Alex Bramwell

Alex Bramwell

Countries opening up, countries locking down - times are uncertain to say the least. Anyway, the numbers in the Canary Islands are really good, and provided you can show a negative covid test result, you are welcome to holiday on the Canary islands. So, if you plan to visit Gran Canaria this winter, here's everything you need to know.

Gran Canaria travel requirements

All visitors aged six and over that arrive in Gran Canaria on or after November 14th, and are staying at a hotel, bungalow, holiday let or other tourist accommodation, must have been tested negative for Covid-19 in the 72 hours prior to travel. The type of tests that are valid are PCR tests and antigen tests that are approved by national health authorities and come with a detailed certificate. 

The certificate must include the date and time that the test was administered, the person's identifying data, the authorised verification centre and the negative test result. It can be printed or digital.

The quick antigen tests with no certificate are not good enough and antibody tests are not valid because they do not detect an active case of the virus. However, if you have already had Covid-19, an official serological test certificate showing you have antibodies is valid.
 

If you come to Gran Canaria without a test result, you will only be able to leave your room or apartment (or camping) to get a test. The reception will inform you of the nearest place to get a official test done.

You also have to fill out the online Spanish Health Form in the 48 hours prior to travel, and download the Radar Covid app and keep it on your phone during your stay and for two weeks after you return home.

If you are not staying in tourist accommodation, for example if you stay with friends or family, or in your own property, you are not obliged to have a test but are encouraged to at least have an antigen test prior to travel.

The Canary Islands have their own website with more Corona information here: https://www.hellocanaryislands.com/coronavirus/ .

Gran Canaria Covid rules

The mask rules in Gran Canaria are simple and almost everyone follows them in public. Mask use is obligatory for everyone aged six and up in all public places except when you are...

  • Sitting or lying in one place by the pool or on the beach
  • While exercising
  • While eating or drinking at a bar, restaurant or cafe. You don't have to wear your mask between sips or mouthfuls. 
  • When you are in a rural or remote area and there is nobody around you (when hiking or walking a dog, etc). 
  • While smoking at designated smoking points or a spot where you can remain more than two metres from others. You can't walk and smoke on the street. 

In bars and cafes you have to wear your mask to go to the toilet, walk to your table, etc. Some restaurants with terraces have a designated smoking point and others just don't allow smoking at all on the premises.

Gran Canaria curfews and opening hours

Nightclubs and late night drink bars are closed and will likely remain so for most of 2020/21. Bars and pubs have to close at 01.00 and cannot accept new customers after midnight. Live music is allowed provided social distancing is possible in the venue. There is currently no curfew in Gran Canaria as the Canary Islands have the lowest virus case numbers in Spain and are exempt from the national curfew. However, social groups are limited to a maximum of 10. 

Gran Canaria mask exemptions

If you are exempt from using a mask on medical grounds you will need a signed doctor's letter or certificate as the police are asking for them and most shops wont let people in without them. These letters must be signed and theoretically need to be translated into Spanish by an official translator. 

What hotels and restaurants are open in Gran Canaria?

A lot of hotels and apartment complexes in Gran Canaria closed during the summer and many don't plan to open until the recovery in tourist numbers is looking solid. There is now useful directory of places that have opened but we have tried our best with this directory. It uses information crowd sourced from the the members of our Gran Canaria Facebook Group. Most restaurants are now open or plan to open in the near future.

Renting a car in Gran Canaria

Long experience has taught us that the cheapest car rental deals are rarely value for money and often just a cover for bare-faced scams. Many of our group members have reported that cheap car hire companies  use bogus charges for damage, excess fuel charges, extra insurance demands and all sorts of other imaginative ways of getting money out of their clients.

Our members consistently advise each other to avoid GoldCar, EuropCar and Inter Rent. Be aware that if you use a cheap car rental website, you often don't know who you are signing up with until it is too late.

Our advice is to use reputable local companies. The cheapest deals are often with Autoreisen and Plus Cars while Cicar is also a good option if slightly more expensive. The best value option is often to use a specialist car rental broker who provides a quality car, personal service and enhanced insurance cover as standard. We recommend this service.

Gran Canaria airport transfers

Companies like Hoppa that offer the cheapest possible Gran Canaria transfer service are often unreliable because they automatically pass ylour transfer on to a local company. However, they also take a big commission so the local operatorsd don't liuke working with them. If there is a double booking or a shortage of cars, you are likely to get picked up late of left in the lurch. 

To avoid this, it's myuch better to book with a local operator who who can talk to directly if you need to make a change or if something goes wrong. We recommend this local service because they are good value, reliable and can communicate in several languages.  

Booking Excursions in Gran Canaria 

A lot of Gran Canaria excursions have gone into hibernation or cut back their timetables significantly. It is therefore important to use a reliable excursion booking service and to book in plenty of time to allow for changes to schedules. We'd advise against using unlicensed street excursion vendors because of the current uncertainty.

Our online excursion booking service allows you to book in advance with a secure payments system and is provided by a quality excursion booking company with excellent personal service and full cancellation refunds. 

Public transport in Gran Canaria

All public transport is running in Gran Canaria although there are less taxis on the road than during normal times. Taxis accept both card and cash payments. 

You can pay for bus journeys on board the bus using a debit card (but not with cash) or get a travel card from a bus station for significant savings. The yellow buses in Las Palmas don't accept card payments or cash so you need to get a travel card from the bus station. 

Published in News
Thursday, 17 September 2020 13:18

Tried and Tasted Guide to Canary Islands wine

Welcome to the Tried and Tasted Guide to Canary Islands wine

It’s a guide for the enthusiastic wine drinker who wants to know more about the unique grapes and wines of the Canary Islands.

Once you’ve read it, you’ll know enough about Canarian wine to recognise a good Malvasía and know why La Palma wines taste of pineapple and Tenerife wines of almond blossom.

 

TRIED AND TASTED: CANARY ISLANDS WINE

Millions of people a year drink Spanish wine in the Canary Islands without realising that they have a thriving wine industry.

It’s a huge shame because as soon as you start to explore Canarian wine, you find that it’s more than a tourist gimmick. With hundreds of wineries and dozens of local grape varieties, the Canarian wine scene has something for everyone and is a vital part of the rural economy.

 

What’s special about Canarian wine

John Keats: Lines on the Mermaid Tavern

Have ye tippled drink more fine

Than mine host's Canary wine?

 

Three things make Canarian vines and wines special...

Ancient grapes

 

The Canarian flora is a living fossil with over 600 species of plants that grow nowhere else on Earth. These remnants of an ancient Mediterranean vegetation that was squeezed into oblivion between the ice of Europe and the Sahara desert.

Canarian plants survived on the Atlantic Islands thanks to the temperate Atlantic Ocean.

Millions of years later, the grapevines of the Canary Islands pulled off a similar feat of survival.

In the 1860s, an American vine aphid known as phylloxera hitched a lift across the Atlantic on one of the first steamships and ravaged continental Europe’s vineyards. The bugs fed off the roots of European vines and spread a deadly fungus.

Growers tried everything from putting toads next to their vines to massive doses of chemicals, but nothing stopped their vines from withering.

Many ancient varieties died out completely and the survivors had to be grafted on phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks. Within a few short years, Europe’s vineyards,and the taste of the wines they produced, had changed beyond recognition.

The taste of ungrafted pre-phylloxera wine has gone forever, except for a tiny number of wildly-expensive bottles coming from few patches of pre-phylloxera vines that survived in volcanic soils across Europe. Even in these areas, the original vines were replaced with modern varieties.

However, in the Canary Islands, phylloxera never struck and the vines that grow today descend directly from the original plants brought from Europe.

Canarian vines are therefore the only vines on Earth that can trace their lineage back to the vines brought to Hispania by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

Recent genetic studies have shown that several Canarian grape varieties, such as Tintilla, Marmajuelo and forastera blanca, have no known ancestors. It’s likely that their ancestors died out during the phylloxera plague of the 1870s leaving them as the last of their kind.

Like the laurel forests, viper’s bugloss flowers and houseleeks, Canary Islands grape vines are living fossils.

But they taste much better.

 

500 years of adaptation

Vines came to the Canary Islands from Spain, and from Madeira island to the north, as early as the 1450s. Since then, they have slowly been adapting to local conditions. Growers use cuttings from the vines that are best adapted to the local weather and soil to populate new vineyards.

The result, after 570 years, is vines that thrive in the local climate and soils and produce wines as spectacular as the islands they are from.

 

The Canarian climate and terroir

The Canary Islands climate is one of the best in the world, at least for people.

From grapevines, it’s more of a challenge; the African sun and young volcanic soils packed with minerals mean that grape vines are at the edge of their comfort zone.

The results is grapes packed with sugar, minerals and character and wines with intense aromas and flavour; Great for the whites, but more of a challenge for the reds.

 

A brief history of Canarian wine

 

William Shakespeare: King Henry IV

You have drunk too much Canaries, and that´s a marvellous searching wine

 

Canarian wine was once a global superstar exported to three continents.

However, the Canary Sack of Shakespeare fame was fit for drowning a Duke but not for modern supermarket shelves. It was a strong, sweet drink and a long way from the dry, fruity wines popular today.

 

Origins

The Canarian wine industry started in the 1450s as soon as the Spanish took control of the islands from the original inhabitants. However, the first European vines were imported as early as the 1350s when the first missionaries arrived on the islands.

However, the recent discovery of grape seeds in a pre-Hispanic settlement in Tenerife is a tantalizing hint that the island’s aborigines brought vines with them centuries earlier.

 

Boom & bust

Wine wasn’t a big export until the sugar cane export industry collapsed.

Faced with cheap sugar from Caribbean and South American plantations, Canarian farmers turned their hand to making wine.

By the mid-16th Century the islands, and especially Tenerife, were exporting sweet Malvasía wine to the New World, Britain and Europe. By the 17th Century the islands exported most of their wine to Britain.

The rot started in 1666 when a British company tried to monopolise the trade and got chucked out of Tenerife. Britain responded by banning imports of Canary wine.

The next year, Charles II’s Portuguese wife persuaded him to favour Portuguese wine and the 1701 War of the Spanish Succession forced British wine merchants out of Tenerife for good.

The Canarian wine trade with Britain faded as it turned to Portugal and Madeira for its booze; wine-making in the Canaries spent the next 150 years as a domestic industry.

By the start of the 19th Century, Canarian and especially Tenerife wine was back in-demand in Britain and the Americas. By 1863 the islands were producing 40,000 pipes (about 500 litres per pipe). However, attacks of powdery mildew disease in 1852 and 1878 set everything back again.

Another recovery followed, but was stymied by the First World War. Canarian wine faded completely from the scene.

Until now.

 

Canarian vines in the Americas

The first vines planted in the Americas, known as Mission grapes, are descended from the Listán Negro or listán prieto variety growing in the Canary Islands in the early 16th Century.

Spanish colonists took vines from the Canaries rather than transport them all the way from Spain. Missionaries then spread them throughout the Americas, up into the United States and down into South America (where it is known as criolla).

 

Worth paying: The price of Canarian wines

 

William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night

O knight thou lackest a cup of canary; when did I see thee so put down

 

A common complaint amongst casual wine drinkers in the Canary Islands is that Canarian wines are more expensive than imported Spanish wines.

This is unfair as you simply can’t compare the two.

The rugged geography of the Canary Islands means that local vineyards are tiny and all the vine maintenance and grape picking has to be done by hand. Consequently, there is no way the Canarian wine industry can compete on price with vast, mechanised Spanish vineyards.

And it shouldn’t have to.

Instead of comparing Canarian wine to cheap, branded Riojas from vast estates, compare it to single-estate wines made from hand-picked grapes.

Good luck buying one from anywhere for less than 15 euro a bottle.

Quality Canarian wines, on the other hand, start at 6-8 euros per bottle in the shops.

Given the work involved in harvesting and making the wine, their pre-phylloxera history, and the vast range of unique local grape varieties and microclimates, Canarian wines are superb value.

 

Supporting local and rural life

 

Another huge benefit of drinking Canarian wines is that you support local farmers and wineries that keep the Canarian countryside looking spectacular.

