If you want a quieter beach, we’ve covered Gran Canaria’s Top Ten Local Beaches here and Gran Canaria’s Top Ten Secret Beaches here.
For bus routes and timetables, see our guide to getting around Gran Canaria.
Maspalomas/ Playa del Inglés
More mini-desert by the sea than beach, Maspalomas is the biggest and most popular patch of sand in Gran Canaria. It is over six kilometres long and stretches between the Maspalomas lighthouse and Playa del Inglés resort. The bit in front of Playa gets called Playa del Inglés beach but its all the same stretch of sand.
Maspalomas is an incredible beach that is almost always sunny with calm waters. It can get windy so take a shelter if the palm trees are waving about in your resort.
Maspalomas beach is so big that even at peak times there is always plenty of room for sunbathing and swimming. You can have a whole dune to yourself, or join in the fun around the beach kiosks. There are jet skis and banana boats for rent at the Playa end and drink and snack kiosks along the length of the beach. Lifeguards watch the beach from towers every day.
While clothing is optional on the whole beach as over February 2012, the nudists gather in the central section of the beach right by the biggest dunes. The gay nudist zone is by the kiosk flying the big rainbow flag.
Families tend to cluster at either end close to the access points and the shops and restaurants.
Getting There: If you’re staying in Playa, Meloneras or Maspalomas you can’t miss the beach. The easiest access points are from the lighthouse in Maspalomas or from the Annexo II shopping centre in front of the Kasbah. From other resorts get on any bus that stops in Playa or Faro Maspalomas. Park the car behind Annexo II or behind the hotels at Meloneras.
Alex Says: Stay on Maspalomas beach at sunset and watch out for the green flash as the sun disappears into the ocean. It's rare but Maspalomas is a good place to spot it.
Lex says: Even if you don’t fancy a whole day roasting in the sun, a walk across the dunes at dawn or sunset is a must in Gran Canaria. The best place to start is from the end of Avenida Tirajana where the dunes are biggest and prettiest. Walk in a straight line (stick to the ridges for the easiest walking) to the sea and then either head left along the beach to get back to Playa del Inglés, or right to get to the Maspalomas lighthouse.
Anfi Beach was created by Norwegian billionaire Bjorn Lyng as the showpiece for his Anfi Del Mar resort but is open to everybody. Lyng insisted on bringing in white sand for Anfi so it is as close to the Caribbean as you get in Europe.
With plenty of parking, convenient shops and restaurants, warm, calm water, and even pedalos for rent, Anfi Beach is the perfect family beach in Gran Canaria. It gets crowded on weekends but is often peaceful during the week.
Alex Says: The take-out bar at Anfi does great pizza.
Getting There: Anfi is a few minutes by bus, car or taxi from Puerto Rico and Arguineguin and about half an hour from Maspalomas and Playa.
Amadores was built when Puerto Rico resort expanded so much that there wasn’t enough sand on its beach for everyone. It’s far nicer than the beach in Puerto Rico resort and has the warmest water of any beach in Gran Canaria.
Amadores has loads of shops and restaurants right by the sand (well, it more like fine, white gravel) and a posh sunbathing area at its south end. It’s a great beach for families and kids but does get crowded, especially on weekends when the Canarians head south from Las Palmas.
Getting There: If you are staying in Puerto Rico you can walk to Amadores along the cliff-top promenade from Puerto Nuevo or take a five-minute bus or taxi ride. It’s also only twenty minutes from Mogan and 40 minutes from Playa and Maspalomas.
Alex Says: Ciao Ciao does great value pizzas and salads at Amadores Beach. Happy Valley does excellent curry.
After Maspalomas, Las Canteras is the biggest and prettiest beach in Gran Canaria. Slap-bang in the middle of the island’s capital of Las Palmas, it’s popular with the locals but is too far from the resorts to get many tourists.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that Las Canteras is one of the top city beaches in the world along with Rio’s Copacabana and Sydney’s Bondi. It’s over three kilometres long and has everything from reliable surf waves, fantastic snorkelling and wide stretches of golden sand. Las Canteras even has coconut palms growing on the sand.
