Maspalomas is a popular holiday resort on the southern tip of Gran Canaria, adjacent to the island’s largest package-tour resort, Playa del Ingles. Maspalomas though, is the quieter and more upmarket option sporting the best four-mile stretch of golden, sandy beach on the island.

Maspalomas beach

Maspalomas beach

Maspalomas is the oldest and longest-established of Gran Canaria’s southern resort areas, and its beach is possibly the best known and most photographed in all of the islands. The small collection of select hotels is set in the middle of a natural, now officially protected, area formed by a large grove of leafy Canary palms and a small lagoon fed by underground sea-water seepage.

Maspalomas is separated from Playa del Ingles by a dramatic sea of sand dunes, a protected area that provides a habitat for some rare species of flora and fauna as well as a favourite haunt for nudists. Along the waterfront, the promenade bristles with bars, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues between luxury hotels and villas.

The greenery of this natural setting, situated on the fringe of giant golden dunes, has long justified its being dubbed the “Oasis of Maspalomas”. The ecosystem here is currently in a phase of recovery and recuperation, particularly as regards the return of the flocks of waders, water fowl and other birds that formerly used the lagoon as a nesting site and made it an important bird haven.

Maspalomas Beach begins over to the east, at the point where Playa del Inglés ends, in an unending sea of dunes; it then extends northwards as far as the golf course, and comes to an end four kilometres to the west, at the lighthouse. The width of the beach – some two kilometres – and its hundreds of dunes allow ne to lose oneself and not see another soul for miles, and thereby enjoy this veritable desert in miniature to the full. It is so spectacular in fact that it has often been used as a set for movies requiring a Saharan backdrop.

Maspalomas also boasts an exciting water park, amusement parks, nature parks, a golf course, an aquarium and theme parks. The resort has become a favourite destination for the gay community, with a designated gay zone on the beach and in the sand dunes. The resort’s week-long Gay Pride festivities held in May each year have become world-renowned.