Without wine, large areas of Lanzarote would be abandoned and centuries of tradition lost. The same goes for rural La Palma, the Gran Canaria highlands and huge areas of Tenerife countryside.

Think of drinking Canarian wine as a pleasant way of supporting local life and of offsetting those carbon emissions from the flight to the islands.

Then open another bottle.

 

Canarian wine varieties

 

Robert Louis Stevenson: The Black Arrow

A little good canary will comfort me the heart of it

 

Identifying Canarian grape varieties is a headache. Each has several names depending on the island, area and even estate where it grows. Recent genetic studies are unravelling the mess but often add as many mysteries as they solve.

For example, a recent study found that there are over 20 different varieties of Malvasía vine growing in the Canary Islands. One grows in a single vineyard in Lanzarote.

The situation is further complicated by wineries focusing on the unique nature of their grapes in order to appeal to patriotic local buyers,and by the fact that Canarian microclimates mean that identical vines produce very different wine even in adjacent wine areas.

Is Lanzarote’s diego grape the same as Gran Canarian Vijariego blanco, or El Hierro verijadiego, or Tenerife’s bujariego? Is Listán Negro different from Listán Prieto?

Nobody knows, but everybody has a strong opinion, especially after a few glasses of vino. The truth is that it hardly matters. The quality of the wine is more important than the grape it came from.

And the terroir of the Canary Islands is so varied that the same grape does very different things depending on where it’s grown.

 

Canarian white grape varieties

 

The different Canarian DOs allow over 20 white wine grape varieties but these are the most common and interesting local ones.

Malvasía

The star of Lanzarote, but also planted widely in southern La Palma and Tenerife and grown on all the islands. Malvasía is originally Greek and comes in white, pink and red forms, although almost all Canarian Malvasía is white.

You sometimes see Lanzarote Malvasía referred to as ‘Malvasía Volcánica’. The theory is that it has changed so much to adapt to local growing conditions that it is now a separate variety.

Not to be outdone, Tenerife and La Palma growers call their Malvasía ‘Aromática’.

 

Tasting Notes

Malvasía wines have a  floral or fruity bouquet with hints of white fruit, orange blossom and honeysuckle.

In the mouth they present strong notes of peaches and apricots (some say white currants, but we’ve never even seen one) along with citrus and blossom. They feel quite full or fat in the mouth.

Good Malvasía wines have a zing to them; like there’s a tiny bit of sherbert in each sip that lifts all the flavours.

 

Albillo / Gual

Local wine buffs argue for hours about whether Gual is the Canarian name for the Spanish Albillo grape or whether it is a variety in its own right. Both names are used on bottles and the flavours are similar.

Albillo/Gual is common in Tenerife but also grown on El Hierro and northern La Palma, where it is called Albillo Criollo and produces fabulous whites. The Gual name is used in Tenerife.

Wines made from Albillo and Gual last well in the bottle.

Tasting Notes

Albillo produces golden coloured, slightly sweet wines with tropical fruit, jasmine and honey notes but little aroma. A high level of glycerol makes them rich and smooth in the mouth.

Gual is said to be slightly more aromatic and to bring oak notes to wines that aren’t stored in barrels.

Try the Viñatigo Gual varietal from an excellent example of a Gual wine, and any La Palma Albillo for those tropical notes.

 

Listán Blanco

Closely related to the palomino sherry grape and popular in the Canary Islands because of its high yield and drought resistance, Listán Blanco is the most common white grape on all the islands except Lanzarote and La Gomera.

While Listán Blanco isn’t valued in Spain, it produces some great wines in the Canaries.

Tasting notes

Listán wines are pale and greenish-yellow in colour and don’t have much mouthfeel.

At their best, Listán Blanco wines are crisp with balanced acidity and fruity flavours (melon, green apple, citrus peel) and fennel notes. They have a bitter or astringent, but not unpleasant, aftertaste.

Canarian Listán Blanco wines also have a pronounced minerality in their aroma and taste.

Bad Listán Blanco wines lack acidity and body, and can taste of burned rubber.

Sparkling wines made from Listán Blanco are light and quaffable but tend to lack any serious character.

 

Vijariego Blanco

A Canarian grape variety most common on Tenerife and El Hierro. Vijariego blanco grapes are used in Tenerife to make sparkling wines as they are high in sugar and acid.

Also known as bujariego, diego and verijadiego.

Tasting notes

Vijariego wines are fresh with green apple, pear, grassy and citrus peel notes, although they are low on aroma.

Vijariego is often combined with aromatic but less acidic varieties such as Listán Blanco (as in Viña Frontera from El Hierro).

 

Marmajuelo

A Canarian grape with no known ancestors that is best described as a temperamental little blighter.

Marmajuelo often refuses to set fruit for no apparent reason so it is only grown in significant quantities on Tenerife and Gran Canaria; A real shame because when in the mood, Marmajuelo produces superb wines.

Also known as Vermejuelo and Bermejuela.

Tasting notes

Marmajuelo wine is golden and aromatic with strong mineral, pineapple, custard apple and passionfruit notes.

It also smells and even tastes of fig leaves (crush and sniff one while you are in the Canaries and you’ll know what we mean).

 

Moscatel

The most aromatic and grapey of grapes, moscatel is traditionally used to make intense, sweet wines but is also used to beef up wines made with other varieties like Listán Blanco that can lack flavour.

This can be a good thing as moscatel adds fruitiness, but it can also be abused. If you get a wine that tastes slightly of raisins, then there’s a good chance that the winery has gone over the top with the moscatel juice.

Tasting notes

Used right, moscatel adds a floral aroma and grapey taste to white wines. It can also make them dull and raisiny.

In sweet wines made by traditional methods, moscatel is elevated to a different level and produces wines that taste like nectar.

 

Forastera Blanca

La Gomera’s star grape, Forastera Blanca accounts for over 90% of its vines although small amounts also grow in Tenerife. It is another Canarian variety with no known ancestor and has grown on the island since at least the 1450s.

Tasting notes

Wines made from Forastera Blanca grapes are straw-yellow in colour, of decent acidity with hints of green fruit and plenty of minerals. Tropical fruit and white flower notes can also come through.

 

White wine styles

 Canary Islands white can be divided into four main styles.

  • Dry & fruity: Wines made from Malvasía, Forastero Blanco and coupages of Listán Blanco and other grapes.
  • Delicate & fruity: Listán Blanco wines
  • Rich & fruity: Wines made from Albillo, Gual & Marmajuelo grapes
  • Dry & acidic: Wines from Vijariego Blanco grapes.

 

 

Canarian red grape varieties

 

Over a dozen red wine grape varieties are allowed in Canarian reds but most are rare. There’s also a growing and controversial trend towards planting non-native varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Here are the most common and interesting local varieties.

 

Listán Negro

Because of its high yield, Listán Negro is by far the most common red grape variety grown in the Canary Islands. It is the star of north Tenerife’s wineries but is grown all over the Canary Islands.

It is not related to Listán Blanco.

Listán Negro produces lively young wines full of red fruit and spice, especially when fermented by carbonic maceration.

To make traditional Canarian red wine, listán is often blended with more acidic varieties such as Negramoll to produce light-to-medium-bodied reds with black fruit flavours and a hint of spice.

It’s also known in the Canaries as Listán Prieto, although some (of course) regard this as a different grape.

Listán Negro is what give many Canarian wines their characteristic flavour.

Tasting notes

Canarian Listán Negro wines are light on the tannins and heavy on the minerals with red berry, black fruit and even banana flavours. They have an aftertaste that is reminiscent of the faint smell of gunpowder.

Rosé wines made from Listán Negro have intense berry flavours but tend to be one-dimensional and lack acidity (any Canarian rosé that tastes or black mulberries or blackcurrants is made from Listán Negro).

 

Negramoll

The high-yielding workhorse grape of Madeira island to the north, Negramoll is also grown in southern Spain and called mollar cano. It grows all over the Canary Islands but yields rather bland varietal wines and is almost always used in blends where it adds acidity to tastier grapes like Listán Negro.

Also known as Mulata

Tasting notes

Negramoll wines are earthy and quite acidic with hints of strawberry and cherry. They can have an unpleasant metallic aftertaste.

 

Tintilla

An odd local variety that is low-yielding but disease resistant and produces robust wines with ageing potential. Tintilla wines contain tannins without needing to go into oak barrels.

This variety has no known ancestor or relative anywhere in the world and is probably descended from a Spanish grape that was wiped out by phylloxera.

Tintilla is used to add intensity and colour to other grapes as was rarely cultivated on the scale needed to produce varietals.

Tintilla is grown all over Tenerife and also on La Palma, La Gomera and Gran Canaria.

Tasting notes

Tintilla wines are aromatic and fruity with lots of spice and tannin and a definite hint of tobacco.

 

Babosa Negra

A rare local variety than can produce both sublime and dreadful wine. It’s low-yielding and varietals are expensive.

Also known as Bastardo Negro, and presumably named by a grower who couldn’t get it to do what he wanted.

Tasting notes

Picked at the right time and well-treated, Babosa Negra produces silky, slightly sweet reds that stand proud. However, pick it too soon or ferment it carelessly and Babosa Negra yields sweaty sock juice.

 

Castellana

Often confused with Tintilla, Castellana or castellana negra is a Tenerife grape that has recently been recovered and is getting growers hot under the collar. However, it’s still only a minor variety and is most often blended with fruitier grapes like Listán Negro.

Tasting notes

Castellana produces intense wines with plenty of acidity along with earthy, black fruit, mineral and liquorice notes.

 

Vijariego Negro

Cultivated in Tenerife and El Hierro, Vijariego Negro is normally added to other grapes but you can buy varietals.

Tasting notes

Vijariego Negro produces wines that are a pale brick red in colour but intensely fruity with hints of pepper spice.

 

Red wine styles

Typical Canarian red wine is high mineral, fruity and spicy due to the blend of Listán Negro and Negramoll or Tintilla grapes; Listán provides the fruit and spice, Negramoll and Tintilla the acidity, and all contribute minerals.

The listán / Negramoll combination is typical of the Tacoronte Acentejo DO in Tenerife, but most Canarian reds contain one or both of these grapes. The result is wines that reflect the volcanic soils and strong sunshine of the Canary Islands; Lively mouthfuls of minerals, fruit and spice with that hint of gunpowder in the aftertaste. 

 

Sweet Canary wine

The original white Malvasía wines so popular amongst Shakespeare’s crowd were far sweeter than modern fashion allows. Most wineries nowadays focus on making highly quaffable dry and slightly sweet whites full of freshness and fruit.

However, the tradition of making sweet wines in the Canary Islands hasn’t disappeared completely. In the countryside, bars still have a barrel of sweet wine for the locals, and plenty of wineries still make a few bottles of the stuff.

Canarian sweet white is made from Malvasía and moscatel grapes, and the red from Listán Negro and Pedro Jímenez.

Sweet wine in the Canaries, often called vino de licor,  is made in two ways. Most, and all of the cheaper stuff, is partially fermented grape must mixed with grain alcohol to produce a sweet, wine-flavoured liqueur.

However, some wineries, mostly in Lanzarote, La Palma and Tenerife, still make sweet wines by letting the grapes ripen and start to shrivel on the vine, then fermenting them and letting the resulting sweet and highly alcoholic juice rest in barrels for several years. The barrels lose liquid and the flavours are concentrated into an intense, sweet wine known as soleraje.

This technique is used in Lanzarote to extract maximum flavour from sweet wine made from Malvasía grapes. The El Grifo bodega, the oldest in the Canary Islands, makes a sweet white called El Grifo Canary that contains wine that was laid down in the 1950s.

We’d recommend trying Canarian sweet wine in a good bar or bodega as decent bottles cost upwards of 50 euros.

It’s a mystery why no Canarian winery has experimented with the fortified wines so popular in Madeira island just to the north of the Canary Islands.

 

Pine wine

In the days before oak barrels were easy to get hold of, La Palma winemakers kept their wine in barrels made from tea: Canary pine heartwood. The result was a resinous wine similar to Greek retsina.

While vino de tea is now rare some wineries in La Palma still make it, although they limit the time the wine spends in contact with pine. The result is wine with a hint rather than a whack of resin.

