Ski season may be kicking off on the continent, but this year, why not avoid the crowded pistes and jet off to Gran Canaria for some alternative winter activity. So leave your ski boots and mask at home, and pack your walking boots, snorkelling mask and swimsuit instead!
As the most southerly region of Spain, the Canary Islands sit around 100km west off the coast of Morocco. In this archipelago of islands and islets, Gran Canaria is the third largest, and boasts a beautiful array of sandy beaches, stunning landscapes and tiny traditional villages. With average winter temperatures of around 21°C, it’s the perfect climate for outdoor activities. And to keep those winter blues at bay, the northern part of the island has some wonderful natural gems to discover.
Starting from the west coast, Agaete is a quaint town with a bustling port and a flurry of white-washed houses. Make this your base for exploring further the Valle de Agaete, which is home to the ancient burial site of El Maispes. If you’re more of a water baby, there are numerous saltwater pools that dot coastline from Agaete and further north. Shun the sandy beaches for these dramatic, black pools that bear the island’s volcanic history. Or failing that, get off the beaten track in search of the El Charco Azul (The Blue Lagoon) natural pool with its own little waterfall. Drive the winding road out to the tiny hamlet of El Risco, and follow the uphill trail on foot for just under an hour to find your own piece of paradise in the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re still feeling energetic, keep you walking boots on and take off for Roque Nublo, a huge basaltic rock measuring 67m high and sitting 1,813m above sea level. It’s the island’s second largest peak and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the world below. This genteel 8.5km hike starting from El Garañón is well worth the effort.
Time to head eastbound to Las Palmas, stopping off at one of many vineyards the island has to offer on the way! Arriving in Las Palmas, make 7 Mares diving centre your first port of call. Gran Canaria’s azure blue waters are home to hundreds of colorful tropical fish, and the natural reef lagoon that lies between La Barra and seagrass meadows of Las Canteras beach is one of the best diving and snorkeling spots in Europe. After all that activity, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite… for pre-dinner drinks, try out La Barrica for local wines, before dinner with beach-side views at La Macarena Taller de Cocina, serving fresh, fusion cuisine. Finish your evening off with a stroll along the Playa De Las Canteras promenade, and enjoy the evening temperatures while you think of your friends back in wintery mainland Europe!