A beginner’s guide to Gran Canaria
The Spanish island of Gran Canaria is one of the iconic European destinations for LGBTQ travellers.
If you’ve never been before, here’s a quick guide to what you can look forward to.
- Great weather and great beaches, this is a classic European beach-side resort destination.
- It is all fairly basic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is what it is - don’t arrive thinking it’s going to be all Ibiza-style glamour. Gran Canaria is more Benidorm than Marbella.
- It’s an incredibly queer and queer-friendly kind of place. A bit like Sitges, but a bit more queer and a lot more naked.
How to book
- Shop around for the best deal. This is the type of destination where lots of travel companies are offering really competitive flights-plus-accommodation packages.
- Most packages will probably include the airport transfer to and from your accommodation. If you need to make your own way, the local bus service is easy to use and inexpensive.
Where to stay
- Most people opt to stay somewhere in the Playa del Inglés area. This is one of the main beach access points, and also where most of the nightlife is.
- The other option is to stay in Meloneras, which is closer to the gay beach and an easy taxi ride if you want a night out in Playa del Inglés.
- You can get the odd windy day on Gran Canaria, which can make the beach a bit of a sand-blasting experience. Staying somewhere that has a pool gives you a back-up tanning option for the windy days.
- If you’re there for more than a few days – and you’re not looking at an all-inclusive package – opting for a self-contained apartment is a sensible option so you can cook some of your own meals and create a home-away-from-home.
- Gran Canaria is blessed with an enormous expanse of beach - courtesy of the sand from the Sahara desert, mixed with a bit of the black volcanic rock of the island.
- Pretty much the entire stretch of beach, from Playa del Inglés to Meloneras is officially designated as clothing optional. All very family-friendly, but everyone pretty much totally naked.
- The gay part of the beach - again, totally naked - is at beach kiosk number seven, and helpfully marked with a Pride flag. If you’re staying up the Avenida de Madrid end of Playa del Inglés, you can get to the gay beach by walking along the beach – but it’s a long, long walk. It’s a better option to take a taxi from Playa del Inglés to Meloneras - this costs about €6, and then it’s about a ten minute walk to the gay beach. If you’re staying closer to the Yumbo Centre, again a taxi is probably the sensible option, but it is a relatively easy walk through the Hotel Riu Palace and then across the dunes.
- The gay beach has a pretty relaxed vibe, and if you fancy a bit of man-on-man action then there’s a busy cruising area in the dunes behind the beach.
- Pretty much all the gay bars and clubs are to be found in Playa del Inglés at the Yumbo Centre – a sprawling open-air shopping, restaurant, and nightlife complex.
- You can start with a late dinner at one of the many restaurant options, move on to one of the bars on the ground level for cocktails, and then head up to the clubs on the upper levels as the night heats up.
- It’s good fun, and everyone seems pretty relaxed and friendly. You’ll be meeting people from all across Europe so it’s a good chance to practice your language skills.
- The main bathhouse is called Heroes, and you’ll find it at the Yumbo Centre. Also in the Yumbo Centre you’ll find Bunker – a cruising bar and sex-on-premises kind of place. Worth checking out if that’s your kind of thing.
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