We thought long and hard about the destination for our first family holiday. We researched flight time, things to do, temperature, the locals – you name it, I googled it. I walked into our local travel agent prepared with a clear idea in mind, and then I abandoned it all and booked Gran Canaria instead. It was a spur of the moment decision, and it was one place I knew very little about. I was pleasantly surprised by exactly what the island had to offer for little ones, and I’ve had so many questions over on Instagram (shameless plug) about how we found the holiday, so I thought it made more sense to compile it into a mammoth post.
Where To Stay
We stayed at the TUI Family Life in Bahia Feliz and it was a perfect base for a week. It was situated smack bang in the middle of Playas De Inglis and Maspalomas, and within walking distance of both (if blisters’ and agony calfs are your thing). The hotel had everything we could want and more, but having visited in the low season, if I am honest it probably wouldn’t be first on our list to return to in the height of the summer. If we were to return in the high season, renting a villa would be the way to go. Immoabroad have some fantastic options across Spain that give you the ideal locations without the fights for the sun loungers. With young children renting entire villas can be a life saver, as routine is easy to maintain and they often come with all of the neccessities we don’t think about when travel with children (kettle anyone?!). Whichever accommodation your prefer, it’s pretty easy to find some in Gran Canaria, it’s a tourist hub and there are some fab options for children if you look in the right areas.
Where To Visit
For some reason, I thought Gran Canaria was a very small island with maybe two or three big resorts, but I was very wrong. Gran Canaria has so many different areas to visit, and each has something very different to offer. We stayed in Bahia Feliz, which is worlds apart from the rest of the island. It’s quiet and peaceful, but with amazing links to both Maspalomas and Las Palmas, which are much more lively areas. Maspalomas is the perfect base for the sun worshippers. It boasts the second-longest beach on the island and is known for the sahara-style sand dunes, which can be a pain in the arse to tackle, let me tell you, but very worth it in the end. Las Palmas is a much more ‘city-break’ destination than the other resorts, but it has the best of both worlds. All of the buzz of a Spanish city, but with the beach just a stone throw away. Playa De Ingles is the busiest resort and is without a doubt the place to go for nightlife. For that reason we crossed that off the list as we were travelling with a tot, but now having visited it’s easy to see that it’s more than just a party spot. It has a great beach, loads of restaurants and shops and plenty of atmosphere. It is also teeming with Brits, so you can decide for yourself whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing…
What To Do
There is something there everyone, and that is no exaggeration. For classic holiday fun, Aqualand is probably the best waterpark Gran Canaria has to offer. While I would say it wasn’t worth the small fortune it cost for the day, it’s definitely a good day out, especially for older kids. For a slightly more budget friendly option, the Angry Birds Adventure Park has some great reviews. For animal lovers, Palmitos Park is the place to be. Think has a dolphinarium (is that a thing?), orang-utans, butterflies, komado dragons. You name it, Palmitos Park probably has it. After you’ve exhausted the kids, there is plenty to do that adults can appreciate as well. Puerto De Mogan is one of the most scenic *cough* instagrammable* ports I’ve ever seen, and I would highly recommend boat tripping over for a visit. Maspalomas boasts a chance to camel ride through sand dunes, for a fraction of the price of a trip to the Sahara. If a camel isn’t your ideal mode of transport, the open top bus in Las Palmas may just be, and if for nothing else it can take you to a long stretch of sea front bars that have plenty of cocktails, which is probably much needed. Long story short, there’s a LOT to do.
Wind This might sound like an odd consideration, but Gran Canaria is windy. Really windy. We travelled in May, so this may not be as much of a problem in the later months, but for us venturing into the pool before 12pm was a complete no-go. If I had a jumper I would 100% would have worn it. The wind seemed to disappear later in the day and the weather was beautiful, but if you like to be catching rays from the early hours it may be worth considering.
Transport Getting around in Gran Canaria is super easy – there are rental car shops on almost every corner, and the roads there are considerably less terrifying than every other Spanish destination we’ve ventured to. With that being said, the bus links are fantastic and if I were to return I wouldn’t bother with a car or taxis. Buses are very frequent and on time hallelujah. Every one we got on had top notch air con and USB ports, and there was no problem with putting our buggy in the storage compartment under the bus, which meant there was no limit as to how many families could be on any bus at once.
Flight Time The flight time to Gran Canaria was nearly five hours, given that flight time was one of my main concerns, it was longer than I would have liked. My son did brilliantly on the flight and beggars can’t be chooser when your looking for good weather in May, but it’s worth noting that it’s not the shortest of flights.