Visiting Gran Canaria: Beaches, Mountains, and Villages

We just returned from spending five whole days on Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands’ second most populous island. I had been under the impression that las Islas Canarias were named after, you know, canaries. After all, canario means canary, so the feminine form was canaria, right? Wrong. Gran Canaria originally meant the Great [Island] of Dogs! Just look at this beer called Tropical, the beer of the Canary Islands:

Cerveza Tropical Beer Gran Canaria

See the dog? That’s where the Canary Islands get their name! Apparently there were a lot of big dogs on the island back in the Roman era. Who knew? Another important lesson to remember: In las Islas Canarias, don’t say autobús. Say guagua.

We were fortunate enough to have family living on the island, in the capital city of Las Palmas. We stayed at their house and ate breakfast every morning on their chalet’s patio. It was, in a word, ideal. No need to worry about renting cars or finding a decent bar to breakfast at. My Spanish family is phenomenal. They drove us everywhere, all over the island. We saw beaches.

Beach Playa Gran Canaria Spain Las CanterasPlaya de las Canteras

Beach Playa Gran Canaria Spain

Beach Playa Gran Canaria Spain

The water here was incredibly blue

Beach Playa Gran Canaria Spain

Beach Playa Gran Canaria Spain

We saw beautiful scenery.

Gran Canaria Spain
Sunset Pico de las Nieves Gran Canaria Spain

Sunset from Pico de las Nieves

We saw gorgeous sunsets.

Sunset Gran Canaria beach playaSunset Gran Canaria beach playa


Sunset Gran Canaria beach playa

We ate a lot of delicious food, including a lot of seafood and fish. (Unpictured are countless plates of papas arrugadas con mojo picón.)

Cherne Gran Canaria Comida Food

Gambas Shrimp Gran Canaria Comida Food

Food you should eat if you go to Gran Canaria: papas arrugadas, mojo picón y mojo verde, gofio, queso majorero, chorizo de Teror, pata asada (roasted pig leg), lapas (a type of mollusk). Just eat as much fresh fish and seafood as you can! There is one restaurant where you go to a little window, pick out a fish caught that very morning, and they cook it up for you right then! Also, for some reason, many restaurants serve your bread with alioli, which is delicious but also dangerous, because you might not want your food after so much delicious bread + alioli!

We saw some dunes.

Dunas Dunes Gran Canaria beach playa

Dunas Dunes Gran Canaria beach playa


Dunas Dunes Gran Canaria beach playa

Is there anything better than being barefoot on a beach?

We went to Teror, a cute little mountainous village about a half hour away from Las Palmas. We were there right before their village’s festival, which celebrates the Virgen del Pino (Virgin of the Pine), patron saint of Gran Canaria. After shepherds witnessed an appearance of the virgin Mary on September 4, 1481, Teror became a pilgrimage site. The idea is you walk up the mountain, and then fill up by eating a bocata con chorizo de Teror, a huge sandwich with Teror’s chorizo, a spreadable type of sausage. Believe me, after that you will not be hungry! Teror is also home to many typical Canarian balconies.

Balcones Canarios Teror Gran Canaria

Balcones Canarios Teror Gran Canaria

Balcones Canarios Teror Gran Canaria

Balcones Canarios Teror Gran Canaria


All in all, it was a magical trip, principally thanks to my wonderful Spanish family. I am so lucky to be blessed with Mario’s family: his aunts/uncles, cousins, parents, brother, etc. They are always willing to teach me about their culture, about the history of Spain, and help me in any way possible. ¡Muchas gracias, familia! ¡Hasta la próxima!

Teror Islas Canarias

21 thoughts on “Visiting Gran Canaria: Beaches, Mountains, and Villages

  1. Wow, this looks spectacular! I’d love to wander around taking in the different landscape and balconies. It definitely helps that you guys had some local guides; I always love trips when an inside friend or family member can steer us in the right direction.

    I haven’t been to Gran Canaria yet but I’m itching to visit La Gomera to hear the Silbo language. One of these days!

  2. Wow—Gran Canaria looks like a really beautiful place. I honestly didn’t know much about the islands apart from the mass tourism they attract so it was nice to get a non lay-at-the-beach-all-week look at the island. And yeah—they’re named for dogs, not the birds :P (think canine, etc.)

    Like Cassandra, I’d love to go to La Gomera as well to hear Silbo or whistled Spanish!

    1. Hahah I feel so silly for thinking that about the canaries, but in English it is Canary Islands, so I sort of have an excuse!

      You could definitely just lie around at the beach, but I should mention their parador up in the mountains was the most breathtakingly beautiful parador I’ve seen.

  3. So cool! I always wanted to visit the islands but couldn’t make it out there.
    Just a quick question – are the Spaniards there more ‘Latino’ than their mainland counterparts? The ones I met from there sounded a little like Cubans when they talked in Spanish and there’s just something about them that seems more ‘Latino’. Maybe it’s the way they dress and the makeup/accessories of the girls? I mean, even ‘guagua’ is a word I’ve heard only Carribean Latinos use, never mainland Spaniards.

    Did you also get this feeling? It can’t have been just me!

