Overview of Maspalomas

Hidden away in a vast expanse of mesmerizing golden sand dunes, and surrounded by golf courses at the southern tip of Gran Canaria, lies the island's longest established, largest, and most renowned tourist destination: Maspalomas. It provides a refreshing contrast to its frenzied neighbouring Playa des Inglés (Europe's number one gay party destination), by providing an altogether quieter, more relaxing environment with a number of splendid luxury hotels, top-end apartments and exquisite seaside bars and restaurants.

Its visitors are predominantly Northern European (English, German, and Scandinavian) package tourists, mostly families with young children and elderly couples, whose holiday mission is to soak up copious hours of soothing sunshine, while exploring its superb white sand beaches and hilly dune landscapes. For those who want to escape the beach for a while, an expansive choice of activities is on offer – from watersports to amusement parks – this resort has it all.

Due to its proximity to the Equator, it offers a mild climate all year round – perfect for beach getaways in winter. You can relish warm winters and bearable dry summers on its famed 12 kilometres of coastline sands, but beware that the Dunas de Maspalomas (the main dunes) don't only harbour rare flora and fauna, but are also a favourite hangout for nudists, often from its adjoining noisier neighbour! This hasn't put off the hundreds of thousands of yearly tourists in search of peace and tranquility, nor the visiting gay community – certainly making for an interesting mix of revellers.

History

Due to the fact that Maspalomas was originally constructed in the 1960s by package tour operators (after whom street names are named), there is only very little historic value attached to it – yet it is the oldest tourist town on the south coast of Gran Canaria island.

The mains site of historic interest is its lighthouse (Faro de Maspalomas), which marks the southernmost point of the island.  The tower of this architectural feat reaches up to 65m at the end of the dunes, the design of which was first developed in 1861 by Juan de León y Castillo, and built from 1884 to 1889. It is believed that this urban complex is named either after Mallorcan soldier and settler Rodrigo Mas de Palomar, or Francisco Palomar, a Genoese acquaintance of Alonso Fernández de Lugo.

Culture

The principle function of Maspalomas is that of a tourist resort. Aside from the occasional tapas bars, there is not much traditional Canarian culture to be encountered – environmentalists, naturists, and habitual beach dwellers dictate the pace of everyday life here, which explains why there is no real central point to this place in motion.

Economy

Since it attracted the first major waves of tourism in the 1960s, Maspalomas has been at the centre of the economic boom of the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. Its modern hotel complexes, as well as state of the art conference centres, such as the out-of-town Palacio de Congresos de Maspalomas (Avenida de Tejeda 72, Bartolomé de Tirajana) - which also holds music and sporting events, have continuously attracted private as well as business-orientated visitors to this hedonistic enclave. Tourism, at least indirectly, accounts for almost the entire economic bedrock of this town.

Climate, Flora and Fauna

The northeast trade winds and the Canary Current bestow the Canary Islands with a truly unique micro-climate, with Maspalomas being the third-driest location of the archipelago. The temperature fluctuations between the seasons are the lowest found worldwide, with mean winter highs of 20 ºC only being 6 below summer highs, and mean winter lows of 14 ºC only 7 below summer lows of 21 ºC.

The trade winds keep Maspalomas from overheating in the summer and prevent an overly humid climate, its extremely low rainfall levels with hardly any downpour during the summer months and only five or six days of rain in its wettest months of December and January (with only 30mm each), and more than 2700 yearly hours of sunshine, place it at the top of the most desirable climates on the planet.

The combined extent of the coastlines of Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés, Águila, Las Burras, and San Agustín, also know as Maspalomas Costa Canaria, stretches out over a 2,000-hectare wide area, including 17 km of outstanding sand beaches and dunes. The Dunas de Maspalomas, which have been a protected national park and nature reserve since 1994, opens up a windswept maze, leaving only the occasional tufts of grass for orientation.

These dunes also create a fragile micro-climate, providing a surprisingly fertile environment for a range of rare plant species (some unique to this archipelago), as well as lizards and even rabbits. Bordering with the western section of this eco-haven there is a semi-dried up water lagoon, surrounded by palm trees, called La Charca (the pond), where you can witness a host of migratory birds (such as Scottish Ospreys, Cattle Egrets, Grey Plovers, or Black Kites) from mainland Europe resting, before continuing their journey to the African Continent.

How to get there

By Bus/ Taxi:
The Global 66 bus leaves from the airport every 20 minutes past the hour, every hour from 07:20 until 22:20. Alternatively, a taxi will cost around €35.
If traveling from Puerto de Mogán a taxi will cost around €17 and take about 15 minuets. Two buses run between the resorts. Global bus number 1 or 32 both run every 20- 30 minutes and the journey costs about €1.75.

By Car:
If traveling by car take the motorway GC-1, heading south towards Maspalomas.