 

Island by island

 

Walter Scott: Bride of Lammermoor

But the no harm in drinking to their healths, and I will fill Mrs. Mysie a cup of Mr. Girder´s canary

 

Spanish wine areas are classified into zones called Denominaciones de Origen (DO). Each has a governing body that controls the quality and character of the wines it produces.

Every Canary island has its own DO except Tenerife, which has five, and Fuerteventura, which is just too hot and dry for grapevines (although a couple of brave souls are trying in the south).

There is also an Islas Canarias DO for bodegas that ship in grapes or must from different islands to create blends.

Some are snobby about bodegas that make DO Islas Canarias wines, but the flexibility they have to blend juice means that they make some of the best Canarian wines.

If a wine doesn’t have a DO sticker on the back of the bottle, then it’s probably imported from Spain in tanks and bottled in the Canaries. The wine may be lovely, but it’s not local.

The exception to this is wines that are bottled for local consumption (family, friends and village only) and don’t have a label at all. These vary from ‘oh my god, that’s abominable’ to ‘this is quite nice, actually’.

In general, if a local wine is good enough to sell it gets a label.

 

The maturing Gran Canaria wine industry

 

Gran Canaria is probably the island with the greatest untapped wine potential.

While Lanzarote has its zingy Malvasía, La Palma its rich Albillos, Tenerife its boisterous Listán Negro reds and delicate Listán Blanco whites, Gran Canaria is still searching for its signature wine style.

Perhaps the most variable island in the Canary Islands doesn’t need one; with no traditional identity to protect, the Gran Canaria DO is free to experiment and many of its best wines are an eclectic mix of grape varieties and winemaking techniques.

That said, Gran Canaria’s best wines do seem to share a couple of characteristics; The are either made from grapes grown in altitude vineyards (Agala, Las Tirajanas), or they are varietals or coupages of the minor varieties.

This isn’t meant to take anything away from Gran Canaria’s Listán Negro wines. Some are also excellent.

Gran Canaria’s vineyards currently cover around 300 hectares but are expanding fast.

 

Gran Canaria wine regions

The traditional Gran Canaria wine region is the Monte Lentiscal zone around the Bandama caldera just south of Las Palmas city. It's a fertile area with volcanic soils and a layer of volcanic picón gravel that retains moisture.

Monte was the island's original DO zone, but was absorbed by the main Gran Canaria DO. The Monte area has centennial wineries and produces some great whites and reds.

Grapes also grow well in the north, at Galdar and in the Agaete Valley; in the east around Telde and Agüimes; and all over the northern and southern highlands in areas such as San Mateo and San Bartolome de Tirajana.

 

Gran Canaria grape varieties

Most Gran Canaria whites are made with Listán Blanco grapes, often blended with small amounts of other local varieties such as Marmajuelo and Malvasía for extra fruit flavour.

The reds are almost all made from the Listán Negro grape,although look out for others that contain a good percentage of more exciting Tintilla, Babosa Negra, Vijariego Negro and Castellana.

Sweet Moscatel wines are common in local bars but you really do have to like your wine sickly sweet to enjoy them. Few, if any, are made the traditional way.

 

Gran Canaria wines to look out for

Gran Canaria whites can be spectacular. For example, the Agala 1318, named after the altitude of the vineyard, is pretty much sex in a bottle. The Caldera white (DO Islas Canarias) from the Monte area around the Bandama caldera and the Las Tirajanas varietals are all great examples. These all cost more than 10 euros per bottle and are worth every cent. Most Monte whites in the 8-12 euros bracket are fruity treats.

Amongst the reds, the widely available Frontón de Oro tinto from the San Mateo area is a mouthful of fruit and tannin and goes well with a curry, while the Las Tirajanas tinto is a light and eminently drinkable ’evening on the balcony’ red.

Frontón’s slightly sweet white is the White Zinfadel of Gran Canaria; light and eminently quaffable, it’s the Canarian wine that your gran would love.

Both sell for around seven euros a bottle. Caldera and Agala also do excellent reds with the prices up above 10 euros.

For a middle range treat, try the Mondalón, La Vica and Plaza Perdida tintos from Monte at 8 euros, or spend 18 euros on the island’s best (best marketed) red; La Higuera Mayor from the Telde area. This winery is leading the way with experiments using non-traditional grape varieties.

 

Where to buy wine in Gran Canaria

Most local supermarkets sell at least a couple of Lanzarote whites (El Grifo, Vega de Yuco) and Tenerife reds (Viña Norte) but you have to visit large local supermarkets such as Hiperdino, Eroski, Alcampo, Carrefour and Hipercor  to find Gran Canaria wines. Mercadona doesn't bother selling any decent wine at all, Canarian or otherwise.

The El Corte Inglés department store in Las Palmas has a huge and well-curated selection in its supermarket and Club Gourmet while its independent Hipercor and Supercor supermarkets also sell a selection of quality Canarian wines. Anything you buy here will be quality but the Gran Canaria selection on offer is shamefully small.

Most big shopping centres outside the resorts have at least one gourmet shop selling ham, chorizo and wine. They all have at least a couple of good Canarian bottles. Quality souvenir shops also stock Canarian wines but do check the dates on their whites; Anything older than three years is best left on the shelf (unless it’s an Albillo or gual).

Buying wine at Gran Canaria airport is the last resort. The local produce shop in the departure has a lot of wine, but is overpriced (50% above supermarket prices) and the whites are often out-of-date.

Local markets and food fairs are an excellent place to buy wine.

The wine stall at Santa Brigida in the hills behind Las Palmas sells wines from GC, Tenerife, Lanzarote and La Palma and the owners taste everything they put on display. It’s a good place to buy the classics and to find decent Gran Canaria wines from the local Monte wine area. Prices are a couple of euros above supermarket prices, but the curated selection is worth the price.

Also in Santa Brigida, the Casa del Vino restaurant is the only one on the island that only serves Gran Canaria wine. The attached Casa del Vino museum does tastings and sell local wines by the bottle.

San Mateo market a bit further up the hill also has a wine stall (by the main door) with a small but quality selection of local and Canarian wines.

 

Wineries

Another option is to go directly to the wineries. Most will welcome try-and-buy visitors on weekdays, but there are some grumpy exceptions (finding out which ones is all part of the fun).

These three wineries are open during the day to drop in visitors.

Las Tirajanas winery in the hills behind Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas does a great wine and local food tasting and winery tour. Its varietals are a great way to get to know the local grape varieties.

Los Berrazales winery just above San Pedro village in the Agaete Valley does morning tours (it's where all the cruise ship passengers go) and it's Berrazales brand dry white and tinto are decent.

Hoyos de Bandama: Right by the entrance to the Bandama Caldera walks in the Monte region, this winery has an elegant tasting room and opens every day except fiestas. Its wines, made mostly from Gran Canaria grapes but also with juice imported from Tenerife, are excellent. The dry white is superb and a bargain at 2 euros a glass and ten per bottle.

 

The frankly quite ridiculous Lanzarote wine industry

 

Lanzarote is a hot, dry and largely flat island and a good chunk of it is covered in black volcanic gravel several metres thick. It gets almost no rain and is just 120 kilometres from Africa. It’s such a harsh environment that it’s one of the few places on Earth that doesn’t have native earthworms.

In short, an absurd place to try and make wine.

However, Lanzarote’s Malvasía volcánica wine is superb and this is largely due to that layer of gravel, known as lapilli or locally as picón. It acts as a sponge and absorbs moisture from the cool night air that blows over the island from the Atlantic Ocean.

Lanzarote currently has 2000 hectares of vineyards divided into 7500 plots and produces around two million bottles of wine per year.

 

Lanzarote wine regions

The picón that frothed out of the Timanfaya volcanoes in the 18th Century covers a large area of central Lanzarote and this is now its main wine region.  The intrepid Conejeros (the Canarian nickname for Lanzaroteans) planted vines here almost as soon as the rock had cooled down.

Most of the action is concentrated in and around the La Geria protected landscape and Masdache, but there are also vineyards in the far north at Ye-Lajares. These are low yielding and unpredictable even by Lanzarote standards.

 

The Lanzarote growing technique

Traditionally, each vine grows in a pit in the picon deep enough for its roots to find the soil. The picon keeps the soil damp and a wall of lava chunks around the edge gives extra protection from wind. The vintner's main jobs between harvests are to keep the pit tidy, prune the vines and chuck in the odd dollop of camel pooh.

The black picon also heats up during the day and cools quickly at night, exposing the grapes to large variations in temperature. This mimics the effect of growing grapes at altitude; often the key to making good white wine on the other Canary Islands.

Even with tender loving care and plenty of camel pooh, each vine produces a tiny amount of grapes, but there are plenty of them as the land is no good for anything else.

With Lanzarote wine now in demand, both in the Canary Islands, Europe and even the States, the more productive zanja system is becoming more popular. This uses long, low walls at right angles to the prevailing wind to shelter the vines.

Another trick is to transport excess picón to new areas to take advantage of its moisture-attracting magic.

Lanzarote’s grapes are harvested by hand and some still go from vineyard to winery by camel. Once they get inside however, things in Lanzarote’s top wineries get hi-tech. Temperature controlled storage, maceration and fermentation are standard and big Lanzarote wineries now store huge amounts of grape juice at just above freezing point as insurance against lean years.

 

Where to try and buy wine in Lanzarote

 

Lanzarote has a wine culture unique in the Canary Islands. Its supermarkets and local shops sell a wide range of bottles, and its restaurants all offer local wines. Bodega visits are part of the tourist experience and you can even go on winery tours to try and buy local wines.

Here’s what local expert Julie, from the excellent Lanzarote Information website, has to say about trying and buying Lanzarote wine.

“When we first moved to live in Lanzarote we were red wine drinkers and embraced our Lanzarote wine growers, favouring the tinto produced by Bodegas Bermejo when dining out at local restaurants.

We thought we were being sophisticated wine drinkers until, during an important business lunch with Spanish colleagues, they asked us which wine we would like with our meal. Fortunately we had only requested “Bermejo por favour”. Our waiter said, “el blanco por supuesto, que nadie bebe el tinto!”: This translates as, “the white of course, nobody drinks the red!”

From that point on we started enjoying Lanzarote’s award winning white wines, developing a taste for our dry whites and enjoying an occasional glass of sweet wine at the end of a meal, instead of a dessert.

In recent years Lanzarote’s wine growers have been working hard to find a way to start producing a good red wine and we’re starting to get there, the tinto Ariana from Bodegas el Grifo and La Grieta tinto have both won awards this year.

Lanzarote is the leading wine producer from within the Canary Islands, harvesting 3.6 million kilos of grapes during August & September 2015. For many of our bodegas, wine is a family run business, with two or three generations still involved in the back breaking work of maintaining the vines and harvesting the grapes by hand each year.

La Geria wine region is a unique landscape in the world. This moonscape was created after the continuous volcanic eruptions from 1730 to 1736 when the fertile farming land was buried under a deep layer of volcanic ash. Labourers dug down through these tiny particles of volcanic stone for up to 3 metres to find the soil below and planted a vine, creating a circular hole known as an hoyo.

A few kilometres away you’ll find Bodegas el Grifo, established in 1775 and the oldest winery in the Canary Islands (and one of the ten oldest in Spain).

Here, the ash is shallower so the vines have been planted in rows allowing for a higher yield, although the harvest is still completed by hand.

Most of the D.O.Lanzarote bodegas are situated in the heart of the island, with one exception which is La Grieta in the north.

Local tips

The cheapest place to purchase wine is direct from the bodegas, but if you only have time for one stop there’s a good range of local wines for sale in the gift shop at the Monumento al Campesino in San Bartolomé.

La Grieta Malvasía Seco: Visit Restaurante El Charcón on the harbour in Arrieta to taste this dry white wine and buy a bottle to take away for 7 euros. Ricardo the owner of the bodega and restaurant is a lovely host and not afraid to experiment with his wines. He’s harvested grapes in the moonlight and sunk bottles on the seabed to mature.”

