Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain)
Gran Canaria Overview
Gran Canaria may be best known for the high winds of Pozo and high density tourism, but there is a wealth of contrasting conditions, countryside and culture to explore. This can make the island one of the most rewarding and interesting destinations a windsurfer could visit.
Gran Canaria is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 150 kilometres (93 miles) off the north-western coast of Africa, and about 1,350 km (840 mi) from Spain. It is the third-largest island in the Canaries’ archipelago, but accounts for almost half the population. The island is volcanic in origin, and has a round shape with a diameter of approximately 50 km. It has a maximum elevation of 1949 metres at the peak of Pico se Las Nieves.
Gran Canaria lives up to its reputation as a continent in miniature, with a dramatic variation of terrain and climate, ranging from the green and leafy north, to the quiet and untouched mountainous interior to the desert like south. Contrasting with the unspoiled peaks and valleys of the centre is a rugged coastline interspersed with white sandy beaches. The east coast of the island is flat and dotted with beaches, while the western coast is rockier and mountainous leading up to the north western coast of the island which has several 1000 meter high steep slopes that descend almost vertically towards the Atlantic Ocean along an impressive coastal drive. A third of the island is under protection as a Biospere Reserve by UNESCO, and the island possesses 32 Natural Protected Spaces.
The weather is one of the reasons why the island is a perfect destination for outdoor activities. The climate in Gran Canaria and the other Canary Islands is often described as an “eternal spring”, and the difference between average minimum and maximum temperatures throughout the year is just 6 – 8°C. The average temperatures in summer range from 24 – 26°C with much higher peaks, and in the winter months 18 – 20°C, but the north tends to be cooler, and the south warmer and sunnier. The sea temperatures range from 17° – 23 ° throughout the year, with the warmest temperatures in September and October and the coldest temperatures from January to April.
Gran Canaria has more to offer than just outdoor activities. The island is dotted with quaint picturesque villages to visit, and those looking for culture will find it, particularly in the historic cosmopolitan capital of Las Palmas in the North, with its quaint old quarter, long boardwalk, excellent swimming and surfing options and modern shopping centres.
The island attract a lot of northern Europeans on package holidays searching for sun. Most of the tourists stay in the southern part of the island where there is an abundance of accommodation for all budgets concentrated in the Maspalomas area, which includes the towns of San Agustín, Playa del Inglés and Meloneras. The Maspalomas Dunes are located between Playa del Inglés and the distinctive 19th century Maspalomas lighthouse.
The island is easily accessible from the major European cities with flight times about four hours in duration. As there are so many flights, there is a lot of competition amongst the airlines and flights can be found relatively cheaply. Car hire is also cheap compared to other locations.
- Year round sunshine and warmth
- Dramatic scenery and nature to explore
- Wide range of outdoor activities
- Reliable winds
- Great windsurfing locations
- Plenty of windsurfing rental equipment
- Wide range of accommodation
- Many sporting options
- Spanish Culture
- Vibrant holiday environment and nightlife in the south
- Warm Beach culture in the south
- Suitable also for those looking for quieter areas
- Easy to get to from overseas
- Easy to get around
Sailing Locations in Gran Canaria
The southern end of the island provides two ideal locations for year round windsurfing holidays, with conditions that are distinctly different between the two. This is the Bahia Feliz area situated amongst the resorts around Maspalomas, and the high wind area of Pozo and Arinaga 12kms to the north east up the coast.
Gran Canaria is one of the windiest of the Canary islands, because the trade winds are deflected and accelerated off each of the neighbouring islands, and with the inland mountains reaching 2000m, there can be a 'crash barrier effect' causing winds to accelerate to up to between 30 and 40 knots in some areas during summer. However, despite such high winds, geographical differences affect the wind strength markedly between locations in relatively close proximity to one another. For example, during the summer, the winds can be very powerful blowing up to 40 knots in Pozo, but much lighter 12kms to the south in the Bahia Feliz area at exactly the same moment. This therefore provides suitable conditions for all sailor levels within locations in fairly close proximity to one another.
Bahia Feliz Bay
The Bahia Feliz Bay area provides the best location in Gran Canaria for combining a windsurfing holiday with a standard beach-holiday, because the windsurfing centres are attached to the resorts and hence ideal for families and non-windsurfers with so many other activities on offer. In the summer, flat water conditions and lighter winds prevail which are ideal for beginners and intermediates, despite the high winds regularly occurring just 12km up the coast in Pozo and Arinaga. However, in the winter strong thermal winds sweep across the south eastern edge of the island creating an acceleration zone, where Bahia Feliz is ideal for intermediate and advanced sailors.
