Do you sometimes despair of finding that perfect bit of coastline to spend your holiday time? The beautiful and best beaches in Gran Canaria could hold the answer to your problem.
White sand beaches in the south beckon with their sunbeds, parasols, bars and eateries. Favourite surf and windsurfing beaches in the north attract water-sport enthusiasts. While small coves and narrow bays of white, gold, or black sand, untouched by commercialism, can be found all around the island.
Are your preferred options beaches safe for children? Beaches with all amenities and beaches with water sports or diving. Beaches close to your complex, or quiet beaches far from the maddening crowds.
The following are our choice of the 15 best beaches in Gran Canaria, to help you find the one to call your ‘happy’ place.
15 Best Beaches in Gran Canaria
1. Las Canteras – one of the most popular beaches in Gran Canaria for all visitors
Located on the east coast of Gran Canaria, Las Canteras is the main beach of Las Palmas, the Island’s capital, and just 15 kilometres from the airport.
Calm, sparkling turquoise water and nearly four kilometres of golden sand provide plenty of space for all to lay their towels or grab a sunbed.
Surfers head for the beach’s southern end, where hidden reefs start building the breakers heading to the shoreline.
Both ends, north and south, are a big draw with divers and snorkelers wanting to explore the reefs of this Protected Marine Reserve for the countless aquatic species that live there.
Las Canteras also has designated children’s play areas, or they can safely splash about in the sea along the shallow central beach area.
The rear of the beach is lined with palm trees, and small colourful fishing boats bob in the harbour. The promenade is full of tourist shops, ice cream kiosks, café bars, restaurants and snack shacks.
Toilets and showers are available, and lifeguards are on duty to keep an eye on the little ones. The beach also has excellent access and amenities for people with mobility issues.
2. Maspalomas – considered one of Europe’s best beaches by many travel mags
Situated in the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, on Gran Canaria’s south coast, Playa de Maspalomas is a gloriously natural, blue flag beach – with all the amenities you need.
The beach is bordered on one side by the blue Atlantic and on the other by the Special Nature Reserve of Dunas de Maspalomas, designed to protect the dunes, biodiversity and surrounding area from further commercialisation.
On the headland, you will see the old 55-metre-high lighthouse, which first shone its light in 1890.
Under the same protected status at the beach’s western end is the Maspalomas Pond, and its unique fauna and flora, kept full by high tides or heavy rain.
Stretching nearly four kilometres, including the adjoining coastal area of Meloneras, the sandy beach is suitable for the little ones to splash about near the shore and for swimming.
The swell and breakers tend to be higher nearer the ends of the beach, making them the chosen places for surfers, windsurfers, divers and snorkelers.
Beaches throughout the Islands welcome nudists summer and winter, but the beach of Maspalomas flies the naturism flag for both heterosexual and LGBT nudists.
For those who feel shedding the bikini is a strip too far, the naturist area is in the centre of the beach, roped off and well signed.
As well as numerous hotels to the rear of the beach, sunbeds and parasols are available on the sand, with bars, eateries and toilets dotted along the front.
3. Playa del Inglés – a large, busy, family-friendly resort and beach
Next door to Playa de Maspalomas sits Playa del Inglés, one of Gran Canaria’s first package holiday resorts dating back to the 1960s. Over the years, the resort has continued to improve and expand into the complex you see today.
Looking across from the lighthouse end of Playa de Maspalomas, you can view some of the large hotels and apartment complexes at the far end of the beach that make up the resort of Playa del Inglés.
Although one of the best-known and busiest beaches in Gran Canaria with European visitors, its sheer size means plenty of space for everyone, even during the height of the season.
If going au naturel is your preference, the southern end of the beach by the dunes is a dedicated naturist area. The sea is calm and shallow off the coast, making it ideal for younger family members.
While windsurfers and water sports enthusiasts make the most of the light breezes at the beach’s eastern end.
Blocks of sunbeds and parasols stretch along the front, and the closer you are to the hotels, the wider your choice of bars, restaurants and shops.
As one of the busiest resort areas in the whole of the Canary Islands, whatever you and the family want to do on the beaches in Gran Canaria, you’ll find it at Playa del Inglés.
4. Meloneras Beach – blue flag excellence for the whole family
Staying in the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, in the south of the island, Meloneras is over 500 metres of dark gold sand, flying the EU blue flag for cleanliness.
