Surfing spots and yoga retreats.
A sunny climate, picturesque towns, a vast network of hiking trails, and a lively seafood scene have attracted sun worshippers, mountain bikers, and foodies to Gran Canaria since charter tours became popular in the 1960s. Classic all-inclusive tours obviously still continue to play a major role in the tourist industry, but in recent years, new forms of tourism have emerged. Thanks to its geographic location, cultural influences from Europe, Africa, and Latin America, and pleasant sub-tropical climate, Gran Canaria is a virgin surfing paradise as well as a budding yoga mecca – and a considerably more accessible alternative to more remote destinations such as Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Bali.
If you dream of a place where you can vanquish your stress and breathe easier, there’s really no need to travel as far as the other side of the world – it just doesn’t make sense from a sustainability standpoint. On Gran Canaria, you’ll find everything from invigorating spas and enlightening yoga classes to relaxing retreats that combine meditation with physical activity, such as hiking or surfing.
Despite Gran Canaria’s advanced standing today in recreation and health, the island’s mythical reputation as a place of healing is nothing new. The island has in fact hosted visitors since the 19th century as the long spring/summer season with its comfortable climate and beautiful scenery are an ideal remedy for physical and psychological ailments. Gran Canaria is also at the forefront when it comes to the trendy therapeutic technique that goes by the melodious name of thalasso.
The word thalassotherapy comes from the ancient Greek words thalassa (ocean) and therapia (therapy). As the name suggests, the treatment is based on a belief in the ocean’s healing power and positive impact on human health. Based on natural elements such as water, algae, sand, and clay, thalassotherapy is ideal for anyone who suffers from, e.g., muscle and join afflictions, stress, or skin disorders. However, it can also be used to treat chronic respiratory, nervous, and cardiovascular diseases.
One of the leading thalassotherapy spas on Gran Canaria is Be Aloe Wellness, an exclusive treatment center located inside the Salobre Hotel Resort & Serenity. Aside from the picture-perfect infinity pool, you can enjoy bio tonic showers, oxygen therapy rooms, ice fountains, or Aloe vera treatments. Gloria Palace Royal Hotel & Spa, Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia, and Parador Cruz de Tejeda are a few other noteworthy premium health spas.
For those who prefer to seek solace in nature (or are simply on a tighter budget), a dip in one of Gran Canaria’s breathtaking natural springs is a must. Here you can swim in peaceful, crystal-clear seawater, often right next to the breaking Atlantic surf. Set your sights on the hidden El Clavo (or La Furnia, as the locals call it) or the more accessible (albeit more crowded) El Agujero – both of which are close to the historic city of Gáldar. Other natural springs to discover include Roque Prieto, Las Salinas de Agaete, and Charco de San Lorenzo.
For the ultimate relaxation and peace-of-mind, visit the peaceful Pure Yoga Canaris, idyllically located right next to the sea on the La Isleta peninsula. The studio offers daily yoga classes based on the active energy of the sun and calming force of the moon. Another excellent choice if you’re looking for a grounded, harmonious retreat is La Tejana, with its luxuriant gardens and family-owned hospitality. But if you’ve got your sights set higher and want to explore aerial yoga, the sunny Pranapure Yoga studio next to the Sahara-like sand dunes of Maspalomas is absolutely heavenly.
The environmental contrasts on Gran Canaria are staggering. While the northern side of the island is impressive, with its unruly landscape featuring volcanic formations, dramatic mountain peaks, black volcanic beaches, and lush river valleys, the southeastern part looks like a proverbial postcard from paradise, with glistening white sandy beaches beside a tranquil, deep blue sea. The temperature here is higher and there are far more hours of sunshine than in the north, where abundant rainfall and cool breezes are the norm.
The island’s northern coastline, especially alongside the capital Las Palmas, features bigger waves, which can get up to five meters high in the winter season (October–March). While it’s ideal for experienced surfers, don’t underestimate the undertow, which can be deceptively strong at times. One of the most popular spots, known to have some of the best wave action in Europe, is the beach El Confital. The surf breaks to the right here and drops vertically, creating perfect barrel waves. Another place to explore is El Lloret, a rocky beach whose easy accessibility makes it a popular destination for surfers.
Although northern Gran Canaria is considered to have the island’s best waves, the southern coast is a perfect spot for beginners to get their feet wet. The waves are rarely higher than two meters, and there are plenty of good, established surf schools. We especially recommend the surf spots along the coast between Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas at the island’s southern tip.
Whether it’s high adventure, mindfulness, rejuvenating spa therapy, or just the sensation of the cool Atlantic breeze and sun’s warm rays on your skin – regardless what floats your boat, Gran Canaria is a place to chart a course for time and time again.
Text by Agnes Regell
Need to wind down? Why not just drop everything and look at the sky, if just for a moment?