The northern end of the beach is sheltered by a natural lava reef and is calm with clear water. The whole beach is a reserve and the water is full of fish: Bring a mask!
The southern end has no reef and is the sporty bit. Locals play beach football and tennis all day long and the water is full of learner surfers. This is the place to come to learn to surf or paddle board.
Las Canteras is more interesting than the resort beaches because it is in the island's cosmopolitan capital. Walk along the promenade and you see people from all over the world going about their daily business. Spend some time sitting at a beachfront terrace with a rum and coke and you will soon see why we think Las Palmas is a hugely underrated city.
Getting There: Getting to Las Canteras Beach from the resorts is easy. Take any bus that ends at Santa Catalina and walk to the beach through the square. A taxi to the beach from San Telmo bus station takes a few minutes and costs about five euros.
Alex Says: Try the grilled squid with green mojo at La Peña II restaurant by the statue of the fisherman where Olof Palme Street hits the beach.
San Agustin Beach is to the north of Maspalomas and is really just a continuation of the same beach interrupted by a few rocky bits.
San Agustin can get windy but is rarely crowded. It’s a great beach and would be famous in its own right anywhere else in Europe.
Getting There: Walk from Playa del Inglés along the coastal promenade. Along the way are several other beaches with plenty of golden sand, such as Las Burras.
Mogan’s little golden beach completes the island’s prettiest resort and makes it the perfect place for a day trip. After walking around the marina and having a fish lunch you can sunbathe until sunset in the sunniest spot in Gran Canaria.
The restaurants behind the beach are slightly cheaper than the ones on the harbour front.
Getting there: Local buses go to Puerto de Mogán all day long.
Puerto Rico Beach is the oldest artificial beaches in Gran Canaria. It’s the most convenient beach if you are staying in Puerto Rico resort and is always packed. You can rent jet skis from the Puerto Nuevo end of the beach and even learn to sail.
For families with kids Puerto Rico Beach perfect as the water is warm and calm and there are plenty of places to eat. If you prefer a bit of space around you, then Puerto Rico might be a bit too resorty.
Getting There: From Puerto Rico just head to the sea. From other resorts get any bus that goes to or through Puerto Rico.
Montaña de Arena
Between Meloneras and Arguineguin, Montaña de Arena is the closest undeveloped beach to Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés. It’s basically a giant sand dune that hits the sea and has long been the local nudist spot.
Montaña de Arena is accessible via a path or a scramble down the dune. If the tide is high you have to sit on the dune itself but most of the time there is plenty of beach. Keep your camera discreet as locals don’t appreciate their dangly bits popping up on the internet.
Lex says: Enjoy Montaña de Arena in its pristine state while you can. The area around it is slated for development and we don’t know what that means for the beach.
Getting there: Montaña is between Pasito Blanco and Arguineguín on the GC 500 road. Park or get off the bus at the signposted stop and walk down the east side of the dune.
Taurito Beach is at the mouth of the Taurito Barranco in front of the huge pools complex in the valley. It’s small but spectacular with cliffs on both sides. Nudists head out onto the platform under the cliffs at the east end of the beach but make sure you check your tides.
Getting there: Taurito resort and beach is just before Puerto de Mogán on the GC 500 coastal road. Local blue buses stop and the beach is a short walk through the resort past the pools and water park.
Alex Says: Great snorkelling if you swim east from the beach along the cliff. Only do it on calm days and don't scare the nudists.
If Maspalomas beach is too windy to sit on in comfort walk west along the Meloneras promenade until you get to Meloneras Beach.
A lovely little sandy beach that is rarely crowded and has plenty of restaurants for lunch.
Getting there: Walk west from the Faro lighthouse until you get to the beach.