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Playa de Maspalomas

The beach at Maspalomas, known as Playa de Maspalomas, is backed, inland of the sand dunes, by a popular golf course, parkland and huge numbers of modern attractive holiday villas, both rented and privately used.

There are also several smart 4 and 5-star hotels. Maspalomas has a really nice upmarket feel to it.

At the very southern tip of the island is the prominent ....and important ....landmark of El Faro de Maspalomas, or Maspalomas Lighthouse. This has protected shipping in the Canary Isles for centuries.

Near the lighthouse, on the front, is a commercial centre with shops, bars and restaurants.

The attractive Plaza de las Palmeras square is also here.

Alongside the nearby Avenida de Oceania is the Charco de Maspalomas or, simply, El Lago ...".The Lake" in English.

This long lake connects to Barranco de Maspalomas, a long canal running inland from the coast and alongside the golf course and parkland area.

Sonnenland, on the hillside overlooking Maspalomas, was intially built as a holiday resort, but now increasingly houses the many Spanish people working in the resorts of Maspalomas, Meloneras , Playa del Ingles and Puerto Rico.

Playa del Ingles, adjoining Maspalomas, is the biggest beach resort on Gran Canaria, and very lively, with hundreds of bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs.

Playa del Ingles [Spanish for "Beach of the English"] and Maspalomas are located in the municipality of San Bartoleme de Tirajana. They enjoy a fantastic climate all year round.

The weather on Gran Canaria is generally warm and sunny, even during the winter months. It has very little rainfall, and when it does rain, it does not last very long.

Temperatures are in the Seventies and Eighties for much of the year, with a cooling sea breeze at the height of summer, making it bearable at all times.

The Canary Islands enjoy one of the best climates on Earth. When Europe cools in winter, the balmy islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Palma and the rest of the Canaries, enjoy wonderfully warm weather most of the time. So Maspalomas is great for a winter break, to escape the worst of the British winter.

The adjacent holiday resort of Playa del Ingles has numerous commercial centres, about 12 in all, largely built during the 1960s, when the resort was largely created.

It also has a very long sandy beach, stretching for about 5 miles, with a good choice of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars running along the roads behind the main promenade, which is known as Paseo Maritimo de Playa del Ingles in Spanish.

The commercial centre of Annexo 2 is located conveniently on the beach front at the north end of Playa del Ingles, and is a handy stop-off point for many using taxis, buses and other forms of transport to get to the beach. From here, the beach stretches for 6 kilometres, and that is only the part with restaurants and bars!

Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles are very popular with German, Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavian holidaymakers, as well as the British and Irish.

There is even an "Irish area", in Playa del Ingles, with several Irish Pubs!! The Irish Pub seems to be Ireland's biggest export!

There is another large centre full of German bars and restaurants, providing holidaymakers of all nationalities with different bars selling fine German beers and lagers. Some of them with quite a kick!!

Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas have easy access to the Gran Canaria airport, further north via the fast GC1 Superhighway, which runs from south to north. The airport, called Aeropuerto de Gando in Spanish, is conveniently located about half way down the east coast of the island, with the capital, the interesting smart historical port of Las Palmas, being on the north-eastern tip of Gran Canaria.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, to give it its full name, is a popular stop for cruise ships, cruising the Canary Islands, or on their way across the Atlantic Ocean.

For centuries, Las Palmas was the last port of call for many a sailing ship before it braved an Atlantic crossing. It still is for many an adventurous crew of ocean-going yachts.

Las Palmas is a duty-free port, so it is a wonderful city to go shopping. There are bargains galore to be had here, especially in electrical goods and leather.

The northern half of Gran Canaria is much greener and has far more established ancient villages and old farming communities, than the very arid south of the island. The mountain roads to get to these villages can be very twisting and tortuous.

This volcanic island is extremely mountainous, with its highest point, Los Pechos, at the centre of the island, reaching the dizzy height of 1950 metres above sea level. This is over 6000 feet, or twice the height of Snowdon, to put it in perspective.

Driving inland in Gran Canaria can be a hair-raising experience!

Further round the south coast of Gran Canaria, from Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas, is the growing, very popular resort of Puerto Rico, which has become a great favourite with the British.

It has a steep valley running down the middle, so the sheltered beach of Puerto Rico is a real sun-trap.

Further round again, on the south-west coast, is the very pretty, flower-covered resort fishing village of Puerto de Mogan. It is worth coming out on a day trip by boat from Puerto Rico, to visit this delightfully clean, scenic village.

It is extremely pretty, with its pristine, spotlessly white houses, with little arches, overflowing with purple bougainvillea and hanging baskets of colourful flowers.

Inland, in the hills, is the village of Mogan, which lends its name to Puerto de Mogan.

Another marvellous day out is a boat trip to view the dolphins and whales along the southern coast of Gran Canaria.

It is a wonderful sight to watch bottlenose dolphins leap high out of the water, as they race alongside your boat.

As the owner of Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park [see], near Cardigan on the shores of Cardigan Bay, in West Wales, this aspect of Gran Canaria makes me feel quite at home. We also have bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay and see them regularly from our coastal farm park from Spring through to Autumn. They are wonderful, very intelligent, iconic creatures.

So Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles on Gran Canaria are wonderful places for a sunshine holiday at any time of year, and especially when Europe is in the grip of winter.