 

Lanzarote wines to look out for

 

El Grifo is the island’s oldest winery and does a great budget white. Bodegas Vega de Yuco produce an excellent dry white of the same name and a semi called Princesa de Isco. All are around seven euros a bottle and excellent value.

Both bodegas also do slightly more expensive bottles (El Grifo Colección and the blue-bottled Yaiza).

Most mid-priced Malvasía wines in Lanzarote (10 euros and up) are good quality and have the fruity zing that you expect.

However, there is more to Lanzarote than Malvasías. Look out for wines made from the Diego grape, and also for authentic sweet wines made by the traditional method (rather than by adding sugar to mediocre wine).

 

The vintage Tenerife wine industry

Tenerife was the historical star of the Canarian wine industry and was almost certainly the source of Shakespeare’s sack (La Palma historians will disagree about this).

It’s the only island with different designation of origin areas and it’s vast geography means that it produces the most varied wines in the Canaries.

Here’s a quick guide to Tenerife’s five official wine regions

 

Abona

Abona in south Tenerife gets more sunshine and less rain than the rest of the island and is hugely variable. its wineries are spread from 200 metres above sea level up to over 1600 metres (the highest in Europe).

This variation allows the DO’s wineries to blend grapes from different altitudes to create balanced wines.

Abona specialises in Listán Blanco grapes with some Listán Negro. It’s whites are famous for their blossom and tropical fruit flavours.

 

Valle de la Orotava

While the Orotava Valley only became an official wine area in 1995, it’s been famous for wine for centuries and its mild climate and fertile soils produce high yields. Its vines are still grown in traditional cordones trenzados; long plaits of stems that are held just off the ground in a fishbone pattern.

Located on the lowest slopes of Teide volcano, it gets plenty of sunshine and lots of moisture from the trade winds. The climate here is milder than most other areas and technically better suited to making red wine.

Even if you’ve never drunk a bottle of Valle de la Orotava wine, you’ve had it in other local wines; A large percentage of wines from this area are bottled elsewhere in the Canary Islands (using the DO Islas Canarias label).

La Orotava whites, grown mostly in the west of the zone, are known for their pleasant bitterness and fruity aromas.

The reds grown in the centre and east are smooth and light by Canary Islands standards, as you’d expect from a wine area with a mild climate.

La Orotava also produces sweet moscatel wines and even a couple of espumoso wines made from Vijariego grapes.

 

Tacoronte Acentejo

This north Tenerife region specialises in vibrant, fruity reds made from a blend of Listán Negro and Negramoll grapes: red wine accounts for 80% of production.

The climate is mild and wet by Canarian standards, and the soils volcanic and full of minerals.

Its vineyards, all 2,500 hectares of them, go from 50 to 1000 metres above sea level. Tacoronte Acentejo has almost 2000 grape growers and 50 bodegas and its vineyards make up 20% of the total area of vines in the Canary Islands.

It does produce some decent whites and a couple of famous sweet wines, but the reds and maceración carbonica reds dominate.

 

Valle de Güimar

White wines make up 80% of production at this east Tenerife region where grapes are grown on 720 hectares from sea level up to 1500 metres above sea level. Most of the vines are Listán Blanco, but Marmajuelo and Malvasía also pop up.

The best wines from Güimar come from wineries at medium altitudes, although the DO is experimenting with espumoso wines made from Listán Blanco grapes grown at lower altitudes.

Valle de Güimar wines have herby aromas and fruity flavours and work particularly well when slightly sweet (blue bottles, often with afrutado written on the label).

 

Ycoden Daute Isora

If there’s a better wine region name anywhere in the world, we haven’t found it yet. Fortunately, the wines, and especially the afrutado whites, live up to the name.

Located in the far west of Tenerife, this area gets hot summers, cool winters (with frost), high rainfall and humid winds during the hottest months. It’s 315 hectares of vineyards are mainly white Listán Blanco with some Malvasía, Gual and verdello.

The area is actively trying out more local grape varieties to reduce its dependence on Listán Blanco which currently accounts for 70% of the vines.

It also produces a small amount of quality sweet Malvasía wine and is experimenting with crianza reds that spend years in oak

YDI white wines are elegant with floral and aniseed notes while the rosés have pineapple and strawberry.  

 

Tenerife wines to look out for

Where to start!

Amongst the whites, the dry Tajinaste from Bodegas Tajinaste in La Orotava is excellent, blossomy value; As is the range of Flor de Chasna whites from the Cumbres de Abona winery.

Amongst the reds, the Viña Norte maceración carbónica from Bodegas Insulares in Tacoronte Acentejo is a must try; It’s like Beaujolais Nouveau’s muscular cousin and has won blind tastings in Spain.

Balcón Canario is an excellent example of a typical Tenerife Listán Negro / Negramoll coupage, while the Viñatigo varietals are an excellent way to get to know the characteristics of the island’s grape varieties.  Make sure you try a Tenerife Malvasia (Testamento is a good one) as they give Lanzarote’s famous names a run for their money.

Tenerife produces a vast number of quality vines and is the island where exploration is most likely to turn up something spectacular. We recommend travelling to the island with a teetotal friend, hiring a car, and hitting the wine regions.

 

Guachinches

Tenerife’s local guachinche restaurants are more than a place to try wine; They are a pillar of local life and a superb way to get to know the rural parts of the island.

Here’s how Tenerife expect Jack Montgomery from The Real Tenerife and BuzzTrips describes the guachinche.

“Guachinche – what a delicious sounding word, pronounced as far as I can ascertain as gwah-cheen-chay with the G so soft it’s like a whisper on the wind that you aren’t quite sure you actually heard.

We’d seen references to these all over the place when we first moved to Tenerife, but for a couple of years weren’t exactly sure of what they were and thought they were basically just roadside restaurants serving traditional Canarian cooking.

Wrong, wrong and wrong again; Guachinches are rough ‘n’ ready makeshift restaurants that are often set up in someone’s garage, but they can pretty much turn up anywhere – in the middle of banana plantations, in someone’s courtyard, in gardens.

Our first visit to a guachinche put us straight as to what one actually looked like. A friend led us through a maze of huertas (vegetable allotments) in Tacoronte to a shed where chunky wooden tables were laid out like an ordinary restaurant. But this was no ordinary restaurant; this was back of beyond and then some. There wasn’t even a sign identifying it as a guachinche – you had to know it existed to find it. But it was packed out with people.

Over the course of the afternoon we were brought a selection of  wonderful home-cooking that ranged from ceviche (marinated uncooked fish) to papa rellena (crispy deep fried potato filled with mince) without being asked what we wanted. I think the bill came to about €10 a head including beer, wine and water.

That first guachinche was a Peruvian one and was frequented by mainly residents with some connection to Peru. Since then every other one I’ve been to has been Canarian and has generally featured pinchos (seasoned pork on skewers), rancho canario, escaldons and boiled eggs…there are always boiled eggs. They all sell wine from their own vineyard.

The origins of guachinches might not be what you think. I’d always believed the word to have Guanche origins, but apparently not. It’s a bastardisation of English and dates from a time when English merchants used to buy wine and produce direct from country folk (magos) in the hills above the north coast. As the magos prepared the order, the English merchants would say ‘I’m watching you’. Whether that was out of interest or to make sure they weren’t being short-changed is unclear but over time ‘wat-ching-you’ became ‘ gwah-cheen-chay’.

They’re quite unique to Tenerife, although Gran Canaria has a variation of them called the bochinche. The other weekend whilst walking through the plantations with a friend from La Gomera we passed one which was about as uninviting looking a guachinche as I’ve seen – behind a high wall topped with barbed wire -  although the laughter and lively buzz from behind the wall showed it was a popular one. Our friend had never seen one on La Gomera.

At fiestas and wine harvest, guachinches spring up all over the place. During  the rest of the year they can be found in numbers on Tenerife’s northern slopes. There are some around Güímar, Arico, and Arafo but the further south you go, their numbers diminish as they are linked to a tradition that was specific to the north of Tenerife. The best place to find them is between Tacoronte and Los Realejos.

Some you’ll never find unless you’re told about them, other can be found by following signs scrawled on cardboard nailed to trees. Restaurants that call themselves ‘guachinches’ are playing free and easy with the term and are generally aimed more at ‘visitors’ than residents. Real bona fide guachinches offer a completely different dining experience – one that is raw and about as authentic Tenerife as you can get. This is Tenerife dining for real travellers.

Once unregulated, guachinches are now bound by certain laws. They should only open for three consecutive months, offer a maximum of three dishes (none of which should be dessert or fruit) and serve only their own wine – they aren’t even allowed to serve beer, coffee or tea but they can sell water.

I’ve yet to be in one that stuck exactly to this but that’s part of what makes eating in one fun, they have a certain illicit atmosphere, like drinking at an illegal still in the forest. Just writing about them has made me yearn for a guachinche hit. Luckily we’ve got two within walking distance…buen provecho.”

 

The Unappreciated La Palma Wine Industry

La Palma’s wines are the best value in the Canary Islands because they are as good as all the others but don’t have the brand of Lanzarote’s Malvasías, or the big domestic markets of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

The north of La Palma specialises in Albillo wines with rich, dry whites with peach and blossom flavours and an aftertaste of fennel.

In the drier and sunnier south of the island Malvasía thrives in the open volcanic soils and the wines are crisp and fruity.

The Canarian variety Listán Blanco grows all over the island and is used in blends and to make varietal wines.

La Palma reds are mineral rich due to the islands lava soils.

The island also produces sweet reds using traditional methods.

Here’s La Palma blogger and top astronomy guide Sheila Crosby one them.

“Sweet Malvasía is a white dessert wine from the south of La Palma. It’s too sweet to drink with fish (or to drink like a fish). In fact it’s similar to Maderia or a sweet sherry – more something you’d have at the very end of a meal with the local sweet almond biscuits.

In Shakespeare's day, Malvasía wine was known as malmsey, and it was very popular indeed. In the play Richard III, the Duke of Clarence is drowned in a butt of malmsey, which seems like a dreadful waste of good wine to me.

Malvasía comes from Fuencaliente in the south of the island, and most of the vines are trained very low to the ground to prevent the grapes from drying out, which must make for back-breaking work.

Bodegas Teneguia does an award-winning sweet Malvasía which is aged for 16 years. It’s called “Calidad Estelar” – Star Quality, in honour of La Palma’s amazing dark skies.   It seems to be winning prizes all over the place.

It won “Best Canarian Wine” at Agrocanarias2012, and a gold medal at the international Wine Festival Vinalies Internationales 2012 in Paris.

Obviously I’m not the only one who thinks it’s heaven in a glass.

Also try the Casa Museo de Vino Las Manchas at Las Manchas de Abajo (Los Llanos de Aridane). It has a great selection of vintage wine-making equipment and does tastings.”

 

La Palma wines to look out for

Any Albillo varietal from La Palma is worth trying. The Vega Norte is excellent at around 8 euros as are the dearer Mattias i Torres and Nispero. Vega Norte also does a tea wine.

In south La Palma, the Bodegas Teneguía cooperative does a great dry white Malvasía.

 

Where to find La Palma wines

Most supermarkets in La Palma stock a selection of local wines, and bodegas sell direct. Ask in local restaurants and don’t be afraid to try wines that you don’t recognise; La Palma wines, and especially the whites, are great value.

 

Grapes in one basket: La Gomera

La Gomera’s wine has improved no end since the 1980s, when temporarily blindness was a common consequence of opening a second bottle. But it still hasn’t made much inroad into the wider Canarian market and is almost impossible to find anywhere off the island.

This is a shame since the forastera blanca grape shows great promise and the island is well suited to grape growing.

The only wine that makes it off the island is the Altos de Garajonay dry white made by the island’s official wine cooperative. A passable dry, fruity white that retails for five to six euros a bottle, it hints at Forastera’s potential.

The grape is a potential marketing superstar if the island’s 14 wineries can coax great wines out of it.

 

Where to buy wine in La Gomera

There’s a wine information point in the municipal market in San Sebastian, and a wine shop at Arure in Valle Gran Rey. Also look in supermarkets, stop at the faintest sniff of a winery, and ask in local shops and supermarkets.

Some La Gomera wines also make it over the sea to South Tenerife shops and supermarkets.

