We already told you about the advantages of The Canary Islands! 🙂 Now we’re going to take you to each of the islands. But beware: it’s not going to be an in-depth analysis made by a person who knows the islands by heart – that’s not me:) We haven’t lived there for a year, not even for six months. We haven’t reached every little house and every beach. We spent 16 days on The Canaries and travelled through Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. We also managed to lie down, read a lot and relax. You know, I was five month pregnant then. 🙂 Memories, memories 🙂
But let’s get back to our plan and some advice for those who don’t have a month but only two weeks and don’t like to lie on the beach or by the pool all the time!
Why do we start with Gran Canaria? Because we liked this one the most from the 3 islands we visited!
Gran Canaria is a third biggest island on The Canary Islands. Long time ago it used to be called The Island of Eternal Spring by its inhabitants. After you arrive you see that this name was adequate. The weather is brilliant! In winter the temperature is 20-24 degrees while in the summer it never reaches more than 30. A paradise for everybody who finds it hard to stay in the heat of Egypt, Cyprus or even Malta and considers staying in Thailand a long visit in a sauna..
We started our trip on Tenerife but we seemed to be constantly getting to really touristic places that are filled with German and English pensioners in January. There were some amazing things too that I will write about soon, but not as many as we wished. 🙂 I got really sad because of one situation I encountered on Tenerife. In one of the big resorts (Playa de las Americas or Los Cristianos) I asked for a sweet bun in a bakery in Spanish. The staff didn’t understand me!!! Everything seemed to be customised to the senior tourist masses from Germany and UK while the Spanish side of The Canaries have disappeared somewhere…
On Gran Canaria, I finally felt like in Spain which I love unconditionally 🙂 The capital, Las Palmas Gran Canaria is quite a big city (the biggest one on The Canaries – approx. 380 thousand citizens), there’s not that many tourists and it has this peculiar Spanish feel that I can’t describe good enough. What is it? It’s hard to explain… I remember one of my friends asking me after we landed in Barcelona: “Do you feel it? The scent! The scent of Spain!”… And I really felt it! I feel it every time I walk through the streets of Madrid or eat pintxos in San Sebastian. The scent, the language, the music, a bar on the corner where we eat our breakfasts (Cola Cao! :)) and lunches, everybody who passes us in the streets and talks with us. The vibe on the promenade by Playa de las Canteras beach. That finally made me feel it on The Canaries.. 🙂
Playa de las Canteras is the most popular city beach in Las Palmas. Imagine that locals can go there all year long! 🙂 Our hotel was situated just by the beach – you can find a lot of cheaper and more expensive lodging around, just have a walk and ask people. In January the weather is perfect to lie on the beach and sunbathe a bit and then walk around the promenade and the neighbourhood. The city has 4 more beaches but we only visited Las Canteras since Las Palmas was our starting point for further trips around the island and we enjoyed the city mostly in the evenings when the promenade was lively, the restaurants served tapas and sangria, and the confectioneries served delicious ice cream. Pay attention now: The ice cream booths on the promenade in Las Palmas serve one of the best ice cream we have tried! Remember about it! Las Canteras is also known for its huge Nativity scene made from sand and water! You really have to see it if you’re around in December or January! Maks haven’t seen The Canaries as he was in the belly but I guess that the Nativity scene is going to be a major attraction for children! The biggest one was built in 2006. It was built from 250 tonnes of sand and spanned 700 sqm! The one from 2010 was great too! 🙂
We left Las Palmas to see some more of the island. We travelled through part of the island by car (mainly eastern and northern areas of the island) treating Las Palmas as a starting point. Then we decided to find a new, charming place for 2-3 days in order to relax – far from huge hotels and swarms of senior tourists from Germany and England!
Where to go, when you’re on Gran Canaria?
We definitely loved the little villages hidden somewhere inland. Fataga is surely one of such places. You can go visit it even if you came here to sunbathe in one of the resorts since its only 18 km away from Playa del Engles (one of the advantages of travelling around the islands!)
Fataga is more than 2000 years old and it used to be inhabited by Guanches. Nowadays you can see tradition Canary homes here, walk through narrow streets, drink fresh orange juice and eat something before further travels. It is considered one of the most beautiful villages on the island. A must see.
You can also travel to Fataga from Puerto de Mógan where we decided to spend some quiet and relaxing time. What irritated us most on The Canary Islands, especially on Tenerife, where the concrete resorts, built tasteless and boring. Kind of an every place. Big hotels, international hotel chains, restaurants for tourists along with widely advertised English Breakfast – I already told you – January is the pensioners time. We drove around for a while before finally deciding where to stay for 2-3 days. Puerto de Mógan is also a bit touristic, but without big hotels with little white houses instead. What’s more, the government keeps all the buildings’ height here below 2-storeys and therefore it’s possible that Puerto de Mógan will stay like this:) There’s also a charming harbour with restaurants selling seafood and delicious bread with olive oil and tomatoes for starters. Simple combinations taste best! In Puerto we also fell in love with a little El Jamonal Wine Bar where you can try amazing fresh sandwiches with jamon serrano ham and cheese.
There’s a statue on the little square in front of El Jamonal. It’s a statue of an ordinary man which is quite common on The Canary Islands and in Spain too. In Puerto you can sit on a bench next to a sculpture of Elias Hernandez Garcia (1880-1974) who sold fruits on this square for many years and was so recognizable that in 2006 he got his own statue! You will find more of this kind of statues all over The Canaries 🙂
When you’re in Puerto de Mógan, be sure to visit Maspalomas – it’s also a resort but it has something more important to offer – the renowned dunes Dunas de Maspalomas. A gigantic beach along with big dunes make you feel like you just arrived in the dessert. It’s also a lot of fun to walk and run around this giant sandbox.
Las Palmas is also a good starting point for trips to Artenara and Puerto de las Nieves.
Artenara is known for houses that the natives – Guanches, carved in the rocks. Interestingly, most local citizens still live in such houses, but as you can see in the picture – the houses were modernised. A little cave also houses a charming chapel of Holy Mary. It’s a bit of a “hike” to get there, but it’s worth it! 🙂
Puerto de las Nieves and nearby tiny Agaete (5000 inhabitants) used to be famous for El Dedo de Dios rock formation that stuck out of the Atlantic Ocean looking like God’s finger (that’s what the name says). Unfortunately “dedo” was destroyed by Tropical Storm Delta in 2005 that caused a lot of damage to The Canary Islands. El Dedo de Dios used to look like this.
The views are magnificent anyway and Puerto de las Nieves is also known for the best fish and seafood on Gran Canaria! Something for fish freaks like us! 🙂 Just look at these calamari! They’re practically asking you to eat them!! 🙂
If you plan to spend more time on Gran Canaria, you can go and see Teror with its characteristic houses with wooden balconies. It’s on the way from Las Palmas to Puerto de las Nieves. Go there on Sunday – there’s a fair held then – supposedly the biggest and most original in whole Gran Canaria. Local cheese (love!) and other specialties are available for purchase 🙂
That’s North. If you go south of Las Palmas, towards Maspalomas and Peurto de Mogan, stop by in calm Agüimes that’s also known for numerous statues celebrating ordinary people that lived in the city over the years. There’s some more places that we didn’t manage to see or passed by on our way – you’ll find everything about them in the travel guides! 🙂 We suggest going to our favourites – there’s a few of them but fortunately the biggest distance to travel at once is only 80 km 🙂 It’s an ideal place for a moderately cheap vacation during which you can combine sightseeing with sunbathing and be sure that the weather is going to be pleasant – nothing like 30-40 degrees heat 🙂