A Blue Lagoon in
Gran Canaria’s Wild West
My whole body tensed as it broke the surface of the pond. Cool, translucent water shocked my slightly sunburnt skin, still warm from the short hike from El Risco to Charco Azul.
It was worth it.
Small as it may be, the sapphire blue water of the Charco Azul (“Blue Pond” – definitely sounds better in Spanish) is worth a visit for anyone who finds themselves near El Risco in the northwest coast of Gran Canaria. The pond is easy enough to reach, with some lovely landscapes on the way and a perfect, picturesque place to take a solitary dip and cool down beneath the small waterfall.
When to Visit the Charco Azul
The best time to visit Charco Azul is spring, when the waterfalls are still streaming, the water in the pond is still fresh and plenty and it’s neither too hot for the hike nor too cold to dive in.
Spring is also the perfect time to see Gran Canarias’s colorful vegetation on the short trek to the charco, like the vibrant red and orange poppies bursting to life, and my personal favorite, the yellow and coral blossoms blooming from the prickly pear cacti.
The charco is rarely inundated with people, but if you’re aiming for some quiet time try to go on a weekday when you’re more likely to have the little oasis all to yourself. If you set off in the morning, you’ll have the whole day to swim, have a siesta in the sun and enjoy a picnic lunch beside the trickling waterfall.
Trekking to the Charco Azul
Once you reach El Risco, it only takes about 30 minutes and is easy enough to get to Charco Azul. There is a parking area just off the highway for people travelling to the blue lagoon and signs pointing you in the right direction, though you can always ask the group of local old dudes gathered in front of the café enjoying the morning sunlight.
You’ll first ascend through the pretty white village of El Risco, complete with vibrant bougainvillea and a few stray cats napping in sun puddles.
At the end of the village, you’ll turn left onto the path that goes through the barranco, the lush green ravine that will lead you to the lagoon. The walk is easy enough, though you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for drop offs and pinchy prickly pears. The path can be more or less visible in places, but as long as you head straight on you won’t get lost.
Soon enough you’ll reach a large, open area with massive, broad stone surfaces and a small pool, but that’s not what you’re here for, it’s just a sneak peek.
Continue on the path leaning toward the left. There are a few parts here where you’ll have to scramble along holding onto rock outcroppings but considering the amount of families with young children who make it safely here and back, you should make it unscathed.
A Day Out at Charco Azul
As the path came to an end at the beautiful, glittering pool backed up against the tall walls of the ravine, we took in the scenery and braced ourselves to dive in. We knew it was going to be cold.
But hey, you only live once right?
Chucking our clothes aside, we found the deepest part of the small, sapphire pool and jumped in, a shock of cold piercing our warm, sun kissed skin.
We settled in for our picnic lunch and whiled away the rest of that sunny spring afternoon to the soundtrack of the waterfall filling the pool, swimming, sunbathing and siestaing along the bank of the pond and on the small shelf just behind the pool. Aside from a group of spelunkers who ‘dropped by” – rappelling down the waterfall and stopped for lunch – we had the Charco Azul all to ourselves.
As the sun started to dip behind the high walls of the ravine, we gathered our things and made our way back to El Risco along the same path, arriving back to the village and Bar Perdomo just in time to watch the sky spark into pinks and oranges as it made its way into the Atlantic.
Just another day in paradise.
Getting to El Risco
The small village of El Risco along the northwestern coastal cliffs of Gran Canaria is the starting point for any trip to Charco Azul. From Bar Perdomo, just follow the signs for the short hike through the village and then the ravine toward the Charco Azul.
El Risco By Car
El Risco is just between the regions of Agaete and San Nicolas de la Aldea. From Las Palmas, take the windy coastal highway G-2 to Agaete and then follow the wild western coastal highway, GC-200. It should take about an hour, and while it’s not the scariest of the islands’ windy highways, it’s not the easiest either.
You can also reach El Risco from the south by travelling north along the west coast, but the highway here is even more windy and rugged and I’d only recommend it for confident drivers.
Once you reach Bar Perdomo, you can leave your car in the parking section reserved for visits to the Charco Azul at no cost. From there, follow the signs to the start of the trek.
El Risco By Bus
Buses to the western coast of Gran Canaria aren’t exactly the most convenient (read: pretty sucky), but if driving isn’t an option, you can take the Global Bus 105 from Las Palmas to Gáldar and then transfer to Global Bus 101 from Gáldar to El Risco. You’ll be dropped off right in front of Bar Perdomo where the trek to Charco Azul begins. If you time the transfer well, the bus journey should take about two hours.
Buses from the south to El Risco take an impossibly long time and frankly just aren’t worth it.
A Day Along the Agaete Coast
The Charco Azul is only just one of the charming destinations in Agaete and along the northwest coast. If you want to make a day of it, there are plenty of other local sights to enjoy along the way.
Visit the charming white washed town of Agaete and adjoining Puerto de las Nieves, where you can swim in the natural pools, have lunch on a sunny terrace or explore the ancient indigenous land at Maipés.
Trek down and take a dip in Playa Guayedra, a virgin beach just beyond the charming town of Agaete along the coastal highway.
Continue driving the coastal highway to stunning La Aldea de San Nicolas, the wild west of Gran Canaria.
Whether you decide to spend the whole day at Charco Azul or to combine the day trip with another wild west excursion, you’re sure not to be dissapointed. Get exploring!
Until next time, isleños!