Where to find Gran Canaria's most fabulous beaches
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There is one massive reason I keep taking my family back to Gran Canaria*. And that glorious, irresistible reason is simply some of the best beaches anywhere in Spain.
We're talking about an island with more Blue Flag beaches than anywhere else in the Canaries; more than a dozen, in fact. Dubbed 'The Continent in Miniature', its beaches are gloriously diverse with something to suit everyone, whether you're looking for a shallow water oasis with the kids or a beach with all the resort frills, through to surf spots and wild getaways ideal for romantic strolls for two.
What are you waiting for? Grab your towel and let's hit some of the island's best beaches.
Getting to Gran Canaria: check out the latest deals on holidays to Gran Canaria with TUI*, which departs year-round from airports across the UK.
Not so much a beach as a nature reserve alive with Sahara-esque sand dunes that just happens to have mile upon mile of unspoilt Atlantic beachfront.
You can walk for hours in this southern oasis, and I thoroughly recommend you do, exploring the dunes and snapping great photos, but there is plenty of space to unfurl your towel, stop the world and just soak in the sun.
Most of the coast here is quite undeveloped, but there are sun loungers and a nudist section to avoid. Or head to.
At one end lies the posh emerging resort area of Meloneras* and, at the other, the full-on party place of Playa del Ingles*. When the waves get up, which is quite often, surfers head here too. Everyone enjoys the sunsets.
Playa de Mogán
Puerto de Mogán* is hailed as Gran Canaria's Venice, known for the network of canals that crisscross the waterfront and marina.
It's a gorgeous place to walk around, the whitewashed buildings crowded around its narrow lanes billowing with colourful bougainvillea. Unless you're staying here you might not even realise that it also has a great, golden sand beach too.
It's not the biggest beach on the island, but the setting in this laidback resort is a winner with a sprinkling of cafés, bars and restaurants on hand as you get sand in your toes.
The breakwater helps protect the beach too, making it a good option for families. It's also often noticeably less windy than some of Gran Canaria's other beaches, ideal on cooler days.
Anfi del Mar
If you like your beaches to look like the Sahara, this is the place for you as thousands of tonnes of sand have been shipped here from Africa to augment the local shoreline. It's great for families with shallow waters beckoning beyond the palm trees.
There are all the resort trappings and it's a fun place to bash around on a jet ski, soar in the skies paragliding or don a snorkel mask, though it's no secret so it can get very busy.
Despite the imported sand it's hard not to like this slice of the Caribbean on Gran Canaria. In recent years it has become popular for stand-up paddle boarding too.
The city of Las Palmas* gets dubbed 'Europe's Rio' and Las Canteras is one of the main reasons why. This wide sweep of clean sand lies in the city's north, an integral part that makes Las Palmas a superb city and beach holiday option.
The beach is protected offshore by a visible lava stone reef, La Barra, which forms a shallow lagoon that is blissful for swimming and fun for snorkelling too.
There are sun loungers and the two-mile-long promenade Paseo de las Canteras is alive with myriad cafés, bars and restaurants.
Canarios come here too so there is a real local vibe you won't find as often in the resorts. Kick back with some bone-dry local white wine and tuck into the tapas peering over the sands. Las Canteras is popular too with surfers when the ocean is playing ball.
Playa de Las Nieves
Ok, we're short of sand here in the fishing village of Puerto de las Nieves, but there is something enjoyable about not having to dig sand out of all your stuff and your body after a session on the smooth pebbles here in Gran Canaria's northwest.
Enjoy a dip in the clear waters as the ferry eases off for Tenerife in the distance while, above it, rugged cliffs rise improbably into the heavens. When you get hungry half a dozen relaxed seafood restaurants line the waterfront just behind the pebbles.
If you fancy swimming in natural rock pools, ease 10 minutes around the coast to Las Salinas, where a wee beach bar overlooks the rock pools that were part of the old salt pans, with stairs down into the ocean. Float around as waves gloriously spill over the top and replenish the pools with fresh water.
We're out in the wild west now and things just turned fittingly wild and wildly beautiful as I let you in on something of a local secret. The twin beaches here are the stuff of Canarian legend and if you're looking for an adventurous castaway vibe for two it's worth the effort.
You won't forget a romantic sunset away from the world looking straight over the water to the unmistakable volcanic hulk of Mount Teide on Tenerife, Spain's highest mountain.
The lack of road access puts off the crowds, you're pioneering in the shadows of Robinson Crusoe by boat or on two feet. And neither is easy as it's a nigh three-hour rough hike from Tasartico.
Gui Grande isn't especially big, hunkering down beneath steep cliffs just a few hundred metres long. Gui Chico is larger and harder to get to. Beware of rapidly-changing tides here blocking access, and avoid when the surf is up.
This is my wee wildcard near Agaete. Forget holiday brochure white sand; here it's all about the elemental stark black sand and striking volcanic rocks, that makes no secret of how these rugged Atlantic islands were formed millions of years ago.
This is one to eschew your clothes on, but you may well have its bijou sands to yourself. If so it will just be you, the cobalt ocean, the black sands and cliffs that soar off in search of the thick pine forests of Gran Canaria's spectacular hinterland. Life-affirming sunsets too.
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