[Spain] First time on an island – Gran Canaria
I’ve been dreaming for a long time now to have a quiet vacation, for just the two of us, somewhere far away from home, with nice weather, the sea and lots of actually doing nothing… We would have wanted something further away actually, but that would have meant we had to take more vacation days from work and we actually kind of ran out of vacation days… We did actually go to Istanbul, Southern Spain, Morocco, Germany, Paris, Berlin this year … so we had to somehow split the available days … but here we are, the island I was talking about, well actually the islands, the Canary Islands.
The Canary Islands (Islas Canarias) are an Atlantic territory of Spain on the west coast of Africa, near Morocco, Cape Verde and the archipelagos of the Azores Islands and Madeira Islands, both Portuguese territories. The Canary chain is made of : Gran Canaria (the largest island by population), Fuerteventura (windsurfer’s mecca), Lanzarote (Low lying and arid, with a spectacular volcanic landscape in the west of the island), Tenerife (the largest island of the seven), La Gomera ( The Magic Isle – walker’s paradise), La Palma (the total population is about 86,000) and El Hierro (‘The edge of the world’, also known as the Meridian Island). We only went to Gran Canaria and Tenerife for this trip.
We went there at the beginning of October and I must say that the weather was just perfect (sometimes maybe a bit too hot actually). 30 – 32 degrees outside during day time and 25 during night time with the ocean somewhere around 24 degrees. Just perfect. When we bought the plane tickets the main idea was to just sit all day on the beach and do nothing…but we just couldn’t help ourselves and we had to do some other things as well.
We decided to rent a car for the entire period and that was actually a great idea. Quite cheap (we paid about 120 EUR for 9 days – the fuel is actually quite cheap compared to the rest of Europe) and allowed us to drive around the islands at any time. The roads are very good, they do have some highways as well. I’ve read on the internet that the public transportation system is also quite good, but renting a car always saves you time.
Day 1 and 2:
We landed in Gran Canaria Airport and our first stop for the first two nights was Puerto de Mogan. When initially planning the trip we tried to find places on the island that were not too touristic and crowded. Puerto de Mogan is a small town, with a nice beach (rather small, but enough for us).
It wasn’t too crowded for the period we stayed there, so after the long flight and getting there quite late at night, relaxing on the beach the second day was just what we needed.
After exploring a bit the area around Puerto de Mogan, we decided to have a short trip in the area and check out the other towns and beaches, in the direction of Maspalomas.
We only stopped in Puerto Rico to check out the beach and enjoy a cold beer, and left the other beaches for the next days. We just drove by them and were just mesmerized of how beautiful and appealing they looked.
Getting to Maspalomas, we had to explore the Dunes of Maspalomas, which are the main attraction of this sea-side town. It just felt like we were in the desert, but actually the further we went, the closer the sea was.
We also had a nice walk at sunset in the port of Maspalomas, getting to the light-house.
Maspalomas, compared to Puerto de Mogan, is a very crowded and noisy town. It is the perfect place for people who want to spend money and have a high class vacation. Here you have five stars hotels, expensive restaurants and brand stores.
Day 3 :
Next day was time to bathe in the blue waters of the Amadores Beach. That was one of the most beautiful beaches I saw during the trip on this Island and I just loved it. Perfect water, no waves, great weather and not so crowded beach. I did read on the internet that normally it gets very crowded, but maybe the period of the year and not being a weekend helped a bit.
After lunch we decided that laying in the sun doing nothing was enough and it was time for some action. So we took the car in the direction of the Crocodile Park on the island. Not very big, but with quite a lot of crocodiles and other animals, so it’s a good option when you just get bored of too much sun and beaches and you want to do something else. They have also daily shows, like animal feeding and other stuff. We were there in the afternoon, just before the closing hours and the monkey feeding was ongoing. It was interesting how they didn’t just fed them directly, but making them use their imagination how to get the food.
From the Crocodile Park, as we still had some time until sunset, we went further up to explore a bit the curious mountains of this island. I say curious, because they don’t look like the ones we have in Romania, with forests and green grass and lots of vegetation. Here they look deserted, with barely no trees, and no vegetation, except for some plants that look dry. But still the view is amazing, with the volcanic rock all around you and the roads are very good, so it’s a delight to drive through these mountains. We passed the picturesque villages of Santa Lucia de Tirajana and San Bartolome de Tirajana, where we admire the view of the Tirajana valley and had some tapas and beer.
Then, we drove up in the direction of Roque Nublo, hoping that we will see this majestic pick, but we had to stop after some kilometers and realize that it was out of our reach. There is a trail going to the 1813 m pick from Tejeda village, but that was not in our plans.
We decide to return to Puerto de Mogan, taking the road by the big lake Embalse de la Cueva de la Niñas and going down to the town of Mogan.
The view was absolutely spectacular, with the the sunset and the Mogan valley at our feet.
Day 4 and 5:
On the third day we left Puerto de Mogan for good and headed in the direction of Agaete, where we would take the ferry to Tenerife.
Puerto de Mogan is in the South West side of the island and Agaete is in the North West; it’s about 70 Km and 2 hours drive. The narrow road goes up through the Morgan valley and in the mountains, so the driving speeds are not so high. From the top you have a view on the highest picks from the Inagua and Gugui National Parks and the rich La Aldea de San Nicolas de Tolentino valley.