    1. EasterEuro, i am late, but let me tell you that you are right that Canarios sound like Cubans….why don’t they sound like Mexicans or Colombians for example? and why do they sound totally like Cubans with the same intonation and accented words?

      by the way, the word “guagua” is heard in mainland Spain as well, at least in my hometown there was a free midnight bus in summertime whose only purpose was to take people from a place full of pubs and bars to another party place, going and returning, all night long until break of day…such a bus was a “guagua”….i don’t even know what it means or the reason of such a weird name, but actually it does sound Canario or Cuban.

      finally let me tell you that not only Spaniards colonised Latin America but also a lot of North America, places that now are called California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona or Florida for example, founding Missions in the 1500’s, trading with the Natives, also fighting them, reaching what is now Tennesse, Arkansas, etc long before that Mayflower ever saw the east coast in the 1600’s.


      1. That’s true but Spanish influence is not as heavy in North America, although it’s still there.

        I was in Spain for a while, and noticed Southern Spaniards sounded “Cuban” (sort of, not fully). I’m not sure why only Cubans kept the spanish way of talking, but it causes problems for them with other latinos as saying “cono” or “no jodas” is thought of as rude in much of Latin America. I like how forward they are, and that bad words are not as taboo in Spain or Cuba as they are in, say, Mexico or Colombia. I just like the Spanish language, with all it’s accents and oddities :)
        Although *certain* accents (Chilean especially) are very hard to understand!

        1. i disagree, with respect of course, that our influence is not as heavy in North America….in fact some time ago i read something interesting…it was an American historian who lived in the 19th century and he stated that Spanish influence over the place is super important, but the Anglo-Saxon power tries to hide it, so according to him it is unfair how the Spanish influence is treated.

          you mayn´t be aware of Native Americans having Spanish last names, but i tell you, lots of them whether they are descendants of Sioux, Apache or Navajo have Spanish last names…..and do you know the famous Apache warrior Geronimo? he only spoke two languages, his native tongue and yes Spanish….and he did communicate with the US Army in Spanish.

          i could go on, but i do not want to as it would be an offtopic….let us hope that some blogger brings up a blog post about it :)

          by the way, southern Spaniards do not sound Cuban at all, i mean, i refer to Andaluces….do you refer to them? it is only Canarios who sound that way….Andaluces have their own accents which may be hard to understand if they speak fast even to my native ear, above all Gaditanos (from Cadiz).

          glad that you mention “cono” and “no jodas”, by the way i take for granted that you really mean “coño”, right? hahaha….such a word can mean several things, but it also means “great” or “cool” used in slang….the same with “no jodas”….these two words need to be used carefully, if not, you may sound vulgar.

          i do not find Chilean accent hard to understand…the most difficult is without any doubt Gaditano, haha

          1. Yes I meant Canary Islands – I was thinking about Southern spain and wrote it by mistake. I’ve only been to Granada but I found them easy to understand, and I liked the accent.

            Yes, I meant what you wrote! My keyboard doesn’t have accents on it, sadly. I wish Spanish speakers would come together and agree on slang – it gets so confusing! For example, in Central America “bicho” means “dude/bro” (like “tio” in Spain). In Puerto Rico it means “penis”. In Republica dominicana “cono” is just a form of expression, like “maldita sea” but in Mexico and Central America it’s extremely vulgar.

            There’s a song with the lyrics “que dificil es hablar el espanol/si te aprendes el idioma no te cambies de region” and it’s quite true!

        2. well Granada accent is the easiest one in Andalucia, it is nice to the ear, soft and warm…i’ve lots of family members in both the city and within the province.

          i say that the worst accents are located in Andalucia because of the Gaditano or Sevillano, not because they are ugly to the ear (they are funny) but because of their high difficulty if they speak fast or if they are singing or discussing….that is why on TV programmes like Gran Hermano (Big Brother) they insert subtitles when people from those places are speaking each other…it also happened with the last winner who was a girl from Murcia, my region, whose accent was so deep-rooted Murciano that subtitles were needed a lot of times…..such accents may hard to get if you are from the north of Spain for example.

          well the word “bicho” in Spain can mean a bad dude, a bad child, someone really bad or annoying, as in “ese niño es un bicho, rompe todos los juguetes” (that child is bad, he breaks all toys).

          the word “coño” in Spain also mean “maldita sea” or “mierda” as an exclamation depending on the context, but also it can mean as i said “great/cool”, although the most known meaning is the precious female thing that women have between their legs, a thing that men love, a gift from God.

  4. #EasternEuro, pardon the intrusion, but sometimes you have to remember the obvious. We were the Spaniards who “discovered” the West Indies, therefore, are not canarios more “latinos” In fact the caribbean are more “canarios” especially in Venezuela and Cuba, by the amount of “founding fathers” who came from the islands.

    1. I know that the Spaniards (mainly from the south) colonized Latin America, but when I was in Spain I noticed some Latino influence as well; like the reggaeton that was playing in clubs, which comes from Latin America.

      Since there’s a lot of Latinos living in Spain, and especially Cubans who moved there, I was wondering if this migration had a cultural effect on Spaniards.

  5. My (old) coordinator is from las Islas Canarias and I wanted to get out there this summer but no €€ for it, boooo. Hopefully his super friendly offer to house & feed me still stands next summer, because your pictures make me so jealous!

  6. I went there in 2009 with a few friends and we loved it! We rented a car for almost nothing and did a few nice visits. The scenery is amazing, the volcanoes, the black and white beaches… and the people, who were the nicest. You were lucky to have peopl to show you around, a much better experience :)

    1. Yes, I definitely am lucky!

      I agree that the people on the islands were the nicest. We went to El Corte Inglés to pick up some wine, and the guy that helped us was so freaking nice! In Madrid they are not so helpful hahaha.

What do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s