If you find something good, let the world know.

 

El Hierro

The grape growing industry on El Hierro is best described as fragmented. The island’s 200 vineyards are small, family-owned affairs and cultivate a total of 250 hectares of mixed  vines. Most are at El Golfo on the west coast where they grow amongst the pineapple plantations.

El Hierro’s most famous and widely available wine is its La Frontera white made by the island’s main cooperative.

The dry white (tall green bottle) at seven euros a bottle is excellent value. A mix of acidic Verijadiego grapes and fruity Listán Blanco, it’s a light, fresh wine that is great with seafood.

The semi sec from Viña Frontera (blue bottle, about six euros in supermarkets) is excellent with great fruity flavour and a definite taste of pineapple. If you like semi wines, this is one you have to try. Frontera’s young red is a lively tinto that needs to be opened a couple of hours before drinking.

 

Where to buy wine in El Hierro wine

To try El Hierro wines other than Viña Frontera, you have to go to the island, or search supermarket shelves and gourmet shops in Tenerife.

 

Canary Wine notes

 

Ben Jonson: Inviting a friend to supper

But that which most doth take my Muse and me,

Is a pure cup of rich Canary wine

 

Traditional wine presses

The days of wooden lagar wine presses are over, but you still find old ones them in the Canarian countryside. They consist of a screw press set in an open-sided barrel with a huge wooden lever used to crush the grapes.

Canarian lagares are unique in Spain where most grapes were traditionally squashed by feet. It’s likely that the lagar descends from the heavy-duty sugar cane presses common in the Canaries before vineyards replaced cane plantations.

 

Young Whites

Most quality Canary Islands wines are made in stainless steel tanks with temperature controlled fermentation.

It means that they are fresh and fruity and made to be drunk quickly; Many Canarian white wines lose their flavour after 18 months in the bottle, especially if they are left knocking about in warm storerooms or on supermarket shelves.

We advise you to check the labels of Canary Islands white wines and avoid any that are more than two years old. You may be fine with older bottles, but lots are past their best.

It’s always a shame to splash out on a great bottle of wine and not taste it at its best.

 

The Listán Negro dilemma

Canarian wineries have fretted about the inadequacy of Listán Negro (and Negramoll) for years. While it does produce some great wines, it isn’t a superstar grape anywhere else. In the US, Mission grapes are a historical anecdote and only a few wineries bother to press them.

While good Listán Negro varietals are fruity and spicy, most Canarian wineries focus, with some success, on blending it with less widespread varieties like Tintilla and Vijariego Negro.

However, the doubts about whether Listán Negro linger on. Expect to see big Canarian wineries experimenting more with blends of other grapes and even, but don’t say this out loud, non-autochthonous grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo.

 

Maceración carbónica wines

When Canarian winemakers brought in modern winemaking equipment, they couldn’t work out why their young red wines didn’t taste as good as their dad’s.

It was because the grapes used to be stored in cool cellars for a few days until the farmer had enough to press. During this rest period, the grapes started to ferment in their skins and used up all the oxygen in the cellar. They absorbed fruity flavours from the skins without any harmful oxidation.

The result was fruity young wines that tasted great but didn’t last. When wineries modernised, they stopped leaving the grapes lying around and the flavour suffered.

Winemakers now duplicate the cellar effect by putting their red wine grapes into cool, steel tanks and pumping them full of CO2 gas. This lets the grapes ferment away and gives the wine a real berry flavour.

To try wine made this way, the same method the French use to make Beaujolais Nouveau, look out for bottles that say ‘maceración carbónica’ on the label.

Don’t buy if they are more than two years old as this wine loses its flavour fast. Also, chill your bottle as MC wines taste best at around 13ºC.

 

Oaking the whites?

Some Canarian winemakers insist on taking superb white wines and tempering all that fruity freshness by leaving them in oak barrels. The effect can be positive but is often overdone.

By all means try an oaked Canarian white, especially if you like oaked Chardonnays, but the best Canarian whites are dry, fruity and go straight from the fermentation tank into the bottle.

You don’t always get the choice as some wineries don’t mention oaking on their labels. Grrrr!

 

Exploding banana wine

A few years ago an eccentric German winemaker decided that what the world needed most was champagne made from bananas. Nobody took him seriously because everyone in the Canary Islands know that the best thing to do with a banana is eat it.

Undeterred, he moved to Gran Canaria, made his wine, put it in his cellar and waited for the magic to mature.

Unfortunately, a calima wind came in and the extra warmth made all his champagne bottles pop their corks. 10,000 bottles of banana champagne ended up on the cellar floor.

It was a messy and ignoble end to the great Gran Canaria banana wine experiment.

Until Platé!

Platé is a slightly sweet white wine made with bananas. It tastes, unsurprisingly, of bananas but is subtle and nothing like those lurid bottles of banana liqueur that have sitting on souvenir shop shelves since the 1970s.

Platé is a good attempt and worth trying if you like sweet wines and bananas. Otherwise, it’s still more at home on the souvenir shop shelf than amongst the real wine.

 

Trying the best Canarian wines

We try dozens of Canary Islands wines every year and review them in this Canary Islands wine Facebook group. Please feel free to join and add your own reviews.

The best wines we try make it into the wine section of the Gran Canaria Info website where we also publish regular articles about Canarian wine.

 

 

Published in Members Only
Wednesday, 16 September 2020 10:25

Gran Canaria Nudist Beach Guide

Gran Canaria: Europe’s nudist capital

 

There are thousands of naked people on Gran Canaria’s beaches every day. So many, in fact, that it has to be the world’s leading nudist destination.

 

And yet, apart from the famous nudist areas at Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés, it’s nudist beaches are empty most days.

 

For fans of nudism but not crowds, that good news.

 

With over 20 nudist beaches all around the island, the sun shining almost every day and the water temperature over 20ºC, nudism in Gran Canaria is always a pleasure.

 

And it’s not just a tourist thing. The locals have long embraced the freedom of nudism and outnumber foreigners on almost all of Gran Canaria’s beaches. They are easy to spot thanks to their deep all-over tans and habit of getting as sandy as possible.

 

More good news. You won’t cause any cultural offence and the only thing that’ll stick out is your lack of a tan. 

 

The bare facts

 

For such a popular activity, there isn’t that much useful information available to Gran Canaria nudists. The tourist board acknowledges the popularity of naturism, but is coy about promoting it.

 

Vestiges of the island’s Catholic past perhaps, or a misplaced concern that nudism and family tourism don’t mix.

 

Either way, as enthusiastic nudists living in Gran Canaria, we’ve decided that it’s time every visitor to Gran Canaria has a useful guide to all of Gran Canaria’s nudist beaches.

 

But before we get to the beaches, here’s some useful information about the legalities and practicalities of baring all in Gran Canaria.

Nudism and the law

 

It’s perfectly legal to be nude on any beach in Gran Canaria and indeed any public place in Spain. This is because the Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that nakedness in public isn’t offensive to others and is therefore perfectly legal.

 

That said, if you choose to exercise your right to go nude on busy beaches like Amadores or Las Canteras, you can expect the local police to come over and have a chat.

 

They can’t force you to put clothes on, but they can demand to see your passport as you have to carry photo ID in Spain.

 

With so many attractive nudist beaches in Gran Canaria, there’s just no need to test the law.

 

As for going topless, that’s completely fine on all Gran Canaria beaches.

 

Nudism and safety

Gran Canaria is an incredibly safe destination but theft, whilst rare, does happen. You really don’t want your stuff stolen on a nudist beach.

 

On the beaches in this guide, there isn’t much you have to do except keep an eye on your belongings and make sure you don’t leave anything valuable in the car. One good tip is to avoid sitting right by the main access to the beach as this is where grab and go thieves like to operate.

 

Take the standard precautions when heading to remote beaches; Charge your phone battery, carry plenty of water and tell someone when you plan to come back.

 

Perhaps the biggest danger to nudists, and all beachgoers, in Gran Canaria is the big waves that sometimes hit the coast. People drown every year in Gran Canaria so we advise everyone to keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid rocky shores when big waves are forecast.

 

Don’t forget that the tides comes in fast, and that it’s often easier to jump into the sea on rocky coasts than it is to climb back out.

Nudism and sunburn

Lots of nudists come to Gran Canaria, strip off on the beach and end up with bright pink bits within an hour. It’s easy to forget that the sun here is African and that pale bits burns much faster than arms and legs.

 

Use a high factor suncream (30 is fine) for the first couple of days and reapply it frequently. Protect sensitive parts from the sun and gradually increase your exposure to prevent burning.

 

If you’ve read this too late, don’t worry as Gran Canaria has its own excellent natural remedy for sunburn.

 

The Aloe vera plant grows all over Gran Canaria and there’s a clump of it in most hotel and apartment gardens. The leaves are also sold whole in some supermarkets

 

An Aloe vera plant is an upright rosette of succulent green or pinkish leaves growing with their tips in the air. Each leaf has a row of spines along its edges.

 

To make your own Aloe vera gel, pick a leaf from the base of the plant; The fattest you can find.

 

The useful part is the transparent flesh inside the leaf: Get at it by peeling a section of leaf (a potato peeler works well) and washing off the smelly, yellow skin juice. Then crush the fillet of flesh and rub it onto the skin. The slimy juice soaks in fast and disappears leaving your skin feeling cool and refreshed. Apply as often as needed.

 

Nudism and sex

 

What has nudism got to do with sex? Well, some people who visit Gran Canaria for the nudist beaches also come for the outdoor swinging scene in the Maspalomas dunes.

 

This is never visible from the beach so there’s no need to be put off visiting Maspalomas or Playa del Inglés because of it. However, if you want to see what’s going on, it isn’t all that hard to find.

 

The main sex and cruising ground in Gran Canaria is in the Maspalomas dunes between the lagoon and the golf course.

 

To reach it, either walk west from the Dunas mirador, or east from the car park at the south end of Avenida Touroperador Neckerman in Campo Internacional.

 

Within the adult area, there are straight, gay and dogging zones and also plenty of private dunes. They aren’t signposted, but it’s not hard to work out which is which.

 

For detailed and up-to-date information, we’d recommend asking in Playa del Inglés’ swinging clubs.

 

Nudism, sex and the law

 

Outdoor sex in Gran Canaria is legal provided that you are not visible from a public road or footpath (engaging in sexual activity in public view of others is regarded as legally offensive, although just being nude is fine).

 

If outdoor shenanigans are your thing and you make a reasonable effort to be discreet, the most the police will do is ask you to move behind a bush.

Nudist Etiquette in Gran Canaria

 

Local rules

If in doubt about whether nudism is accepted on a particular beach, look to see what the locals are doing. Often, you'll find that one end of a beach is nudist, even though there are no signs. For example, nudists cluster at the east end of Aguadulce beach and at the far west of El Confital.

 

Space

Respect other people's space when you pick a spot on a nudist beach. Even though it gets pretty crowded around the kiosks at the Maspalomas nude beach, many people like a decent patch of sand around them. A good rule is to leave at least 10 metres between bare bums.

 

Localism

Canarians don’t mind tourists on their nudist beaches, but they don’t like tourists with cameras.

 

Camera rules

We know that being nude in public is a liberating experience and that you want to have proof to show your friends at home, but be careful where you point the camera.

 

Some nudists like to keep their habit secret and many are sensitive about anyone photographing (and especially filming) near children. There's no problem with taking a selfie or a few photos but don't focus on others, and don't linger too long on the angles. If anyone gets annoyed, just put the camera away.

 

Nude kiosks

Opinion is divided about the need to put on clothes to use the beach kiosks at Maspalomas. Most people don't bother and the staff say that they've seen it all before. However, if you use one of the stools, do sit on a towel.

 

Staring

Staring into the middle distance is fine but staring at people isn't, even if you are wearing sunglasses. It's never polite to gawp on the beach and especially not on a naked one. 

 

If you sunbathe nude in the Maspalomas dunes close rather than on the beach, expect the odd gawper.

 

Gran Canaria’s best nudist beaches

 

At least 20 beaches in Gran Canaria beaches are either nudist, de-facto nudist or have nudist sections. Any quiet area of coastline is effectively nudist.

