Sun, Sea and Crocs on Gran Canaria!

The third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is an excellent budget holiday destination, ideal for getting away from England’s unpredictable weather.Don’t be fooled though – the island is subject to some pretty changeable weather itself, being very near to the tropics. Sometimes referred to as a mini continent because of its variation in weather, Gran Canaria is situated between Africa, Europe and the Americas and is only 150 km off the coast of Western Sahara.The Canary Islands have been under Spanish rule for centuries, having fallen to Spain by 1495. First discovered by the ancient Greeks and Romans, the islands are thought to have been behind the Greek myth of the Garden of Hesperides and were named after the large numbers of wild dogs which the Roman scholar Pliny reported to have seen roaming there.Despite being only 29 miles wide, the weather at one end of Gran Canaria can be markedly different to that at the other. The central mountainous regions are frequently cool, cloudy and rainy and the north tends to be noticeably cooler than the south.For this reason, most of the holiday resorts are focused around the southern point of the island, where the majority of visitors flock to San Agustin, Playa del Ingles, Puerto Rico and Maspalomas.The island’s capital, Las Palmasde Gran Canaria – just Las Palmas for short – is the largest town in the Canary Islands and offers some great shopping. The Cathedral de Santa Ana took 350 years to build and is well worth a visit and there several museums to shelter in during showery weather.Just a 20 minute drive out of Las Palmas, tourists find themselves in the real Gran Canaria, a wild and untouched area of natural beauty. It is in these central areas where the island’s explosive origins become apparent. One of the most spectacular sites on the island, which is thought to be only around 30 million years old, is the inactive Bandama Crater, where huge lizards can be seen lazing on the ancient volcanic rocks.Heading towards the north of the island, visitors will come to Agaete, the main coffee and banana growing region where historic towns and beautiful countryside make for a lovely day away from the beach.Gran Canaria can also claim to have the largest crocodile sanctuary in Europe. Cocodrilo Park has over 300 crocodiles, a spider house, an aquarium and a parrot house and is the ideal place to impress the kids.Back in the main tourist zones, there is an ongoing abundance of activities to get involved in including golf, horse riding and tennis. In terms of water sports, Gran Canaria has it all, ranging from deep sea fishing, windsurfing and sailing to surfing and scuba diving. The sea is incredibly clear and snorkellers can explore the shallow caves which are home to an array of marine life.The island food is a delicious fusion of Latin and Spanish cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh fish and vegetables. Home-produced goat, pork, beef, rabbit and chicken is usually available and potatoes feature heavily in the local dishes, along with chick peas and beans.There are also some impressive cheeses from the islands, and there is an annual festival in May at the charming town of Santa Maria de Guia inhonour of the local Queso de Flor, a cheese made from sheep and cows’ milk and flavoured with artichoke flowers.The Canary Islands rely heavily on tourism, receiving around ten million tourists per year, and are therefore easily accessible. Gran Canaria itself is visited by around four million every year and there are cheap flights to Gran Canaria from most of the major UK airports.With plenty of cheap accommodation, activities and beaches, Gran Canaria is one of the best places to go for a budget holiday with a distinctly tropical feel.Call Global Holidays on 0845 299 4450¬†for details of holidays to Gran Canaria.Take a look at this short video about holidays on Gran Canaria[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s34TeUrPJuI&w=425&h=344]

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