My second trip to Gran Canaria was very different from my first. And not only because they were separated by twenty years…
Gran Canaria was the second international destination I ever visited and as any two-year-old I was mainly interested in my Monchhichi stuffed monkey and feeding seagulls. While nothing has really changed on those fronts, over the past two decades I’ve added things like cocktails, spa treatments and beds with crisp white sheets to my relaxation repertoire.
You see, my trip wasn’t an ordinary getaway – it was a getaway designed to help me regain a little balance and zen. Since becoming a full-time blogger this summer I’ve been working nonstop and a spa holiday in Gran Canaria seemed like the perfect antidote.
With all that in mind I’ve designed the perfect sunshine and spa guide to Gran Canaria. If you’re in need of some rest and recuperation, listen up – and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more photos like the ones below…
A Little Background Info
In case you don’t know much about Gran Canaria, let me give you a very brief introduction. Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands – a Spanish archipelago which also includes the islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro.
The biggest tourist hotspot on the island is Maspalomas, a town on the South of the island with gorgeous beaches and lots of large resorts. In general, the South is more touristy and gets more sunshine, while the North is greener and ideal for hiking.
Although the less explored northern side of the island would normally be more up my street, the southern part is ideal for this sunshine and spa guide to Gran Canaria. In fact, most of the 2.2 million annual visitors opt to stay there because it offers the best facilities. For a spa break I’d recommend staying near Maspalomas and making your way to the rest of the island from there.
The hotels in Gran Canaria are not the sort I normally go for – all-inclusive or half-board giants with big armies of staff. Having said that, they were perfect for the purpose of my relaxing getaway and really helped take all the pressure off. You can get an overview of the nicest properties through Gran Canaria Wellness, but here are my favourites…
Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia in Maspalomas is possibly the best hotel on the island – good enough for Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr and other celebrities who have visited in the past. If the price tag doesn’t make you flinch too much, I’d say go for it because the facilities and grounds are absolutely gorgeous! Having said that, note that the clientele is mainly older (40+) and the atmosphere not family – or bachelorette-party – friendly.
Its neighbouring Hotel Seaside Palm Beach is a little more affordable and I found the surrounding area beautiful. So many green cacti and palm trees! During my visit the guests were mainly retirees, but that is because of the season. In September all the kids are back in school and the island is populated by an older crowd from the UK, Sweden and Germany looking for sunshine. If you’d like a younger vibe – and this goes for the entire island – definitely go in the summer months instead.
If you’re after a romantic getaway, a more secluded trip with your friends or if you love golf, the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort is my number one recommendation. It’s stylish, sleek and equipped with several swimming pools – I think I counted seven! It’s not a walking distance from anywhere, but there are shuttle buses to the beach and most places on the island are a short taxi drive away.
If you’d like to stay closer to the fisherman’s village of Mogán, I’d suggest Hotel Coridal Mogán Playa. The a la carte restaurant is so good. I couldn’t get over their salad combos – papaya with prawns or caramelised goats cheese anyone? Guests also have private access to an archeological site next to the hotel, which is a pretty unique offer!
Spa getaways to Gran Canaria are nothing new so seeking out wellness on the island is easy. The tricky part is finding the best ones! All of the hotels I mentioned above provide great spa treatments so here is some more information, as well as some great alternatives. You can easily book all of these through Gran Canaria Wellness and get an overview of prices.
Both Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia and Hotel Seaside Palm Beach have in-house spas, but I only sampled the latter. I had a hot stone back massage which was great – the subtle music, surrounding nature and fresh decor were a nice touch. How awesome is the massage room I snapped above?
One note before we move on… This was the first time I had a male masseur and I must confess that I found it a little odd. I’m not a prude – no, seriously – but a male stranger massaging my body made me feel slightly uncomfortable. If you think this might also be the case for you, ask for a female masseuse! It’s not impolite and will make your experience as relaxing as it should be.
The Aloe Wellness at the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort is fabulous. The hotel is remote but the spa is worth a quick taxi ride. Inside, the spa boasts a Finnish sauna, Turkish bath, eucalyptus-scented steam room and an oxygen room which supposedly has 99.998% pure air.
Outside you can relax in a gorgeous infinity pool – complete with therapeutic jets, bubble beds and waterfalls – which overlooks the golf course and Gran Canaria’s towering mountains. If the sunshine is too much to handle, you can always go inside and enjoy the relaxation area with a cup of tea, some fruit and free Wi-Fi.
The spa at Hotel Cordial Mogán Playa is very serene. I had a lovely back massage here and then spent a few hours just relaxing by the pool with a book. The setting is just gorgeous and, as I said above, the food at the hotel is beautiful – definitely one of my top recommendations for a spa getaway in Gran Canaria.
If you’d like something more budget-friendly, the Gloria Palace Amadores which has a large Thalasso circuit (basically a salt water pool) complete with dozens of various water jets designed to give your muscles much-needed relief.
They also offer full-body algae wraps which I tried and enjoyed, although would not recommend if you have problems with claustrophobia. Why? You’ll be left on your own in a dark room, wrapped very tightly in an electric blanket to let the mask work its magic. The result is beautifully soft and supple skin, but also overwhelming feelings of sheer terror for those who struggle with confinement.
Its sister property Gloria Palace Royal offers the same Thalasso circuit and, although much smaller, this would be my recommendation as the surroundings are much swankier – and they don’t force you to wear a shower cap in the pool, a rule I found a little silly at Amadores.
There is no shortage of things to do on a spa trip to Gran Canaria, from an all-inclusive beach holiday to actively reconnecting with nature. I didn’t have time to go on a proper hike but have heard amazing things – one third of the island is under protection as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO so it’s safe to say the nature is absolutely stunning.
Aside from sprawling mountains and ravines, the island also has an impressive 400-hectare stretch of sand dunes which were designated a national park back in 1994. If you find the time try crossing them on foot – you will quickly be transported to a different world altogether.
The area around the dunes is popular among the LGBTQ community and has a few fun, gay-friendly bars near Playa del Ingles. If you’d like a nice even tan there are also a number of nudist beaches – although they’re mainly populated by elderly Germans so don’t go there in hopes of finding a hot date.
If you’d just like to walk around and soak up the sunshine, the fishermen’s village of Mogán is a great place to start. It has a lovely port, a beautiful promenade lined with restaurants and shops and – although it has partly succumbed to the unkind spell of mass tourism like the rest of the island – it has retained its old-time charm.
Who can resist those narrow bougainvillea-lined alleys and canals that lent it the nickname ‘Little Venice’? Puerto de Mogán is also home to Cañada de los Gatos, an archaeological site which lets you walk in the footsteps of the pre-Hispanic aboriginal coastal population. A welcome bit of culture after all that time in the spa!
Finally, for a bit of adrenaline why not hop on a jet ski before you hop on a jet plane back home? I tried my hand at it near Puerto Rico beach but there are many providers along the south coast. Although slightly terrifying at first (especially on a windy day!) I found it to be a great way to let go, destress and laugh like a maniac. And isn’t that what a fun holiday is all about?
Have you ever been to Gran Canaria or any of the Canary Islands? What are your thoughts on spa getaways – an unnecessary luxury or much-needed relaxation session?