Have you heard of the Canary Islands? Do you know it’s part of Spain? Do you know that despite it being part of Spain, it’s actually in the continent of Africa? Many locals and expats living here will wonder if people in the “outside world” would be able to answer, “yes”. Truthfully, a couple of years ago, I would of answered “No” to these questions. (Admittedly, only until I arrived to Africa 3 months ago did I realize the Canary Islands was even in Africa.) To help you become more educated, here needed for a La Verga Gran Canaria vacation.
Why Gran Canaria
The question, that follows from locals and expats to me was what brought me to Gran Canaria. Many reasons brought me to the island including
- A comical Latin saying said by many parents to their children when frustrated by them or anyone upset at you. “Vete a La Verga” aka “Go to hell”. “La Verga”, to my surprise is a beautiful beach in Gran Canaria. When I discovered this, I knew I had to FINALLY listen to my parents. So go to “La Verga” Gran Canaria it was. It’s certainly was breathtaking here that I should have listened to my parents sooner. (In my cheeky sarcastic tone.)
- With my Latina solo travels, things to connect me to my culture can get me to places. It’s the beautiful thing about being a nomad after all.
- I have friends here and family from Guatemala have lived here in the past. Some of my family currently live in one of the other islands in the Canary Islands, “Tenerife“.
My Personal Connection
As I mentioned, one of the reasons I visited La Verga Gran Canaria was because I have friends here. Who are these amazing friends you ask? The Paesani’s, an Italian family from Rome who are now expats in the island. I meet them during a trip to Rome 5 years ago. When I took an Italian cooking class with the matriarch of the family, Cecilia. I used Eatwith, a popular site that caters eating expeiences in countries around the world with host familied.
After an amazing Eatwith dinner with the Paesani’s I continued to keep in touch with the son, Bruno. They became expats after the son moved to Gran Canaria and his parents relocated here after the dad retired. I credit them but especially Bruno for making this trip to Gran Canaria so enjoyable. They gave me the ability to explore this island from a different perspective and visit unique places. Including, “Loma 2” in Arguineguin village, the “Beverly Hills” of Gran Canaria. Underwhelming? Maybe, but I had been warned by my friends. To see what an island compares “Beverly Hills” was quirky and charming and again what makes Gran Canaria so diverse. See what else my friends got me into below and use this as your own insider guide in the Island.
What To Expect In Gran Canaria
So what should one expect in this island? Great question, and one that I’m glad I can personally answer for you. Canary islands is not quite Europe but it try’s to feel like it. As a Latina solo traveler, it was a good place to slowly re-emerge myself to the Europe feel. It doesn’t quite feel like Spain though it’s part of Spain. And though it’s in Africa, it certainly feels nothing like Africa.
In Gran Canaria, you will discover a compact array of diversity. Where one can see cactus and palm trees co-existing in perfect harmony. Shocking, I know! The bio-diversity and micro climates found here change quickly. Simply from traveling short distances or at different points of the day is incredible and unique. One I’ve never experienced. It’s a travelers dream destination. If you truly want to unwind and slow down while still enjoying plenty of beaches, sport activities, shopping, etc. This small island truly has it all.
Plan Your Visit To Gran Canaria
- Best time to visit Canary island is between September through December. The Islands micro climates are a bit more predictable and pleasant.
- Packing 1-2 outfits for rain and chillier days is highly recommended. The climate really does change from area to area or time of day despite how small this island is.
🚗 Car – I would highly suggest renting a car for 2-3 days. 1 day you can visit the northern part of the island. The other day you can visit the southern part of the island. (Tip: Renting a car from the airport is far cheaper than renting one from the city. Find the best deals from the airport HERE.)
🚶🏽Waking – The city is quite small so walking is very doable here.
⛴ Fred Olsen Express – This Ferry company provides express ferry’s to the other islands in the Canary Islands. As well as other coastal cities in Spain.
🚎 Public Bus – The bus can get you around the city fairly quickly. It can also take you to other areas of the island. If you are traveling farther from the city, just insure you check time schedules. Especially, for your return, as taxis will cost you an arm and a leg.
Given that the island is part of Spain, locals speak Spanish but Spanish with a twist. I noticed they tend to speak quite fast and use words only Canarian’s use for things in Spanish. The upside for someone who doesn’t know Spanish, is that there are many expats living here. This means you can easily find someone who speaks English or Italian.
Where & What To Eat
- El Cameleon, cheap drinks and a locals favorite with a very laid back environment to match. The manager is certainly a character who will ensure your noise level is kept at a minimum especially outside.
- La churrería or Madrilena, for churros with hot chocolate.
- Ñoño, delicious and cheap “Bocadillo’s” aka mini sandwiches with various seafood options. The location is great since its on the beach walk. It’s also a good great place to catch surfers doing their thing.
- La Tasca De Los Vinos, a Peruvian restaurant with tapas style pintxos for dinner during the week.
- Café Regina, for your authentic Colombian coffee fix. Gran Canaria spoiled me with coffee thanks to my Italian friends and this place.
- 200 Gramos, a restaurant known for their burgers. I tried the vegetarian burger which I highly recommend.
- Allende, customer service was questionable or simply our waiter had one too many drinks. Regardless, the meals here were delicious here.
In Gran Canaria you will find many expats from many places of the world. Many have begun to call this home especially people from Italy, Germany and Central/South America. I found both locals and expats to be very friendly and welcoming.
Place To Stay
Lua Lua Hostel, is part of the hostel group, “Hostel International”. It is centrally located near “Las Canteras” beach. This means it’s close to many restaurant, cafes, bars and transportation to get you around the island. The small hostel is very clean, quaint and has a nice rooftop with weekly jam sessions. It certainly was a perfect place to call home while I was in the island.
Where To Visit In Gran Canaria
- Mogan, the port of Mogan will have you feeling as if you’ve been transported to Santorini in Greece. Or remind you of Santorini due to its white homes along the water which makes for a great day trip. Enjoy relaxing on the small beach along the port or enjoying lunch here.
- Playa De Amadores, a man made yet beautiful beach. The beautiful white sand was shipped and laid on a cement floor it truly is still worth seeing and enjoying.
- La Verga, a beautiful beach area with many restaurants and shops. It includes a man-made heart shaped island located right on the beach. (If you’re Latin you may have been told to go here by people when they were upset with you.)
- Dunes of Maspalomas, probably the closest reminder that you are in the continent of Africa are these sand dunes. Enter through the “Playa Del Ingles” to mezmerize over seeing beach and sand dunes in the same place.
- Ageate, the rural port town in the north of Gran Canaria. You will be entertained with beaches, natural water pools and mountains. If you are the hiking type, the 7th highest cliff of the world, “Risco Faneque” is located here.
- Vegueta, the cobbled street part of the old town in the city of Las Palmas. I don’t honor Christopher Columbus but should point out that he did stop here on his way to the Americas. His home has been turned into a museum (Which I did not enter).
Other Places To Consider Visiting
- Roque Nublo, located in the center of the island, this lava block is hike-able and offers views of the highlands.
Want to discover where else you can visit in Europe?
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