THOUGHTS of Gran Canaria generate visions of sandy beaches, sparkling seas and clear blue skies – especially on a dreary January day in Ireland! This beautiful island offers enviable year round sunshine and it’s easy to see why it has been such an enduringly attractive holiday destination for Irish tourists of all ages for so long.
However, thanks to its diverse landscape, the island has also gained a well-earned reputation for outdoor pursuits.
In particular, Gran Canaria is a hugely popular location for hiking, trail running and adventure sports.
During a recent visit to this enchanting island, I enjoyed an opportunity to explore the island from this perspective. Once I had exchanged my flip flops for walking boots, we ventured into the Tejeda area located in the interior of the island.Here, we enjoyed a short hike with our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide Guillermo (www.facebook.com/guillermo.bernalmonrobe) who is available for private excursions.
There are a number of different hiking routes in the area including the Roque Bentayga Archaeological Trail.
The trail begins from the visitor information centre and winds through the mountains, reaching the imposing Bentayga rampart.
There are a number of passages and gaps to enter the rampart and they allow access to different levels of this ancient Canarian settlement. Visiting the area as the sun begins to set is highly recommended as this allows visitors to observe a broad range of awe inspiring colours.Your strenuous efforts will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over the Tejeda Basin and Aldea Ravine which are home to some of the most important archaeological sites on the island.Located a short distance away is Parador Cruz de Tejeda (www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-cruz-de-tejeda) where we enjoyed some well-earned replenishment in luxurious surroundings.
Afterwards, for an outdoor activity with a difference, we engaged in some star gazing at a nearby location from which we observed many different constellations (www.astroeduca.com/www.facebook.com/stargazingingrancanaria)Gran Canaria is renowned for possessing many of the conditions required for high quality star gazing. A word of warning – it’s highly advisable to wear warm clothes for any star gazing activity as temperatures can be quite low at nighttime especially at high altitude locations. If you’d prefer to stay indoors, a visit to Poema del Mar Aquarium in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a must (www.poema-del-mar.com) especially for families. This relatively new tourism attraction is part of the Loro Parque group which also operates the well-known and popular Siam Park Water Kingdom in neighbouring Tenerife. After a thoroughly enjoyable tour of the aquarium, where we viewed sea life of all kinds, we devoured a sumptuous tapas lunch at Piscos & Buches in Gourmet Mercado del Puerto.
Next, we enjoyed a relaxing stroll through the historic streets of Las Palmas where we worked off some of our overindulgence. There are numerous sites of interest including Plaza Santa Ana, the beautiful Santa Ana Cathedral, and Columbus House which was visited by Christopher Columbus during his voyages.
During our visit to Gran Canaria, we stayed in Puerto de Mogán at Hotel Coridal Mogán Playa (www.becordial.com) which is based on a traditional Canarian village and even boasts its own church located within beautifully manicured grounds.After a busy day of exploration, guests can relax by the poolside or at the impressive spa. While luxuriating in the spa, you can ponder on what delights to select from the hotel’s tempting buffet.
If you’re still in need of some rest and relaxation, then the hotel’s beautiful foyer is the perfect spot in which to unwind, enjoy a drink and watch the world go by.Great efforts have been made to ensure that the hotel remains faithful to its Canarian heritage. For example, the friendly staff members wear traditional Canarian dress. While at Hotel Cordial Mogán Playa, visitors should definitely check out Cañada de los Gatos archaeological park which is accessible from within the hotel. Conveniently, the centre of Puerto de Mogán is just a short walk from the hotel.Here, you can enjoy a relaxing stroll through pretty bougainvillea filled streets.
If a visit to Poema del Mar leaves you seeking more aquatic adventures, then take a trip on the Atlantida Submarine (www.atlantidasubmarine.com) which departs from the harbor in Puerto de Mogán and is certainly an unforgettable experience.
If you’d prefer to base yourself in a busier location while in Gran Canaria, the Seaside Palm Beach Hotel in Maspalomas (www.hotel-palm-beach.com) with its retro 1970s style décor is a great choice. With such a broad range of activities to enjoy, Gran Canaria truly offers something to suit every age, ability and taste so make sure 2019 includes a getaway to this gorgeous island.
We flew direct with Aer Lingus from Dublin to Gran Canaria. For timetable and fares visit www.aerlingus.com
Puerto de Mogán is a 40 minute drive from Gran Canaria Airport.