There are two windsurfing centres in the Bahia Feliz area:
The Fanatic Boarders Centre in the centre of Bahia Feliz.
The Dunckerbeck Windsurf centre at Playa del Aguila.
Pozo Izquierdo is located only 12kms north of the resorts around Bahia Feliz, and is the best known spot on the whole island, famous for its regular and high winds. It works with swinging wind directions all year round, with the strongest wind between May and September. Due to the tricky launch spot with rocks and a shorebreak, it is an area best suited to advanced sailors. However, it's not always wavy, and when it isn't, the bump & jump conditions are still excellent. Pozo village offers a good infrastructure for windsurfers, a few gear shops with rental options, apartments for rent, gear storage, restaurants and bars, and two little super markets. However, there isn't a great deal to do for non-windsurfers!
3kms north of Pozo is Bahia de Formosa at Salinas de Arinaga. Protected by a windward tongue of land, it offers flat water on the inside, wind chop in the middle area and some long swells further outside. The Wind is usually similar to Pozo, but because of the flat inside area it is perfect for intermediates to learn waterstarting and other manoeuvres. It is a great spot for less experienced sailors who are based at the windsurfing resorts in the Bahia Feliz area, that are looking for more wind, particularly in Summer. The bay does have a stony beach, but gets sandier near and towards the water.
Best Sailing Season
Gran Canaria has the windiest season during the summer months between June and September, with the wind over 20 knots (force 5) 80% to 90% of the time in Pozo and Arinaga. This is when the tradewinds are blowing from a stable north easterly direction. However, during the summer months there is less wind further south in the Bahia Feliz area, but in winter the wind statistics improve and are over 15 knots (force 4) 60% of the time. The sea temperatures range from 20° – 26 ° in the south throughout the year, with the warmest temperatures in September and October and the coldest temperatures from January to April. Bring a wetsuit with long legs at least for the winter (2/3mmm) and a shorty for the summer. During the coldest days some may prefer a 3mm long sleeve suit.
Types of Windsurfing
- Beginner in calmer winds in Bahia del Feliz
- Flat water/small chop freeride
- Flat water/small chop freestyle
- Flat water small chop slalom windsurfing
- Wave riding entry level
- Wave riding advanced and world class at Pozo
- Beginners – windsurfing in Bahia Feliz
- World Class – The PWA windsurfing world cup come to visit Pozo annually in July
Windsurfing & Kitesurfing Spots
- Sailing type:
- Flat Water Blasting
- Bump and Jump
- Advanced Wave Sailing
- Intermediate Wave Sailing
Pozo Beach Windsurfing Pozo is one of the world’s most famous high wind locations, primarily due to its consistent high winds that blow over 20 knots (force 5) 200 days of the year. It is primarily a place best for dedicated windsurfers, as Pozo itself is quite small. Pozo village offers a good infrastructure for windsurfers, with a few gear Read more...
- Sailing type:
- Flat Water Blasting
- Bump and Jump
- Longboard Cruising
Aringa Windsurfing The sailing in Arinaga takes place at Bahia de Formas, a quiet beach about 1km from the centre of Arinaga. The wind is usually similar to Pozo, and therefore has consistently high winds that blow over 20 knots (force 5) 200 days of the year. However, Bahia de Formas is a very versatile windsurfing location for a variety Read more...
- Sailing type:
- Flat Water Blasting
- Bump and Jump
- Longboard Cruising
Tarajalillo, (Bahia Feliz) Windsurfing Bahia Feliz is a relatively quiet self-contained resort that has excellent windsurfing conditions that are suited to different levels depending on the time of year. It has a choice of hotel, self-catering apartments or villa accommodation which are set within attractive sub-tropical gardens. These are about 100 to 200m from the windsurfing launch centre at the Read more...
Getting to Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria Airport is the only airport and is located in the eastern part of Gran Canaria on the Bay of Gando (Bahía de Gando),19 km (12 miles) to the south of the island capital Las Palma, and 25 km (16 mi)les from Bahia Feliz and the Maspolomas area in the south in the south.
Some of the airlines that fly to Gran Canaria:
Airlines that operate between the other Canary Islands and Gran Canaria:
Getting to Gran Canaria by sea ferry from Spain:
There are 2 ferry routes operating between Spain and Gran Canaria:
- Trasmediterranea operates 1 route, Cadiz to Las Palmas which runs 1 time weekly.
