Soaked in sunshine and blessed with a temperate climate, Gran Canaria is a paradise for golfers as well as anyone looking for guaranteed sunshine and beautiful sandy beaches. Plus you can reserve a tee time without having to book several years ahead.
I love coming to Gran Canaria, its sandy shores, dramatic landscapes and wonderful golf courses make this island in the sun so special. Located in the Atlantic and to the west of southern Morocco, it’s a last stop before the Caribbean. But I am here to see much more than just the golf courses; included in my itinerary are trips into the mountains along with a visit to the highest altitude winery on the island.
I am met at Las Palmas airport by my guide for this adventure, the talented Guillermo Morales, our man of action. As well as running various fun activities in the mountains, Morales works for LPA Segway tours in Las Palmas and has the task of showing me the sights of the island.
Within no time at all we arrive at my accommodation, the Dunas Suites & Villas, which is not far from the Maspalomas golf course, and is perfectly placed for everything that I plan to do and see on this foray.
WINES AND MOUNTAINS. The next day, with the sun shining, Morales and I head off into the interior. It’s amazing just how quickly we find ourselves winding our way along mountain roads. The views, created by the island’s volcanic birth several million years ago, are just stunning – with high peaks and large calderas marking the vista.
With the island fast becoming a mecca for cyclists, we pass quite a few individuals and groups working their way up the steep mountain roads. Gran Canaria’s unique environment is fantastic for golfers, cyclists and anyone else for that matter who takes the time to get out of the urban areas and explore.
Our first stop of the day is the Agala Winery. Soon we are making our way along a small and inconspicuous road, passing terraces of vines, with the winery coming into view little way ahead.
FAMILY OWNED. Agala is an Aboriginal word of Berber origin which aptly refers to a high mountain, which is exactly where the vines are grown, processed and bottled, at a height of 1,318 meters above sea level.
Located in the Nublo, World Biosphere Reserve, and close to the famous rocky peak and symbol of the island, the Roque Bentayga. this family-owned business produces high quality wines, taking advantage of the unique conditions that the location provides.
We enter the main reception area, which incidentally is partly of troglodyte construction, being recessed into the very rock of the mountain. The cave-like environment is perfect for aging wine, with natural, stable conditions of temperature and humidity. Currently, the winery has a production capacity of 55,000 litres.
Discreetly, we mingle with a group who have come for a tour and wine tasting, just in time for the first bottles to be opened. Both red and white wine are produced here and our host explains that all harvesting is done by hand. The grapes are then introduced into a cold chamber in order to keep its properties intact.
The wines are superb and I count my blessings that I am not driving and can enjoy the experience, Morales on the other hand has to content himself with a few sparing sips.
TIERRA GUANCHE. Next stop is lunch and a bit of cheese. Yes, I know, the cheese should have come with the wine, but to really savour the dairy delights of the island you need to go to Tierra Guanche.
Tierra Guanche is a combination of restaurant, traditional arts and crafts shop, and cheese and wine cellar. This means that you can have a meal upstairs in the restaurant, go down to their cellar for your drinks and nibbles, and then purchase some local produce on the way out.
The whole business is owned and run by the Moreno brothers. With traditional dishes coming out of the kitchen as fast as mother Moreno can cook them, we are soon stuffed to bursting. I love cheese, and have never really thought of Gran Canaria as a place for the smelly gold, but it is, and the cheese is fantastic.
I leave a short while later clutching a wonderfully smelling, hand-made item. I am looking forward to my wife’s face when she opens the fridge in a few days time (she is not a fan of strong cheese)!
I return to Dunas Suites & Villas absolutely stuffed and very content with my day’s work. After a dip in the pool, I relax outside my own personal villa with a cool glass of wine and watch the sunset. This is going to be a busy few days with a trip to Las Palmas (to be featured in the next edition) and plenty of golf.
GOOD GOLF. There are seven courses on Gran Canaria, all superb and with enough variation between them to keep the most discerning golfer happy. And being an island, none are too far away wherever you happen to be staying.
SHERATON SALOBRE. This resort is home to the aptly named New Course and Old Course. The Old is a pleasant round with not too many surprises, but the New Course, however, is quite a challenge. Beware if you stray off the fairway, the rocks on either side are volcanic, and if a ball hits them, wave it goodbye as it bounces off – seeming intent on being the first golf ball in space! Having said that, it is a real joy to play.
ANFI TAURO. This desert-style course opened in 2006 and a lot of thought has been put into creating something both aesthetically pleasing and challenging. Of particular interest is the 8th hole, a par-4 with the green cut into the mountain. With a cliff face on three sides, it’s pretty spectacular.
MELONARAS. With stunning sea views on almost all nine holes, this really is one to savour – particularly the 12th, a par-3 to a green on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic, which makes an impressive backdrop.
REAL CLUB DE GOLF DE LAS PALMAS. Perched next to the crater of an extinct volcano, you can easily see why in 1891 a group of intrepid British nationals decided this was the place to play golf (the phrase about mad dogs and Englishmen comes to mind). It’s an absolutely stunning location.
MASPALOMAS. Bordering the famous sand dunes and within ball-striking distance to the sea, this is a very popular course for locals and tourists alike. Flat and with wide fairways, it may not tax you to the extent of the other courses, but you can expect a good game in picturesque surroundings.
EL CORTIJO CLU DE CAMPO. This course runs along three valleys with a total of six lakes. There are six tees per hole, giving players of all abilities an opportunity to play within their level. It was here that Sergio Garcia won the Spanish Open in 2002. This is a great course for the big hitters but not overly worrying for the mere mortals among us.
I can really see why golfers keep on coming back to Gran Canaria, with its warm weather, stunning views and enjoyable courses, I’m sure I will be back here soon too.
Good to know
Look out for Gran Canaria – Golf and the City in the upcoming autumn edition.
For more information go to www.grancanariagolf.com
Book your Gran Canaria holiday direct with the hotels and resorts, go to www.greatgolfholiday.com
How to get there: EasyJet flies from several UK airports, as do Ryanair, British Airways and Monarch.