Lying next to Playa de Maspalomas (you can walk to the Maspalomas lighthouse along the promenade), the beach is flat, with patches of salt-loving scrub running along its length.
Of the three resort areas of Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas and Meloneras, the latter is the youngest and a resort of high-end 5-star hotels, apartments and villas.
Some of this affluence filters down to many of the bars and national and international restaurants that sit at the rear of the beach.
Sloping gently into the sea, the beach is safe for all, although always check the colour of the flags flown by the lifeguards. Red flag, don’t enter the water.
Blocks of sunbeds and shades can be found along the sand, and amenities include the usual tourist shops, bars and eateries. You will also find showers, toilets, lifeguards and good access for those with mobility issues.
Wherever you are staying, access to the beach is good, and you will often find it less busy than those next door.
You can walk along the front from the adjacent beach or arrive by hire car. Car parking is easy just to the rear of the beach. Taxis are plentiful, and public transport is reasonably reliable.
5. Puerto Rico Beach – a relaxing beach day, or a day on the water, it’s all here
If you’re touring the island by car, access to Puerto Rico and its beach is easy, with the GC-1 motorway passing just to the rear of the village.
Another all-year-round family resort. Playa de Puerto Rico, on the southwest coast of Gran Canaria, is an old fishing village and harbour that has converted to tourism. For the most part, in a pleasing and unobtrusive way.
The beach stretches around 300 metres in length, is 90 metres wide, and enclosed by two artificial breakwaters at each end.
The marina houses private and commercial boats of all kinds, and you can walk around the promenade to enjoy a beer or wine in the sunshine, or a romantic meal at sunset.
The gold sand beach is well organised, with buoys strung across the bay area to keep swimmers, jet-skiers, kayakers and other boat users separate and safe.
Plenty of sunbeds and parasols are available, with bars, shops and eateries to the rear. In just two minutes you can be in the resort village area, with more shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Sailing plays a big part in Puerto Rico’s summertime seaside activities, with sailing courses for visitors and local school children on their two-month summer break.
Other water sports can be booked from the kiosks on the beach or promenade, including jet skis, water-skiing, kayaking and sport fishing.
If you’re looking for beaches in Gran Canaria to keep the whole family happy, make a note of Puerto Rico.
6. San Agustín Beach – a quiet beach for older families and couples
Close to Playa del Inglés and just a 20-minute drive from the airport, the San Agustín resort and beach of the same name seem to have managed to stay below a large chunk of the tourist radar.
In reality, many 18-30 singles and younger families prefer to bypass San Agustín, in favour of the busier resorts a little further down the coast.
Leaving those wanting to visit this attractive and quieter beach more space to just lay back and chill.
At slightly over 600 metres long and sloping gradually into the sea, Playa de San Agustín is protected from most of the Atlantic swell and inshore currents by the surrounding topography. With lifeguards on duty through the day, it is a safe beach for swimming.
Set in a small cove surrounded by hotels and apartment blocks, it is close to everything you need for a day (or week) lounging on the sand and soaking up the sun.
Talking of lounging, sun loungers and shades are available, and all the usual conveniences, including WCs and showers are close by.
MOST POPULAR TOURS IN GRAN CANARIA
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7. Amadores Beach – a modern resort that welcomes all
Located on the southwest coast of Gran Canaria, between Puerto Rico and Puerto Mogán, beautiful Amadores is still a relatively new resort and beach.
If you visited this area 25 years ago looking for the best beaches in Gran Canaria, you would have found a rough, rugged cove of unappealing rocks and dark grey volcanic sand.
Everything began to change with the dawn of the new millennium, and the first blocks of the new Amadores Resort were laid in 2002.
Not only was a stunning new resort built, but a brand new beach to compliment the resort and surrounding area. No imported Saharan sand here. Instead, sparkling white coral sand has been dredged from the reef areas offshore, and built up to make the attractive, blue flag beach we enjoy today.
Amadores Beach is about 700 metres long and 30 metres wide, enclosed at both ends by artificial breakwaters. These reduce the Atlantic swell, and make the beach safe for children and swimmers.
The broad promenade overlooks the beach, and is wide enough to take additional sun-loungers while leaving ample room for walkers to stroll by.
