Travel Recommendations: Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

The Valley of Gran Canaria

Desert landscapes with tropical palms

I recently came back from a six day trip to Gran Canaria in need of sunshine and heat. I planned my journey to avoid other tourists and stayed in places where I was one of the few tourists. Gran Canaria can be a haven for Brits Abroad getting pissed in pop up Paddy Bars as well as for many geriatric Europeans who potter around the beaches.

We flew with EasyJet and flights and despite only booking two weeks in advance, flights were incredibly cheap. The flight’s four hours to Las Palmas and we stayed at Hotel Rural Maipez the Senses.

The entrance to our hotel

Hotel Rural Maipez The Senses

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I love the exposed rock features of the walls, the simple design and glass lamp of the bedroom

This family-owned hotel was really beautiful and rustic and very close to the airport which was extremely convenient as we were up since 4am that morning and were very tired. Wanting to visit the beach immediately, the lady at reception recommended La Carenta which we drove to and was about a 25 minute journey away. It was clean, full of locals and would definitely recommend going.

Mercado Del Puerto

The port market has many tapas places filled with locals so you know it’s good

Hungry, I popped into the local tapas market and chose croquetas and an octopus salad. The food was delicious, fresh and cheap. Each tapas portion was about 4 Euros.

Croquettes

A really tasty snack. It can have fish, chicken or ham inside and then mixed with potato and fried in breadcrumbs.

Octopus Salad

So fresh and perfect after being stuck in a plane eating stodgy sandwiches and crisps

The next day we then headed South to San Agustin, a beach next to La Playa Ingles. This beach was recommended to us by a local we met on the plane and it was lovely. It had a blue flag which means it’s one of the cleanest beaches in Europe.

San Agustin

One of the cleanest beaches in Europe

We ate at Il Vecchio where we were with locals and had really delicious Italian food.

The courtyard at Il Vecchio

The restaurant is full of light and next to plants and trees

Beef Carpaccio at Il Vecchio

Beef Carpaccio

We then stayed at EcoTara, found through AirBnB. This is very off the beaten track and a great find if you want to learn to live a more sustainable and healthy life. We had an apartment where we were encouraged to forage in the garden for our meals. We were given a welcome basket of vegetables and fruit that they grow. They provide free yoga classes every day and it was amazing to spend an hour each morning doing yoga outside. They hve lots of animals which are not for eating: sheep, pigs and chickens who they rear and who you can feed with your leftover meals. EcoTara is run by interns who look after the land in exchange for board and it was interesting chatting and meeting new people. They were very relaxed and you can easily just hang out in your apartment and have privacy and space.

Eco Tara

Eco Tara

In the Garden of Eco Tara

Foraging for food was quite comical. Being a London girl, there were many vegetables I did not recognise or know if they were ripe or ready to take from the ground.

 

The local bakery in Fataga

Delicious almond biscuits, a local delicacy at Fataga

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The small hamlet of Fataga

We ate at The Brasserie by Traddiction a restaurant near Maspalomas which had the most amazing food overlooking a golf course in the desert. The amuse bouche (the free food they give you at the beginning) was influenced by the legendary cooking of El Bulli. The spherified olive: an olive that has been deconstructed and reconstructed into a ball of liquid that explodes in your mouth was something that was first created in El Bulli restaurant near Barcelona where the principal Chef I believe has trained at.

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Amuse Boche at The Brasserie by Traddiction. Influence of El Bulli: spherified olive, parmesan rolls, blood sausage chips

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Home made toasted bread with butter made with banana and cumin. Really delicious

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Spanish pork: succulent, tender and tasty

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Side dishes: home made potato chips and celeriac dish. The potatoes on the island are incredibly delicious

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Chocolate souffle and pear ice cream

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Cacti in the Botanical Gardens

We visisted the Botanical Gardens in the North which is free and interesting to do especially if the weather is a little cloudy. There is also an amazing restaurant nearby: Vinfilos, which has great wines and local delicacies. I tried the black ink rice with prawns which turned my teeth black but was really tasty.

We spent our last day at Puerto de Mogan also in the South. The beach there is protected from the winds so you’re able to sunbathe in a more protected environment. There are a few beautiful streets, it’s a great place to walk around.

Food Recommendations: the local potatoes, they are famous for these tasty “papas” with a spicy pepper mojo sauce, local fish, offal.

Places to avoid: Maspalomas – the beach is far too crowded and filled with tourists, cafes and restaurants on the beach front which rarely serves locals and the food is of lower standard.

Final Tips: rent a car, you’re able to explore the diverse island far more easily than using public transport. If you’re up for an adventurous holiday – try cycling like the locals up and down the mountains.

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Lush plants in the botanical garden

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Saying goodbye to Gran Canaria at the Airport

 

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