Discovering the north coast of Gran Canaria
August 30, 2016
If you want to avoid the mass tourism on this beautiful island, your first tought should be to go to the North. In this area the ocean is wild, the coast line is black, jaggy vulcanic stone, the weather is changing every day, the winter is rainy, the summer is hot and humid, and evry second day the wind rises above the normal. But it’s still worth to spend a few days around here. Why? Because of it’s magnificant waves, green hills, hidden bays and clear water. Let’s see one by one.
Only 10 minutes from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: The Magnificant Waves of the North Shore
There are legendary stories about surfing the north shore of Gran Canaria. Some might travel days to get here, and spend most of the sunny hours in the water. San Andrés and San Felipe are the most popular destinations for advanced surfers, and yes, you have to be experienced. The waves are strong, the current is powerful and the bottom is rocky. On those perfect days you find magical tunels to ride in. There might be a slightly crowd on weekends (when the local surf boddies are out of town) but for weekdays there are not many queing for those waves. On holidays and weekends there is always an ambulance car with certified life guards watching the horizon for your safety. After surfing is worth to go for a good fish dish or a good jarra (big jar of beer) in one of the local restaurants on the shore.
The most magical place of España: The Green Hills of Northern Gran Canaria
Coming from las palmas de gran canaria on GC2 and heading to Agaete you will recognize a very unfamiliar face of the island. This view is never mentioned in the mainstream travel guides or brochures wich are trying to sell Gran Canaria as the island of beaches with those pictures of the artifical sands of Anfi del mar or Amadores, or the bright photos of the sand dunes of Maspalomas. No, this is very different! After leaving behind the waves of San Andrés and San Felipe you start to go uphill into these famous hills. If you are an adventurer you could choose the road GC291 from San Felipe instead of the highway (GC2). This road is one of the oldest on the island, and actually, because of landslides, it is forbidden to drive it in rain. This road leads to one of the historical sites of the island, called Cenobio de Volerón, a cave system was used by the aboriginals. At Santa Maria de Guia you arrive back to the highway and go on toward Agaete. Can you see what a difference shape of hills appear on your left side? Those are the grean hills of the island, sliced by wild variety of valleys. One of the most amazing one is Valley the Agaete, the only place of Europe where coffee is cultivated. Thanks to the temperature, the high number of sunny hours/day you can have a strong, tasty arabica. Recommended prepare at home with your own italian style coffee machine. From the same farm (Finca la Laja) worth to get a huge amount of oranges in the months of December, Januar and February because it is just never enough. Following the signs in Agaete to Maipes (the ancient burial site of the aboriginals) you will find the road GC231 which leads to El Sao. This road is surraunded with high green hills and one could feel like accidantly arrived to Hawaii.
If you have already been to this valley, you can choose to visit Valley the Galdar on the road GC220 which leads to Artenara, into the heart of the island. The hills are softer here than in Valley of Agaete, and they could remind you of Scotland for example (with more palm trees, of course). In the rainy winter season planty of waterfalls appear in this area, making the surrounding even more magical. Worth to stop in Fagajesto ont he way to Artenara, because of it’s local cheese (queso de flor) which is made with the flower of the artichoke, and for a short hike to a local hill with a lonely pine tree standing on the top. You get the amazing view of the whole valley of Agaete, straching under you with its dams and small little villages.
The Hidden Bays and the Clear Water of the North Shore of Gran Canaria
Let’s get back to the coast! If you like rocks, you will love the little hidden area just after the first fuel station leaving Las Palmas. It is a wild, abondand place, with an off-road motorcycle field. If you walk along the costal rock, you will find a cave facing to the capital. Not too far from this point you can enjoy a nude sunbath on the rocks of the salinetas (salt fields). Heading to the west, the beach of Banadores (El Puertillo) gives a really good opportunity for a day on the beach with your family. The small pools are perfect for the kids, the waves are good for a funny surfing or bodyboarding session and the small sandy beach lets you to enjoy your free time with just laying on the sun. When you are already in Galdar, please pass through the little roads between the banana plantation and look for the hidden beaches. For example Playa de Bocabarranco is a more hours program, specially if you have a dog, since dogs are allowed to enjoy this sandy beach. If you want to swim, it is better to do it in the natural pool by the restaurant.
The most popular beach and scuba diving spot on the North-West coast is Sardina. The name comes from the huge school of sardinas, normally running away from the half – one meter long barracudas. These scene can be observed by snorkelling as well, just like the colorful starfish close to the shore. It is worth to do a try out scuba dive session if you have never done it before, the local dive shop in Sardina will help you happily. Before we arrive to Puerto de las Nieves, the beach of Agaete, from where the ferries leave to Tenerife, I invite you for a short, half hour walk int the valley of Juncal. At the end of this adventurer trip (through a little forrest and between huge vulcanic walls), you will find yourself in an almost empty bay with tons of simmetric pebbles. This is a meeting point of octopuses, so worth to go for a snorkell trip in the crystal clear water. The ocean here is protected by the cliffs, so the water is calm, the current is soft. Meanwhile you can enjoy the view of the Tale of The Dragon (the chane of mountains of the west cost, which actually has a shape of an imaginary dragon’s tale) and in clear weather the view of Tenerife with Teide, the highest point of Spain.
After all these Puerto de las Nieves is waiting for you with its sharming little fishing village and perfect fish dishes and again a real system of natural pools ont he north edge of the town.
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Lars Haaken Øverseth
October 30, 2018
Mily! By the way you write about the north shore of Gran Canaria it would be fun to stay at your hostel. And hopefully get some local advice on where to go and explore. How do I book a room?