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A beautiful island which makes for a great holiday
Gran Canaria (Canary Islands)
Member Name: Misskw
Gran Canaria (Canary Islands)
Advantages: Lots to do, friendly people
Disadvantages: A lot of steps, cockroaches
Gran Canaria is a spanish- speaking island in the Atlantic ocean, around 130 miles off the coast of Africa. It is the third largest of the Canary islands. A flight to Gran Canaria takes around four and a half hours for us from Manchester airport.
I first went to Gran Canaria when I was four years old with my family. We all loved it there so much that we've been back every year since, and more than once some years. There was one year that we didn't go, because my brother was just a wee baby and it would have been too hot for him. I've lost count of the
number of times i've been now as it's sort of like a second home now, but I think i've been around 16 times.
The island has a hot sunny climate and for the most part the weather is gorgeous, only raining very, very rarely. However, we have been unforunate enough to experience two siroccos consecutive years when
we were there. This is when there is a hot, dry wind which can be very unpleasant. The best way that I can describe it is that opening the door to leave a building is like opening the door to an oven...although not quite as hot. Luckily the siroccos only last for a day or two at the most. Sirocco's seem to mainly occur in just the first two weeks of august in Gran Canaria which are the hottest of the year there, and it can get unbearably hot during those weeks. So if you don't want to be too hot it may be best to avoid going during these weeks.
Gran Canaria is split up into three main parts: Las palmas (the capital), Maspolomas and Puerto Rico. We always stay in Puerto Rico, but both Puerto Rico and Maspolomas offer a wide range of tourist activities and hotels, villas, apartments and apart- hotels to stay in. The first few years that we went, we stayed
in various apart-hotels. None of them were awful but some aren't as good as they're built up to be. After a few years, we had gained several friends in Gran Canaria one of which is a couple who rent out their appartment. So for a few years we stayed in their appartment, which was better than the apart-hotels. The
appartments are in blocks and most blocks have atleast one swimming pool and a bar/cafe/restaurant. Some also have a crazy golf course. There are also kids clubs at a lot of them, which I used to love when I was younger. Some also have children's parks which my brother enjoys. A downside to several of them,
including the one we were staying in, is that they can be quite high up the mountain. This means climbing A LOT of steps to get there. One advantage of the appartments over the apart-hotels is that they are sprayed with insect repellant so you hardly get and cockroaches. A tip for anyone going to Gran canaria: Buy some insect repellant! Especially if you are staying in an apart- hotel, the cockroaches will drive you crazy!
We now stay in a villa which is one of five known as 'Sunshine villas'. It doesn't come cheap but it is lovely and a bit nearer to the beach. Each villa has its own swimming pool but personally I like to be around other holiday makers, rather than spending the whole day closed off in our villa. Saying that, I would recommend the villas.
The two main forms of transport that you can use in Gran Canaria, excluding walking, are taxis or buses. Taxi ranks are everywhere and you usually just have to wait a few minutes at the most for a taxi. Buses are, of course, the cheaper option and not too different to our buses here. You can also hire cars there.
The island has 230 kilometres of coastline and has several gorgeous beaches. Playa del ingles is probably the most popular of the beaches and it's great fun. There are always plenty of people, so it can get a little crowded. This beach offers jet-skiing, sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing and several more activities. There are showers and refrechment kiosks along the beach and a promenade. There is also a nudist area on the beach and an area which is more for the gay community. Playa de San Agustín is a much quieter beach where you can get more peace and spread out more, if that's more what you're looking for.Puerto de Mogán is a picturesque beach, which is usually full of families. Mogan also has a market which is on about three days a week which I think is definitely worth a visit. The houses in Mogan are painted in pinks and yellows, helping to make it a unique and truly beautiful place.
If you are interested in boats, you can take several boat trips from Puerto Rico. For example, every year my stepdad hires out a boat privately to fish. You can also go on tourist trips on boats, in which you will share the boat with a few other tourists and you will try to catch fish. These trips vary in length but are usually 2-6 hours long. And don't worry if you're not an expert fisher- you will get shown what to do. Another boat leaving from Puerto rico is the dolphin search boat. There are two dolphin search boats, both of which are double- decker. The dolphin trips are around two hours long. You get your photo taken as you get onto the boat and have the option to purchase this as a photo or a keyring later on in the trip. The skippers of the boats radio other skippers to find out where dolphins have been seen, and do their best to find them. It's a bit disappointing if you don't find any but amazing if you do because they are truly beautiful creatures. The dolphin boats are very steady so it is unlikely that people will get seasick on them, however if you are prone to seasickness it is best to take a tablet as I have seen people get travel sick on them. There is also a pirate ship which looks a lot of fun, as well as several other fun- looking tourist boat trips.
There is a water park in Maspolomas which is meant to be a lot of fun. I have never been because we used to go to one in Puerto Rico instead, however this closed down last year. However, I am told that the Maspolomas water park (Called Aqua Land) is expensive but worth it, although it is likely that you will have to queue for slides.
One of my favourite places to visit in Gran Canaria is Palmitos park. This is a place where you can see beautiful, exotic creatures such as birds of prey, parrots and monkeys. You can go to talks on some of these animals to learn more about them. I first went here several years ago and love it then, but unfortunately it burnt down a year or two later. However, it is now up and running again and even better in my opinion, as I have also been back since. One new addition since it re opened is the dolphins. If you go to palmitos park you absolutely have to see the dolphin show as it they are gorgeous creatures and they put on an amazing show. You can also pay to have your photo taken with a dolphin.
A couple of day trips involve different and exciting ways to see the island. A couple of years ago, we decided to go on a jeep safari. This involves travelling in a jeep, driven by a professional, along with several other jeeps, through the mountains. It's a bumpy ride and you get covered in dirt but it's great fun. You get lunch at a nice restaurant and also stop off to swim in a lake, which was a great experience for me. You can also choose to go on a safari involving camel rides or one that doesn't. We went on the camel rides which was a lot of fun and also very safe. Overall, this made a great day out and the view from the mountains was spectacular; the best view i've seen of the island. You can also go pony trekking through the mountains, which i'm hoping to try but haven't yet.
There is a range of different restaurants and bars in every tourist area. The restaurants i've been to have generally had great customer service and lovely food, and are reasonably priced. The staff are always very friendly, although a lot of restaurants have members of staff stood outside persuading people to go in which can be annoying. A lot of the restaurants are steak houses and pizzerias, but there are also a lot of chinese restaurants. Most restaurants are also very family- friendly. There are some very english bars, and some that are run by canarians. The bars generally offer food for all three meals as well as drinks, and stay open very late. A lot are kareoke bars; one we go to a lot has a kareoke and quiz night three nights a week which is great fun.
Wherever you stay, there will be a Netto supermarket nearby which will have all of your essentials. There is also the odd spar dotted around. We always manage to find everything we need, anyway. Souvenir shops are everywhere. There is a big commercial centre in puerto rico with many souvenir shops which I love to visit. Yes, a lot of them are the same and sell sweets, bracelets, key rings and the other common souvenirs but you also find novelty items and it's always fun to look around even if you don't buy anything.
To conclude, I think Gran Canaria is a lovely island and I always have a great time there. It is very family- friendly and there is a lot to do. For me, the main disadvantages are the cockroaches, and the steps, as mentioned earlier.
Summary: A lovely holiday destination with something for everyone
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