A few personal thoughts and ideas that might help you out for your next visit to Gran Canaria :-
PICK THE BEST DATES TO TRAVEL
The most expensive time of year to travel here when adding up flights & accommodation are Christmas & New Year, Easter, UK school holidays and mid-winter, the months of February and March. You’ll find prices the highest during these times with choices of flights & accommodation restricted as much is booked months in advance. The months of May & September are probably the cheapest (and hottest) months to travel when prices could be half of those charged in August. From April to October temperatures reach around 30C plus during the day with 99% sunshine otherwise for winter expect around 25C on a sunny day, just over 20C on a cloudy one and 75% sunshine.
TOUR OPERATOR OR DIY ?
If your tour operator has the ideal dates, accommodation and a great price then go with them. Don’t arrange everything yourself if you’re only going to be saving a few pounds/euros. If anything untoward happens during your stay it’s the job of your tour operator to look after you and resolve any issues. They know what’s going on here and can warn of such things as building work or closed facilities that you may not hear about until you arrive if you book direct.
Do check out both options though. Going for the DIY option you’ve got much more choice of flights and accommodation and can save a lot of money and busy times during the year. If you pay for your holiday by credit card if you have one then often your bank will offer some sort of insurance and overseas assistance free of charge so check what their terms are.
A few places for you on the internet to price things up yourself :-
Flights – Skyscanner.net
Accommodation – Booking.com, Alpharooms & On The Beach
Airport Transfers – Here with us for private services or resorthoppa.com for shared transfers
WHAT TO PACK ?
November to March it rarely drops below 18C during the evenings though it feels much colder so 1 jacket should suffice, maybe one other item with long-sleeves for when it clouds over in the winter. Everything else should be to dress for warm/sunny weather, plenty of shorts and t-shirts.
Toiletries, international foods, coffee, tea, nappies and foods for babies, pretty much everything you’d find at home is on sale somewhere here at pretty much the same price. Any doubts and ask here in the forum.
If you’re bringing anything electrical bring your own adaptor (European 2-pin) as they’re not so easy to find here.
If you’ve got a driving license bring it. You may not plan on hiring a car but once you’re here if you change your mind, nothing you can do about it without that license and it fits in your pocket.
HDMI cable – not as odd as it sounds. If you’ve got a cable to connect your mobile or tablet to the TV via HDMI (cables cost around 10 euros to buy) then maybe load up your device with a few TV episodes you haven’t seen and a film or two in case you planned a quiet night or two indoors to get an early start the next day. Our satellite TV for tourists often consists of 1 news channel, 1 sports channel and maybe a shopping or one German channel. Of course you’ll need to check your hotel here has flat-screen with HDMI sockets but most do other than a few basic, cheaper and older accommodation choices.
Most of you will be travelling with a smart phone or tablet and will want to connect to the internet to chat, viber, browse & upload photos. Plenty of restaurants and bars offer FREE WIFI so look for the WIFI logo in their window.
Check our blog for phone shops where you can buy a Spanish sim card valid for up to 1 month that gives you mobile data connection (7MBs speed and usually 1GB allowance ) for around 10 euros.
Finally chances are your accommodation provider offers wifi though they generally charge you for it and rates can vary from one or two euros per hour to more unacceptable amounts so be sure you know their price before you start. Same goes with data roaming on your mobile, not a good idea.
For non-delicate skins a factor 10 sun-tan cream in winter and 15 in summer. Double that for delicate skins and to be completely safe but still get a bit of a tan factor 50! Have a break every 20 minutes to drink some water then turn over, go for a swim or look for some shade for 5 or ten minutes. If we have a “calima” (looks like fog as sand is drifting across) chances are there’s no cloud and you’ll still get burnt even though you can’t see the sun for sand.
Aloe Vera grows like a weed here on the island and there’s plenty of aloe-vera creams and lotions at reasonable prices. Pure aloe vera gel is great as an after-sun soother and skin repairer.
We pay much less tax / duty here on the island compared to mainland Spain and elsewhere so basically the whole island can be considered “duty free”. Shops in the airport have to pay expensive rent so often alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes and so on are going to be more expensive there. Have a morning or afternoon shopping and buy everything on the island as opposed to in the airport.
For that matter avoid airport shops altogether and plan ahead a little. A 15 euro travel pillow costs 2 euros on ebay; Google “free magazines online” and download some to your phone or tablet; take a packed lunch and bottled drinks to the airport, food you can also take onto the flight with you though liquids no.
The south of Gran Canaria is purpose-built for tourism. Receiving less rainfall than a desert other than the resort and fantastic beaches there’s little else to see, no history and little culture.The rest of the island is a “continent in miniature”, rich in history, culture and with one of Spain’s largest cities on the north coast. Get out and about and see some of it! More details on car-hire here on our blog.
If anything happens to the car whilst it’s parked for example and you don’t have insurance details of another guilty party, you are held responsible. UK residents can pre-book the extra insurance via http://www.carhireexcess.com/ for around 3 euros a day.
If you’re going out always close and lock doors and windows. Most burglaries take place because people left valuables out in clear sight with a door and/or window open. If there’s a safe in your room take advantage of it. Many insurance policies require you to leave your valuables in a safe if one is provided. Another method thieves use is to climb in through open windows at night that people leave open whilst sleeping.
If you’re drunk at night and there’s just one or two of you, catch a cab. At least avoid unlit streets where there’s no stream of traffic or people.
If you are robbed / pick-pocketed or simply loose something and plan on claiming it back of your insurance, you have to make a police report here first. This can’t be done once you’ve left the island. Either take someone who speaks Spanish to a local police station with you or make the report in your own language over the phone calling 902 102 112 then collect the report in person from the nearest station.
Don’t forget a valid European Health Card or an insurance that covers you for health care.