 

Here’s a map with the locations of each beach. Exact co-ordinates are available on the Gran Canaria Info website.

Maspalomas / Playa del Inglés

 

Maspalomas / Playa del Inglés beach is the heart of the Gran Canaria naturist scene and the mother of all nudist beaches.

 

It’s Europe’s top nudist beach and, given that it’s busy every day, almost certainly the world’s busiest nudist beach.

 

Just think, there are more naked people in Gran Canaria at any time than anywhere else on Earth.

 

The division between Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas beach is theoretical: It’s all the same stretch of sand; six kilometres long and golden all the way. The beach stretches from Playa del Inglés in the east, all the way to the Maspalomas lighthouse in the west.

 

The nudist part of this vast beach is right in the middle, in front of the big sand dunes. The central two kilometres are signposted as nudist, although bare bums spill out at either end of the official zone.

 

Most nudists gather around the beach kiosks: Their staff have one of the most surreal jobs on the island as nobody covers up when they feel like an ice lolly. Shy people and newbies head back from the sea and hide behind a dune until they get used to the freedom.

 

The LGBT nudist area on Maspalomas beach is easy to find as its beach hut flies a big rainbow flag. It blends into the main nudist area pretty seamlessly. The main difference is that, on average, the abs get more defined and the sunglasses more stylish the closer you get to the rainbow flag. Except during bear week.

 

Getting there

Start at either end of this beach and walk towards the middle until you see the signs. Most people cluster around the three beach huts, but there is plenty of space. Or hike across the dunes from the Dunas Mirador at the end of Avenida Tirajana (it’s a slog, especially if you it during the heat of the day).

 

Maspalomas & Playa del Inglés nudist beach on Gran Canaria Info

 

Montaña de Arena

 

The most accessible of Gran Canaria’s legendary remote beaches, Montaña de Arena has been a nudist favourite for decades. Recently the locals have been moaning that it is full of tourists but they are being ridiculous; we’ve never seen more than 50 people on Montaña de Arena beach at once.

 

The beach itself is a narrow 250 metre strip of dark golden sand at the base of a huge sand dune. It faces south so it gets the sunshine all day.

 

Take all supplies as there are no facilities at this beach, apart from the odd vendor selling drinks at weekends.

 

Montaña de Arena is normally a safe swimming beach but can be rough if the wind or waves come in from the south. The safety rule at Montaña de Arena is simple; don’t swim if the water is all stirred up as this indicates strong waves and currents.

 

Facilities

There are no facilities at Montaña de Arena beach

Getting there

Montaña de Arena beach lies just west of Pasito Blanco marina and is a few minutes walk from the GC 500 road that links Maspalomas and Arguineguín. Get to Montaña de Arena on Blue Bus lines 01 and 31 or by driving. For the shortest walk from the GC 500 road to Montaña de Arena beach, park your car here.

 

Access is easiest at the east end of the beach as the old footpath between Los Carpinteros beach and the west end of Montaña de Arena is a bit narrow these days.

 

The beach is about 10 minutes walk from the road and the easiest access point is next to a big sign at the top of the dune (you can see it from the road). The track down the dune is steep so don’t head to this beach if you don’t like heights.

 

To drive to Montaña de Arena, take the GC 500 and park your car by the roadside.

 

To go by bus, catch Global Bus Number 01

 

A taxi ride from Playa del Inglés costs around 30 euros.

 

Montaña de Arena beach on Gran Canaria Info

 

Playa del las Mujeres / Pasito Bea

Pasito Beach beach is one of the quietest in south Gran Canaria despite its turquoise water and fine, if slightly dark, sand.

 

Between Pasito Blanco marina and Montaña de Arena beach, Pasito Bea is also known as Playa de las Mujeres; The nickname comes from the pre-tourism era when the land behind the beach was all tomato plantations and Pasito Bea beach was the traditional bathing spot for the women who worked in the fields.

 

History hasn't recorded where the men went for an after-work swim.

 

The beach is only 100 metres long but is wide and pebble free. Its sand varies between golden and volcanic depending on the tides and the light but the water here is almost always clear and a gorgeous turquoise colour.

 

Nudism is fine on Pasito Bea but it's also popular with locals who keep their swimming costumes on. If you want a completely nudist experience, head west (about 500 metres walk) to Montaña de Arena.

 

Nudists tend to cluster at the west end of the beach.

 

Pasito Bea is popular with dog owners so expect a few dogs on the sand, especially at weekends.

Facilities

There are no shops or facilities at Pasito Bea beach and no bins so please take your stuff (and anybody else's that's left lying around) with you.

Getting to Pasito Bea beach

Get to Pasito Bea beach on any bus (Global Bus Number 01) that goes between Maspalomas and Arguineguín on the GC 500 coast road (tell the driver where you want to stop). The beach is about 10 minutes walk from the road along a wide, safe track.

 

The track to the beach is now pedestrian only so park your car here.

 

A taxi ride from Playa del Inglés costs around 30 euros.

 

Playa de las Mujeres beach on Gran Canaria Info

Pasito Blanco

 

The beach that the have-yachts keep to themselves, although the have-nots are free to visit as all beaches in Spain are public.

 

Pasito Blanco beach, just west of Meloneras, is a long stretch of almost white sand that only gets busy at the weekends. While it isn’t officially a nudist beach, nudism is fine at the east end of the beach closest to Meloneras.

Facilities

Pasito Blanco beach has rubbish bins but no toilet facilities. There’s a Spar supermarket next door to the boatyard within the marina.

Getting there

To get to Pasito Blanco beach, first you have to get into the marina. The problem is that you can’t technically drive in unless you own a property or a yacht. However, the chill-out bar at the end of the harbour wall is open to the public so you just tell the gatekeeper that you are going to La Punta.

 

This doesn’t work in the summer or on fiesta weekends as La Punta access is limited to members.

 

A taxi (around 30 euros from Playa del Inglés, less from Maspalomas) will get you to the marina entrance; Just walk through the marina on the land side of the marina until you find the beach gate in the north east corner.

 

To go by bus, catch Global Bus Number 01, get off at the Pasito Blanco stop and walk down the hill into the marina.

 

Pasito Blanco beach on Gran Canaria Info

Playa Triana / Llano de los Militares

 

With the beachside GC 500 road now quiet thanks to the motorway, Playa Triana and nearby Llano de los Militares beach now feel much more private than they used to.

 

Both are made of large, smooth pebbles with a strip of dark sand at low tide.

 

Triana has a couple of smooth rock outcrops to sit on, while Llano de los Militares has its own Canarii ruin and even a carved rock that was once used by whalers to cut up their catch.

 

These two beaches get busy during fiesta weekends, easter and in July and August as lots of locals bring their caravans and camp.

Facilities

These beaches have bins but no facilities and no lifeguard.

Getting there

There are several roadside car parks by these beaches. LLano de los Militares is a short walk down from the road while Triana is right by the road.

 

Bus Number 01 stops here.

 

A taxi from Arguineguín costs about 10 euros. A taxi from Playa del Inglés €40+

 

Llano de los Militares beach on Gran Canaria Info

 

Triana beach on Gran Canaria Info

 

Tiritaña

If you want a secluded beach experience in Gran Canaria, but don’t fancy the long hike down to GüiGüi, this is your beach.

 

From the road, just follow the dry barranco down towards the sea. The 10-minute walk is easy although you have to scramble over rocks in a couple of places.

 

Tiritaña beach itself is only small and can be more rocky than sandy, although so far in 2016 it’s been sandy. It’s secluded and almost always empty apart from the friendly resident hermit.

 

Avoid swimming at Tiritaña beach if the swell is coming in from the south, or if there is an alert for big waves along the south coast. Otherwise the water is calm and clear.

Facilities

Bins by the road, but no toilets and no lifeguard.

Getting there

 

Bus Line 1 takes you past Tiritaña beach (tell the driver know in advance), as do lines 33 and 91. Otherwise there is parking by the road. A taxi from Puerto de Mogán costs around 15 euros, while a cab from Puerto Rico will be more.

 

Tiritaña beach on Gran Canaria Info

 

Medio Almud

The local nudist beach now that Montaña de Arena has been ‘discovered’ by the tourists, Medio Almud is a wide beach set in a sheltered cove.

 

It’s between Puerto Rico and Taurito resorts.

 

Medio Almud beach is a mix of sand and pebbles and the water is clear and calm. It’s not the most attractive stretch of sand, but it’s quiet and almost always sunny.

 

Access is via a blocked off road built by over-optimistic developers in the early 1990s. The ban on new hotels is about to go, so take advantage of the peace at Medio Almud while it lasts.

Facilities

Bins by the beach and the road, no toilets or lifeguard.

Getting there

Bus Line 1 takes you past Medio Almud beach (tell the driver know in advance), as do lines 33 and 91. Otherwise there is parking by the road. A taxi from Puerto de Mogán costs around 15 euros, while a cab from Puerto Rico will be more.

 

Tiritaña on Gran Canaria Info

Güi Güi

 

Güi Güi (pronounced Wee Wee) isn’t Gran Canaria’s most isolated beach or its most attractive. In fact, if it was next door to Maspalomas nobody would think twice about it. The sand is on the dark side and disappears completely during the winter. At times it is covered in driftwood and seaweed.

 

Nevertheless, Güi Güi's remote location, stunning sunsets and high cliffs make it Gran Canaria's Shangri La; the place anyone with hippie pretensions has to visit.

 

Güi Güi is so remote that it is almost always deserted (except during the easter and summer holidays when Canarians camp illegally). Years back there was a permanent hippy colony that grew its own weed and wittered on about "the Man", but it has disappeared except for one hermit.

 

There are actually two beaches at Güi Güi: Güi Güi Grande or Big Güi Güi, the first one you get to, is actually the smaller of the two at about 350 metres long). The name comes from the size of the barranco behind it rather than the beach.

 

Güi Güi Chico (Little Güi Güi) is just south of its neighbour and is about 650 metres long. You reach it by walking along the rocks but be careful at high tide or when the sea is rough as it can be inaccessible.

 

Note that locals and tourists alike have been fined in the last couple of years for camping illegally at Güi Güi (there is no legal way to do it). If you avoid peak times, you’ll most likely be fine. Do not camp here at Easter as the police visit every year.

Facilities

The unofficial camp site behind Güi Güi has a small shop but don't count on it being open outside peak periods. When open, it sells all the important stuff, like bread, cigarettes, rum and water. The stream that is quoted in many articles is a bit slimy but is clean enough for frogs to live in.

 

We advise you to bring enough water for your stay.

Getting there

Nudists, hippy types and nature lovers make the five kilometre trek from Tasartico down to the beach; A tough trail but easy to follow.

 

Uphill at first, then down into the steep barranco, it isn’t an option for anyone who doesn’t like heights.

 

The walk takes about two hours one-way. Take plenty of water as hikers have died of dehydration in the area.

 

An alternative walk is from La Aldea town to the north; It’s about four hours one way. You may also be able to persuade local fishermen at La Aldea or Tasarte to drop you at the beach, but be aware that the sea can be rough along this coast and they may not be able to pick you up.

 

Or you could just jump on a yacht or catamaran cruise in Puerto Rico marina and get to Güi Güi the easy but much less satisfying way. Boat charters can take you to the beach, but they aren’t currently allowed to drop you off and pìck you up later. However, there’s nothing stopping you from swimming to the beach.

 

GüiGüi on Gran Canaria Info

 

Faneroque

Gran Canaria most isolated and least visited beach, Faneroque is a wide stretch of jet-black sand right under the island’s highest cliff.

 

It’s as beautiful as it is difficult to get to and the sea can be rough and dangerous. However, if you make it to Faneroque beach, you’ve done something that hardly anyone in Gran Canaria, local or tourist, ever manages.

 

It wasn’t always difficult to visit Faneroque; there used to be a track all the way from the road to the beach but a landslide destroyed it. That’s why there’s a bulldozer stranded on the sand; It was there when the road collapsed and has been there ever since.

 

Facilities

 

There are no facilities at Faneroque. The only people who make it here are fishermen and the odd extreme camper. There is no mobile reception and no fresh water.

