Spain is lucky enough to have two sets of gorgeous islands: the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. While many prefer the likes of Mallorca and Ibiza in the Balearic Islands for beachside vacations and partying, I visited Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, closer to Africa than Spain itself, to see it’s stunning sand dunes, hills, and yes, the beaches, too – it is an island, after all! I explored some of the most beautiful places on the island that I’d love to visit again if given the chance.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the largest city on Gran Canaria, and the Canary Islands in general. While the city wasn’t my favorite in terms of Spanish architecture and charm, I did love the beach. I watched surfers run barefoot in their wetsuits with surfboards held tightly under their arms as they made their way to the surf break on Playa de las Canteras, the main beach in Las Palmas. Now that’s a beautiful sight in itself, but I really loved the lively vibe on the beach and the incredible sunsets I watched every night.
Dunas de Maspalomas
The long bus ride to get from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the north and Maspalomas in the south of the island was so worth it. Maspalomas is where you’ll find natural sand dunes that reach the seaside, and one of the most beautiful views on the island. I never expected to see a desert that met the ocean, and that’s exactly what Maspalomas is. I walked the dunes in search of nothing in particular and stumbled upon the nude beach section of the beachfront – possibly not one of the most beautiful parts of Gran Canaria, depending on what you’re into.
The locals on Gran Canaria raved about their wine and coffee, which is grown and produced in Agaete on family-owned farms, or fincas. I went to Agaete in search of one farm and ended up in an entirely different one, but it was so fun that I’m not complaining! The walk up to the town in the hills from the town below was so scenic.
Most of the farm owners are happy to take visitors on tours of the farms and let them taste the finished products. This was my favorite part, of course. I was happy to taste various wines, cheeses, and coffee made in-house. It would have been smarter to bring a suitcase to check a few bottles of wine to bring home with me!
Puerto de las Nieves
Just below Agaete by the sea is Puerto de las Nieves, a cute fishing village with a harbor that can take you to Tenerife by ferry. The seaside views of Gran Canaria are breathtaking, but from Puerto de las Nieves you can even see Tenerife’s Mount Teide from afar. After tasting the coffee and wine when visiting Agaete, Puerto de las Nieves is a great place to get some sun, explore the historical church, or catch a glimpse of the remains of the Dedo de Dios, or God’s Finger rock that once stuck out of the ocean before it was partially damaged by a storm.
Roque Nublo, the second highest peak of Gran Canaria at almost 6,000 ft above sea level, is one of the most popular sights on Gran Canaria. Located right in the middle of the island, Roque Nublo is a perfect stop on the way to Maspalomas from Las Palmas. Once considered a holy monument to the sun-god, Roque Nublo is the hike to do in Gran Canaria and a nice way to see the rocky, mountainous terrain on the island.