Playa Guigui: the mystical beach of Gran Canaria.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Eight years ago, I spent nine months studying in the island of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands, an archipelago belonging to Spain situated off the coast of Morocco.
The Canary Islands are a beautiful corner of Earth to visit: vivid traditions, unspoiled wildnerness and an eternal late spring climate, making them one of my favourite spots on the planet .
The beach of Guigui, certainly, is one of the most breath taking places I’ve been lucky enough to visit in the archipelago, and not only because of mere sightseeing.
But let’s proceed with order.
Where is it?
Playa Guigui is on the West Coast of Gran Canaria, as shown on the map.
How to reach Playa Guigui.
The best way to reach this elusive beach is to rent a car and drive it all the way to Tasartico, the closest town to Guigui, where you’ll park it and start the trekking. You should be able to reach Tasartico with a ‘guagua’, the local bus, as well, altough a direct one doesn’t exist, and the journey would take long time. I don’t recommend it.
Renting a car in the city of Las Palmas instead of getting one at the airport or at the touristic centres in the Southern Coast would definetely be the cheaper and more comfortable option.
You can reach the City, either from the airport or from the town Maspalomas, the southern touristic centre, with several cheap buses that travel between these destinations all day long.
Get off from the bus in Santa Catalina Square and walk towards the Ocean, the beach of Las Canteras, and her wonderful promenade ‘el Paseo’.
In the small alleys around the city waterfront you’ll find several rent-a-cars with competitive rates. Back then we used to choose one called ‘Moreno’ and I recommend to check it out. It’s probably way more expensive now, compared to when I was living there, being 8 years gone; but I’ve been to Las Palmas a couple of years ago, and it has still not become enough of a touristic place to see its prices raised.
The road you’ll have to go through to reach Guigui is the one and only motorway that links Las Palmas to Puerto de Mogan, at the very end of the touristic south, the GC 1. It’s an approximately 7o kms drive, that will lead you to a secondary road called GC200 that you’ll have to follow for 30 more kms to finally reach Tasartico.
The secondary road is very scenic, and shows all the beauty and wilderness of the unexplored island’s west coast, only crossed by narrow and bended roads that won’t allow you a fast ride but will guarantee a unique scenery. There are a couple of viewpoints where you will be able to park your car and take pictures of the wonderful landscape.
Road signs along the way will direct you to Tasartico. Here, you’ll be able to park your car close to a small bar where you’ll be able to ask informations about the tide level, if you’re unsure, and directions to choose the right path to Guigui, since many trekking trails start from there.
If you’d like to visit the beach avoiding the hike, boats from neighbours beaches organize day tours around the coast, but will only allow a short visit to the beach.
You can arrange a private boat taxi that will drop you and come back to pick you up directly at the shore in Guigui at the agreed time.
When to go?
If you’re wondering about which is the best period of the year to visit playa Guigui, the answer is any time. The average temperatures in the Canary Islands during summer (June-Sep) is 26 °C ( 75 °F) with tops of 30 °C (86 °F). In winter temperatures swing between 17 °C ( 61 °F) and 24 °C (71 °).
Check the weather forecast though, in case storms are expected, because you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a thunderstorm on a beach with no shelters or along the 4 hours trekking trail.
If you decide to stay in Guigui overnight, make sure to have some heavy clothes or sleeping bags, because temperatures drop during the night.
This simply is romantic advice. If you choose a week with no moon, you’ll be able to enjoy the stars. The night is dark in Playa Guigui, and the sky view is breathtaking. When I’ve been there, the sea was filled with jellyfishes that sparkle in water as fireflies do in air ,and the combination of them and the million stars in the sky was just magical. Those jellifishes didn’t bite me back then, but bit me a couple of years later in Indonesia, so I’m still unsure about how much I trust them.
When I visited Playa Guigui, nobody but the locals knew its location, and the beach was an unspoiled paradise. But the word spread and, from what I heard, it’s not such a special place anymore. Many hike through the mountains to reach the beach now, but it still is a challengin trail and that saves Playa Guigui from being invaded by crowds. If you choose a week day rather than a week-end one and avoid the festivities, I’m sure you’ll be able to find some peace of mind.
Which time of the day?
Ok, this is important. Playa Guigui is actually two beaches: Small Guigui, the first one you’ll reach at the end of the trail, made of rocks, and Big Guigui, huge and made of fine dark volcanic sand, that is your final destinations.
When the tide is low you can easily walk from one beach to the other.
When the tide is high, although, there’s no way to walk and you’ll need to swim in order to move between the two beaches, which can be dangerous and I don’t recommend it. When I have been there, we arrived some time before the sunset and left at the same time the next days, in order to avoid to walk through the trail in the darkness.
Inform yourselves about the tides before starting your journey, and make plans to be on time on the way back, and hike with sunlight.
Who should go?
I read around in blogs that some families hiked their way to Playa Guigui with kids. And toddlers.
Now, I don’t know if we’re talking about the same place or there’s been a misunderstanding about it, but hell, no. Maybe if you’re a fit family with kids old enough and used to hiking, this is your cup of tea, but I still wouldn’t do it.
The path itself it’s not challenging because of its heights, but because it basically offers no shade at all, and it’s long. You’ll have to climb up a mountain for two/three hours, depending on how many breaks you’ll take; then you’ll have to climb down the same mountain to reach the shore. The beach as well won’t provide much shade and sun is seriously strong. Your tan will be at its top, though.
