The hillside town of Amadores perches on Gran Canaria’s coast. And, if you’re looking for a laidback getaway, this is the place for you – it runs on R&R. You can plant your parasol on the Blue Flag beach, or lace up your trainers and take a leisurely clifftop stroll. Long, low-key evenings are on the cards in the waterfront bars and restaurants, too.
Maspalomas has an Ant and Dec-style double act going with neighbouring Playa del Ingles. It’s impossible to mention one without the other in the same breath, and together they’re major crowd-pleasers. Maspalomas cut its teeth in the family holiday game, and brings al fresco cafés and waterparks to the table. Historic sites like the Faro de Maspalomas lighthouse elbow their way in, too. Playa del Ingles, meanwhile, smashes the getaway essentials – a big beach, home-from-home cuisine and attention-seeking nightlife.
Meloneras is like an upmarket suburb of Gran Canaria’s southern heavyweights, Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles. It’s got the luxe hotels, the golf club and the smart prom, while the other two top it up with family-friendly facilities and razzle-dazzle nightlife.
Playa del Ingles
Back in the Sixties, there was an empty strip of coast going spare on Gran Canaria’s southern tip. So Playa del Ingles jumped in and grabbed it. They shipped in golden sand from the Sahara, rustled up some shiny, new shopping centres, threw in a stash of bars, restaurants and clubs – and got themselves the biggest, boldest resort on the island.
With craggy cliffs on three sides, and rolling sea views on the other, Playa Taurito feels nicely cut-off from its larger Gran Canarian counterparts. It’s just what the doctor ordered if you’re looking to up sticks and park yourself on a good-looking slice of black-sand beach, where you can take full advantage of the Canary Islands’ year-round sunshine.
Puerto Rico used to be a traditional fishing village but it had big plans. Now it’s a full-scale resort on the south-west coast of Gran Canaria with a lively nightlife that offers up family-friendly fun. All the numbers add up too – the place has 3 shopping centres, 2 beaches and 1 very big reason to stay – it’s one of the sunniest spots on the island.
San Agustin sits on Gran Canaria’s south coast. Although it’s been on the holiday map since the 1970s, the town’s managed to hang on to its chilled-out and crowd-free vibe. This place features a classic Canary Island crop of volcanic-sand beaches. The star of its sandy trio is Las Burras Beach, a windsurfer-friendly spot. If you’re after a break from the beach, there’s a pair of shopping centres where you can splash the cash.
This modern, stylish town on Gran Canaria’s southern coast is petite enough that everything’s within easy strolling distance. There’s a pretty, pedestrianised village square lined with pavement cafés and restaurants, while parks and Moroccan-style buildings only add to the charm. From here it’s only a short hop to buzzy Playa del Ingles, 10 kilometres away.
This low-rise fishing town on Gran Canaria’s southwest coast certainly doesn’t stint on charm. Its narrow, cobbled streets are lined with traditional whitewashed houses, clad in bougainvillea and hibiscus. There’s also a fancy harbour, perfect for yacht-watching. And in the traffic-free centre, Italian-style footbridges criss-cross a romantic canal. No wonder the place is nicknamed Little Venice.
Sitting on Gran Canaria’s brow, Las Palmas is a fitting capital for such a beach-blanketed isle. Two good-looking swathes of sand unravel for around four kilometres. It’s not all about the coast, though. You’ll also find chic boutiques, bazaar-like streets and elegant squares to boot.
Playa Del Cura
Playa del Cura might not have the buzz of its lively neighbour Puerto Rico, but its pretty, secluded setting more than makes up for things. It’s a forget-your-troubles kind of place, with a peaceful stretch of sand and a couple of Canarian restaurants dotted about. You’ll still see hotels and villas on the hills, but things are scaled down and far less touristy.
Patalavaca ticks all of the traditional holiday boxes. It’s one of the lesser-known spots on Gran Canaria’s south coast, but still lines up a clutch of sandy beaches and well-positioned hotels. Whitewashed villas start to take their place as you follow the twisting road uphill, and the panoramas get better the higher you climb. Turn your back on the ocean, and you’ll see mocha-coloured hills rise and fall towards the island’s rural centre.
Sitting on Gran Canaria’s southern tip, Arguineguin’s a fishing village with a modern edge. Roughly translated, it means ‘quiet water’, which hints at its shore-based perks. It’s got a handful of beaches tucked away along its scalloped coastline – and they’re renowned for their calm, lake-like waters.