We read dozens of articles about Gran Canaria every week. Most of the time it hurts. In fact, you've got more chance of finding an original piece about the island as you do of finding a Canarian in the Puerto Rico Shopping Centre.
Enough is enough.
We've decided to kill the cliché and murder the tired metaphor so we've put our heads together and set the bar high:
Here's our style-guide for Gran Canaria Info articles.
By the way, if we break our own rules, please feel free to shout at us.
The essential clichés
No article can be published without one of the following insightful themes:
Starting with a pun on the island's roundness
Saying it's like Spain but different
Setting out to explore the other, real, Gran Canaria
Revealing that it's an island of contrasts
Mentioning the tourist bight, sprawl, plague, etc, within two sentences
Referring to Gran Canaria as la Isla Bonita (that's La Palma)
Discover Stuff: You're an explorer
To write in an original way you must discover a secret beach, explore a hidden valley or scale a rugged peak. Seeing the resorts and popular beaches with a fresh eye isn't worth considering. Do not under any circumstances focus on details but rather always try to cram the entire island into 400 words.
Do stay in a resort and explore the rest of the island in a day on a Jeep Safari. You'll see it all. In your article only mention the day out.
Scrape the surface: Make as little effort as possible to find anything interesting during your visit. If you must delve, delve into Google.
Unique and wonderful vocabulary
Go heavy on the word unique. Use it at least every sentence and don't both to explain why anything is unique: The readers already know. If you think you're using it too often just switch to 'perfect'.
Fascinating, gorgeous, wonderful, incredible, amazing, picture postcard perfect, etc are also perfectly viable alternatives. All other describing words are redundant.
Use the words traditional and sustainable at least once per article. It doesn’t matter where: Just get them in. Combined with “perfect example of” they get you double points.
The word nice is due for a revival: Use it often as it makes your prose incisive.
The word literally is free. Slap it on the page.
Use words like impart, integrated, intense: Any word that you don't use in everyday conversation makes you sound clever. Better still, combine several beginning with the same letter in one phrase: Alliteration is always fun.
Help us get the word amazeballs off the Twittersphere and into quality prose. The world needs it.
English is too short: Make sure you puff out your prose with lots of wills, woulds, shoulds, coulds, can.
The active voice is nasty. Passive is always the way to go.
Mince the metaphor, crunch the cliché
In the lively resorts, hotels perch, pools are situated, you hit the sun-drenched beaches along with hordes of tourists, cash is splashed, the Yumbo is nudge, nudge, wink,wink (insert funny joke).
Off the beaten track the mountains float in the air above you, remote villages nestle quaintly, views are panoramic and breathtaking, markets and fiestas are colourful and vibrant and full of friendly locals.
Food is always succulent, mouth-watering and delectable. You stumble upon charming local restaurants that are always hidden gems.
Facts get in the way
Facts are so yesterday. Only check yours by referencing other articles found on Google. Get at least one basic fact per article so wrong that it makes the reader's teeth grind. It makes your words memorable.
Locals, what locals
There are no local people in Gran Canaria except friendly ones dressed up in traditional costume dancing charmingly at authentic local fiestas. If you must mention a local in any other context, make sure it's a barman with a dodgy accent.
Narrate to irritate
Refer to yourself in the third person. It's what the queen does and if its good enough for German pensioners, then it's good enough for you.
You need a nickname. Pick one that nobody has ever called you for real authenticity.
Tell the reader all about yourself. They care more about you than about the destination. Include lots of personal details that are unrelated to the content. Blurry photos of your family get you noticd on social media.
Engage with the audience
Beg for likes on social media: People will admire your determination
Post a link repeatedly just in case somebody missed it the first 23 times.
Join a web ring, blog ring, book club or any other network dedicated to sharing each other's content. Promote your buddy's irrelevant content to your audience.
Change the title of your old stuff and repost it as new. Do this often and without warning.
