Although only the third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria has over half of all the population making it the the most populated.
This is in no small way due to the climate and terrain that is more diverse and hospitable than the other islands, leading it to be described as a mini continent. Although more unpredictable Gran Canaria still enjoys the warm North African weather of the other islands but with the green and lush north and desert like south divided by the central mountain region it has a beauty that sets it apart.
The lively resort of Playa del Ingles was once a purpose built resort on a stretch of beautiful golden sand, the sand still remains but the resort has grown beyond all recognition and is now filled with hotels, bars and restaurants – there is no doubting that if you like your holidays filled with fun then this is the place to stay. Most of the hotels are large and are dominated by guests booking through tour operators, this is no bad thing as it ensures that standards are met and maintained but it is less authentic than the older parts of the island.
Puerto de Mogan is a far quieter resort that has built up around a quaint fishing village, filled with old harbour charm this is the resort famed for the excellent seafood restaurants and relaxing bars that are clustered around the picturesque marina; far less commercialised than some of the larger resorts Mogan is a more laid back destination for those seeking relaxation and scenery.
The Canarian food is based on traditional Spanish recipes but often has a North African influence with more spicing, fruits and exotic colour; the island climate allows a diverse range of fruit and vegetable to be grown on the fertile land – the local specialities include Sancocho (salt fish with sweet potato) and Bienmesabe the sweet almond honey sauce made from almonds grown on the hills of the island. The climate also lends itself to wine making and the local wines are incredibly palatable, particularly after the first few glasses.
The best way to enjoy the seafood of the island is to head to one of the famed fishing resorts and ask in any of the many good restaurants for the catch of the day, Agaete and Moran are both small towns that are worth visiting, Restaurante Dedo de Dios in Agaete is particularly lively with a great location overlooking the beach.
Gran Canaria is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast, it not only has the opportunity for some great watersports but inland there are many more diverse activities that take in the natural beauty of the island; hiking, mountain biking and horse riding are all popular ways to see the interior of the island with its green pine trees and mountainous terrain.
There are plenty of ways to get close to nature both on the island and in the surrounding waters of the Atlantic, several resorts have trips available that will take you out into the ocean, often on glass bottomed boats that give a perfect view of the waters below; those that are really lucky may spot the whales that frequent the waters or the dolphins that often play around the island. On dry land the dunes of Maspalomas give you the chance to recreate the desert experience of Lawrence of Arabia as you ride a camel through the vast and golden sands.
Gran Canaria has the most diverse climate of the Canary islands and after the busy summer peak season enters into a less predictable period, The capital Las Palmas can be quite chilly over the winter months with rainfall also common during the spring.
The sunnier south has a more Saharan feel with the resorts enjoying the best of the year round weather although they can still see cool breezes and rain between October and March.