Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Gran Canaria is situated about 210 km off the African coast. The island is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, between the islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura. Like Tenerife, Gran Canaria has also a central location compared to the other Canary Islands. It occupies an area of 1560 sq km, and its longest distance from north-east to south-west is over 54 km.
Climate. As Gran Canaria is located on the same latitude as Florida, this paradise island enjoys perfect year-round weather. Although it falls within the tropical climate zone, the island doesn’t suffer from powerful tropical storms and too high temperatures.
The reason is the cold Canary current that brings cold water from the ocean depths and passes near the Canary Islands exerting a strong influence on local climate. Summer temperatures above 28°C are uncommon.
During the winter season, especially on the southern coast of the island, is usually around 21°C with plenty of sunshine and great conditions for swimming and sunbathing.
There are frequent sand storms that bring fine sand particles from the Sahara desert. Snow is possible in the highest parts of the island, but it happens very rarely.
Relief. Gran Canaria is almost circular volcanic island with a predominantly mountainous relief. The highest point of the island is called Pico de Las Nieves and rises to 1949 meters altitude.
The slopes of the island are cut by numerous deep ravines which lead to the ocean. The coastline of Gran Canaria is moderately indented. The capital Las Palmas is located on the largest peninsula in the North of the island.
Nature. Like the other Canary Islands, Gran Canaria has a green and fresh northern half and dry, semi-arid South. The high-lying parts of the northern slopes are covered with beautiful pine forests.
The low-laying areas offer a diverse and fascinating landscape of vast green meadows, deciduous and fruit trees, many farms and terraced farmlands.
Along the coast and in the South of Gran Canaria, under the influence of dry and warm climate conditions grow palms and coconut trees.
Although the coconut palms are not native specie of this island, but imported from humans, they thrive here very well.
Beaches. The coast of Gran Canaria is mostly rocky. The beaches are rare and most of them are small and covered with black volcanic sand.
However, the island offers some very attractive beaches which are recommended to visit. Most of them are located in the southern part of Gran Canaria and are quite exotic.
Amadores Beach and Playa de Puerto Rico are two very beautiful beaches, located on the southwest coast of Gran Canaria. They offer fine golden sand and pristine water to the visitors of the lovely resort town of Puerto Rico. Both were created with sand imported from the Sahara desert.
Anfi Beach is a small man-made beach, offering gorgeous white sand. The site is located in La Vega, less than a mile south of Puerto Rico. The beach is surrounded by palm trees and offers azure sea water.
Playa del Ingles is a wonderful, golden sandy beach located in southern Gran Canaria in the famous resort of Maspalomas. In fact it is not just a beach, but a real small desert whose sandy dunes attract crowds of visitors, wishing to see something really wild and untouched in the middle of this tourist paradise.
Playa de Las Canteras is located in the island capital Las Palmas. Its advantage is that it offers light sand just steps away from the numerous attractions of the cosmopolitan and modern city.
Fauna. Gran Canaria boasts a wide variety of animals, especially bird species. The symbol of this island is the canary. With its colorful plumage this charming little bird is a favorite of locals and tourists.
Gecko is another well-known representative of local fauna. It can be seen in the countryside and in the gardens of the small villages of Gran Canaria. The mammal species that inhabit the island are a very few.
One of the most famous representatives is the small shrew, but the island is also home to some small rodents. The coastal waters of the island offer quite impressive biodiversity.
Here you can find dolphins, whales, some species of sharks and other strange sea creatures such as parrot fish and sea horse. The combination of rich underwater variety and dark blue but transparent waters make Gran Canaria attractive place for the lovers of diving and snorkeling.
Economy of Gran Canaria. Gran Canaria has a well developed economy that relies heavily on the services sector. Leading place, of course, takes the tourism industry. The most visited tourist destinations are the capital Las Palmas and the southern coast of the island.
Agriculture is also extremely well-developed and plays an important role in the economy of Gran Canaria. Here grow fruits from all around the world as well as a wide variety of vegetables. Bananas, apples, pears, citrus, mango, avocado, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes and many others are serious source of incomes.
Local farmers raise many farm animals such as cows, sheep, pigs, poultries and especially goats. Delicious goat’s milk cheese and excellent local wine are something you should not miss while in Gran Canaria.
Population. Although in the past Gran Canaria was the most populated Canary Island, today it is second after the island of Tenerife. However, the population of Gran Canaria also continues to grow, reaching almost 840,000 people, which is over 40% of the population of the archipelago.
Today here live people from all over the world, and the main reason lies in the combination of perfect climate and excellent business opportunities. The official language of Gran Canaria is Spanish, and English and German are widely spoken.
Although most of the island’s population consists of Christians, this is a multicultural destination and there are people from different religions.
When to visit Gran Canaria? The tourist season in Gran Canaria is a perennial, but most travelers have a preference for the winter months when the weather is very mild and pleasant, and the island is green.
December is a very good choice for a holiday in Gran Canaria as the likelihood to spend a sunny and warm Christmas and New Year holidays is almost 100%.
What clothes should I wear? If you are planning a trip to Gran Canaria will definitely need your summer clothing in combination with a strong sunscreen and swimwear. This is true even in winter when the sun smiles generously over the island.
However, it is better to wear a light coat just in case. Warmer clothes will be needed only if you want to climb into the highlands during the winter months.