Plenty of sunbeds and parasols are available on and off the beach, as are toilets and changing rooms. To the rear, you will find numerous shops, beach shops, cafes, bars and good quality restaurants to suit all tastes.
Although younger family members will find plenty to keep themselves busy, there are no ball games of any kind allowed on the beach. And loud music from ghetto blasters fitted to smartphones is also banned.
In recent years, it has become known as ‘Lovers Beach’ and increasingly popular during the winter sunshine months with couples seeking a romantic break, and mature singles hoping for a little holiday magic.
Access from outside the area is good, with regular public transport, taxis and underground parking near the beach for those arriving by hire car.
For others who enjoy walking, from Puerto Rico you can reach Amadores beach along the clifftop path in around 20 minutes.
8. Anfi del Mar Beach – a touch of the Caribbean in the Atlantic
When thinking about your next holiday, do you close your eyes and picture the swaying palms, azure blue seas and light golden sand of the Caribbean? Well, now you can enjoy much of it a lot closer to home – and a lot cheaper.
Anfi del Mar Beach lies on Gran Canaria’s southwestern coast, just four kilometres from Puerto Rico. Nestling in a pretty bay, it is another artificial beach, but this one has white sand imported nearly 4,000 miles – from the Caribbean.
The Anfi del Mar resort and its beach were constructed in the 1990s. Sitting below one of the many barrancos in the south of the island, the beach is also known as Playa de la Verga, after the gorge of the same name.
The beach is just 180 metres long, and has man-made breakwaters to keep the turquoise waters calm and safe for the whole family to paddle and swim. It also has all the usual facilities, including toilets and lifeguards.
At the back is a pleasant promenade, planted with mature palm trees and lined with beach shops, fashion boutiques, bars, cafes and restaurants. While behind that are rows of apartment blocks with sea views, many of them time-share apartments.
Public transport to the area is good and reliable. For those arriving by car, pick up the GC-500 coast road running between Arguineguin and Puerto Rico and look out for the turn-off.
9. Güigüí Beach – rugged, deserted and quiet, a beach worth the hike
If your favourite holidays involve days laying on the beaches in Gran Canaria and days trailblazing the interior, this challenging hike could be for you.
Güigüí Beach hides away on the west coast of the island, at La Aldea de San Nicolás and is a beach of dark gold sand and tall craggy cliffs.
The whole area is a declared Special Nature Reserve and an Area of Ecological Sensitivity.
To the rear of the beach are miles of deserted, desert-like landscape, broken up by cactus plantations and scrub-covered boulders. There are just two ways to reach this natural gem, by boat, or by walking.
If your passion is walking and exploring places new, the return journey takes around five hours. Plus the time you spend doing a little sunbathing and swimming of course.
First, the easy way. There are several ‘boat trips to Güigüí’ that can be booked online from different areas of Gran Canaria, and most include time allowed to explore the beach and cliffs, and do a little swimming.
The hardest, but most satisfying way to get to Güigüí Beach, is to hike it. There are two main starting points, the favourite and slightly easier one is from the small village of Tasartico.
It is more hamlet than a village. No shops, bars or cafes of any kind, so you need to pack a rucksack with plenty of fluids, snacks and sunblock to last the day.
Hats that will cover your head and neck are also a must-have. You will find no shade of any kind during your walk or on the beach.
If you’re travelling by hire car, tap Tasartico into your sat nav. If you can’t, a decent road map is a good idea. The journey takes around 90 minutes from Las Palmas. Or from Maspalomas, about 60 minutes.
Drive to the end of the village and onto the dirt track, where you will find a parking area and your first signpost for the trail. From there, it is well-signed to the beach.
10. Playa de las Nieves – Canarian village charm on the island’s north coast
If quiet, charming little fishing villages and their natural beaches in Gran Canaria are your idea of paradise, jot down Playa de las Nieves.
Nestling on Gran Canaria’s northwest coast is the pretty fishing village and port/marina of Las Nieves, just 30km from the island capital of Las Palmas.
The village has two small beaches, the largest right in front of the settlement. The small pebble beach, accessed straight off the concrete promenade, is popular with locals and increasing numbers of visitors.
There are no sun loungers, parasols, or other facilities on the beach except WCs, although just at the back of the beach you will find the village shops, snack shacks, cafes, bars and restaurants.
