When things get too hot, there is always that long golden beach to go for a swim and cool down…
Early morning the telephone rings, pick it up: “one hour notice”. Barely seeing where I’m stepping I manage to suit-up and drag myself down to the cargo office. All seems fine as expected on final plan, but I really need some coffee. The pilot comes on board, everyone to the stations and we get our lady out. Just now the sun is rising, and once on the bridge, I can enjoy my morning cup of coffee and get myself back in manual mode. It seems it will be a slow and quiet day at sea, as we’re basically drifting around the north of the island.
Everyone slows down the pace during this hot day, and as I walk the deck to check on the daily routines, it feels like somebody clicked down the speed of the movie.
As we sat down at the dinner table, the captain says he is not feeling anymore like going out for a walk. That is just music to my ears, and not even letting him end his phrase, I say I’ll go. That’s the thing, one of us must be on board at all times, just in case.
Next day morning, at a reasonable hour this time, we are berthing at Las Palmas, te main city of the Gran Canaria, the biggest island of the Canaris, this tropical paradise, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The stay will be quite short, as there is not so much cargo to take, and three gantries to work. So after dinner expected to sail.
Knowing almost nothing about this city, apart that is a very well-known touristic destination, I team up with few more guys and run away. One of them knows the place, he was here before, when?, just like 7-8 years ago. Ye right, that’s pretty helpful. More than that, today everyone is giving a helping hand, the people at the security gate, then those at this bistro from the port, all are so eager to call a cab for us. That was just my sarcasm, as we had to walk all the way to the city centre. Fortunately was only about half hour of fast pace and very nice weather.
A few jokes, a look at the passenger ships within the port, and we’re already there. First we pass by the Aquarium, which was still under construction at the time, and then this huge shopping mall, just by the waterfront and road towards the cruise terminal.
Across the street is a small park (Santa Catalina) with a lot of coffee shops around. In the middle is this nicely restored wooden sail ship, which I cannot figure out if is a restored relic or just a built copy. On the other side of the park there is a very interesting Museum of Science and Technology.
This is definitely a must see, as it is full of interesting expositions, like old planes, a fighter jet, a replica of space station, 3d cinema and more interactive things. It also
has a planetarium. Awesome place to spend a few hours learn some interesting things and have fun.
Then we just walk the streets towards the beach, with many shops and souvenirs, and staying in the shadow, as it gets quite hot and we’ve been only walking till now. Any street you pick it will take you to the beach promenade, full of restaurants, pubs and coffee shops and a lot of people.
I can only imagine how packed is during summer months, as now is 1st October already. A short walk along, to feel the vibe, take some pictures, and then go down to the beach and relax. At some point we come across this sand art piece. As I understand the artists are always around and create some amazing stuff out of sand.
I’ve lived by the beach for as long as I remember, so I just start laughing when I see my crew jumping and running bare feet on the sand, as it got so hot. We pick a spot just by the sea, next to some pretty girls and run for a dive. The water is perfect, so we just enjoy quite a long swim. Relaxing on the beach, admiring the scenery, making some jokes, talking to the girls, and a couple of hours pass by.
Some people venture about swimming quite far from shore, through where some paddlers race about, so we see some Baywatch action. Of course would like to see some CJ Parker running in slow motion along the beach. I can say that the most enthusiast is my buddy third mate, who admits this is his second time on a beach in his life, and what a beach we’re lucky to enjoy.
This long strip of sand, Las Canteras, is sheltered from the ocean waves by a natural coral barrier, which would make a great spot for diving. And as I see, many other nautical activities one can practice: paddling, kiteboarding, surfing, wakeboarding, or enjoy a boat ride from the marina. Another thing I like so much about the beach is that is not packed with long chairs and beach bars, but if you like them, it not more than 10 euro for two and umbrella.
