On the southern tip of Gran Canaria, Maspalomas is famed for its endless golden sand beach and the spectacular sweeping dunes that separate it from Playa del Ingles. Quieter and more upmarket than its lively neighbour, Maspalomas is a great choice for families or couples wanting a relaxing holiday – and it’s popular with the gay community too.
There’s a waterfront promenade lined with shops and bars, but the vibe is laid-back, even in the height of summer. Away from the beach there are lots of attractions, from golf courses to theme parks. Accommodation ranges from simple apartments to luxury hotels.
Getting there/around Maspalomas
There are dozens of charter flights to Las Palmas, the island’s capital, and plenty of tour operators offer great value packages. The resort is about a 40-minute transfer from the airport.
Maspalomas is small enough to get around on foot and there are lots of excursions on offer if you want to get out and about. Hiring a car is worthwhile if you’d like to explore the island on your own.
The beach at Maspalomas is probably the most beautiful on Gran Canaria, stretching for 6km along the coast. There are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas and the water’s calm, clean and warm – great for children.
What makes Maspalomas particularly spectacular are the huge Sahara-like sand dunes, moulded by the wind. The area is protected, so you can only cross it on foot or by camel, and it’s home to various rare plants and animals like rabbits or lizards. It’s a popular spot for secluded sunbathing – watch out for the naturists.
The 65m-high Faro de Maspalomas lighthouse, built in 1886, dominates the resort. It’s still active as a fully-functioning lighthouse, but other than that there are no real ‘sights’. The area’s natural beauty is the major attraction. Camel rides across the dunes are popular – you may even feel like Lawrence of Arabia.
If you head inland there are ancient churches and monuments and for more culture, it’s worth exploring Las Palmas, with its imposing cathedral and numerous museums and galleries.
Maspalomas family attractions
Families love the beach here – and the sand dunes are an exciting attractions for kids, especially crossing them on a camel. But away from the coast there’s loads to do. Ocean Park in Maspalomas has 13 slides and a wave pool.
Aquasur, the biggest water park on the island with 33 slides and mini-golf, is nearby, then there’s Holiday World amusement park with all kinds of rides, Sioux City, a Wild West theme park, and Mundo Aborigen, a fascinating Aboriginal theme park. Palmitos Park, an ornithological park with aquarium and butterfly house is worth a visit too.
For older children, the area is great for watersports. Maspalomas has a diving school, while Puerto Rico, just up the coast, has sailing and water-skiing schools. Conditions are ideal for windsurfing too.
Maspalomas day trips
All kinds of boat trip can easily be arranged from the resort. Whether it’s an all-day booze cruise, a catamaran trip with snorkelling and swimming en-route or a glass-bottomed boat excursion, getting out on the sea makes a great day out and you’re likely to see dolphins or even whales on the way. The island is a good place for deep-sea fishing too.
Jeep safaris exploring the spectacular island scenery, taking in the mountainous region around Mount Tejeda are popular. The landscape varies hugely from rocky peaks and dramatic canyons to alpine forests and sweeping sandy beaches. You can also spend the day horse-riding in the mountains, with lunch at a ranch or enjoy a quad-bike adventure in the countryside from Playa del Ingles.
Golfers are spoilt for choice. The Maspalomas Club de Golf has a great setting next to the dunes and there are three other world-class courses on the island.
There’s a good selection of restaurants on the strip near the lighthouse and dotted around town offering a wide variety of international cuisine at reasonable prices, from Mexican to pizza or Chinese. Playa del Ingles offers even more choice.
Canary Island cuisine is a mix of Spanish and Latin America with an African influence. You’ll find traditional Spanish tapas, while local specials include fish soup or fish and potato stew.
There’s no shortage of things to do in the evenings at Maspalomas and the nightlife tends to be lively but more sophisticated than party-loving Playa del Ingles. Many restaurants and bars have live entertainment in the evenings, with anything from jazz to salasa, and there are theme pubs and a few clubs and discos.
For all night clubbing it’s best to head to Playa del Ingles, where there are massive venues and crowds of party animals. Anyone who fancies a flutter should check out the Gran Canaria Casino. There’s a wide choice of games and the ambience is chic and fun.
There are lots of shops and boutiques in Maspalomas. The main shopping centre is the Faro 2 complex, crammed with designer outlets and souvenir shops. Playa del Ingles has more choice, or you could head to Las Palmas for a mix of sophisticated malls and traditional shops.
The weekly market at Maspalomas is lively and fun, you can haggle for goods of all kinds, and there’s a pearl factory in town too for that special gift.