Play golf, greet the sun and colourful cocktails
GRAN CANARIA: When the temperature is low and Thailand too far away, there are many who are relieved that good old Gran Canaria is few flying hours away. In addition, the climate is super, particularly south of the island. During the winter the temperature is between 19 to 24 ° C. Moreover, the island has been through a serious facelift and the old charter paradise Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas are actually better than its rather dubious reputation.
Playa del Ingles. Loved and hated. Playa has a reputation as everything from party people’s centre to pocket thieves’ paradise. Not much has changed since the reputation arose. If you want peace and a quiet week, don’t beat chose this place. But miles of golden beaches are remarkably clean. There are some plus sides of this tourist machine and perhaps the reason why so many return. For some it is an old habit.
Maspalomas. Gran Canaria is full of options and Maspalomas is a contrast to hectic Playa del Ingles. This is the island’s oldest resort area, a place to relax and unwind, and known for its sand dunes just like a “Mini – Sahara”. Here is the mall Faro, a golf course and the amusement park Holiday World. Naturists have their own area on the beach, as it always has been.
Selection of hotels
Charter companies have hotels and apartments in all price ranges and levels. Riu Grand Palace Maspalomas next to the sand dunes are a top class hotel with several restaurants, a heated pool and spa with massage facilities. The apartments at Parque Cristobal in Playa del Ingles are also of high quality. For luxury spa Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia in Maspalomas a peaceful and elegant oasis with the little extra and best choice for couples without children.
Out and about. If you prefer activities and variations there are plenty of those who arrange boat trips, camel safaris and things the like. At least as many offering car rental, average cost 50 euro per day, insurance and free mileage included. By car you can drive on your own to the wild side of this island.
Culture. Gran Canaria has its own culture developed parallel with the flow of tourists and Europeans who started to come here 60 years ago. Locals have always been open to impressions from the mainland, but have also managed to keep alive old traditions and its own identity. It is hard to find such a limited area with similar mixed culture. The locals like to celebrate festivals and there is always something going on – with regular film festivals, classical music, art, opera and dance. Most and best to be found in Las Palmas.
Shopping. Although tax and duty is introduced, the price level is lower than in other parts of Europe. Still Gran Canaria is a paradise for shopping. In particular, electronics, cameras and perfume are cheaper than elsewhere.
Canarias cuisine. Most restaurants have an international flavour and it’s easier to discover a British pub, Norwegian meatballs or international pizza chain than typical local food. But you will find such places and a local specialty is the typical mojo served both for meat and fish dishes. Another typical food culture is gofio, made from toasted corn and wheat and is used in many dishes – from soup to dessert. ”Sancocho Canario” is the most typical of all Canarias dishes – made from salt fish and stewed potatoes and with gofio and mojo served separately.
The new wave. The first charter tourists came to this island almost 60 years ago for health reasons, mainly because of the dry and hot climate and minerals in the water that seemed as a healing. Then came only the charter tourists. Now the health tourism rise to therapeutic heights, with spa and therapy centre at many hotels. Also Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas has jumped on the healthy bandwagon.
Conclusion. People do not travel here to see ancient ruins, but rather to play golf, greet the sun and enjoy the colourful drink with umbrella. But although Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas are better than its reputation, the tourist life here is like a clock that has gone a little bit too slow.
Useful advice. The hotels in Playa del Ingles are located far from the Beach.
Hotels: Recommend Seaside Hotel Sandy Beach in Playa and Seaside Palm Beach in Maspalomas. Many spa hotels in the area.
Transport: Bus network is well developed and car hire is reasonable.
Drink: Boil tap water before drinking or buy bottled water.
Tip: Taxi and restaurants, service charge included. It is customary to tip the hotel staff and bus drivers after outing.
Golf: Golf Resorts Tauro Valley, Salobre Golf located in the mountains, Maspalomas and El Cortijo Country Club & Golf Center just outside Las Palmas.
Watch out: The Sea can be dangerous. Follow the instructions on the beaches. The traffic is different from home, and robbery and theft are risks you should expect .