Photos are essential: Include blurry, cloudy and downright terrible ones to boost your reach. If your camera is broken use one of the 10 free photos available on Flickr or Creative Commons. Or steal from the internet: Never credit the photographer.
Want to submit a guest post to Gran Canaria Info? Please use the above as a guide and include plenty of links to your online casino or Viagra shop. We'll definitely publish it on the front page.
Arucas town is famous for its colossal Gothic church built with bug money (see below). Oh, its also got a rum distillery and one of the best preserved town centres on the island.
Gran Canaria startede under the ocean and that's the way it'll end up. In the m,eantime, it's had a pretty eventful history.
From prehistoric times Gran Canaria's economy has depended on turning the sunshine into things to sell to passing ships. As demand went up and down for what the island grew, it experienced booms and busts: It's why the cathedral in Las Palmas took hundreds of years to finish.
Even before the Spanish it's likely that the island's original inhabitats traded with passing roman and Phoenecian ships until these disappeared. The Canarii then went through a few lean centuries when they were the main export of the islands: Slavers from Europe and North Africa raided regularly.
At different times large areas of the island were planted with sugar cane, coffee, grape vines, and cactus for cochineal. The Caribbean proved better for sugar production (although rum is still made on the islands), disease put paid to the wine (mentioned by Shakespeare), and artificial dyes destroyed the cochineal trade. Bananas are still a faithful crop but have to compete with cheaper Caribbean imports.
The lean periods saw thousands of Canarians migrate to South America, and especially Cuba and Venezuela. The modern economy of Gran Canaria is based around tourism, and Las Palmas’ huge container port. The island grows bananas, tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines for the European market and olive oil and coffee are comig back.
Canarian wines and cheese are earning good reputations abroad. Gran Canarian cheese, particularly goat and sheep cheese from Guia in the north, regularly wins international awards. Gran Canarian wine is a mixed bag: The whites are excellent but the reds still lag behind vintages from Tenerife and Lanzarote.
Catering to tourists dwarfs all other economic activities in Gran Canaria: Over three million visit Gran Canaria every year. The huge majority stay in the tourist resorts along the south coast.
Tourism is now the islands largest industry and its biggest employer.
Gran Canaria sells itself to tourists as a sunshine destination where good weather is guaranteed. However, it does have to be wet every now and then or we'd be the Sahara desert. The good news is that there is plenty to do in Gran Canaria on the odd rainy day.
Gofio is soul food in the Canary Islands. Most Canarians were weaned on bananas mashed up with gofio and many still eat it every day. It is so tightly entwined with local identity that it is best not not to tell anyone on the islands if you don't like it. At the same time Canarians aren't stupid. They enjoy cake and chocolate and ice cream just like everyone else. They wouldn't eat gofio if it was horrible. Wwould they?
Gran Canaria is lucky that olive trees live a long time and don't bear grudges. For centuries the island's olivos were used as windbreaks and goat shade, their fruit pickled in mojo sauce or left to rot. Then, about 10 years ago, someone decided to crush a few olives and taste the oil.
Gran Canaria olive oil turns out to be delicious and farmers lucky enough to have olive trees on their land are relearning what their grandparents forgot. Our olives have gone from aperitif to the stars of the table.
There were presses in Gran Canaria in the 16th century so the Spanish must have planted olives as soon as they arrived. Most Canarian trees are old varieties that are rare elsewhere in Spain while one, the Verdial de Canarias, is unique to the islands.
These old cultivars give Gran Canaria olive oil a distinctive flavour: Fruity with a herbal edge like the smell or ripe tomatoes. It also has that peppery after taste that tickles the back of your throat: A classic sign of great olive oil.
Gran Canaria's olive trees grow on terrain too steep for mechanical harvesting so the whole crop is hand-picked. Since 100 kilos of island olives yields only 16.5 litres of oil all production is cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
The best Gran Canaria olive oil is sold unfiltered (therefore slightly cloudy) in local markets at 5 euros per 250 ml. You can also buy it in shops in the resorts but expect to pay more. Drizzle your oil on a simple salad or eat with crusty bread to appreciate the flavour. Don't combine it with balsamic vinegar (it's too strong and everyone is sick of the stuff).