It’s time to find a place to eat as it gets late afternoon and soon will have to get back on board. So we pick up our stuff and start looming on the promenade. Difficult to choose a restaurant, as they are so many. At some point we decide to stop at this nice tavern called La Quilla. The waiter was very friendly, and the food was quite fast and really tasty. The prices are as I expected, about 20 euros for a meal with a beer. Most of the beer they sell around is blonde and light, to go with the beach, but I like the dark IPA, or craft beers.
They have wi-fi also, and I go surfing for some more information about the city. There are few more beaches which are not as crowded as Las Canteras.
We ask for the check, leave some tip, and go wandering around the streets. Most of them are narrow, one way drive and, like said before, full of shops, bars, and restaurants.
We would have loved to experience the night life as well, but the sea calls us for duty.
We walk back to the shopping mall and take a taxi back to the port,was about 6 euros for a 10 minute ride. Everyone feels relaxed and not much talking goes on. Back on board, I take a shower and jump back in my suit (nothing fancy like the cruise ships, just a boiler suit with many grease spots haha) to hassle with the cargo operation. The captain asks me about the shore leave, and I just try to hold back my excitement, as it was his turn to go out: “eh, nothing much, just a very long walk”, but i know that is not really the truth.
Las Palmas is a fun and relaxing place to visit, with all that city vibe around, and all the adventures that one can have around the island of Grand Canaria. For sure this is on my bucket list. I will come back here someday and have a really amazing experience. Probably sometime in february, as I understand there is some big carnival happening then.
My must do and see list in Las Palmas de Grand Canaria
1. Las Canteras beach – This 3.5km long golden sand beach, where you can relax all your worries away. Many restaurants and pubs along the promenade.
2. El Confital – A remote beach north of Las Canteras, where they say is home of some of the best surfing waves in Europe. Pack food and drinks as there are no bars around.
3. Alcaravaneras – The beach just inside of Puerto de La Luz busy port, with a marina on each end, is the place where you can have a quiet day and play some beach volley.
4. La Laja beach – On the south-eastern side of Las Palmas, is a mostly empty beach which is said to be the place for nudists. Bodydoarding is common here.
5. Santa Catalina Park – Seafront park packed with coffee shops, bars, kids area, museum, and shopping mall just across the street.
6. Poema del Mar – A modern Aquarium, that has just opened up, and gives a thrilling experience about the underwater sea life. Price is 25 euro, but for sure worth it.
7. Museo Elder de la Ciencia y la Technologia – Museum about science, technology and the history behind. A must visit place, where you will have an amazing experience.
8. Auditorio Alfredo Kraus – The Opera House, with modern architecture, located just at the southern end of Las Canteras, is home to many cultural events all year round.
9. Belen de Arena – At the northern end of Las Canteras, this is more elaborated display of sand art. You will be astonished of these artistic creations.
10. Las Palmas Cathedral – Beautiful historic cathedral in the heart of the old town, with great architecture. If you go to the top of the tower you will be rewarded with a panoramic view over Las Palmas.
11. Take your breath in one of the many Plazas (squares), enjoy a meal and refresh with a beverage, as they are filled with bars and restaurants.
12. Check out the markets, for sure you will find something interesting to buy.
13. Enjoy the night life – Go out, get some drinks, dance,meet new people,and have as much fun as you like, as there are so many pubs to try out.
14. Las Palmas Carnival – If you plan to go between 26 January to 18 February, there is a big carnival that rivals the one in Rio, so what to say more…
This is just a shortlist with most common places and things to do. If you seek more adventure, then choose whatever suits you best. You can have some organised tours for destinations on the island, or you can just rent a car and explore. Take a boat trip, go surfing, kite boarding, or dive around the reefs. Rent a jet ski, or go kayaking. Go on a camel ride or a buggy off-road tour. Go on a safari, or a sports fishing trip.
So many things to choose, and depends on how much budget you have prepared. It is a renowned destination so expect to pay a little more than on mainland activities.