs whose origins were lost centuries ago.
The good climate of the island all year round allows festivities, small sports competitions, pilgrimages, open air concerts and cinema and any other event which allows fun and good spirits among the inhabitants of the island and those who visit it.
Gran Canaria also preserves festivals inherited from the indigenous inhabitants of the island, such as La Rama, in which after a procession, the sea water is beaten with enormous branches, reminiscent of an ancestral call for rain, and El Charco, a bonefishing competition in a pod in which only hands and a basket are used.
500 year old gastronomy
The uniqueness of the gastronomy of Gran Canary consists of the combination of traditional elements of the island with those which come from beyond the seas. This combination has naturally occurred over the course of 500 years, giving rise to the splendid variety of foods which we can enjoy today.
The good climate of the island allows the production of foods such as tomatoes, apples, olives, tropical fruits, bienmesabe, oranges, sweet bananas, and the enormous variety of fish that we can find in the markets.
We cannot leave Gran Canaria without sampling the delicious Flor de Guía cheese, which is strong and tasty. We also cannot miss out on bienmesabe, a sweet made from cinnamon, sugar, almonds and egg yolk which will delight family members who like sweet foods the most. Of course, we must also include the famous “papas arrugás” potatoes on our plate with sweet or spicy mojo sauce.
In Gran Canaria there is no place for boredom. If you are a family with children, fun on holiday is guaranteed on this island on which there is always something to marvel at.
For more information, consult the tourist portal at www.grancanaria.com