There are olive trees all over the south east of Gran Canaria from Telde to San Bartolome but Temisas, between Santa Lucia and Agüimes, is the olive's heartland. The island's oldest olive press is in the village and it was here that the industry restarted. You can't miss the olivos fringing the terraced fields as you come into Temisas, especially if the trees are wearing their white hats in the wind. Bars and shops in the village sell the oil.
So far the olive boom hasn't affected the supply of fresh olives in the markets. They taste horrible unless you cure them but the process is simple and worthwhile. It takes too long to do on holiday but if you live in Gran Canaria take advantage (and congratulations on a fine choice of island).
Look out for fat olives in the markets in November and December, or head to Temisas for the pick of the crop. The best ones are deep purple with a pointy end and soft, creamy flesh. To cure, nick each one with a knife and put them in an empty garafa (big plastic water bottle). Fill with water salty enough to float an egg and leave for two weeks. Then change the water and wait another two weeks.
To check if your olives are cured taste one: If your mouth puckers up wait another two weeks. When they are ready they are as good as the kalamata olives from Greece sold in little tubs in posh London delis. Bung them in mojo if you must, or store in olive oil or salty water before serving them smugly to your friends.
Gran Canaria's ancient olive trees, freshly pruned and fertilized, are standing proud again: The island has found yet another way of turning sunshine into gold.
The Maspalomas Space Station has saved 10,000 lives in 20 years by detecting distress signals from ships and planes. This is on top of its historic part in the Apollo moon landings.
The Maspalomas Space Station, also called the Canary Islands Space Centre, detects signals from distress beacons on ships and planes and from expeditions in remote areas. It then transmits their locations to the relevant emergency services. It is believed to have saved 10,000 lives in the past 20 years. That's more than one person per day!
In December 2012 it picked up a distress signal from a sinking yacht over 500km from the Canary Islands. A Superpuma helicopter saved the crew before the yacht sank, and broke the world record for a long distance maritime rescue at the same time.
Maspalomas and the moon
Started in 1960 as a NASA satellite tracking station it was extended in the 1960s to act as a receiving station for transmissions from the Apollo spacecraft. It was the first place on Earth to receive Neil Armstrong's famous words from the moon in 1969:
"That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind"
Maspalomas' role in the moon landings was so important that Neil Armstrong himself visited the island just three months after returning from the moon. He flew to Gran Canaria aboard Air Force One along with fellow moonlanders Michael Collins y Edwin Aldrin and stayed at the Maspalomas-Oasis hotel for three nights.
By all accounts the astronauts had a good time in Gran Canaria even though it rained on their last day. They took a boat trip along the south coast, got on a camel, partied late into the night and enjoyed the food. Armstrong's wife liked mojo sauce so much that she took the recipe home with her.
While in Gran Canaria, Armstrong said that the moon was "a wonderful place, just like Maspalomas. The whole island is amazing".
You can see the receiving antennas of the space station from the roads between Maspalomas and Arguineguin. It is just up the hill from Pasito Blanco harbour. At this time visits are not possible.
In brochure-land Las Palmas is full or tourists wandering around cobbled streets between museums and galleries. They eat authentic Canarian food, buy arts and crafts, and enjoy themselves in a demure, cultured sort of way without breaking a sweat.
You can do Las Palmas this way if you want: As the first Spanish city founded in the New World, it's gravid with history. It was attacked by cavemen, visited by Columbus, fought off an attack by Sir Francis Drake and got sacked by Dutch privateers. Vegueta is the perfect cultural destination: Compact, well-preserved and full of small, interesting museums. However, there is also a spicier side to the city that you miss if you focus on the past.
Down at the modern end by the beach, tourism is about catching waves, learning Spanish, scoffing tapas and dancing salsa until you drop. Visitors are discovering Las Palmas as an exciting, modern city with Latino flair. They may wander over to Vegueta to visit Columbus' old haunts but they spend most of their time having fun in the sun.
