Six Things to do in the Southwest of Gran Canaria:
Puerto Rico & Playa Amadores
It’s late February and I’m wrapped in a blanket, sipping my morning coffee and frowning at the weather forecast, another “gray” day lies ahead. Granted, this is still the Canary Islands so we’re talking about a 16° gray day (61°F), nowhere near the snowy winter wonderlands that keep giving me the chills over social media. But what can I say, I’m a California-raised-Canary-Islands-convert.
I don’t do winter.
It’s no secret that in general I prefer the north of Gran Canaria to the more touristic south. Verdant green banana plantations, historic white washed villages, a bustling capital city and hidden, black sand beaches are just a few of the things that keep me from following the sun south. But this year we’ve been dealt a relatively wet and chilly February in Las Palmas, so the bottom half of the island has been looking increasingly appealing.
A few phone calls later and it’s settled. No soups and sweaters today, instead we’ll be migrating to the sunnier skies on the southwest coast – Puerto Rico and Playa Amadores to be precise.
Top 6 Things to do Around
Puerto Rico & Playa Amadores
We arrived at about noon and sure enough, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the thermometer marked a solid eight degrees higher than at Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas. We hopped off the bus in Puerto Rico but seeing the thick mobs of sun worshippers already splayed out on the sand, we made the quick 15-minute trek over the Paseo Maritimo (see below) to more peaceful Playa Amadores.
As much as I tend to bemoan the overly-touristic south, I’m always surprised at how much I enjoy my time here every now and then. There really is plenty to do – from basic beaching to luxury spas and all the water sports you can imagine. Plus, sweet sunshine.
Here are a few of my top picks for the best ways to spend a day in the south of Gran Canaria.
1. Go for a Dip or a Dive
I know, I know, it’s pretty obvious, but the cerulean water is so clear and refreshing it’s impossible to put this anywhere other than number one on the list.
After stretching out on the white sand beneath the sizzling sun, a dip in the inviting water is not only inevitable, but required for any trip to the south.
If you’re looking for more than just a doggy paddle, the clear, turquoise waters are perfect for spotting colorful creatures under the sea. If you’re living in Gran Canaria, a simple snorkel mask is a wise investment of about 20 bucks, otherwise you can rent one from any of the local scuba diving shops, of which there are plenty.
2. Cool off with a Cold One
There’s no shortage of bars and restaurants wrapped around the sandy coves of the beaches in Puerto Rico and Amadores. I can’t recommend a specific place to eat as we typically pack a bocadillo and some snacks for beach day picnicking, but a cheeky cerveza always does the trick when the late afternoon sun leaves you parched.
Prices can be a bit hit or miss here and range anywhere from 2 – 5 bucks for a pint, so always look for a sign with an advertised price or ask the waiter before having a seat.
3. Take a Stroll Along the Paseo Maritimo
Puerto Rico and Playa Amadores are connected by a lovely walkway that wraps around the side of a cliff with perfect panoramic views of the Atlantic (and if you’re lucky, Tenerife’s Mt. Teide in the background).
The short walk only takes about 15 minutes from one beach to the next, and offers plenty of great views and benches to sit down and soak it all in.
Along the path you’ll find the somewhat hidden entrance to the luxurious Gloria Palace Thalasso & Hotel, where a trip to the rooftop bar is a must for any visit to Amadores. More on that below.
4. Dolphin & Whale Watching Trips
I have long been an advocate against Loro Park and the rest of the animal parks prisons. It’s 2018 and there really is no excuse for supporting these businesses with so much available information on the cruelty involved. The award-winning documentary Blackfish calls out Tenerife’s Loro Park specifically and I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t already.
But aside from education and common human decency, WE’RE ON AN ISLAND! It’s beyond me why anyone would choose to watch a captive creature do flips for food in a tiny pool when they’re already doing them freely with their happy families just a few hundred meters off shore.
You can often find great deals on Groupon, or a simple google search will help you plan a trip that suits your group – some even include lunch and/or cocktails!
