We enjoyed a respite from museums (mostly) and our normal tourist routine in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Julie and I learned how to chill on a beach Julie and I learned how to chill on a beach

We did a lot of the above in Las Palmas, just hanging out on the beach. This is not normal for us. In Marrakech we saw way more cats than dogs, so I asked Julie what she expected to see in Gran Canaria: more dogs or cats? Dogs are a big deal in Spain, but we didn’t know what to expect in the Canary Islands. Julie chose cats, I chose dogs. Turns out naked boobs were probably the winner.

Our beach time was mostly spent on Playa de Las Canteras, an excellent beach that is protected by a barrier reef around low tide. Every day we were there it was packed: distance swimmers, paddle boarders, snorkelers, and sunbathers. Julie discovered a pleasant tide pool at the south end of the beach where we found some cool critters (sea slugs!). We enjoyed swimming out in the calm waters to the reef. Fish were always present and we wished we had masks and snorkels.

From the beautiful beach promenade in Las Palmas From the beautiful beach promenade in Las Palmas

There’s a promenade along the length of the beach with nice restaurants, bars and shops. Every night there would be athletic activity going on (until about 10pm): beach volleyball, ultimate, and strength training. The beach and promenade were very well lit, and the busker quality (classical and flamenco guitar!) was top notch.

The dunes of Maspalomas The dunes of Maspalomas

On our first full day on Gran Canaria we took the bus across the island to the beach resort town of Maspalomas (BTW that might be the worst page I’ve ever seen on Wikipedia), with our primary goal being a hike through the dunes. The town itself: gross. I think it is the Spanish version of West Palm Beach, with gated resorts and bungalow housing and same-same beach architecture. We walked through the Hotel Riu Palace gateway to the dunes, crossing west to the landmark lighthouse.

The cave painting museum The cave painting museum

Continuing our adventures on the wonderful Guagua bus service, on our final day we visited Gáldar. This is yet another beautiful mountain town, situated on the west coast of Gran Canaria and home to the painted cave. This museum was impressive! It reminded me of the work I saw starting at Akrotiri on Santorini back in 1990: and open air shelter with walkways through the ruins. The paintings are likely contemporary with rock art Julie and I have seen in southern Utah.

My overall take on Gran Canaria: I’d go back for urban beach relaxation in Las Palmas, and possibly for some extensive hiking or backpacking in the interior. Tenerife is interesting for the same reasons, plus it has the highest peak in Spain (!! on an island!!) that is 24,600 ft tall when measured from the ocean floor. I have zero interest in going to any of the beach resort destinations.