The harbor marina has berths for 160 small pleasure craft and fishing boats, and is an embarkation point for the ferry to Tenerife.
Right next door is the smaller pebble beach. Often used as an overflow when the other is busy, the far end of this beach is exclusively for visiting and local naturists.
As the sun begins to set, you can look across the straights and view the top of the famous Mount Teide on Tenerife.The whole area is picture postcard perfect.
So what better way to end a day of perfect relaxation on the beach, than by strolling the promenade, before enjoying a dinner of freshly caught fish, or perhaps Canarian potatoes, garlic chicken and spicy mojo sauce.
11. Tufia y Aguadulce Beach – one of the best beaches in Gran Canaria and popular with divers, snorkellers and explorers
Another one for those who spend days on the beaches in Gran Canaria, interspersed with days touring the island.
You’re heading east, to the tiny hamlet of Tufia and its small, virtually deserted, gold sand beach of Aguadulce (or Agua dulce) in the south-eastern municipality of Telde.
Whether in the north or south, pick up the main (GC-1) east coast road, which runs the length of the island.
Look for the GC-1 exit 13 for El Goro. Now you need to keep a sharp lookout for the smaller, brown sign to Tufia.
One word of warning. You won’t find any conveniences of any kind either on the beach, or around the village. And that includes shops, cafes or toilets, so be sure to have enough snacks and drinks to last your time exploring the area.
There is a long story behind this lack of facilities, but suffice to say here, that the whole hamlet is an illegal settlement dating back several decades.
In addition, all of this area is a protected nature reserve, which has helped it retain much of its natural appeal.
Most of the dwellings are painted bright white, with blue window frames and doors, very similar to many of the Greek Isles.
Although not the beach we have come to see, the village has its own small black sand area right at the front, which, if you’ve picked a breezy day for your visit, will often be a more sheltered area than Aguadulce beach to enjoy your sandwiches.
To get to Aguadulce, backtrack to the car and head left. Within a minute you will see the beach beginning to appear.
A little larger than Tufia Beach at 175 metres, it has dark, gold sand with low scrub-covered cliffs rising from the sea, turning to a mix of rocks and dunes to the rear of the beach.
Access to the beach is reasonably straightforward, although the unevenness and dunes make it unsuitable for mobility aids.
It is a beach popular with divers and snorkelers who like to explore the base of the cliffs, and it is suitable for swimming. Always being aware there are no lifeguards on duty.
Nevertheless, it is an area well worth the effort of getting there, if you want to enjoy a few hours of pleasant solitude while enjoying the beaches of Gran Canaria.
12. La Aldea de San Nicolas – a trip back in time to life and nature as it used to be
Astonishing natural beauty, and an insight into Canarian life as it was over a century ago, is what awaits at La Aldea de San Nicolás.
Located on the island’s west coast, recent road improvements have cut the journey time from resort areas such as Maspalomas or Las Palmas Gran Canaria to around one hour.
The small town of La Aldea has working windmills, fabulous historic Canarian buildings and 13 living history mini museums, telling the story of life and work in this area through the years.
The municipality stretches over 30 kilometres along the coast and backs into the interior for around four kilometres, providing an area of outstanding natural beauty of nearly 140 square kilometres.
You could spend an entire day just exploring this alluring small town and enjoying some downtime with a coffee in the pretty village square, but there is more to discover.
From the town, this area of the coast has olive green blanketed hills around the interior and tall, rugged, scrub and pine-covered cliffs rising from the turquoise waters.
Four main beaches can be found along this stretch of coast, Playa de La Aldea, Playa de Guguy, Playa de Tasartico and Playa de Tasarte, and every one could be on someone’s best beaches in Gran Canaria list.
All are relatively small, with pebble or dark sand beaches. All are quiet, if not deserted, and all are absolutely gorgeous against a natural backdrop of verdant cliffs and hillsides.
Playa de La Aldea, closest to the town, is a delightful pebble beach nestling in a small cove surrounded by cliffs. Resisting the urge to go full-on touristy, there are no facilities except showers and loos on the beach.
Instead, you have what are called ‘tatami mats’ to lie on, wooden structures raised off the pebbles.
There are also wooden mats on the stones that allow you to walk out to the water, although beach shoes are a good idea, especially for the younger ones.