 

Getting there

 

First you need to get to where the track down towards Faneroque meets the GC 200 road just south of El Risco village. Then it’s a good 30 minutes down to the coast and a 10 minute scramble north along the rocks to reach the sand.

 

The last section is dangerous at high tide and we’d seriously advise you not to try and get to Faneroque without a local guide who knows the tides and weather intimately.

 

Faneroque beach on Gran Canaria Info

Guayedra

This north west beach can be rough and the sand comes and goes, but it’s almost always sunny (Agaete and the west coast get far more sunshine than north Gran Canaria) and is set in a gorgeous barranco within the Biosphere Reserve.

 

The views from Guayedra are fantastic as you see Tenerife and Teide on the horizon, Puerto de las Nieves to the north and the rugged west coast stretching out to the south.

 

Take care swimming at Guayedra beach as the waves are dumpy and can pull you out to sea. Take your cue from the locals and don't swim if others aren't in the water. Visit at low tide for the smallest waves and the most sand.

 

Guayedra is popular with locals from Agaete and Galdar towns but tourists are as rare as hen’s teeth. Nudism is the norm and it’s almost always quiet enough for shy nudists. Camping isn’t allowed but people do stay overnight.

Facilities

Guayedra beach has no facilities or rubbish bins and no lifeguard. Mobile reception is spotty.

Getting there

Get to Guayedra beach by driving about five kilometres along the GC 200 road from Agaete towards La Aldea. The turnoff is just after the Barranco de Guayedra signpost by the bins and the bus stop. Follow the dirt track (fine for all cars) and park by the house as the final bit of track is a dead end.

 

Walk down the hill to the shore and turn north (left)  at the sea. Guayedra beach is about two minutes walk.

 

Blue bus 101 between Agaete and La Aldea stops at the Guayedra bus stop provided it is running  you tell the driver in advance. The walk from the road is about a kilometre.

 

Alternatively, walk the track from Puerto de las Nieves or Agaete. This takes about an hour and involves a short walk along the road and a couple of steep bits.

 

Guayedra Beach on Gran Canaria Info

La Caleta

 

There’s no sand or pebbles at La Caleta but the smooth rock and crystal clear water make it a great nudist spot within walking distance of Agaete and Puerto de las Nieves.

 

La Caleta gets a mix of local nudists and textiles and the atmosphere is relaxed.

 

This is the place to go nude snorkelling in Gran Canaria.

Facilities

There are no facilities at La Caleta and the nearest shop is in Puerto de las Nieves about a kilometre away.

Getting there

From the natural swimming pools just north of Puerto de las Nieves, follow the coastal path until you reach La Caleta.

 

 

El Confital

El Confital, known as El Confi, is Las Palmas’ chill-out beach and is where the locals go for picnics, surfing and a spot of nude sunbathing.

 

20 years ago the area behind the beach was a shanty town but the whole area has been returned to nature and El Confital is protected from development. The locals are so worried about losing El Confital to hotel development that they won’t even tolerate plans for a food and drink shack.

 

Most people cluster at the sandy east end of the beach but nudists head towards the end of the boardwalk and hang out on the thin strip of sand between the path and the rocks.

 

You’ll always find a quiet place to disrobe at El Confital if you walk far enough west. However, be careful once you go around the corner as the sea gets rougher.

 

Facilities

El Confi has portaloos and lifeguards at the east end but only during the easter and summer holidays when it’s at its busiest. There are plenty of bins but nowhere to buy water.

Getting to El Confital

Walk as far north as you can along the beachfront promenade behind Las Canteras. It goes past the big Cesar Manrique wind sculpture at La Puntilla and along the rocky shore in front of the La Isleta barrio. At the end there is a dirt track that carries on to El Confital. The first bit is shared with cars (there aren't many) and then a track with iron steps forks left. Follow this to the board walk.

 

Taxis will take you to the beginning of the track, but most won’t drive all the way to the beach. It’s about a kilometre walk from the end of the road and you can’t get lost.

 

If you are driving to El Confi, get ready to ask for directions once you get lost in the maze of streets in La Isleta barrio. Once you are on the track, look out for cars coming the other way as there are only a few spots where cars can pàss each other. There is plenty of parking at El Confi.

 

El Confital on Gran Canaria Info

La Laja

Drive into Las Palmas along the coast road from the airport and you can't miss La Laja beach and its mob of seagulls.

 

It’s a 1200 metre, east-facing, black sand beach located on the south-eastern fringe of Las Palmas and linked to the city by the seafront promenade that runs the length of Las Palmas' east coast.

 

La Laja is an official nudist beach thanks to a campaign by local nudist associations. A combination of nudist activism and legal wrangles forced the local police to stop pestering nudists on La Laja’s black sand. However, since then not many local nudists use La Laja.

 

The beach is virtually empty most days apart from local surfers. Nudists tend to use the central section away from the car parks and main pedestrian access points.

Facilities

Toilets are at the north end of the beach. La Laja has lifeguards on weekends and during local holiday periods. There are no shops or bars by the beach; the nearest restaurants are in San Cristobal village about a kilometre north.

 

Getting to La Laja

Walk to La Laja beach along the coast from San Cristobal village or all the way from the centre of the city via the Avenida Marítima.

 

Parking is easiest at the south end of the beach by the giant bronze of Triton. At the north end, there is parking on the side of the road but crossing the road is a pain.

 

For bus travel to La Laja, Take the Line 01, 04 or 05 bus from San Telmo bus station and get off at the La Laja bus stop.

 

A taxi from anywhere is Las Palmas will cost between 5 and 10 euros depending on traffic.

 

La Laja on Gran Canaria Info

 

Aguadulce

Gran Canaria’s east coast has a reputation for being windswept but this is only true during the summer and when the wind comes from the east or south.

 

During the winter, it’s sheltered beach like Salinetas are calm and pleasant. The same is true of Aguadulce beach just a few metres north of Tufia village.

 

With 200 metres of fine, golden sand, clear turquoise water and a sand dune behind it, Aguadulce is the prettiest east coast beach and makes it into the Gran Canaria Info list of top small beaches.

 

Rarely crowded and often empty, Aguadulce is nudist at the east end by the small cliff.

Facilities

This beach has no facilities apart from bins. Next-door Tufia village has no public toilets and only an occasional chiringuito snack bar.

Getting to Aguadulce beach

From the resorts, drive up the motorway and take the El Goro exit 3.5 kilometres north of the airport. At the roundabout at the end of the slip road, take the Tufia exit (you may have to go round a couple of times to find it).  From the north, take the El Goro exit just before the Cepsa petrol station and then drive under the motorway to the roundabout.

 

Follow the road through the dunes to Tufia and park at the end of the road by the village. Walk north and you'll see the beach within a minute.

 

Because Tufia is within a nature reserve, it is fighting a battle for its existence as it was built illegally; One consequence is that  public transport doesn't run to Tufia or Aguadulce.

 

Aguadulce beach on Gran Canaria Info

 

Veneguera

When developers announced plans to build a vast resort in the Veneguera valley in south-west Gran Canaria, all hell broke loose. Canarians decided en-masse that enough was enough and staged demonstrations all over the island. To general surprise, the protesters won the day.

 

An unfinished road between Puerto de Mogán and Veneguera beach now marks the high tide line of rampant resort building in Gran Canaria. Veneguera is now protected and is a beacon of hope to ecologists fighting to protect the island from further development.

However, the entire valley is currently owned by one of the island’s biggest hotel and construction companies. The battle of Veneguera may not be over just yet.

 

 Veneguera beach is 370 metres long and sheltered by rock outcrops at each end. It's mostly colourful rounded pebbles although patches are dark volcanic sand build up at either end during the calm summer months.

 

Taken on its own, Veneguera beach isn't all that attractive but it is south Gran Canaria's biggest pristine beach and the water is calm and clear. It's best to visit in late spring when the valley is at its greenest and full of flowers.

 

Veneguera is a nudist beach although most of the Canarians who camp and BBQ here keep their clothes on. Head to the west end of the beach if there are textiles by the parking area.

 

Walk east along the coast from the three palm trees by the car park and you get to the remnants of Veneguera's old fruit jetty. The road to it has crumbled away, but a chunk of the stone jetty is still in place. Only jump off it when the water is completely calm.

 

 

Note: If you drive to Veneguera, it's worth going a couple of kilometres past the Veneguera turnoff on the GC 200 to see the psychedelic rocks at Fuente de los Azulejos. Have a juice at the shack as it's made with sun-blasted local fruit and is delicious. The rocks are at their best in the morning when the sun hits them.

 

Facilities

There are no facilities at Veneguera beach and mobile reception is spotty.

Getting to Veneguera beach

To reach Veneguera beach, first drive inland from Puerto de Mogán until you pass Pueblo de Mogán. Then take the left fork and you are on the spectacular GC 200 road that winds all the way to Agaete in the north-west. Veneguera village is about 10 km past the fork.

 

The Veneguera track starts in the village and winds down through an idyllic rural valley full of banana, mango and papaya plantations before flattening out into a wide, flat-bottomed barranco.

 

You can get as far as the village on a Line 38 bus from Puerto de Mogán but be prepared for a long walk down the valley; You can't count on lifts because there's hardly any traffic.

 

The track between village and beach is currently in good condition and any car will (just) do the trip on a normal day.

 

However, be aware that the valley runs with water after rain and that sections of  track are often washed away. Hire car companies won't appreciate having to come and rescue you and rental insurance doesn’t cover off-road damage.

 

Veneguera beach on Gran Canaria Info

 

Tasarte

Tauro is the place people go to get away from the resorts in south Gran Canaria but its days are numbered. However, there is an alternative; Tasarte beach is old school south Gran Canaria and isn’t going anywhere.

 

It’s also a great place for nudism in a natural setting that isn’t far from cold beer (but you do have to put your clothes on to buy it).

 

The Barranco de Tasarte is one of the island's most pristine and the whole area around the beach is undeveloped apart from a few houses, a beachfront restaurant and lots of fruit orchards on the valley floor. You can stay at Tasarte at the Bla Bla Bla hostel just ten minutes walk from the beach.

 

The beach is a 700-metre strip of rounded pebbles although you get a strip of volcanic sand at low tide. The sea here tends to be calm but watch out if there is a south swell.

 

The La Oliva restaurant by the beach is something of a local legend; Beer is cheap, the food is great value, and the setting is as low key and shabby-chic as Tauro ever was in the glory days.

 

If you are upset that Tauro beach is about to be developed, then Tasarte is the place to go for chilled out beach vibes and cold beer by the sea.

 

The beach is nudist towards the east end away from the restaurant.

 

Facilities

There are no public facilities at Tasarte beach, although you can use the restaurant's toilets if you buy a beer.

 

Getting to Tasarte beach

Get to Tasarte beach by driving along the GC 200 road past Veneguera until you see a turnoff for Tasarte village. Head down to the village and follow the road all the way to the sea. The drive is just under 10 kilometres and all but the last bit is on tarmac.

 

To get the bus to Tasarte, your only option is the Line 86 bus that goes all the way down the Tasarte road to Playa de Tasarte; One kilometre from the beach.

 

Line 38 takes you to the Cruce de Tasarte but you are still 10 kilometres from the beach.

 

A taxi to Tasarte would cost a minimum of 50 euros from the main resorts but you may be able to do a day-trip deal with a friendly driver.

 

Las Salinas

The area just west of El Puertillo in north Gran Canaria is often recommended as a nudist area. However, it is the area’s gay cruising ground and we wouldn’t recommend hanging out there unless you are cool with being approached.

Enjoy

 

Nudism is about freedom and we hope this guide inspires you to get out onto Gran Canaria’s beaches and enjoy the feeling of being nude in nature.

 

If you have any questions, please join our private Gran Canaria Facebook group and ask away. There’s a great mix of Gran Canaria residents and visitors and between us, we answer pretty much every question that we get.

 

Our Gran Canaria Info website has a excellent beaches section, including detailed info about every Gran Canaria beach and lots of photos.

Published in Members Only

Britain remains on track to leave the EU on January 1st 2021 and this will affect both British visitors and tourists, and British residents in Gran Canaria and the Canary Islands. 

