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Gran Canaria away from the tourist resorts 

I received this email from a couple who booked their honeymoon to Gran Canaria and then started to worry that it is one giant resort: 

"My fiancée and I just recently confirmed flights for our October honeymoon in Gran Canaria. I started getting nervous as several reviews/topics that I found hinted at Gran Canaria being highly touristed and mainstream. When I stumbled upon your blog it cheered me right up!

Antonio and I prefer more of an off the beaten path experience with a mix of beautiful beaches (preferable unpopulated...), natural landscapes, good food and local culture. I will certainly keep reading through your blog, but was wondering if you might have any suggestions as to further reading material, lodging and general tips. We'll be staying roughly 6 days.

Thank you in advance for any insight you might provide and again for your helpful blog!"

Most travel sites and guide books are too busy recycling tired clichés to bother finding out about Gran Canaria for themselves. Take no notice of people who spend a week in a resort and then moan that there is nothing to do in Gran Canaria. It's an excellent place to get off the beaten track.

Gran Canaria does have an enormous tourist industry. Between three and four million people visit the island every year. Almost all of them stay on the beaches and in the narrow strip or resorts along the south coast. Most have a great time and go home with a suntan, a slight hangover. Eighty percent of them come back and do it again. A lot or people like busy beaches and the chance to relax completely. Gran Canaria's resorts are perfect for them. 

The resorts however, only cover about one percent of the island. The rest hardly sees a soul. This is a great shame but also a great opportunity for visitors who want a more authentic holiday experience: Alternative Gran Canaria starts at the gates of the resorts.

Driving in Gran Canaria

There are plenty of hotels and rural houses outside the resorts. Check out Las Calas for an example of a great rural hotel in the tourist-free north of Gran Canaria.

Our advice to anyone looking for more that sun, sand and sangria is to rent a car in Gran Canaria. Book it in advance and pick it up in the airport or rent once you are in the resorts. Use a local operator such as Cicar or Orlando for the best deals, or one of the many small companies. As with any rental, check the car and the conditions carefully. A small car costs less that 40 euros per day.

Once you have wheels the island is your oyster. From the resorts there are spectacular roads running up the steep valleys to the centre of Gran Canaria. Fataga, Arguineguín and Mogán are the three most spectacular drives. Once you get up into the Cumbres the island is almost completely undeveloped. The pine forests are spectacular and there are tons of hiking routes and small villages full of local restaurants. For a truly spectacular route, drive the west coast road between Mogan and Agaete via La Aldea. The winding road from La Aldea up to the centre is also fantastic, and as far from the resorts as you can get.

Gran Canaria fiesta

There is a local Romeria (the Canarian version of fiesta) almost every week in Gran Canaria. Check out the great fiesta calendar on the Cunning Canary website for details. There are also local markets every day somewhere on the island. 

The incredible Gran Canaria Info website has a huge amount of information all about Gran Canaria. It is the most complete source of useful information about the island. 

For undisturbed beaches a car is essential. The resort beaches are beautiful but get crowded, especially at the weekends. For undisturbed beach beauty head to Guayedra just south of Agaete and Puerto de Las Nieves, or to Montaña de Arena, a wild beach at the base of a sand dune just outside Maspalomas. It's a nudist beach but textiles are also welcome. Canteras Beach in the capital city Las Palmas is often busy with locals but is not touristy. It's got a great promenade and the restaurants at either end serve good local food.

If you are feeling adventurous, hike from the road to Gui Gui Beach for the ultimate remote beach. Its a 3.5 hour walk and has no facilities at all. Read this post for info about Gran Canaria's best beaches. Here are five local favourites.

Another excellent way to see the island is to book an organized walk or bike ride with an independent operator such as Rambling Roger (walking) or Cycle Gran Canaria (road or mountain biking). In the north of Gran Canaria contact.

Gran Canaria rewards people who make the effort to leave the resorts with great experiences, landscapes and memories. If you have any questions about the island, don't hesitate to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or join the Gran Canaria Info Facebook page.

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