From the valley the road is going up again the the highest cliffs of Tamadaba National Park. There is a belvedere point, called El Balcon (The Balcony). The name suits the place perfectly. It’s a balcony above the Atlantic Ocean, from where you have a very spectacular view.
From here the road goes on the left side of the cliffs, suspended directly over the ocean at hundreds meter high. It’s spectacular, but it can be also dangerous as rocks can fall from the mountains and under you is just the abyss. It’s quite a breathtaking view.
We only stayed for lunch in Agaete and then got on the boat to the next island. The ferries have daily departure hours and you get to Tenerife in a bit more than one hour. We could also take our car with us and we paid for a return ticket (car included) about 160 EUR/2 persons.
We got to Tenerife in Puerto de la Cruz late in the afternoon so we only had time for a quick, but nice walk around the town. Puerto de la Cruz seemed a lot like Maspalomas. With many old people who come here for vacations with hotels and everything a proper resort should have.
On the next morning we woke up and headed directly to the closest beach in Puerto de la Cruz, Plaja de Jardin. This is a rather unusual beach, as it has black sand. It was the first time I ever saw a black sand beach, but it seems that on these islands, due to the volcanic activities from the past, the sand on some of the beaches is black.
The weather was a bit naughty on that day, but still very warm. Unfortunately there was a red flag for waves in the ocean, so we couldn’t go swimming, but still, relaxation was very much worth it.
Day 6 :
Day 6 was something special, the main reason we actually went to Tenerife from Gran Canaria. It was so special that I will write a separate post about it and give more details.
Day 6 was also the day that we went back to Gran Canaria, but not before having a walk around the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the place where we actually took the ferry from. Santa Cruz de Tenerife I liked. It looked like a big city, being also the capital of Tenerife, but I still liked it. Not very crowded, with a lot of green vegetation, with tasty food and nice people.
Day 7 and 8 :
Now these were actually the most beautiful days of the time spent on the island and again, these days deserve a special post to tell their story. We found a very nice and remote village back on the Gran Canaria Island and just loved it. Tasarte was just like heaven and you will see in the following weeks why I say this.
Day 9 and 10:
After leaving Tasarte behind (and being very sad about it) we went back to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, to be close to the airport of Gran Canaria the next day, as we had our flight very early in the morning.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the biggest city of the island and also called the capital of the island. It has quite a long beach, but during morning hours the ocean covers a big part of it. By the afternoon the water retracts and you get a beautiful sandy beach just for yourself. It was the last time we had a swim in the ocean. There is also a barrier reef, so if the best place to have some snorkeling or scuba-diving.
Las Palmas is again a big sea side town, with lots of tourists, but also with very nice buildings and very good restaurants. Also, almost half of the inhabitants of the Gran Canaria Island live here. Here we spend all day on the beach, had dinner, caught the perfect sunset, with Tenerife spotted far away, and had a nice walk by the sea side.
On the next day we woke up early, said good bye to this paradise and headed home, a bit sad that the weather was bad and rainy. But, as we had about 5 hours of waiting in Barcelona for our connection flight, we quickly took a train to the nearest beach, called Castelldefels. And lucky us, the weather was still good and the water temperature was also still good! So we had a final swim for 2014 in the Mediterranean Sea. We were so happy about it, it was a totally unexpected surprise, but so pleasant…as if just to give us a final taste of summer.
And just to give some tips about the trip.
Getting in : By plane from Cluj Napoca, Romania. We found 2 low cost flights. First from Cluj Napoca to Barceloan with Wizz Air and then from Barcelona to Gran Canaria Airport with Ryanair. We paid about 200 EUR for the two return tickets/person.
Renting a car : We chose Autoreisen Rent-a-Car company and we got the smallest one, a WV Up, which was exactly what we needed for the trip, being just the two of us. We paid 120 EUR for 10 days. Also the gas is cheaper than the rest of Europe, about 1.07 EUR/liter, so this was also quite cheap.
– Puerto de Mogan – Volver Hostel – 34 EUR/double room/night – very nice hostel, with friendly staff, close to the beach
– Puero de la Cruz – Apartamentos la Carabela – 48 EUR/double room/2 nights – not the best location, but still clean and with nice rooms.
– Tasarte – Bla Bla Bla Hostel – 34 EUR/double room/ night – perfect place, with a great host and very close to the beach
– Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – Big Fish Hostel – 32 EUR/double room/night – very nice hostel, right next to the beach
So this was our first trip on an islands. Sometimes it might get boring, especially for people like us who like to be always on the run and to explore places and things. But still, these islands do offer quite a lot of activities for everyone’s taste.
I enjoyed every day spent here, it was both a cultural, and of course, a culinary experience. About the food on these islands I will write a different post, there are so many things to say.
It is obvious that these islands are built for tourism, they have hotels, hostels, guest houses, restaurants, stores and very good infrastructure, so that anyone can come here, either old people, young ones, or families with babies and children. The prices are very good, lower than most of the places I have been in Europe, and the quality is above the standards. I only have good things to say about going here, especially since the airports on these islands have very good connections to all of the major cities of Europe.
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