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World | Canary Islands | Diving Gran Canaria:

Gran Canaria overview


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Gran Canaria dive site map


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Scuba Diving in Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands


Water temperature:

18 - 19°C (64 - 66°F) in winter to 24 - 26°C (75 -79°F) in August

Suit:

3mm or 5mm wetsuit for the summer months, a drysuit or 7mm semi-dry is preferable in January and February

Visibility:

15 to 30 metres (50 to 100 feet)

Type of diving:

Volcanic reefs, caves and walls and a number of wrecks

Marine life:

Angel sharks, stingrays, octopus, cuttlefish, barracuda, yellow snapper, moray eels, sand eels, trumpet fish

When to go:

If you want the water to be warm enough to just wear a thin wetsuit, you will have to visit Gran Canaria in the height of summer. However, diving is popular throughout the year and for those used to slightly cooler temperatures, the winter months can provide a great way to escape from the European winter

How to get there:

From the UK - Flights land in Las Palmas airport on the east coast, about 20 minutes drive from Las Palmas and 35 minutes drive from Puerto Rico. Most major airports will offer a number of flights into Las Palmas


El Cabron Bay, diving in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands - Courtesy of Brian Goldthorpe

Gran Canaria is the third largest island in the Canary Islands chain. It is circular in shape and is 47 kilometres (29 miles) wide. The interior of the island is characterised by mountainous, volcanic landscapes with the highest point being Pozo de las Nieves which lies 1949 metres above sea level. There is 236 kilometres of coastline around the island, with most of the beaches located in the southeast and with cliffs in the west. The islands interior is lush and there are pines at higher altitudes and palms and subtropical plants growing lower down. The island sees mild winters and hot summers with average temperatures falling to a low of 21°C in January and climbing to 27°C in August.

Tourism supports the economy of the Gran Canaria and resorts that are typical of Spain and the Canary Islands have sprung up along the coasts to cater for the holidaymakers. Gran Canaria is very popular with Europeans looking to relax in the sun with a cocktail or two by day and frequent the bars and restaurants by night, particularly at the big resorts in the south of the island. Resorts such as huge and busy Playa del Ingles, slightly quieter Maspalomas and lively Puerto Rico are filled with hotels and apartment complexes and plenty of restaurants, bars and cheesy night spots. It is advisable to choose your resort according to its proximity to the dive Center you want to use as they all offer much the same in the way of restaurants and accommodation. If you want to get away from this Benidorm-style character, Bahia Feliz may be a better option. It is about 15 minutes from the airport and has developed around a small village. The fact it has a rocky coastline rather than sandy beaches means it attracts fewer tourists, and so is popular with locals. It also has a near-constant breeze so it is a great place to try out windsurfing. For a more culture-driven stay, you could look for a hotel in the capital of Las Palmas in the north of Gran Canaria, which is home to a number of museums, some interesting architecture and a cathedral, or try the peaceful fishing village of Puerto de Las Nieves which is fast becoming a popular tourist destination. Package holidays can turn out to be just as cheap as a tailor-made holiday and they also mean you can pass the organisation over to somebody else. Whether you decide to organise your trip yourself or if you do it through an agent, it is worth remembering that this is a hugely popular destination for school holidays and over Christmas so it will be necessary to book in advance.

Other than swimming and sunbathing, it is interesting to explore some of the volcanic landscape that Gran Canaria has to offer such as Caldera de Bandama, a two hundred metre deep volcanic crater that gives a good vantage point for taking in island views. The island was listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 2001. There are many water sports on offer including sailing, windsurfing and deep sea fishing. For the evenings, most people go to bars and restaurants. All types of cuisine are on offer from 'British' pubs to more local offerings such as grilled fish or Spanish food.

And so on to the diving: there is some great diving on offer for someone who has never dived before as well as something for the more advanced diver, with boat and shore diving available. The volcanic rocks provide some dramatic underwater landscapes and there are quite a few wreck dives, especially close to Las Palmas. The El Cabron marine reserve is one of only three reserves in the Canary Islands. This protected area is home to a number of dive sites that explore the caves, canyons and chimneys. In terms of marine life, you can encounter some interesting creatures such as angel sharks and stingrays and look out for morays and octopus hiding in cracks in the rock - all in visibility that rarely falls below 20 metres. There is plenty to keep a diver occupied for a weeks diving, but there are a lot of similarities between the different reef dives. If you are looking to go on a beach holiday but want to spend a few days doing something a little different, this could be a great place to choose as most dive Centers are located along the south coasts in the resorts. All divers need an up-to-date medical in order to dive in Gran Canaria.


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