Gran Canaria Main

grancanaria-main

Imagine EuroWorld: Days of beaches crowded with Germans, Brits, and Scandinavians, all working on package-tour tans, beaches for anyone and everyone (families, nudists, gays, water-skiers, windsurfers), followed by nights of non-stop partying in high-decibel discos, nightclubs, and bars. Your idea of a good time? Then proceed directly to Gran Carnaria.

In this hub of the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco, the sun-crowd flocks to the south end of the island, where holiday mega-resorts (i.e., concrete apartments/hotels) are the backdrop to a trio of fine, people-packed strands: Maspolomas, Playa del Ingles ("English Beach), and San Agustin. If your tan comes a little too quickly, swing by Las Palmas, a distinctly Spanish-flavored, cosmopolitan capital (museums, old quarter, parks, casino, more than 350,000 residents) with bookend beaches on northeastern coast.

Columbus, who stopped here for a little R&R on his way west five centuries ago, could today play golf (at Las Palmas and Maspalomas), ride a camel through a sea of dunes (at Fataga, near Maspalomas), or take a driving tour that goes from banana trees to snow in less than a hour. And he'd still have time to go to the beach...