This alternative scene isn't as new as it sounds. Until the late 1960s Las Palmas was the main tourist destination on the island and the beach was covered in Scandinavians and Brits. After the resorts in the south took off the city went to sleep, resting on its ancient laurels.
With millions of cruise ship passengers spending a day in the city, and three million tourist a year on the island for a week or two, Las Palmas has an opportunity to remind people that it is a destination in its own right. But it's not history and architecture that will bring the visitors back, it's today's city with its beach culture, great Spanish food and laid back cool.
We believe that modern Las Palmas is missing a trick by focusing on the city it was 500 years ago rather than the city it is now. Nobody leaps out of bed in the morning because they are excited about visiting a cathedral. But sunset cocktails, tasty tapas, warm sand and Latino rhythm? That sounds like fun!
There are bars by Las Canteras that do the best caipirinhas this side of Copacabana and the streets behind the beach are full of restaurants knocking out quality Spanish tapas. And then there's live music on the beachfront every Saturday, tapas night in Vegueta on Thursdays, carnival, the surf competitions, the marathon, the food and film weekend ... Las Palmas is already happening, it's just that nobody knows about it yet!
It is time for Las Palmas to get its mojo back and remind the rest of Europe that there is a Habana on this side of the Atlantic: That's the sexy Habana with mojitos and rumba by the way, not the Habana of crumbling buildings and long dead heroes.
Three million tourists come to Gran Canaria every year so we get our share of complaints. While some are legitimate many are caused by people with ridiculous expectations and no knowledge of local culture. Gran Canaria makes a huge effort to please all its guests and most go home tanned and happy. That said, there's no pleasing some people:
A useful guide to the best nudist beaches in Gran Canaria; All the info you need to find them and enjoy them with no hassle.
Gran Canaria and Tenerife are the two biggest tourist destinations in the Canary Islands. Since most visitors choose one island for their holidays, which is better, Gran Canaria or Tenerife?
Both islands get great weather all year round and are the same distance from Europe. We live in Gran Canaria and love the island, but Tenerife is a cracking destination as well. Here's what we think:
The beaches are why you guys head to the Canary Islands so let's have a look at what the two islands offer:
We think Gran Canaria has the edge because of its natural sandy beaches: Between the golden beach and dunes at Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés, and the stunning Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria has two of Europe's best beaches. Tenerife has beautiful natural stretches of sand, such as El Medano, La Tejita and Playa Jardín, but they are not on the same scale.
When it comes to artificial beaches both Gran Canaria and Tenerife have some crackers. Las Teresitas in Tenerife is beautiful, as are Playa de las Americas, Playa del Duque and Fañabé. On Gran Canaria you have Anfi, Amadores and Mogan, all pretty beaches close to the resorts. Again, Gran Canaria has the edge, in our slightly biased opinion, due to its number and range of beaches.
Both Tenerife and Gran Canaria have excellent little beaches that rarely get any tourists. The best beaches on both islands are often the little ones at the mouth of quiet barrancos. You get the sun and the sea all to yourself! Overall, we give the beach crown to Gran Canaria.
Food and Drink
Tenerife just seems to do food better than Gran Canaria. From its little Guachinche restaurants in the hills to its quality resort restaurants, Tenerife is a cut above. There are plenty of good places to eat in Gran Canaria, especially in small towns and in the capital Las Palmas, but Tenerife still has the edge: We think it is because is more popular with French and Italian visitors and residents.
Tenerife's Dorada beer is slightly nicer than Gran Canaria's Tropical (hope nobody from Gran Canaria is reading this ;-D), even though both brews are made by South Africa's SAB Miller brewery. Gran Canaria's Arehucas rum is the Canary Islands' most popular spirit.
With Tenerife's beer topping Tropical and Arehucas carrying the spirits category we have to give the overall food and drink prize to Tenerife.