5. Get on a Boat!
There are plenty of varied boat excursions (not to mention waterskiing and jet skiing) to be taken advantage of in Puerto Rico – it’s a port, after all. From pirate ships to wine tasting catamaran trips, there is truly something for everyone.
Though I can’t recommend any first hand, I’ve heard great things about the trips hosted by Afrikat, including a sunset tour with live music which sounds like it would be right up my alley.
6. Enjoy a Luxury Sunset on the Rooftop Bar at Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso & Hotel
I’m a connoisseur of terraces that offer spectacular sunsets, and Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso & Hotel is perhaps my top pick in Gran Canaria.
As you stroll along the walkway between Puerto Rico and Amadores, you’ll notice a single shop, which appears to be a simple ice cream parlor. Step in, however, and you’ll notice another door at the back that takes you to the entrance of the Gloria Palace hotel and spa.
Gliding up in the glass elevator, you can stop at one of the two bar terraces to enjoy a drink with a view. The best time to visit is at golden hour, when you can catch a front row seat to watch the sun dip down into the sea.
Aside from being a 4 star hotel with 2 incredible rooftop bars boasting panoramic views and a restaurant that’s said to be to die for, Gloria Palace is also a spa and offers a long menu of treatments to soothe and serenade your sorrows away.
Getting to Puerto Rico & Playa Amadores
Las Palmas to the South
From Las Palmas, it’s not difficult to reach Puerto Rico by car or bus. Like any trips within the island, driving is faster, but buses are not incredibly inconvenient.
Las Palmas to the South By Bus
Global Bus 91: Las Palmas de G.C to Puerto de Mogán (direct).
Global Bus 91 leaves from both the Parque Santa Catalina Station and San Telmo Station once an hour from 6:00 until 21:00 and stops in Arguineguín, Puerto Rico, Playa de Amadores, Playa del Cura, and Puerto de Mogán to name a few. San Telmo to Puerto Rico takes just over an hour, and from Santa Catalina 15 minutes more.
On weekdays, the bus costs a whopping €18.00 round trip from San Telmo (I know. Not worth it. 🙄), but on weekends, round trip fare is offered for half price at €9.00. To take advantage of the deal, you must buy your RT ticket at the vending machine just outside of the Global ticket office.
If travelling by bus, the key is to stick to the direct line and not use alternative option (like Global Bus 1), or your commute time will (literally) double.
Las Palmas to the Southwest By Car
As with anything on the island, the fastest and easiest way to travel is by car and Las Palmas to Puerto Rico takes just under an hour. Be warned though, parking can be a bit of a disaster on the weekends unless you get an early start. Plus, you’ll have to limit your caña intake beneath that sizzlin’ southern sun.
LPA Airport to the South
If you’re arriving on a flight and making a B-line for the south, there are plenty of options from LPA International Airport, including bus, taxi, car hire and shuttle services. Your hotel may also offer transport, so be sure to check with them first.
LPA to Puerto Rico By Bus
Global Bus 91 departs from the airport once an hour from 6:00 until 21:00 and stops in Arguineguín, Puerto Rico, Playa de Amadores, Playa del Cura, and Puerto de Mogán. It takes under an hour to reach Puerto Rico.
From 21:00 to 6:00, you can take Global Bus 1, but it can take nearly two hours.
LPA to Puerto Rico By Car
There are plenty car rental services at LPA airport, so if you plan to hire a car for your stay, picking it up here is the most convenient option. Driving from LPA to Puerto Rico should take about 40 minutes.
LPA to Puerto Rico By Taxi or Shuttle Service
Taxi is the most expensive option, and an unnecessary additional cost as there are more affordable shuttle options you can book in advance.
I hesitate to recommend a specific company as I’ve never used a shuttle service for this commute, but a quick google search shows that you should be able to book return service for about €15.00.
What Are Your Top Picks for the South of Gran Canaria?
Do you love to soak up the sun in Puerto Rico, or do you prefer the dessert-like dunes of Maspalomas? Are you more into the laid-back vibes of the north, or do you like getting down and dirty in the all-inclusives in the south? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Love & light (and plenty of sunshine!), Erica
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