Volcanic rock pools and hidden coves only accessible by boat, dot the Gran Canaria landscape. One of the island’s most outstanding features however is its golden sandy beaches. If it’s for sunbathing or a dip in the ocean, here are the best spots to recommend.

Masplomas Dunes

On the island’s southernmost tip, sand blown from the sea bed during the ice age now forms the desert that lies there today. Covering 400 hectares, Maslomas Dunes, with it’s oasis and fresh water lagoon, is also flecked with the eponymous sand dunes. Visitors will be spoilt for choice, as the UNESCO protected nature reserve features some of the best beaches on Gran Canaria, including Playa del Ingles.

Anfi del Mar

Fringed with fronds of coconut palms and carpeted with 11,000 tons of sand as pristine as snow, Anfi Beach serves a slice of inspiration from more tropical lands. Originally known as Playa de la Verga, this resort was built in the 1990s by a Norwegian businessman who wanted to recreate the Caribbean in the Canaries. Located in a protected lagoon, flanked by a pier on one side and a heart-shaped island and marina on the other, its calm waters are ideal for snorkelling. Kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis and small boats can all be rented and the depths of the sea can be explored on a glass bottom boat.

Amadores

Even further west, Amadores Beach sits in a curved bay, overlooked by imposing cliffs. Created in 2002, this resort is a welcome respite from the busier Puerto Rico. Its position in a cove means waters are tranquil, protected from the rolling Atlantic waves, and excellent for paddling and swimming while the coral sands allow for sunbathing. This is the spot for peace and quiet, with a ban on loud music and beach games, plus its one kilometre length means it never gets overcrowded. An oceanfront walk along the cliff between Amadores and Puerto Rico offers stunning coastal views.

Puerto de Mogan

The mouth of a steep valley reveals the seaside village of Puerto de Mogan, its charming white buildings nestled into the mountain landscape of the southern coast. A network of canals and bridges with vibrant subtropical flowers form its own Little Venice. A fishing port and yacht marina are joined by a sandy beach, protected by the port and breakwater. Families can swim and sunbathe in safety, or try snorkelling in the shallow sea. Larger marine life, including whale watching, can be experienced by taking a yellow submarine or a boat trip from the marina. There are also deep-sea fishing expeditions for keen anglers, plus nearby isolated coves and rock pools to explore.

Güi Güi

Grab your hiking boots or sweet talk a local fisherman to transport you to the remote, deserted beaches of Güi Güi Grande and Güi Güii Chico. Situated on the west coast, the tough two-hour hike is rewarded with crystalline waters and some of the best sunsets in Gran Canaria. Güi Güi Grande is only 350 metres long, named after the size of the barranco or canyon, rather than the beach. Güi Güii Chico, almost twice as big, is justsouth of its little neighbour and is reached by scrambling over the rocks. Changing with the seasons, the beaches are sandiest in the summer months, and fade from existence during winter. 

Agaete Natural Pools

North of Güi is the tiny fishing village of Puerto de Las Nieves, a cluster of blue and white Canarian houses. The harbour, Paseo de los Poetas, is lined with restaurants, craft shops and galleries, up to the natural pools of Las Salinas. For centuries, they were used to harvest salt, but are now popular with swimmers.  The nearby Maipés Archaeological Park, situated on a great lava flow at the foot of the Pinar de Tamadaba, is where the Guanches, Gran Canaria’s original inhabitants, chose to honour their dead. There are over 700 tombs, including huge burial mounds constructed with volcanic stones, dating from around 1,300 years ago.

Las Canteras

The capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is home to Las Canteras, one of the best urban beaches in Europe. Starting in the north at La Puntilla, the beach is populated by fishing boats, with surfers riding the waves at La Cicer, its southern end. A natural offshore lava reef acts as a wave break, protecting the marine life that makes Las Canteras a top snorkelling spot. 

It’s also packed with shops, openair restaurants, ice cream parlours, with street entertainers providing ambience. Only the bravest will join the locals for a leap of faith, diving into the sea from the Peña La Vieja rock.