Gran Canaria is the third largest of the seven main islands of The Canaries, located west of Morocco off the coast of Africa. The Canaries are an autonomous community of Spain, with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria being one of its co-capitals. Tourism is the primary source of the economy. The island of Gran Canaria is quite often referred to as a cruise ship destination port, but the port is actually in the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
History tells us that the Canary Islands were inhabited by prehistoric animals such as giant lizards and the Gran Canaria giant rats. The islands were discovered by King Juba II, a protege of Caesar Augustus before they were inhabited by humans. It was actually the Romans who named the island Canaria (Gran Canaria). Over time, the chain of islands became a stopping place for Spanish traders and conquerors as they made their way to the New World.
Gran Canaria is referred to as a miniature continent because of the varied climates and landscapes. Summers are long and hot, while winters are moderately warm. Generally speaking, it is cooler in the northern parts of the island. From May through October, the average high temperature ranges from 75-80F (24-28C), and lows are 63-71F (17-22C). These temperatures make it an ideal climate for visitors.
The Maspalomas Dunes of Gran Canaria is one of the most popular attractions with its wide variety of activities available. At Palmitos Park, visitors will encounter exotic birds (parrots, eagles, hawks, etc.) and dolphins among the various animals. It is a great place to spend a few hours with children. In contrast, Valsequillo is a green area with rock formations and steep ravines, pine forests, and palm groves. The historic center is home to the Church of Saint Michael Archangel and is a gastro tourist's dream with its traditional cheeses, wine, and honey.
For those who are more of an outdoor enthusiast, the weather couldn't be better for hiking one of the many trails or walking along the lake. Lie on one of the many beaches. Would you rather be in the water? Well, Gran Canaria has been labeled the "Hawaii of the Atlantic" and is famous for its surfing. If you have never tried it, you can even take classes. And for divers, there are an abundance of brightly colored fish, as well as angel sharks, butterfly rays, and mobula rays.
You are sure to find an activity or experience to truly enjoy while on Gran Canaria.
FUN FACT: Many theories exist about how the Canary Islands got their name. The original name of Gran Canaria was Islas Canarias from Latin meaning "Islands of the Dogs." One theory says that the original inhabitants of the island " Guanches " used to worship dogs, mummified them, and treated dogs generally as holy animals.