My name is Nicky Hobson and I am originally from Huddersfield. Some 25 years ago I left the green fields of Yorkshire with no idea or plan, just that I wanted to party and find some work. What I didn’t know back then was that I would never go back and I would eventually make Gran Canaria my home for more than 18 years.
My 19 & 15 year old have grown up here on the island. They have had a wonderful childhood (they may well beg to differ!) but it is a fabulous place for both kids and adults alike.
Gran Canaria has something for everyone, and I hope I can inspire you to visit us one day for your perfect family holiday!
Not everyone likes to rent a car but one of my ‘top tips’ is that if you are willing to give it a go then the roads are good and clearly sign posted but more than that it will save you a small fortune. Car hire is cheap and so is petrol. Even if you only take the car to your accommodation, back to the airport again and a supermarket shop then you will have saved yourself quite some euros.
Talking of supermarkets, they are excellent and long gone are the days where you need to bring a suitcase filled with your kid’s favourite foods. The chains Mercadona, Hiperdino and Carrefour are the best, especially if you are on a self-catering holiday. They all sell everything you would expect from a fully stocked supermarket plus they all have fresh bread and delicious pastries, snacks and drinks for the kids. Alongside reasonably priced items like sun cream, shampoo and toiletries meaning you don’t need to bring them with you either.
So where to stay?
There are quite a few different tourist resorts along the coast in the South of the island that are all great for families however the one I want to recommend for you is Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is set into a valley so it’s best to read up on your accommodation about this prior to booking as you may need to be ready to walk a few steps. However, the resort is absolutely ideal for families with everything you need in close distance and also a perfect base to visit other resorts should you wish. Taxis and local buses are excellent and inexpensive.
Puerto Rico itself has a great sandy beach with lovely clear blue water. It isn’t too big and feels clean and safe. There are also 2 beautiful white beaches close by, the stunning Anfi del Mar with its turquoise sea and imported sand from the Caribbean. The most popular beach of all, especially with families is Amadores. It doesn’t have sand rather a type of crushed coral which means it isn’t so hot under your feet!
Amadores is lined by a semi-circle of fantastic restaurants for you to choose from. There are no water sports at this beach but there are pedalos and also a huge inflatable fun park for the kids, and big kids to enjoy too! Added bonus, the sunsets at Amadores are amazing.
You will find the Canarian people are so welcoming and pretty much every restaurant on the island will feature children’s options on their menu. You will also often find places where ‘kids can eat for free’
Remember if you get talked in to going to McDonald’s, they don’t do milkshakes in Gran Canaria but they do serve an excellent cold beer for Mum & Dad!
What to do for entertainment?
Most hotels and complexes have both day and evening entertainment however you are spoilt for choice with 4 Commercial centres. All offering something very different. The Puerto Rico Commercial Centre has had a recent refurbishment, and this is where you will find your perfume shops, souvenirs, bars, restaurants and nightlife. Anything from a British fry up to elegant fine dining.
The Europa Centre at the top of the hill is similar but on a much smaller scale. It also has an excellent huge family entertainment bar and restaurant with a fantastic outside play area for the kids.
Then there is the Mogan Mall which is the newest of the 3 centres. A delight for anyone looking to spend their holiday money on some quality shopping bargains. The plaza has a great atmosphere and every evening at 21:30 the huge fountain lights up with a dazzling light and music show.
The Market Place has the best Spar supermarket you have ever seen and a host of bars and restaurants in it’s smart and classy food gallery.
During the day you could very easily sit by the pool or beach enjoying the sunshine for the full duration of your holiday but if you want to get out and about then you are completely spoilt for choice!!
Everybody loves the Angry Birds Activity Park. This is an absolute must for young kids up to teens. They will absolutely love it. There is so much going on with a great atmosphere and a good little snack bar for food and drinks.
A popular trip to do is to go in search of whales & dolphins. It is rare to not see them, and most companies offer you a second trip for free if you don’t.
The Aquapark in Maspalomas has everything you would expect from a water park with breath-taking slides, a children’s area for the little ones, a lazy river and every hour or so a wave machine kicks in to action in the swimming pool.
You can also find a much cheaper water park in the resort of Taurito. It isn’t as well equipped and is a little rough round the edges however it will save you a fortune. My tip is to check them both out and see what would work best for you, your family and your budget.
You cannot come to Gran Canaria with kids and not take a trip to Sioux City. It so cool! A real life Western street with live shoot outs, get locked up in the county jail, ride horses and see their brilliant breath-taking shows. This isn’t just for the kids; you parents are going to enjoy it too.
If you love animals then Palmitos Park a zoo-themed botanical park in Maspalomas is a must. A subtropical oasis in an amazing, natural environment. It is a well organised park with entertaining shows throughout the day.
Cocodrilo Park is also excellent for kids. Not so easy to get to by bus but if you rented that car I mentioned then it is definitely a great place to go. It is a rescue park and has a more relaxed feel, the last time we went you could feed the monkeys with bananas. They also have shows throughout the day, I recommend the one with the crocodiles which is amazing, especially the teeny tiny babies!
No holiday to Gran Canaria would be complete without a ride on the camels in the sand dunes of Maspalomas. It is an inexpensive way to have some memorable family fun for just a couple of hours. Note tickets must be bought in advance.
The final place I am going to recommend is a trip to Holiday World in Maspalomas. It has been around forever but with its recent upgrade it has made it one of the must visit places for families. There is a bowling alley, sports bar, fairground rides and on the top level is an oasis of eateries serving some of the best food in the area! This most definitely isn’t just for the kids, this is going to be a fun night out for everyone.
You can visit Gran Canaria all the year round, but the winter months are actually classed as the high season. This is because the weather between October and May is superb. The summer months are always hot but we often have a wonderful breeze coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. Gran Canaria is particularly popular with families at Easter and in the February, May and October half terms.
MY 10 TOP TIPS FOR FAMILIES
- Rent a car if you can – Autoreisen are known to be the best with good prices and no hidden costs. They are also based at the airport.
- Remember the sun is super-hot and strong, especially in the summer months so pack plenty of sun cream.
- Make sure you all bring trainers or good walking shoes & definitely a sun hat.
- If the sky looks hazy or cloudy you can still get burnt, no joke!
- Taxis are really cheap within the resorts but the price is much higher if you travel from one resort to another.
- Look out for the kids eat free offers.
- Supermarkets are good especially for kids treats, pop & ice cream.
- Sometimes when you combine 2 park tickets together then they work out cheaper.
- Make sure you arrive early at the animal parks so you can catch all the shows.
- If you forget to bring something on holiday there is a huge Chinese shop at the far end of Puerto Rico. It literally sells everything including beach towels, inflatables and beach toys. It is way cheaper than the tourist shops.
At the time of writing there are COVID19 restrictions in place. Gran Canaria prides itself with its cleanliness and always adhering to the current rules. Please check www.hellocanaryislands.com for up-to-date information about what is required for your visit.
I wish you a wonderful & memorable family holiday!