With a bit of strategic thinking, you can effectively maximise your annual leave in 2024, by booking time off around the ten Irish public bank holidays. Doing so gives you longer stretches of time off and hence the chance to get away for longer – great news for all of us, but especially for parents trying to navigate school holidays.
Active family experiences in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is something of a dream destination for families. The island’s sense of adventure appeals to all ages with activities stretching from the rugged interior landscape, to the golden swathes of sand and cobalt waters on the island’s fringes. So, if you’re seeking more than poolside relaxation this year, fulfil your wanderlust on the island of Gran Canaria.
An ocean of possibilities
Surrounded on all sides by the vast Atlantic Ocean, Gran Canaria’s seafaring adventures rival anywhere on earth. Set out for a day of dolphin and whale watching on board one of the many wildlife spotting excursions and get ready to feel your pulse quicken at the sight of a tail fin or as you catch glimpse of a breaching whale. If you prefer your time at sea to be a little more leisurely, speak to your Travel Counsellor about arranging a private yacht trip with champagne on board for the adults.
The seabed surrounding the volcanic island is a treasure trove of peculiar marine life: puffer fish, sea horses, octopus and trumpet fish amongst countless other species. Get beneath the surface and explore at sites suitable for a range of abilities from total novices to experienced divers. Whether you choose to snorkel or scuba dive, the crystal-clear waters allow for excellent visibility. In Anfi, you can even walk beneath the surface in with the help of an underwater breathing helmet, allowing you to get up close the abundant marine life.
Whether you like your beach days to be laidback and relaxed, or packed full of excitement, you’ll find a sandy spot that matches your idea of heaven. Maspalomas beach with its spectacular dunes makes for an amazing day of adventure. Beaches like Playa del Inglés, Puerto Rico, Anfi and Amadores play host to all manner of water sports to entertain the whole family. Take the active option and head out on a kayak to create your own little tour of the coast, or soar up into the skies, parasailing behind a speed boat to get some of the best views of the island.
Puerto Mogán Beach is a great spot to visit if you’re looking to unwind a little. Away from crowds, the beach has much more of a local feel and is well-suited to families.
Widely referred to as a ‘Continent in miniature’, Gran Canaria packs a lot into its relatively diminutive land mass. Almost half of its area is included in the Biosphere Reserve, which protects the natural diversity of microclimates and landscapes. Head out on a day’s hike and you can pass through fragrant pine forest, meadows of wildflowers, some of which are endemic to the Canaries, and arid mountain slopes with an otherworldly aesthetic. Set a check list of animals to spot on your journey starting with the giant lizard and the blue chaffinch and see how many you can tick off.
As night falls, you’ll see the blue skies of day become an endless blanket of stars. Declared a Starlight Tourist Destination, Gran Canaria hosts a network of observation points where visitor and locals alike head to for getting the best views of this awe-inspiring spectacle. All of the stars of the Northern hemisphere can be seen from the island year-round, as can 80% of those from the Southern Hemisphere. We recommend checking out the views from Degollada de las Yeguas.
Experience the culture
Across the 1,100 archaeological sites documented across Gran Canaria, you’ll find a window into the island’s ancient past and the indigenous population that inhabited it before Spanish influence. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the boundaries of the Gran Canaria Risco Caído and Sacred Mountains Cultural Landscape are home to over a thousand cave etchings depicting symbols of fertility. Elsewhere in the island, there are over one hundred Cultural Interest Sites for you to visit, each bearing its own story of how it helped forge Gran Canaria’s culture.
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With many families asking us where to go in 2024 and planning for the new adventures that the coming year will bring, we’ve shared the destinations we’ve seen trending recently and what there is to do in each with children of different ages. It’s never too early to think ahead when it comes to bagging the most desirable resorts or tours – or the best deals!