- Fred Olsen Express operates 1 route, Huelva to Las Palmas which runs 2 times weekly
Ferries that operate between the other Canary Islands and Gran Canaria:
There are 2 ferry routes operating between Tenerife and Gran Canaria:
- Trasmediterranea operates 1 route, Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Las Palmas which runs 1 crossing weekly.
- Naviera Armas operates 1 route, Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Las Palmas which runs 2 crossings weekly.
There are also 2 ferry routes operating between Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.
Naviera Armas operates these 2 routes:
- Las Palmas to Puerto del Rosario which operates 5 times per week.
- Las Palmas to Morro Jable which operates about 8 times weekly.
Gran Canaria Activities & Culture
Gran Canaria not only provides an excellent location for windsurfing holidays, but a great range of things to do and experience for down-days or for non-sailing family members.
- Stand Up Paddle boarding
- Boogie Boarding
- Water Park
- Sailing yacht cruises
Other Activities – non water
- Mountain biking
- Road Cycling
- Electric E-bike cycling
- Spa, wellness and health centres
- Go Karting
- Paint Balling
- Sky Diving
- Annual carnivals in February/March
- Music and eating
- Folk festivals
- Crafts and markets
- Nightlife and partying
- Maspalomas Dunes nature reserve
- Explore the beautiful Guiniguada Ravine
- Roque Nublo – Second highest point of the island with truly amazing views !
- Palmitos Park – Great place where you can see exotic animals and amazing shows from a really close distance.
- Barranco de Guayadeque – Canyon where natives were living in caves. Spectacular views and good restaurants located in the caves with typical local food.
- Terror – Canarian village hidden in the mountains with amazing atmosphere and typical architecture. We recommend visiting this location on Sundays, when the local market offers canary specialities
- The Doramas Jungle
- The Azuaje Ravine
- One of the top things to do in Costa Calma beyond kiting & windsurfing is scuba diving. Dive Pro Fuerte is a PADI dive operation offering a range of PADI dive course as well as guided dives around the island of Fuerteventura. The warm, turquoise blue waters of Fuerteventura have an abundance of sea life including turtles and spotted stingrays Read more...
Gran Canarias Travel Tips
You won’t need a visa if you’re staying for less than three months on a six-months interval, and you have nationality from any EU country or one of the following:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lithonia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Czech Republic, Korea, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Uruguay, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Macao.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. This applies to the whole of Spain, including the Canary Islands. .
Staying for longer than 3 months:
If you’re planning to stay in the Canary Islands for longer than 3 months you must register in person at the nearest Office for Foreigners (Oficina de Extranjeros) which is normally part of the Town Hall (Ayuntamiento), or at designated Police stations.
If you decide to travel around Gran Canaria on public transport, you can catch the buses supplied by the company Global, which operate all over the island, and connect the airport to the south 25kms away,
European Health Card
This document replaces the old E-111 form. With this document you have the right to receive free medical assistance in every country within the European Union. This is valid for one year counting on the date you obtain it. To request this document you should present you medical card at your local Social Services
You can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in the Canary Islands, so talk to your doctor to see if the hepatitis A vaccine is right for you. Rabies is present in bats in the Canary Islands. However, it is not a major risk to most travellers.
Gran Canaria has3G and 4G mobile coverage which can be accessed from most phones.
As Gran Canaria is part of Spain, it therefore counts as part of the EU for allowing UK and other European allowances for roaming in the EU.
You could also get a local phone number and the option of taking out a mobile Internet package.
Hotels provide WiFi which is accessible from the rooms. There is usually no extra charge. Many bars and restaurants now also provide guest Wi-Fi services good enough for you to check messages and emails or download/upload documents.
Electrical device compatibility
In Gran Canaria, the power sockets are of the two pin type C. A power plug converter will be required to plug in your device if it has a different socket. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Appliances that have voltages ranging from 220V to 240V will be compatible.
There is car rental available from Gran Canaria airport and the ferry ports.
Spanish is the language of Gran Canaria. However, English is widely spoken in the tourist areas, as well German in the windsurf centres.
All year round! In April to October there is a 60% chance of wind over 15 knots (force 4 beaufort), with an 80% to 90% chance (In Pozo and Arinaga) in June to August. During the remaining winter and spring months there is a 50% chance of wind.
The summer air temperatures range from 25 to 27 degrees celcius, and winter from 21 to 22.
Transporting gear to/and domestically
Windsurfing and kiting gear can be taken on a number of airlines. However, airlines are getting ever stricter on the carrying of equipment, so check carefully the latest sports equipment carrying options with each airline.
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