When at the end of September you realise that the summer is over and you still haven’t had sea vacations the only choice you have is Canary islands (unless you are ok to travel far to Asia or Caribbean islands). That was exactly my case when the sea was highly needed although I didn’t want to travel far away for one week only. Even if you’ve made your choice and you’ve decided to go to Canary islands you still need to do some work and choose the island you want to go: big Tenerife with desert on the south and tropical forest on the north and at the same time the most crowded island of the archipelago; Fuertevntura; Gran Canaria with famous Maspalomas dune; Lanzarote with its black beaches or little La Palma, La Gomera or El Hierro. Not easy choice as each island offers various activities for adults and kids. After debates and discussions we finally booked our flight to Gran Canaria to RIU Palace Oasis hotel on Maspalomas beach. The entire week our itinerary was the same: breakfast – beach – lunch – swimming pool – snacks – beach – dinner – promenade – kids disco – bedtime as early as possible. Yeah, very lazy, relaxed week with no adventure at all. Although, we used once our rented car when we went to mountains to see the highest point of the island, the Pico de las Nieves. For the rest of the week the car was quietly parked on a hotel parking.
1.As soon as we entered our room we could see the sea after the storm in the sunset lights. If there is a possibility ask at the reception to give you a room on 3d-4th floors with sea view.
2.Pool area. The hotel RIU Palace Oasis offers all-inclusive / full board options which is ideal for families with children. We spent afternoon in the pool area as it was too hot to stay on a beach and the waves were too hard for the little one to play in the sea.
3.As in all all-inclusive hotels there were guests who stayed around the pool all day long without even going out of the hotel. The hotel is very popular among German speakers. There were also quite a lot of English guests and a few French families. It is also important to know that the hotel is more for aged guests than for young people and families. The entertainment program for kids is very poor and you shouldn’t expect a kid’s club open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and having animators entertaining your children while you are sipping your mojito at a pool bar. Compare to Viva hotels in Majorca and, in particular, VIVA Can Picafort where we stayed for two weeks in September 2o14, RIU Palace Oasis is not for kids. However, the hotel has swimming pool, it is just 100 meters from the long sandy beach, has big garden and good infrastructure. So we had no complains and were ready to entertain our energiser by ourselves.
4.In the hotel’s gardens.
5.If you are too tired of neighbours at the pool you may always take chaise-long in a hidden corner of the garden.
6.The garden was very well maintained. Every days hotel staff cleaned ponds and pools, cut lawn and watered flowers. I can only imagine which efforts the hotel should make in order to keep the gardens green and blossoming on this deserted island.
8.Palm trees gave pretty good shadow so I spent hours reading my book while the rest members of my family were playing in Jacuzzi.
9.The Maspalomas beach and a lighthouse. Thanks to its smooth climate all around the year there are no high or low seasons. The island is always full of people. Of course, during winter months there are more visitors as who wants to spent months in grey and gloomy Europe if there is an option to enjoy the sun, the sea and nice service?
10.If you like to walk as much as I am you may like this beach. It takes approximately 30 minutes to walk along the shore to the Punta de Maspalomas and 30 more minutes to reach the Playa del Inglés. It is actually the same beach which just changes its name at the point.
11.The beach has several isolated sections where nudism is popular. If you walk from the Maspalomas Lighthouse to the Playa del Inglés, the nudist area is found between beach bars 3 and 4. From Playa del Inglés to the Maspalomas Lighthouse the nudists reserve their place between beach bars 5 and 6. Apart from nudists the area is also popular among surfers. They usually gather on the bend joining Maspalomas with Playa del Inglés. Walkers, nudists and surfers mix freely on the beach.
13.The sea was not always calm and nice. Another day there were very strong waves so it was impossible for children to play in the water without being completely covered and rolled away by the stream.
14.15.If you are tired of beach and pool then you may be interesting in discovering natural reserve of the Maspalomas dune. Just a little further on from the Maspalomas Palm Tree plantation (Palmeral) you will find Charca, a protected natural space. It lies between the sea and the sand, providing a resting spot for birds migrating from Europe to Africa. The huge expanse of sand dunes start beyond this ‘pond’, changing their shape continually, chiseled out by the wind coming off the ocean.
16.The dunes. They looks like another ocean which changes its colour and the shape constantly.
19.Isn’t it huge?
20.Just turn your head and you are again on a beach.
21.Although we are back to Maspalomas-Meloneras are and its remarkable lighthouse. It was decided to build the lighthouse in 1861 although it actually took 28 long years to finish. At the time the area was desert paradise cut off from the rest of the island. In order to build the lighthouse of 55 metres high they used a dock with a small ramp to unload the materials, which could only be brought in by sea.
22.The lighthouse light shone for the first time on 1 February 1890. It was the only construction at the end of a long strip of sand which started at what is now the Playa del Inglés and tailed off close to the Maspalomas RIU Palace Oasis. It helped to guide steamboats which covered routes between Europe, Africa and America.
23.Nowadays the area is very well-developed mostly because of the tourism. The lighthouse now is surrounded by hotels and it is at the start of a busy promenade area with a whole host of restaurants and gift shops. It is the perfect place to shop, stop off after a day at the beach, go out for dinner or simply have a drink next to the long seashore.
24.As I said at the very beginning the entire week was pretty relax and calm. But not on Thursday when we finally took the car from the parking and drove up to the mountains.
25.The higher you go the more changes you may notice in the landscape. The palm trees of hotels, greenhouses and agave plants are replaced here and there with pine trees. The air gets fresh and you may want to put a jacket because of the cold wind from the mountains.
27.When you have finally reached the Pico de las Nieves you have the entire island as on your plate.
28.Pico de las Nieves is the highest peak of the island with its height of 1,949 metres above sea level. On the top the weather changes rapidly and so the landscape does.
30.From the Pico de las Nieves you can see another remarkable natural landmark of the island, the Roque Nublo (Clouded Rock, Rock in the Clouds). It is the second highest pick of the island and there is also a walking trail to the rock from Tejeda town.
So far my Canary island experience is limited to a tiny part of Gran Canaria island. There are not so many tips to share with you as it was a lazy week on a beach. Although, there are some points to note:
- Book your hotel in advance. As the climate is even throughout the year you may come to the island any time you want. I would just advise you to avoid periods of school vacations, as it may increase the cost of flights and accommodation as well as add extra decibel in the neighbourhood.
- If you prefer all-inclusive hotels try the RIU chain as they have plenty of hotels for all budgets and with good service. Otherwise, there are lots of apartments for rent and they look pretty good. But again, it is better to do it in advance. For instance, a lot of apartments are booked during winter months as rich European retired people prefers to move to the island for couple month during the gloomy European winter.
- Rent a car if you like mobility and you are sure that you are gonna visit different parts of the island. Otherwise, the transfer from the hotel or even a taxi is enough.
- Definitely try to mix beach and mountains just to see the difference!