There are some incredible holiday resorts south of the airport in Gran Canaria. One of the more modern, luxurious and all-out impressive by far is Costa Meloneras on the island’s most southerly coast. While taking a stroll along the lengthy seafront promenade the Paseo de Meloneras is a must-do for most people holidaying in Costa Meloneras, go one street in and wander down the Calle Mar Mediterraneo and you’ll be surprised at what you see. There you’ll find one after another, superior deluxe, five star hotels that will leave you so totally open-mouthed, you’ll be hard put to choose which one you want to stay in for your next holiday in Gran Canaria. When you see all that grandeur it’s also hard to believe that the original inhabitants of Gran Canaria were cave dwellers and that in some parts of the island still are.
Best 5⭐Hotels in Costa Meloneras
Pass through the grandiose reception area of the RIU Palace Meloneras and you’ll encounter a paradise of infinity pools surrounded by towering palm trees that looks directly out onto a never-ending expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you spoil yourself with a stay in one of the hotel’s presidential suites which have a jacuzzi on the terrace, a hydromassage bathtub and a dressing room or only take a standard double room, it’s the ultimate in luxury accommodation in Gran Canaria with an in-house wellness centre, gymnasium and spa. After just a couple of days there, you’ll be feeling completely rejuvenated.
Another hotel in Costa Meloneras which will definitely catch your eye is the Lopesan Villa del Conde. Constructed and operated by the Canarian company Lopesan, the design of the hotel replicates the company owner’s home town of Agüimes with incredible detail. The twin-turreted and domed main building duplicates the town’s distinctive church, the Parroquia de San Sebastián, while the rest of the resort pays architectural homage to the town’s typical Canarian houses both in style and colour. Stay at the Villa de Conde in Costa Meloneras and while it may look like a traditional Canarian town, it’s certainly not lacking in refinement. The hotel has an immense hydrotherapy circuit that takes two hours to complete, first class restaurants situated around a stone-paved plaza and multiple swimming pools located throughout the tropical gardens. Once you’ve seen the hotel, you’ll want to head inland and visit the town that inspired it.
Agüimes & Guayadeque
Agüimes is a sleepy Canarian town only thirty minutes drive from Costa Meloneras. It’s a town that likes its artwork and that’s something you’ll notice before you even enter the urbanisation. On the sides of the steep winding road that leads into Agüimes fixed onto the rocks are large, colourful metal lizards representing a species of five-toed reptile indigenous to the area.
Park up and wander through the paved streets of the Casco Historico, the old historic quarter, and you’ll discover a stunning array of bronze statues commemorating some of the town’s well-known characters as well as dedications to the famous artists and poets who were born there. Two of the best examples are in the central plaza in front of the church of San Sebastian. There you’ll find the figure of an old lady with her barrow who sold traditional Canarian sweets at all the local fiestas. Don’t miss taking a close look at the statue of the dancing couple in carnival fancy dress on the corner of the square and you’ll see it’s actually depicting a man dressed as a woman and a woman dressed as a man which is a Canarian carnival tradition. There are also two very popular animal statues that are favourite photo spots for all visitors to Agüimes. A donkey on the side of the church square and a life-sized statue of a camel by the Casa de Camellos, a small but superb rural hotel. Don’t miss popping into the small museum and interpretation centre in the Plaza de San Anton. Inside there’s a fascinating model of the town, some unusual artefacts from archaeological digs and the mummified remains of a Guanche, one of the island’s early inhabitants.
Cave Houses of Guayadeque
Nearby, in a deep gorge that runs alongside Agüimes, is one of the original and earliest settlements on the island. The Barranco de Guayadeque – or Ravine of Guayadeque – has steep rock faces either side where the elements carved out numerous caves. In the past, with no trees or any other convenient resources, building materials on the island were non-existent so the Guanches, the first inhabitants of the islands who are thought to have originated from North Africa, made their homes in the caves of Guayadeque. Fresh water was also a problem and the Barranco de Guayadeque is the only place on Gran Canaria with a constant, though small, stream of flowing water.
Now a national monument, the cave houses of Guayadeque are still inhabited by a few Canarian families. The cave houses are no longer as primitive as they were originally so don’t be surprised to see a TV aerial or two poking out from the rocks. The tiny cave church in Guayadeque is a popular place for local weddings and the cave bar-restaurant there serves some fantastic typical Canarian food.
Drive further up the ravine, past the cave houses of Guayadeque, and at the very end of the barranco, you’ll come across the Restaurant Tagoror. The restaurant occupies a series of large caves and serves rustic, but very tasty traditional food inside the caves as well as out on the patio overlooking the countryside. The restaurant also has several, rentable bijou rural houses in the Barranco de Guayadeque where you can take a quiet mountainside retreat.
El Museo Canario
The Guanches were an unusual and unique race of people who lived a primitive but socially organised life in a landscape that was hard to survive in. The largest collection of Guanche artefacts and information on their culture is housed in El Museo de Canario in Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria.
In the museum you can browse exhibits ranging from a huge collection of Guanche skulls to scaled models of dwellings to clothing and even learn about the mummification process they used to preserve corpses. The Guanches celebrated a type of pagan religion representing their gods with ceramic headless idols and tablets of clay stamped with repetitive patterns. Many of those items have been recovered from archaeological excavations and are now on display in the museum. Replicas of the idols and the pintaderas are often sold as souvenirs too.
Las Palmas: A Beach & Culture Combination
One way to combine great beach time with some interesting cultural visits is to stay in the capital of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas. The city is often overlooked as a holiday destination, but it really does have a lot going for it. Playa de las Canteras – or Las Canteras Beach – on the very top of the island’s north-west coast is three kilometres of golden sand and arguably one of the best beaches on Gran Canaria. Veguetta is both the historic and commercial centre of the city where there are beautiful old buildings and lots of great retail outlets as well as pavement cafes and restaurants. The city has several museums both historical and scientific, theatres, art galleries, a cathedral and an aquarium so whatever you like to do, you won’t need to travel far to find it.
Best 5⭐ Hotels In Las Palmas
Book yourself a stay at the Bull Reina Isabel & Spa in Las Palmas and you’ll wonder why you’ve never taken a city break in Gran Canaria before. This incredible hotel is right on Las Canteras Beach, has a rooftop pool and sun terrace, gymnasium and a free spa. There are uninterrupted ocean views from the lavishly decorated rooms and Spanish bubbly served with the buffet breakfast. The NH Imperial Playa is also right on Las Canteras Beach and although its official rating is four star, it has got enough amenities to easily compete with any five star. The simple, but elegantly furnished rooms all have sea views and the hotel has an ultra-modern in-house restaurant plus a bar-cafeteria for drinks and snacks with ocean vistas. Stay at either and it’ll be hard to imagine you’re even in a city until you step outside onto the streets.