Located between three continents, it has everything to take your breath away: volcanic landscapes, ancient buildings, natural spaces protected by UNESCO, spas, incredible beaches, a luxury shopping boulevard, excellent food, friendly people, whales, dolphins and golf.
By J.M. Towers
Seven islands make up the archipelago of the Canary Islands, a Spanish autonomous community located in the Atlantic Ocean just over 1,000 kilometers from the Iberian Peninsula and 210 kilometers off the northwest coast of Africa.
Roque Nublo, one of that largest volcanic rock formations on the island.
Thanks to its pleasant climate, warm, dry summers and short, mild winters, Gran Canaria is one of the most popular destinations in the island chain. In 2015, more than three and a half million tourists visited the archipelago. These gentle temperatures, which allow tourists to enjoy the sea year-round, along with its landscape of volcanic origin and its ecosystem, are responsible for the island's recognition as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005.
Surrounded by flourishing aquatic life, Gran Canaria is a place that thrills and surprises travelers with its beauty and the friendliness of its people. The locals are accustomed to welcoming travelers from all corners of the world who visit looking for a relaxing escape.
Dunes at Maspalomas Beach
San Nicolas Village.
Las Palmas, the most populous city in the archipelago, and its capital, beckons with the promise of complete leisure. Tranquility is the norm at Garden City. Located in the port area, it was chosen as the idyllic place to live by British settlers who came to the island to work in the harbor. The town developed into a colorful home to international traders supplying the British steam boats that came to Puerto de las Palmas.
Downtown Las Palmas
Another highlight is the Playa de las Canteras, with its luminous stretches of pristine sandy beaches, some of the best sea food restaurants in the world and spectacular sunsets. Other sites of interest are the Auditorium and the Palacio de Congresos Alfredo Kraus. Stroll through the Vegueta-Triana neighborhood and discover the lovely Santa Ana Square with its magnificent cathedral, Episcopal Palace and charming City Hall. Marvel at the noble architecture inspired by the variety of cultures of settlers from as far back as the era of Columbus.
History buffs will relish the Columbus House-Museum, which depicts the explorer’s stay in the island prior to his voyage to the New World. Nature lovers will revel at the southern tip of the island and its famous dunes of Maspalomas, a unique nature reserve featuring a beautiful, and unusual, landscape of an undulating desert bathed by the sea. Nearby, in the Costa Meloneras, is a luxurious boulevard of boutiques, certain to please the most discerning shoppers.
Agaete, on the northwest part of the island, features the cultivation of tropical fruits, coffees, oranges and gourmet goat cheese. The area also offers first class hotels and restaurants.
One of the island’s best hotels is the five-star Sheraton Salobre in Maspalomas, a relaxing oasis that offers absolute comfort, stunning views and refined luxury through a myriad of amenities. Those who prefer the rustic lifestyle and rural environment can stay at the Hotel Rural Las Calas, a boutique accommodation located in Vega de San Mateo. It’s a typical Canarian manor dating back to the 17th century that will take you to a bygone era of island splendor.
Rural Hotel Las Calas.
The enchanting destination is also a haven for golfers: within a fifty mile radius you'll find eight lush courses. Among them stands the Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas, which was founded in 1891 and was the first to be established in Spain.
Anfi Tauro Golf Course
El Cortijo Country Club.
Locals say that Tejeda is the place "where clouds live". You will be awed by one of the most beautiful natural landscapes of the island, the Roque Nublo. It is an imposing rock formation of volcanic origin and one of the largest such terrains in the world. The sacred site is revered by the islanders as a storied place of worship for the ancient aborigines.
Seaside village in Gran Canaria
Other attractions not to be missed are the Puerto de Mogan, a beautiful place which rests peacefully on placid waters by way of its pier, and on whose streets you'll find white houses covered by vibrant azaleas; the old town of Teror, Fataga, Bandana, Gáldar, the Village of St. Nicholas and the Barranco de Guayadaque.
Puerto de Mogan.
Photos: www.grancanaria.com ■
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