It’s a spiritual trip, that I recommend to young fit people, or to whoever feels to be prepared enough, but only if the risks are taken seriously.
My toes sinked in the sand of many shores during my trips around the world, but I always think about Playa Guigui with particular affection.
It’s very likely that the journey to get there itself makes it half worth the cost. You’ll gain this beautiful beach for yourself after climbing a damn mountain under the burning sun: the prize will give you one hundred times more satisfaction because of the effort you had to put to win it.
The views are stunning along the trail. From the barren hills of Tasartico, to the top of the black rock mountains, where you will enjoy your first glance at Playa Guigui from very high above it, and take a small well deserved break.
Some vegetation grows as you get closer to the water, but the sun rules over evrything here, and the landscape stays stark.
The last few bends are covered in rocks that won’t allow you to see further than the next curve; but you’ll know you’re almost there, and your excitment will give you a rush of adrenaline that will get you over the final stretch.
And in the end there it is, your prize, Small Guigui, happy to welcome you for a refreshing bath, but quick to dismiss you to make you reach the neighbouring bigger beach right on time before the tide rises.
That’s the other half of reasons why you should visit Playa Guigui. You’ll be isolated; it won’t be possible to walk your way back untill the next day and there will be nothing but the deep silence of nature around you.
In front of you the Ocean and the spectacular view of the Teide,the famous volcano on the island of Tenerife; behind you the black cliffs, the uncrossable barrier that stands between you and the rest of the world.
It’s no surprise that Playa Guigui is a favourite naturist destination. The feeling of freedom and will to abandon yourself to nature is extremely strong, here.
Visit Guigui if you’re looking for a break from the noise of everyday life and you want to be in a peaceful place to relax and medidate after a beautiful journey through the mountains.
It is not allowed to camp on beaches all over the Country of Spain, but not staying overnight in Guigui would mean missing the wonderful sunset it offers.
What to wear.
Trekking shoes are ideal; trainers could do it, but some downhill parts may be slippery.
Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect you from the sun.
Short comfortable pants and a cotton singlet or t-shirt will do for the walk, but don’t forget long sleeves and pants if you stay overnight, and a jumper.
Swimsuit could turn out useful, unless , of course, you’d rather go natural.
What to bring.
High Protection Sunscreen is essential, unless you want to see yourself covered in wrinkles the day after. Some moisturizing after sun cream to apply after sunset would be a good idea.
Garbage bags to bring your rubbish wth you. When I’ve been in Guigui there were no garbage bins, so try not to produce a pile of garbage, because you’ll have to bring it all the way back to your car.
A flashlight may be useful in a very dark night, altough there are not many places to go around.
An umbrella to protect you from the sun, like the ones the Chinese always have, would be an actual good idea.
Other than that, you won’t need much. No showers around, so don’t bother bringing your favourite shampoo over.
Things NOT to do when visting Guigui (aka ‘Things I did when visiting Guigui’).
Don’t start your trekking without plenty of water.
When me and my fellow hikers started the trail to Guigui, we had one litre of water each. We didn’t expect at all the hike to be that hard, and we finished our water supplies around twenty minutes after starting the walk.
When we reached the beach, very dehydrated, we discovered the existence of a natural water spring above Small Guigui because an old hermit, who made of Guigui his home, that we met on the way, told us.
Once we had arrived at the sand shore, the tide started to rise, and we still had no water. We had some soft drinks, but we were craving for plain water, and Coke wouldn’t have been ideal for the day after anyway, hot as boiling tea being the whole day under the sun.
Four of us swam their way from the small beach to the big one and walked to the spring to get the most disgusting water that I’ve ever tried in my life. But still, it was water and we had none, and it’s probably the reason why I didn’t die in Guigui.
I read around that there should be somebody selling cold drinks, nowadays, but I doubt it, somehow. Bring plenty of water supplies.
Don’t bring with you an excessive amount of food.
Not expecting a challenging path, me and my fellows emptied the supermarket meat aisle in order to enjoy a bonfire barbecue on the beach. Several bottles of the finest rum produced in the Canary Islands, the Arehucas, weren’t missing; as well as soft drinks to mix them.
The barbecue has been great, I admit it; not so great has been bringing plastic bags filled with food, that started breaking up after half an hour, and all the equipment to grill, all along the way to the beach.
We carried everything by hand. I ended up with a pack of sausages pressed under one arm and a bottle of Coke under the other.
And we were so hungry that we ate everything the first night and starved the day after. Right after the walk and the ride back to Las Palmas, there was no opposition to the idea of visiting Mc Donald’s.
Bring with you enough food for two days, but choose packages that you can easily carry in a backpack, or your journey will be harder.
Don’t use flip flops.
Yes, I did. The whole trail. And I was not the only one.
Don’t swim between the two beaches when the tide is high.
It’s just dangerous, because the stream is impetous. One of my fellows got a big cut on one of his feet hitting a rock with it. Wasn’t easy for him on the way back.
Don’t drink an excessive amount of alcohol during the night.
The party will be great in such a mystical location, but the hangover will hit you hard the day after, when you’ll have to wait for the sun to set in order to get some rest from its rays of fire. It’s the other side of the coin, you know.
The beach of Guigui it’s a wonderful spot out of the crowded ways, where you can enjoy the rare pleasure to have a talk with your natural self.
I hope you’ll enjoy it.