Literally translated as Englishman’s beach, Playa del Ingles is a haven for British and Irish holidaymakers. Windsurfing, jet-skiing, deep-sea fishing and sky-diving are on offer in the second-largest resort in Europe.
And when the sun goes down, the clubbers come out to play.
Getting there/getting around Playa del Ingles
A number of airlines fly direct from London to Gran Canaria. The airport is about 25 kilometres north of Playa del Ingles. Taxis are available, as is a regular bus service.
Bus services link the major resorts on Gran Canaria, although some tourists choose to rent a car during their stay, particularly if they want to explore the centre of the island.
Beaches in Playa del Ingles
Playa del Ingles shares an eight-kilometre beach with two smaller resorts, Maspalomas and San Agustin. There are plenty of activities on offer at Maspalomas too, but here the beach joins on to surreal, desert-like sand dunes that stretch from the sea for four kilometres inland. San Agustin is smaller and less crowded than the other two resorts.
A short trip west will take you to the man-made family beach of Puerto Rico. A 20-minute walk from there is Playa de los Amadores, a beach popular with couples.
Sightseeing in Playa del Ingles
The impressive Maspalomas sand dunes are worth seeing, while a bit further along the south coast is the small fishing village of Arguineguin. Nicer still is Puerto de Mogan, with its low buildings and narrow alleyways.
San Nicolas de Tolentino, also a short drive from Playa del Ingles, is a small, inland area of nature reserves that has Cactualdea cactus park as its main attraction. You could also try Mundo Aborigen, a museum specialising in information about the Guanches, the original inhabitants of Gran Canaria.
Family attractions in Playa del Ingles
Aquasur, the biggest water park in Gran Canaria, is in nearby Maspalomas, as is Holiday World, a theme park with all the usual rides as well as go-karting, pony riding and a playground. There are also camel safaris on the sand dunes.
Kids might also fancy a trip to Palmitos Park, a centre half an hour away which houses a fine bird sanctuary and an aquarium.
Day trips from Playa del Ingles
One of the most popular day trips is to the island’s most famous landmark, Roque Nublo (Rock Cloud), an 80 metre-high monolith 1,813 metres above sea level. Another popular stop is Artenara in the north-east, which boasts once-inhabited caves. The main attraction is the Santuario de la Virgen de la Cuevita, a cave church used by the original islanders for worship and transformed into a church by Spanish invaders.
You could take a ride in a submarine at Puerto de Mogan. There are also great boat trips to be had for deep-sea fishing or dolphin watching. Check out the aero club, 10 minutes’ drive from Playa del Ingles, where you can try your hand at sky-diving.
Eating out in Playa del Ingles
British-style cafes and pubs, such as the Britannia and Finnegan’s, are everywhere. There’s also a fair share of Italian restaurants and plenty of fast-food chains.
Typical local restaurants will usually have a short menu of soups, stews and grilled fish dishes. Papas arrugadas (potatoes boiled with their skin in sea water) and guia (local goats’ cheese) is also worth trying. Fish lovers should look for caldereta de pescado (fish soup) or sancocho canario (salt fish and potato stew). Merlin, on Avenida Tirajana, and Casa Vieja, on Calle de Fataga, are worth a visit.
Playa del Ingles nightlife
Most of the self-contained commercial centres in Playa del Ingles have bars and clubs as well as restaurants and shops. Kasbah is jam-packed with nightclubs, while the nearby Yumbo Centre is orientated towards the gay scene.
There are plenty of Irish pubs, some with live music, and a couple of Scottish pubs. For quieter bars, try strolling along the promenade. There’s also a casino on the edge of the resort.
Shopping in Playa del Ingles
As with the bars and clubs, most of the shops are confined to the big commercial centres. Duty-free goods, cheap electrical equipment, imitation designer wear and African curios are the standard fare.
The San Fernando Market, every Wednesday and Saturday, is a fun alternative to the huge shopping centres. This residential area also has a couple of local supermarkets.