For those other all-important necessities of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, a stroll around the promenade above the beach will provide plenty of choice, although don’t expect the in-your-face facilities of the big resorts.
13. Playa de Sardina del Norte – an atmospheric beach with blue flag status
Located on the western side of the island near the northern tip of Gran Canaria, appealing Sardina del Norte is one of those small, delightful fishing villages in Gran Canaria that benefits from its resident population.
To remove the people, the homely cottages, infrastructure and fishing boats, would be to detract from its beauty, rather than enhance it.
With everything in place, it has a certain mystery about it that makes you want to explore, to see what lies around the next corner.
Sitting below its stone promenade, the dark-gold beach is just 80 metres long, and disappears at high tide.
You won’t find the niceties of sunbeds and parasols here, although showers and WCs are available, and a lifeguard is on duty.
Above the beach is where you’ll find limited snack bars, bars selling local beers and restaurants offering the best of local and regional cuisine – most with a fabulous sea view.
The beach has a pier reputed to have been used for repairs to his ship by Christopher Columbus back in 1492.
It is a beach favoured by divers wanting to explore the cliff base, and fishing boats come and go to unload the day’s catch. The more sedate water sports of paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing are also popular.
From the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria area, the journey is around 30 minutes, joining the GC-2 out of the resort and taking exit 25 onto the GC-202 to the village.
14. Guayedra Beach – a walk of stunning views and spectacular scenery
Another gem on the north of Gran Canaria. Guayedra Beach nestles on the coast at Guayedra Ravine in the Tamadaba Natural Park.
It is a small, wild beach of rugged cliffs and dark sand strewn with numerous rocks and pebbles.
It is not the beach alone that makes Guayedra one of the best beaches in Gran Canaria, but the scenery on the walk getting there.
The surrounding topography is amazing.The flora of palms, pine and scrub in the valleys and hillsides is incredible.
And, when you get there, the views from the beach across the water to Tenerife and Mount Teide, to Puerto de las Nieves in the north, and Gran Canaria’s west coast cliffs disappearing behind you, are spectacular, and make for some unique photo opportunities.
If you’ve hired a 4×4 specifically to be able to explore the more remote beaches in Gran Canaria, you could be in luck, and get most of the way down the rough track to the beach.
For everyone else, the nearest town is Agaete, and most hikers choose to walk the well-worn path from here.
The walk is about an hour each way, and is classified as easy to moderate difficulty. Be sure to carry fluids, snacks and sunblock, as there is nowhere to get anything on the walk.
When the tide is in, the beach disappears. The sea is safe for swimming, bearing in mind the water can get a little choppy at times with a strong undertow, and there are no lifeguards on duty.
15. Tiritaña Beach – for a little respite and change of scenery on a hot, sunny day
Lying on Gran Canaria’s southwest coast, not far from Puerto Rico, tiny Playa de Tiritaña, just 80 metres long and 15 metres wide, is a pleasant beach for a change of scenery (and noise) away from the busier resort beaches.
The dark sand is strewn with boulders and rocks of all sizes, while the grey cliffs rising from the azure sea have caves and odd shapes hewn over millions of years by the Atlantic Ocean.
The trek from Tiritaña’s coastal car park or the nearby bus stop to the beach is an easy 10/15 minute walk.
However, you will find a few hazards to clamber over on your way down, such as the barrier right at the beginning of your walk.
For this reason, and the fact the water depth increases quite quickly as you wade into the sea, it is not considered a beach for small children.
It’s also a good idea to carry any extras such as towels, snacks and drinks in a backpack, rather than a carrier.
You will find small beaches in Gran Canaria like Playa de Tiritaña, all over the island and they are a popular stopover with wild campers, so don’t be surprised to see a few tents.
Although wild camping is illegal on the island, it is generally ignored by the local police, unless a few become a crowd.
Other odd characters you may come across on these small, quieter beaches are older ex-pats from around Europe, who seem stuck in the old hippie/flower-power time warp, and prefer a nomadic lifestyle by the sea in the great outdoors.
Nonetheless, it is these attributes of glorious isolation, exquisite natural beauty, and the odd bods you might bump into along the way, that make exploring these off-the-beaten-track beaches in Gran Canaria so appealing