Earlier this year, we finally dipped our toes into the realms of family travel, and with our next adventure fast approaching (3 weeks, but who’s counting?) I’ve been deep in the realms of nostalgia over our trip to Gran Canaria back in May. Holiday Gems have recently launched a campaign around popular attractions and landmarks in a few of the sunny destinations we know and love, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to revisit our trip to share my top three attractions to visit with kids, As the third biggest canary island, it boasts golden beaches, a stunning landscape with the added benefit of a big city to explore it’s easy to see why it is coined a ‘continent in miniature’.. Gran Canaria was our very first adventure as a family, having never travelled to the Canaries before, we went with an open mind and fully expecting sunshine, sea and a good cocktail or two for us, little did we know it would have so much for our little one as well.
Puerto De Mogan is a picturesque resort and fishing village on the South-West Coast of Gran Canaria. It’s a (not so) hidden gem filled with small lanes, colourful buildings cascaded with flowers surrounding a harbour against a mountain backdrop – one of those ‘you had to be there’ sort of places… While I went for the photo opportunity – no shame – we found ourselves a great place to visit with a child in tow. Unlike the busier areas of the island; Maspalomas or Las Palmas, Puerto De Mogan was much quieter, much cleaner and a breathe of fresh air from the typical tourist spots. There was a great little play park by the beach, plenty of shops and a wide range of cafes and restaurants that surprisingly enough were really were priced. We took the bus from Las Palmas -around an hours’ journey weaving through cliffs – although you can make a day of the trip and jump on one of the many boat tours leaving from the popular tourist points.
We discovered the sand dunes in Maspalomas by chance. While trying to walk to the beach, one wrong turn found us in the biggest sand dunes I’ve ever seen. The pictures we took don’t quite show the true magnitude, but lets just say after battling through the dunes for forty minutes to get onto the beach, we needed a nap, never mind a sunbathe. The dunes were formed when the sand was washed up from the bottom of the ocean during the last ice age – the water retreated, and the sand has been left exposed ever since. Whilst it’s a great sight, the real fun comes from taking a camel ride through them. It’s a different way to travel, a new experience and the chance to turn what can only be described as a typical brit holiday into something a little bit more exotic. Quick side note: if you do choose to walk through the dunes yourself rather than taking a tour, be aware you may find yourself walking directly onto the nudist section of Maspalomas beach. My poor twelve year old brother has never looked more sheepish, and it’s safe to say we saw a whole new side to Gran Canaria that day.
Aqualand in Maspalmoas is the main waterpark in Gran Canaria. As one of the biggest attractions for the island, it has a multitude of slides, sea lions, loads for the littles and a perfect way to spend a day on holiday. I’ll give the warning now, it can feel like they are bleeding you dry a little. You’ll pay your entry fee, around 100 euros for a family of four, and then you’ll then have to pay to use a sunbed frame, a mattress for the bed (yes, really), a locker, and then of course any food and drink, which may just bankrupt you. Once you get over that slight hiccup, the day is great fun. We visited in the low season, so there were no queues, and it felt like we very much had the entire waterpark to ourselves. For Harrisons’ age, there was a hefty area for the little kids, and even more so to do when they are slightly older. We ran out of rides to try pretty quickly as there were no queues, but I’m sure in the high season it would be easy to spend an entire day here. I always find that regardless of price, the water park is a must-do on any family holiday. I live for the dodgy pictures I have from my own childhood at the waterpark, and it was always the day I looked forward to most. Give it a go, but bring a picnic and buy the combination ticket for Palmitos Park to get the most bang for your buck. For animal lovers, Palmitos Park is the place to be. It has a dolphinarium (is that a thing?), orang-utans, butterflies, komado dragons. You name it, Palmitos Park probably has it. For a slightly more budget friendly option, the Angry Birds Adventure Park has some great reviews.