Bring sunscreen and a giant sarong
Sunscreen is expensive in Gran Canaria and you can pay up to 20 euros for a bottle of brand-name lotion in Gran Canaria's resort supermarkets. It's much cheaper to bring it with you, especially if you take advantage of two-for-one deals in supermarkets. Remember to pack it in your luggage as sunscreen isn't allowed in hand luggage. Also, wrap it in a plastic bag as there's nothing messier than a burst bottle in your suitcase.
For small kids, especially fair-skinned ones, you need protective clothing for a day at the beach or around the pool. Also, don't forget to reapply sunscreen after they have been in the water and bear in mind that it's ears, cheeks, noses, shoulders and the backs of knees that burn first.
Sandy beaches are what everyone comes to Gran Canaria for but it does get everywhere. Avoid sandy food and drink by bringing a giant-sized cotton sarong or towel with you. You can wrap the food in it to keep it sand-free and then use it as a picnic blanket to keep the sand 9of the sandwiches at lunchtime.
Alex says: Here's our Ultimate Guide to getting a safe Gran Canaria suntan.
And a first-aid kit
Gran Canaria has excellent chemists and hospitals should you need medical treatment, but they aren't always convenient and you can't buy any medicines from supermarkets in Gran Canaria. Even basics like paracetamol and antacids are only sold in chemists and most of them close at the weekends. There's always a chemist open somewhere in each municipality in Gran Canaria but it can be a long way from the resorts so bring the basics with you. Things like children's paracetamol, plasters, blister cream, after sun and antihistamines are essential travel medicines.
If your kids are used to medicine from home, then bring them with you as brands and tastes are different in Gran Canaria. For example, kiddie paracetamol in Gran Canaria tastes horrible and little ones used to Calpol won't swallow it (we know from experience).
Lex says: Sometimes you don't need a chemist. Aloe vera grows everywhere in Gran Canaria and is a fantastic natural after sun lotion. Here's how to use it.
But don't worry about beach toys and inflatables
Beach toy in Gran Canaria's big supermarkets are cheap and there's plenty of choice. It's probably best to buy them once you arrive than fill the suitcase with bulky toys. When you leave, just leave them by the pool or give them to another family so that you spread the fun.
The most stressful part of any holiday with children is often the flight and the trip to and from the airport. Plan ahead by bringing plenty of easy to carry games and make sure tablets and game machines are fully charged before you leave. Remember than Gran Canari uses a two-pin electricity plug so you'll need to bring an adaptor or two with you (or buy one in any local hardware store (ferreteria) or big supermarket.
Locate the loo ASAP
There's nothing worse than having a small child that needs the loo and not knowing where the closest one is. We recommend a good scout around on your first morning so that you know exactly where the loo is by your hotel pool (you can scope out the best bars at the same time). As for beach loos, all of Gran Canaria's main resort beaches have toilet facilities but they can be a fair walk away from your towels (especially at Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés). Here's the Gran Canaria beaches that have Blue Flags, full facilities and lifeguards.
Dig a hole on the beach
There's something about a big hole in the sand that just keeps little children happy for hours. Pick a spot just above where the waves stop and dig deep until the water seeps in. Use the sand you dig out to make a wall and you end up with a little swimming pool perfect for sitting and jumping in. Be ready to make emergency repairs as the tide comes in or to dig a new hole as it goes out. The five minutes you spend digging reward you with busy little kids for hours.
Fill the freezer
There's nothing better than a cold drink on the beach or by the pool and you don't have to keep splashing out for cold drinks from the bars and shops. Just fill your room freezer with water or juice bottles and then take them with you once they are frozen solid. The ice lasts all day and you get cold drinks all day long. If you don't have a freezer in your room, ask at the bar as most places will pop a couple of bottles into their freezer for you.
Frozen bottles have the added advantage that they keep everything else in the cool bag chilled as well. That means no warm sandwiches and no soggy fruit.
Watermelon is your friend
Watermelon, or sandia as it's called in Spain, is cheap as chips in Gran Canaria during the summer and makes the perfect cooling snack. You can buy it for less than a euro per kilo in local supermarkets and most kids love it straight out of the fridge. Once the kids are asleep, crush the remaining fruit with lime or lemon juice and a good glug of rum for a fantastic evening cooler.
Bring a tent, buy a pool
The beaches in Gran Canaria get hot during the day, especially during the summer. While a parasol does the trick, there's nothing like a small beach tent to keep the kids shaded and give them somewhere to rest and sleep during the day. If you put a little paddling pool next to the door, then the kids have a fun house right on the sand and feel at home straight away.
Tents aren't easy to find in Gran Canaria's resorts so bring one with you. Little paddling pools are sold in most resort supermarkets and (at a higher price) in shops close to the main beaches.
Most hotels and large apartment and bungalow complexes in Gran Canaria have kiddie clubs and do a fantastic job of keeping the little ones entertained. It's a cliche, but it's true: If the kids are happy on holiday, then so are the parents, especially if they get alone time by the pool.