Gran Canaria, one of Spain's Canary Islands, is located in the Atlantic Ocean, closer to Africa than the European mainland. Forged by volcanoes over time, the island is home to a surprisingly large number of landscapes, earning it the nickname "the miniature continent."
Like other of the Canary Islands, La Palma and Lanzarote in particular, much of the precious landscape has been gathered under the protection of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. When planning travel to Gran Canaria, you'll have many choices of where to experience the great outdoors. The entire western half of the island, which is set aside as the reserve, is home to a variety of parks. In places including Parque Rural del Nublo, Monumento Natural de Bandama, Parque Rural de Doramas, visitors will find an amazing array of natural scenery and wildlife. Sustainable tourism is important here, so activities such as hiking and kayaking are your best for touring the parks and respecting the landscapes.
On this island where the weather is always like a spring day, many people choose to enjoy the great outdoors at the beach. While some of the other islands of the archipelago have black-sand beaches, Gran Canaria is rimmed by miles and miles of golden sand beaches, nearly a quarter of the coastline. The northern side of the island has many small bays and natural swimming holes, surrounded by dramatic cliffs that seem to fall into the sea.
Many visitors include time at Maspalomas in the south on their vacation to Gran Canaria. This stretch of sand, surf, dunes, and sun runs from Playa del Ingles to the scenic lighthouse. Along the way, you'll find plenty of places for swimming, surfing, and many Gran Canaria hotels. The nearby quiet beaches of Amadores, San Agustin, and Puerto de Morgan are popular choices for a family holiday to Gran Canaria.
Puerto Rico (a city here in Gran Canaria) is a hotspot for island vacations. Besides the beach, this coastal community offers a wide array of things to do, including angling, dolphin-watching cruises, a thriving nightlife, spas, and great dining. In the resort town of Puerto Rico, the Canary Island weather is part of the draw. In all four seasons, you'll find mild weather and sunny days setting the backdrop for a vacation to Gran Canaria. Even if there's a foot at snow forecast for home, you enjoy a dip in the ocean and feel the sun's warmth on your shoulders.
You'll also have the chance to visit the most populous city in all the Canary Islands when you travel to Gran Canaria. Las Palmas shares the role as the capital city of the autonomous region with Santa Cruz on the nearby island of Tenerife. This historic city, where Christopher Columbus once anchored, is home a number of museums, including Museo Néstor, which displays the work on one of Spain's greatest painters, Néstor Martín Fernández de la Torre, in a building known for its Canarian architecture. Other museums focus on topics such as technology, sacred art, and local history.
You'll also find beaches, nightspots, restaurants, hotels, golf courses, and excellent restaurants to round out your vacation to Gran Canaria. During the first few months of the year, Las Palmas springs to life with the Carnival. The entire calender year is filled with special events all around the island, including saint's feasts, folk festivals, music performances, and artisan markets. No matter when you plan to travel to Gran Canaria, chances are good there's a reason to celebrate with the locals.