When my partner and I booked a last minute trip to Gran Canaria, I was really excited. We booked a package holiday with TUI and I was looking forward to a week of sun, sand and not doing a lot!
Gran Canaria is one of seven Canary Islands situated off the coast of North West Africa and is part of Spain. I have been to Lanzarote which is another Canary Island a while ago and enjoyed the warm weather and volcanic landscapes so was excited to see what Gran Canaria had to offer.
We flew from London Gatwick, due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 max planes rather than a TUI plane we flew with AlbaAir. I had to say I was slightly worried from reading the reviews of AlbaAir on TripAdvisor and I had to agree the planes were really old (my arm rest was covered in gaffer tape!) but the staff from both TUI and AlbaAir were brilliant. The flight was four hours but in the same time zone therefore we didn’t get jet lagged.
We stayed at the RIU Palace Maspalomas and I can not recommend this hotel enough. We went half board so got breakfast and dinner included. Both of these were a buffet and there was A LOT of choice. The staff were excellent, they went out of there way to make sure we felt welcomed. I particular liked when they all welcomed us into the room when we having our dinner. It was such a lovely touch. On our final day our flight wasn’t until late and we were able to stay at the hotel all day and also use one of their spare rooms to have a quick shower before travelling home.
The hotel is about a five minute walk from the sand dunes that Maspalomas is famous for. The sand dunes are a protected nature reserve since 1987 and it was a fifteen minute walk to the beach down a marked path through the dunes so people do not walk and wreck the vegetation. There were plenty of dunes you could walk on however and there was many an Instagram shoot going on with people posing by the dunes! You can go on a camel ride through the dunes but we decided against this.
On the first day it rained! So in the morning we had an early run along the beach and then headed to Puerto Rico situated within a sloping volcanic valley. I had to admit the bad weather and a threatening migraine made me not enjoy the day as much as I could have done. The shops are very touristy and not really up my street, so we were at a loose end. There is a beach so you could make a day of it however after a couple of hours we decided to head back.
On the Tuesday we decided to hire an e-bike. We had a very positive experience hiring an e-bike in Switzerland so was looking forward to cycling around Maspalomas. I would recommend booking e-biking before you go on holiday as bikes can get booked up quickly. I enjoyed cycling around Maspalomas however the area is cut off by a motorway so you can only go so far. Nonetheless I managed around 10 miles and got to cycle next to the beach and it reminded me on how much I miss bike riding.
On the Wednesday we decided to go star gazing. Star gazing is something my partner has always had an interest in. We booked through astrogc. Gauthier, our guide was brilliant. He picked us up from the hotel and took us up in the mountains. He set up the telescope that he built himself. There selling point is that all telescopes are 16″ aperture for quality. He gave us a stargazing lesson first of all.
He set up chairs and had a projector in the back of his van showing us what we hope to see that night and how it should look through the telescope. Then the stargazing began. I saw the Jupiter and Saturn and the milky way. At the end we had our photograph taken with the telescope. It was incredible, Gauthier knew his stuff and I learnt a lot about stargazing. It is something that will stay with me for a long time.
My partner has always wanting to go diving so decided to book with TopDiving based in Puerto Rico. We booked a diving and snorkling package as I am really not a strong swimmer. For the diving they give you a full brief explaining what the equipment does and what you have to do. They then give you a small dive in shallow water. If you are able to equalise then you will then be taken out on the boat. I went out on the rib boat with the divers and whilst they all went off I stayed on the boat and had a little snorkle. James got to see a lot of fish and loved his dive.
I, unfortunately, got sea sick and spent half the time dry retching whilst James was diving. I personally wouldn’t bother with the snorkeling. It is set up very much for diving so you do snorkel you will very much be on your own.
At the time I was training for the Bournemouth Marathon therefore I spent a lot of my time running. I ran across the dunes twice and also ran up to Playa de Cochino beach in the morning. I mainly ran in the morning and I loved that feeling when I got back that I still had the whole day to explore the place! I love running, I feel that I really get to understand the place I am visiting by running (or cycling!). When I visited Nashville, I loved my run around the city and explored a whole other side that I would not have seen otherwise.
We didn’t eat out much at all because it was included at the hotel. However we had plenty of ice cream at the ice cream parlour to the right of the El Poncho steakhouse. In the evenings we wondered down to the strip at Playa Del Ingles. We had a cocktail at the Tipsy Hammock which is a small cocktail bar. The pirate themed bar naturally had all their cocktails were pirate themed and they were well made and worth the price.
I really enjoyed my time in Gran Canaria and would recommend Gran Canaria if you want a relaxing holiday away.
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