View of Mountains © Richard Brochu-Williams
Located southeast of Tenerife and west of Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria is of volcanic origin, mostly made of fissure vents. Gran Canaria’s surface area is 1,560 km² and its maximum elevation is 1,949 meters (Pico de Las Nieves). It has a round shape, with a diameter of approximately 50 km.
Gran Canaria is known as a “Miniature Continent” due to the different climates and variety of landscapes found, with long beaches and dunes of white sand, contrasting with green ravines and picturesque villages. A third of the island is under protection as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
The climate of Gran Canaria suited me perfectly, as it was not excessively hot but was warm enough to take a walk in the breathtaking countryside in a T-shirt and shorts, also the breeze was mild. The temperature is constant throughout the year with temperatures ranging from 20-28 ºC with August being the hottest month.
This was my first visit to the island and I was not disappointed. I opted to stay in the north of the island near to Las Palmas as I had found an apartment there that would suit my needs and also had the added benefit of a private pool. Exploring the island is not too difficult, especially if you choose to hire a car during your visit. At first I was a little apprehensive about driving on the right and taking on the mountain roads but I quickly adapted and became accustomed to it. Now it was time to head on out for a road trip, with camera in hand and start taking some photos. The scenery is incredible, especially when you head up into the mountains and you can see for miles. The sea is even visible from the middle of the island and I enjoyed great views from Roque Bentayga.
Map of Gran Canaria © Google Maps
I travelled to the south of the island to visit Maspalomas and its magnificent sand dunes which stretch out along the south coast looking like giant waves of sand covering around 4 square kilometres.
All of that walking through the sand dunes was thirsty work…
Playa del Inglés is a great place to top up your tan and it’s full of great places to eat and drink giving you a perfect place to rest and recharge your batteries. By night Playa del Inglés really comes alive. If you like music and dancing, this is the place to be! I spent a couple of hours here and it was really easy to find a quiet, secluded spot to have my picnic and enjoy the views that were on offer. A great way to spend my birthday!
My next trip was to Las Palmas which I found to be in complete contrast to Maspalomas. Las Palmas reminded me of a smaller London and much more busier and compact than Maspalomas, which is probably due to the fact that nearly half of the island’s population live there. I took a tour bus around the city so that I did not miss out on any of the key sights. I actually took the bus twice, the first lap was to take in all of the sights and the second lap I took the opportunity to get off at locations that I was interested in visiting. I would recommend taking the tour, by doing this I ensured that I would not get lost, as my map reading skills are not the best.
Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo
Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo is the full name of the botanical garden on Gran Canaria and simply means “Botanical Garden of the Canaries” while the additional words “Viera y Clavijo” honor the pioneering Spanish cleric and scholar José Viera y Clavijo (1731–1813), who attempted to found a botanical garden in the Canary Islands in the late eighteenth century. The garden comprises approximately 27 acres and is definitely worth a visit if you have an interest of things botanical or to just simply take a pleasant stroll in. I spent over 3 hours here, and the plants, location, waterfall and numerous ponds make it an enjoyable visit. It is worthwhile bearing in mind however that the gardens are on very steep slopes and may not be suitable for everyone. There are two entrances, one at the top and one at the bottom. I started at the bottom and worked my way up, where I witnessed some spectacular views…well worth the climb!
The great thing about hiring a car is that you can plan your own day out and you don’t have to rely on public transport. One day was spent driving around the island taking in all of the sights, from the coast to the mountains. It amazed me how diverse the landscape on the island was and with each twist and turn of the winding roads it felt like I was entering into a completely different environment. Some parts were green and lush, whilst other parts appeared baron and desert like.
Santa Lucía de Tirajana
Mirador De Guriete
Mirador De Guriete
My time spent in Gran Canaria was enjoyable with plenty to see and do…in fact there was plenty more that I wish I had done. I would most definitely like to return again in the future to enjoy what the island has to offer and to take more photographs.
Grancanaria.com. (2016). The Canary Botanical Gardens. [online] Available at: http://www.grancanaria.com/patronato_turismo/27798.0.html [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016].
Spain-grancanaria.com. (2016). Gran Canaria Hotel, Tourism and Holiday Guide. [online] Available at: http://www.spain-grancanaria.com [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016].
Wikipedia. (2016). Gran Canaria. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gran_Canaria [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016].
Wikipedia. (2016). Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jard%C3%ADn_Botánico_Canario_Viera_y_Clavijo [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016].