The third largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is one of the “islands of eternal spring” and a gem amongst holiday resorts. The enviable climate and year-round summer-like weather make it a top destination for vacationers worldwide. It is located on the far south side of Spain, surrounded by the Central Atlantic Ocean and in close proximity of the west coast of Northern Africa. Given that it sits on the same latitude as the Sahara, Gran Canaria is much hotter than mainland Spain even in winter, but it is also blessed with a cool Canary current and some northeast trade winds.
This mountainous island of volcanic origin has a cluster of high central mountains that are responsible for a diversity of microclimates that compliment Gran Canaria’s generally hot and mild weather. Summer lasts from May until November, with a high average temperature known to reach 26°C during the second half of the season. Its nights are reasonably warm at 20°C on average, and the winds maintain excellent and comfortable temperatures – there are occasional spikes due to the occurrence of the dry sirocco wind, but the coastal breeze tends to compensate for the heat. The ocean temperature is always a perfect 23°C, perfect for swimming.
Winter is gentle and lasts from December until April, pleasant with cool nights. The average high temperature holds around 22°C on average, and rainfall is generally very low, but the occasional showers or damp weather can still surprise you, particularly in months like December and January. The ocean temperature is still friendly at an average of 19°C, but snow can be seen up in the mountains, where Pico de la Nieve stands tall and proud. The days are relatively shorter in winter, with up to 6 hours of sunshine.
Overall then, Gran Canaria is a little slice of heaven – its varied geography and fascinating biodiversity make it a top destination not only because of the stunning beaches, but also because of its breath-taking natural beauty, marine parks and exciting range of island activities. There is something for everyone in Gran Canaria, from deserts to tropical forests, lush palm groves and green meadows up on the mountain slopes. You will find ocean-side resorts, a buzzing nightlife, secluded and superb beaches, relaxing spas and golf courses, coral reefs to explore and a myriad of trails for hikers and climbers to enjoy. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is one of the unmissable destinations on the island, with its superb Parque de Santa Catalina, as are El Puertito, Puerto Rico, Puerto de las Nieves and Maspalomas. People from around the world come to this island for its natural beauty and diversity, and for its ability to provide both thrills and relaxation – from underwater adventures and hiking trips to laidback beach sessions with cocktails and massages.
The question that many people face when looking at this destination is what shall we go for – a luxury retreat or a budget holiday? Whichever way you go, you will get the best out of the island, and that is a fact – but there are perks and benefits to both budget scenarios.
Many vacationers prefer a luxury weekend escape in Gran Canaria, particularly on key dates like anniversaries, honeymoons or Valentine’s Day. There are plenty of 5-star hotels and mega-resorts that are always ready to accommodate those who wish to pamper themselves. The Radisson Blu Resort Gran Canaria is always a top choice, boasting splendid rooms with large balconies and stunning ocean views, outdoor swimming pools, a spa with Jacuzzi and saunas, a rooftop restaurant and poolside bar alongside a lounge, gym and tennis courts, as well as excellent golf courses nearby!
The Seaside Palm Beach in Maspalomas offers a lagoon-style swimming pool, a spa and lush tropical gardens, as well as yoga, tennis and the Maspalomas Golf Course just a short drive away. The beautiful H10 Playa Meloneras Palace features three swimming pools and a fascinating design by Antonio Gaudi, with tiled floors and a Mediterranean décor to compliment the easy access to tennis courts and the popular Playa Del Ingles. Hotel Santa Catalina found in Las Palmas is another darling of the luxury chains in Gran Canaria, offering outdoor swimming pools, stylish rooms with ocean views, a wellness centre with Jacuzzi and Turkish baths, as well as paddle tennis courts, pool bar and just a minute’s drive from popular golf courses. If you are looking for a high-end holiday, you can easily plan one in Gran Canaria – it does not lack luxury resorts and facilities, with prices ranging from £89 to £198 per night during the peak season.
There are also several amazing restaurants to try for a romantic dinner for two – the island has long been a gastronomic haven for talented chefs. Casa Montesdeoca will dazzle you with its menu, its intimate terrace and Basque flavours. La Marinera sits at the end of Las Canteras Beach and is most likely to serve the best seafood on the entire island. Restaurante Tehran is a hidden gem, bringing incredible oriental flavours to the island of Gran Canaria. In addition, for an authentic taste of Japan in an upscale and glassy atmosphere in the “Big Apple” of the island, you can always take your significant other to Kuoh 101 for fresh sushi and other far-eastern treats. A 3-course meal at either of these fine restaurants will take you north of £60 per person on average.
However, even if you are planning a trip on a tighter budget, there are plenty of excellent accommodation options. Apartamentos Catalina Park offers beautiful and comfortable self-serviced apartments for roughly £35 per night during the high season, complete with fully equipped kitchens and lounge areas. Bungalows Cordial Green Golf in Maspalomas is also a very popular choice, offering comfortable and stylish bungalows around two swimming pools and an on-site supermarket, for just £76 per night during the summer. Apartamentos Cordial Mogan Valle is located in the quaint little fishing area known as Little Venice, and sports self-catering apartments from £66 per night, including access to a splendid pool and restaurant.
Saving money by opting for a self-serviced apartment will obviously get you more in terms of activities and nightlife entertainment, if you are on a tight budget. The benefits of cooking your own meals are there, if you can live without the luxury of room service and spa pampering sessions. Beaches are all within walking distance from any accommodation option, including the stunning Playa Del Ingles, so whichever you pick, you are in for a cheap but wonderful treat – spend less by forfeiting the high end pampering, but enjoy the free access to beautiful beaches and their many little restaurants and seafood terraces. Your money will also be better spent on entrances to nature parks and marine sanctuaries, offering a chance to admire the incredible biodiversity of this island.
In fact, the island is home to many beaches and fascinating places to see. By far a favourite among both locals and tourists is Arguineguin, known for its stunning sandy beaches, bustling markets and shopping amenities, as well as its choppy waters, perfect for spirited surfers. Rogue Nublo is an interesting rock formation as tall as 80m, and a landmark of the island. Pico de las Nieves offers numerous hiking and trekking opportunities, as well as relaxing outdoor activities including walking tours of its slopes and meadows. Whatever it is you are looking for, Gran Canaria has it!
Ultimately, whether you go for the luxury holiday and pamper yourself with spa treatments and fine dining, or settle for a family hotel and home-cooked meal in favour of roaming the coastal clubs and bars at night, and beaches and nature resorts during the day, Gran Canaria is yours to enjoy. It’s probably its versatility which sets this destination apart from many other resorts around the world.