Landscapes and Nature
Tenerife has a 3,718 metre volcano and you can't argue with that: The Las Cañadas national park is unique in Europe and Teide is a stunning peak. The far north of Tenerife is rugged and spectacular and its laurel and pine forests are pristine.
Gran Canaria on the other hand has its spectacular ravines or barrancos and gorgeous pine forests, as well as the sheers cliffs of the west coast. Both islands have a huge range of outdoor sporting options such as cycling, diving and hiking. In the battle of landscapes, we think both islands come out equal.
Nightlife and Fun
Tenerife's Playa de Las Americas is the liveliest resort in the Canary Islands and beats Playa del Inglés in Gran Canaria. The famous Veronica Strip is where the young-uns head for fun after sunset. Where Gran Canaria wins out is in its local night-life: Las Palmas' bars and clubs are full most nights of the week and Santa Cruz just doesn't have the same energy. While La Laguna has a fantastic university scene, we think that Las Palmas' is better thanks to its size and diversity. With Tenerife taking the resort crown and Gran Canaria the local one, its another draw.
So which island is better, Gran Canaria or Tenerife? It's a tough call as both islands have world-class highlights, but we have to give the overall prize to Gran Canaria. But then we would: If we liked Tenerife more we would move there!
What do you think? Have we been fair? Or have we missed something that pushes Tenerife into the top spot? Let us know in a comment, or visit our Gran Canaria Facebook page.
Christopher Columbus stopped in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1492 on his way to discovering the Americas not because he wanted to, but because his crew sabotaged his ship within three days of setting sail from Spain.
You might expect a volcanic island close to the Sahara desert to have its fair share of dangerous animals and freak weather.
You never see a Canarian rushing down the high street juggling a half-eaten bocadilllo and a plastic cup of takeaway coffee. That's because of the venerable tradition of the Menu del Dia.
A city destination with miles of golden sand, bars serving local rum, a raucous month-long carnival and Christopher Columbus' house. The legendary Habana perhaps, or Colombia's exotic Cartagena de Indias? You might be surprised to find out that this exotic destination is much closer to home. Las Palmas, Europe’s secret Latino city, is just four hours flight from Britain and Germany.
Las Palmas is one of the biggest cities in Spain, boasts the best city beach in Europe and still parties like it's 1999. Its old town district is on the short-list to become a World Heritage Site and its shops are among the cheapest in Europe. Las Palmas is 'the city with the best climate in the world' according to New York's Syracuse University. Average temperatures range between 20 degrees in the winter and 26 degrees in the summer. It receives six hours of sunshine every day during the winter, ten hours in the summer.
By rights Las Palmas should be overflowing with tourists but somehow it has slipped under the radar. Overshadowed by the huge, package-tourist resorts in the south of Gran Canaria, the city hardly caters to visitors. There are no rep-led pub crawls or time-share salesmen in Las Palmas.
In February, the annual carnival takes over the city for a whole month of parades, parties and concerts. No other European city can match Las Palmas' blend of Spanish and Latino culture. Sometimes, it is like a small chunk of Cuba floated across the ocean and nobody noticed.
Las Canteras beach, a 3.5km of golden sand that sweeps down one side of the city, is the jewel of Las Palmas. It's so big that each section has its own name and character. Here're the main areas from north to south.
Gran Canaria has dozens of beaches, from the Saharan splendour of Maspalomas to the tiny patch of sand at Sardina del Norte. Some are packed with sun loungers and parasols, while others are hours away from the nearest Full English Breakfast. Whatever your taste, the island has the perfect beach for you.
There are quiet local beaches dotted all around the north coast of Gran Canaria. If you get sick of long sand beaches covered in sun loungers and parasols then head to one of these secret spots. All of them are great for snorkelling.
If Güi Güi beach was next door to Maspalomas nobody would think twice about it. It's not particularly pretty and at high tide most of it is underwater. The sand is on the dark side and disappears completely during the winter. At times it is covered in driftwood. Nevertheless, Güi Güi's remote location and high cliffs make it Gran Canaria's Shangri La.