7 ways to get active on holiday in Gran Canaria
The locals like to call their blissful island the 'Continent in Miniature' - and it really is. This balmy Canary Isle soars from the Atlantic, its volcanic nature revealed in the vaulting craggy peaks that vault thousands of metres into the heavens.
There are thick primeval forests, plunging ravines and surging streams - think more Jurassic Park than theme park. Swirl in the temptation of the Atlantic surf and Gran Canaria really does offer a continent of opportunities for active adventurers. Here, you'll find seven adrenaline-pumping ways to get you going - what are you waiting for?
Getting to Gran Canaria: you'll find fantastic savings on escapes to Gran Canaria with Jet2holidays, which departs year-round from airports across the UK.
1. Epic hiking
Gran Canaria is quite simply a world class walking destination. The variety of routes is remarkable, from gentle hikes along the protected sand dunes of Maspalomas, through to multi-day cross-island epics tackling the big peaks and ridges.
The island cemented its place on the world walking map when it launched the Gran Canaria Walking Festival a few years back. I joined in the first year and it was a brilliant way to discover the island in safe, group company. It's lots of fun too with social events woven around the walking programme.
In 2019, the festival will run from 23rd to 27th October. If you want to hook up with a guide the rest of the year I thoroughly recommend Climbo, whose knowledgeable guides really help open up the island's best trails, as well as fill you in on the flora and fauna that you encounter en route.
2. Wonderful watersports
If you love splashing about in the ocean, you have come to the right place with 236 km of coastline to savour! Gran Canaria is a superb watersports destination whether you're looking to learn SUP (stand up paddleboard) in the protected waters of the capital of Las Palmas or surf proper on the bigger breaks dotted around the island.
How about windsurfing? The island's southeast is rated as one of the finest places in Europe for windsurfers with rounds of the world championships held here. Gran Canaria is ace for kitesurfing too. Sailors can also find plenty of places to moor up in between exploring a coastline alive with dolphins and whales.
3. Serious scuba diving
Snorkelling is popular in Gran Canaria, but if you really want to discover the bountiful marine wildlife treasures of Gran Canaria then you need to don a scuba mask.
The Atlantic drops to great depths all around the island so it is easy to get access too without having to endure a long boat trip first. Key scuba diving areas include Sardina del Norte, Caleta Baja, El Cabron and Las Canteras in Las Palmas.
When you're in the water you could come face to face with all manner of marine life, over 5,000 species in fact, from colourful coral and strikingly bright parrot fish, through to frolicking dolphins and hulking whales.
For even more inspiration about how to get active on this scenic island, don't miss Gran Canaria: Natural & Active, the official website dedicated to sharing all of the ways in which you can experience the great outdoors.
4. Tackle trails on two wheels
Just a few short years ago, mountain bikers and road cyclists were seen as something of an oddity in Gran Canaria, or worse still a hindrance to traffic or hikers.
In these enlightened, bike-friendly times, however, two-wheeled travellers are more than welcome, whether you're winding your way up through the testing mountain roads doing your Tour de France impression, or you prefer to hurl yourself down one of the tricky mountain bike trails that have opened up across the island.
The Pico de las Nieves route is said to be one of the toughest in Europe, so come prepared! Options are endless with a network of trails and often long forgotten routes that open up the hinterland. The internet is alive with ideas or you can employ the services of a local guide.
5. Explore on four legs
With so much diverse scenery to enjoy, a four-legged companion means you can cover a lot more ground in a day, and also make the most of the views as you go. There's a sprinkling of local horse riding schools and clubs dotted around the island that handily welcome guests.
You don't even need to be an expert either as they cater for newcomers, as well as experienced riders. It makes for a great family day out too. ViveloRural can take you out for a horse riding adventure to remember.
6. Soar like a bird
We're talking the twin delights of either throwing yourself out of a plane with only a parachute for company (you'll need an instructor if you're a novice) or lifting off from a mountain ridge with just a paragliding rig keeping you airborne. Again, you'll need to go to tandem if you don't know what you are doing.
Of course, there's also parasailing, which is arguably a little tamer and widely available around Gran Canaria. Whichever you choose, you'll get to enjoy brilliant views of the island that really reveals its 'Continent in Miniature' diversity in all its Technicolor glory.
7. Zoom around on a Segway
Ok, so Segwaying is not going to get you fit, but it's a brilliant way to discover the beguiling capital of Las Palmas. Segway LPA makes sure you know what you're doing before scooting off along the waterfront bound for the chocolate box pretty old quarter of Vegueta.
Choose one of the foodie-themed tours if you want to congratulate yourself on your time getting active in Gran Canaria with a tapas feast of treats as varied as an island that more than justifies its moniker.
You can also head off on road Segway and hit the hills on an island where the allure of the active and the natural constantly tempt.
Fancy getting to know Gran Canaria? Whether you're all about the activities or prefer something a little more laidback, you'll find a great deals on breaks to this Canary Island with Jet2holidays.
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