6 secret ideas to explore Gran Canaria’s nature
Clear water, long beaches, and good weather. Surfing, sunbathing, beach volleyball. On which things are you thinking when you think of Gran Canaria?
When you might think with the named things “ummm…yes that’s what I am looking for” wait and read on before you book your trip to Maspalomas. Yes, the dunes of Maspalomas are worth visiting, but Gran Canaria has more pretty and super cool places to explore nature. While you will be focused on the beach when you are planning your surf trip, the island has much more to offer than beautiful beaches. Read on and find out how you can explore nature during your active holidays on Gran Canaria in these places:
📍 The Surfer´s Forest
📍 Los Tilos de Moya
📍 Charco Azul
📍 Barranco de Azuaje
📍 Dunes of Maspalomas
1. For game changer 🍀
Most of the tourists won’t swim to Gran Canaria, so in one way we all produce CO2 emissions when we are traveling to the island. When we are there we want to live in a nice hotel or apartment. Some people prefer an all-inclusive holiday, others go to the supermarket. We consume. While we are enjoying our cocktails with a plastic straw, drinking water from plastic bottles, and using up one sunscreen bottle after the other, nature suffers. Tourism became one of the enemies of nature. Now it seems normal to jet around the world and many people forget that this was a luxury when mass tourism began. Although almost everyone is able to pay for a flight today, other problems appeared rapidly. Apparently, Humboldt already pointed out that the laurel forest of the Canary Islands was disappearing due to humans at the beginning of the 19th century. Today there is less than 1% preserved. Have a look at our project, the Surfer’s Forest, to give nature something back and experience nature while you are helping to reforest the island. (More ideas for your eco surfing holidays here!)
2. For Tarzans and Janes 🦍
The nature reserve „Los Tilos de Moya“ is part of the protected area of the Dorama park. Here you can see how the subtropical jungle looked like in ancient times. You can start your hiking tour at the nature protection center and walk the 2-kilometer loop road. The area itself was a river bed and extends over an area of 91,5 hectares. Or in other words, this is about 130 football fields. This short 2-kilometer route can be walked by everyone, you don’t need to be super sporty or an experienced hiker. But be aware, it is hilly in some parts and you walk through a forest. So bring good shoes, a bottle of water and a phone, especially when you are walking alone! Possibly you meet an animal inhabitant, but don’t worry, there are no toxic animals. Just say hello and go on. Please respect the animals and nature and just enjoy your path. If you want to learn more, you can also visit the nature protection center at the beginning/end of your tour. Make sure you check the opening hours before!
3. For discoverer 👀
Charco Azul – Agaete. This even sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? 30km away from the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the city Agaete. Close to this city, there is a small town called „El Risco“. From this town, you can take a walk through nature to the place called “Charco Azul”. This walk is about 3,5 kilometers long, so it will take about 45-60 minutes and then you have to go back, so all in all this is a nice walk of almost 2 hours plus the time you are spending at “Charco Azul”. This route is not too difficult and you don’t need to be super sporty, too. But what is this mysterious Charco Azul? The “Charco Azul” is a place with a waterfall 💧! To make sure that there is enough water to fall, it is recommendable to go when there was rain the days before. And if you thought now, sounds great, but I prefer going by car instead of walking, sorry, but the only way to go to “Charco Azul” is on foot. See it is an advantage, this makes the place to a less touristic pleasure!
4. For Indiana Jones‘ 🤠
Ok, another hiking route, but this one is again different than the previous ones! We know now that Gran Canaria has a spectacular forest that needs to be protected and reforested. We know that there are hidden natural places to discover, so what’s next? In 1868 there was a hotel built, the SPA-hotel “Balneario de Azuaje“. It was a place to rest and recover. Today this hotel is abandoned and in a dangerous structure (don’t go in!), but the charm of this building as a witness of earlier tourism is unique. This hotel was built in a (nowadays) nature reserve called “Barranco de Azuaje” which is also part of the Dorama park. Come and discover this place where tourism started. Close to the ruins, there is a place where you can have a pick-nick and rest from your walk. Enjoy it and please leave the place clean 🙂.
5. For townspeople 🏙️
You are looking for a place closer to the surfing beaches of the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria? You don’t have to rent a car to see nature. If you stay in the capital of Gran Canaria there is a super-easy way to learn more about nature: The botanical Garden in Tafira called Jardín Botánico Canario “Viera y Clavijo”. The garden was built in 1952 by the Swede Eric Sventenius. This garden shows about 500 different plant species. To see all there are 3 hours recommended. Like mentioned, you don’t need a car to get to this garden. You can easily take the bus from the old town of Las Palmas, Vegueta (about 30-45min), or even from the beach Las Canteras (1 hour, you have to change in Vegueta).
6. For des(s)ert lover 🐪
Ok, so now you know that there are other beautiful natural places to visit and experience Gran Canaria, but of course, the dunes of Maspalomas are worth seeing as well. So here comes a little dessert – a bit more about the desert. The nature reserve with the dunes of Maspalomas consists of three parts: one part with palm trees, one part with a lagoon, and the third part with the dunes. The Lagoon, the “Charco”, is a place where migratory birds are resting when they go on their journey between Europe and Africa. Next to that lagoon, the dunes begin. There are two stories and possibilities of how the dunes emerged: one possibility is due to erosion. The second one is based on a theory made by the scientists of the University of Las Palmas: The dunes could be formed by a tsunami. This theory is supported by reports which are telling about the “Charco” but nothing about the dunes.