From January, British visitors will have to use the non-EU passport queue at Gran Canaria airport and will be electronically logged in as a visitor to the Schengen Area

British citizens will only be allowed to spend 90 days within the Schengen Zone during a rolling 180 day period. This won't affect most holidaymakers but does pose a problem for those who plan to spend the winter in the Canaries. For example, you cannot avoid the 90 day limit by popping to Marrakesh for the weekend or spending a week back in the UK.

British citizens will not require a visa for entry for stays of less than 90 days, and where they will not be working. However, they will have to pay for the EU Visa waiver scheme to be called ETIAS. This will start at some point in 2021 and cost about seven euros. 

Pets: The EU Pet passport scheme will no longer be valid for British citizens and the new rules are not yet clear.

Roaming Charges: UK telecoms firms are not obliged to keep up with flat roaming charges but some have said that they will. 

Driving Licences: For now your UK driving license will be valid for car rental in Gran Canaria. This may change in the future but is unlikely. Residents should swap over to a Spanish license before the end of 2020. 

Healthcare: British citizens will no longer be included in the European Health Card (EHIC) system and will have to pay for comprehensive travel insurance that includes cover for any preexisting conditions. 

Customs: All good purchased in the UK will be subject to inspection and relevant import taxes. 

British Residents In Gran Canaria

All UK citizens should register with extranjeria and make sure that they are registered as permanent residents if possible. You can now swap the little bit of green NIE paper for a TIE card complete with photo; this is not obligatory but does give you legally valid photo ID with having to carry your passport at all times. 

Published in News

Gran Canaria buggy tourMorning or afternoon, a Gran Canaria buggy tour is the way to see Gran Canaria through fresh eyes and yes, the odd cloud of off road dust. This is the thrill seeker's Gran Canaria tour and it takes right into the island's heart away from the resorts. 

The Buggy Tour goes every morning from 10-12:30 and every afternoon from 13:30-16:00. Return transport is included from your hotel in all resorts in the South of Gran Canaria.

The buggies are very easy to drive and control and you can book one for yourself or fit two to a buggy. The buggies are in great condition and fully insured. Their small size and maneuverability means that the tour takes you to places that you just can't reach by car or bus. 

o 1bd23ihuu1nqft801l9cnok194qa 555x320You are in control as you drive through the rugged Gran Canaria mountains over rough terrain and you'll get a great overview of the islands rock formations, steep valleys, cave houses and mountain roads. The tour also includes stop that teach you about Canarian culture. Bring a camera or even better a GoPro because you are going to want to record the experience and the views.  

Book this wildly popular Gran Canaria buggy tour right here and reserve your spot in advance for just a small deposit. You won’t find it cheaper anywhere in the resorts.

jeep safari gran canaria 555x320If you want to see elephants and giraffes, this is not the safari for you. However, if you want to get out there and explore Gran Canaria in a fun and sociable way with expert local guides, get this trip booked ASAP...

 

 

This Gran Canaria jeep safari gets you off the roads and into areas that you can only see with a four wheel drive vehicle. Trips are daily 09:00 to 16:00 all year round with afternoon trips in July and August from15:30-21:30. Hotel Pickups are from 08:30 - 08:55 depending on where you stay the duration of the trip is 7 hours. The capacity is 8 person maximum per Jeep. 

The Jeep Safari convoy travels up towards the mountains behind Arguineguin, through the valley of a Thousand Palms and then to a local bar, famous for its watermelon juice, for breakfast.

 1514470093 555x320Next it's on to Presa de las Ninas, an inland lake at the heart of Gran Canaria with amazing scenery and views. You'll see the pine forests, caves and cliffs opf central Gran Canaria plus the local viullages where people still live happily in cave houses. Then it's on to San Bartolomé de Tirajana (Tunte) where a typical Canarian lunch is available for only €7. Fruit and water is included on the trip.

The onwards to Arteara and the opportunity to take part in a mini camel safari, which is optional, and 10 euros extra on the day.

Book Now & Save €7 per person when booking here online. Join us on this amazing fun-filled adventurous day, seeing wonderful scenery, plant life, mountains, rock formations and pine forests, you will see why Gran Canaria is called the mini-continent.

We have a price match promise, if you find the same excursion cheaper anywhere else online we will refund the difference. We have reps within all of the main resorts in the South of Gran Canaria and if you have any questions you can call our helpline on +44 800 920 2208 and it is open from 08:00-22:00, every day and we will be happy to help. The deposit that you pay when you reserve your trip, is processed through our secure SSL encrypted booking platform.

 

 

Published in Book excursions

Dolphin watching Gran Canaria2One of the longest-standing dolphin and whale-watching trips in south Gran Canaria and led by local sailors know the most about where to find the local cetaceans. 

The Glass Bottom Dolphin & Whale boat trip in Gran Canaria sails daily from 11:00 – 13:30 and currently departs from the port of Puerto Rico. This trip is run by the Lineas Salmon company with decares of experience of the area. 

Hotel pick up is included from the main tourist resorts in Gran Canaria including Playa del ingles, Maspalomas, Puerto Rico, Amadores, San Agustin, Taurito, and Puerto Mogan. The glass bottom boat is purpose built for Dolphin & Whale watching and sails with minimum disturbance to the sea life. The capacity of the boat is 100 but a maximum of 75 passengers is allowed on each trip to guarantee comfort and space.

Sightings of whales and dolphins in south Gran Canaria are very common and the boat has a success rate of over 90%. If you don't see them you get a free trip another day. 

Lineas salmon glass boat close up 600x450As well as enjoying the excursion you will enjoy the comfort of the boat. There are seats on the top deck for you to enjoy the sun and on the lower deck, there is a seating area and this is a great place to find shade especially for young children and of course this is where you can admire the glass bottom views.

This excellent whale and diolphin trip leaves every day except Friday at 11am. Pick up times are from 09:00am - 09:45 depending on your resort and will be confirmed in your booking confirmation email as soon as you have booked. Return transport is included. 

Bring a sun hat and plenty of sunscreen and please don't waer high heels for this trip. 

Book this trip here today to reserve your spot on this popular trip. You pay a small deposit and pay the rest on the day. 

We also have a price match promise, if you find the same excursion cheaper anywhere else online we will refund the difference. If you have any questions you can call our helpline on +44 800 920 2208 and it is open from 08:00-22:00, every day and we will be happy to help. The deposit that you pay when you reserve your trip, is processed through our secure SSL encrypted booking platform.

Published in Book excursions

Gran Canaria speedboat charterIf you want the full private boat charter in Gran Canaria, this is your trip. Book a private Luxury VIP speedboat with captain so all you have to do is party like a movie star

The boats depart from Puerto de Mogán marina and transers are included. 

Three-hour time slots are twice daily from 12.00 to 15.00 and 15.00-18.00. There is also a speedboat that holds up to 12 people plus the captain and six hours bookings are available for both. Transport is included from your hotel in most resorts in Gran Canaria, including Playa Del Ingles, Puerto Rico, Maspalomas and Meloneres.

A private boat tour allows you to explore the coast of south Gran Canaria at your own pace and in style. The tour takes you to a secluded beach and to a set of caves that are superb for swimming and snorkelling (snorkels are provided). 

Sangria, beer and soft drinks are included along with light bar snacks and lunch. You are also free to bring your own desired drinks or food. Both boats have a music system with Radio and MP3 and you can bring your own music to play via a bluetooth or cable connection.

This private Gran Canaria boat charter is ideal for couples and families and also for corporate groups and stag and hen dos. 

Return transport is included from your hotel in most resorts in Gran Canaria, such as Playa Del Ingles, Puerto Rico, Maspalomas and Melonares.

Party in style on your own private boat in south Gran Canaria; book here to reserve your day with total security...

This is the Gran Canaria boat trip for you if you love watersports and are staying in or around Puerto de Mogán.

Enjoy the glorious sunshine and coastline, whilst we gently cruise to our swim stop where snorkeling equiptment is provided for those of you who would like to snorkel. We include a Banana Boat Ride for those who would like to try it out. Parasailing, Jet boat (very fast speed boat), Jet Skis, Flyboarding, the Crazy UFO and many more, can all be tried for the adventurous ones amongst you and you will receive up to 50% Discount on these activities. This is a perfect boat trip to relax and the best boat trip to do your watersports but we do see Dolphins frequently but we cannot guarantee you will see Dolphins.

After boarding the Catamaran in the harbour of Puerto De Mogan, we sail South of the Island, towards Playa De Taurito, or Playa De Tauro, made famous for its rustic feel (weather depending).

Enjoy the glorious Canarian sunshine, whilst chilling on the nets or one of the padded deck areas, whilst listening to chilled tunes played through the trip.

There is an inclusive bar during the entire trip and this includes beer, wine, sangria, and soft drinks, so laying in the sun with a cold drink seems like the perfect thing to do! For those who struggle with the heat, there is a shaded area also.

After an hour or so, we reach our swim stop point. This is the time for those of you who want to cool off, to jump off the boat and enjoy the ocean.

Lunch is served, which is freshly prepared by our chef on board and it is very nice. It is marinated chicken, canarian potatoes, mojo sauce (Canarian speciality), salad and fresh bread.

As we cruise a little further, you should take this time to relax with a full stomach and sunbathe with a cocktail or beer.

Our final stop is where you can all enjoy a banana boat ride (included).

For those who love the watersports, here is your opportunity to try them out and receive a 50% Discount on the Jet Ski, Parasailing, Jet Boat (very fast speed boat), Fly boarding, where the jets attatched to your ankles throw you high into the air and many more…

When everyone is back on board, it is time to return to the harbour of Puerto de Mogan with a drink in hand and enjoying the sun and coastline.

Once you have departed the boat, you are returned to your resort by coach transfer (included).

It truly is an amazing day and not to be missed.

The Catamaran sails every day from 11:00 - 15:00, from Puerto de Mogan.
Transport from your hotel is included from all of the Tourist resorts in the South of Gran Canaria, including Playa Del Ingles, Maspalomas, Puerto Rico and Melonares.

Yes return transport is included from the main tourist resorts in Gran Canaria including Playa del ingles, Maspalomas, Puerto Rico, Amadores, San Agustin, Bahia Feliz, Taurito and Puerto Mogan. Pick up times are from 11:15 am - 12:15 pm depending on where you are staying all this will be confirmed in your booking confirmation email as soon as you have booked.

Beer, wine, sangria and soft drinks are included during the trip. Lunch is also included.

Published in Book excursions

Cruise south Gran Canaria aboard the Five Star boat (the cool one with the black sail and DJ) and get the full beach club and luxury yacht trip all in one go.

 

 

The Five Star cruises from Puerto Rico to Anfi Del Mar with its calm, clear water and white-sand beach. Here you can enjoy the free banana boat or get big discounts on watersports, such as Jet Skis or Parasailing.

The fully-stocked bar serves premium brand drinks and the cocktails are made in front of you (rather than poured out of a premix jug) and brough to you. Lunch is Mediterranean-style BBQ Chicken plus canapes and local tropical fruit. Beer, sangria and soft drinks are included in yoiur ticket price. You can even book the premium experience which includes a Balinese bed and a free bottle of your choice. 

Book the Gran Canaria Five Star Boat experience here and save €10 per person on the price in Gran Canaria's resorts; the best vcalue deal for one of Gran Canaria's most memorable days out on the water. 

The 5 Star Boat sails every day from 10:00 - 14:00. Transport/Hotel pick up is included from all resorts in the South of Gran Canaria. Hotel pick ups are from 09:00 - 09:45 depending which hotel and resort you are staying in. Drop offs back at your accommodation are included.

Book this Gran Canaria experience early to guarantee your trip and day of your choice and to take advantage of our exclusive discount. 

 

 

Published in Book excursions
Page 1 of 96
endanlfifrdeisitnoplptruessv

Join the Gran Canaria Info newsletter list

This module can not work without the AcyMailing Component

 

 

Follow us on Facebook

Tip of the day

Who's Online

We have 1793 guests and no members online

Login / Register

Take this website to the max, login or create an account now! By clicking on any Social Media platform logo, you can login with just one click.