The Canary Islands have always been my go-to destination for holidays with young kids. And that’s not just because my two love nothing more than playing in the sand and splashing in the sea, but because I know that if (okay, more like when) they get bored, there will be loads of other things to do to keep them entertained.
That being said, and even with such high expectations, I was very pleasantly surprised by just how much there was on offer for the under-10s in the Gran Canaria resort of Maspalomas. From waterparks (with toddler-friendly zones) to wildlife zoos, there are so many great days out that it was a challenge to fit in my requisite few hours in which I lie on the beach working on my tan.
If you haven’t been before, Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands, a collection of islands belonging to Spain but basking in the heat and sunshine off the west coast of Africa. Thanks to its location, sunshine is practically guaranteed, as is hot summer sun – so taking a siesta or finding things for your little ones to do out of the sun during the hottest part of the day is an important part of your holiday.
With that in mind here’s my run down of the best activities I found for young children in Maspalomas.
The beach at Maspalomas is one of the resort’s major selling points, a wide stretch of golden sand (unlike the black sand found on other parts of the island), the beach offers plenty of space for sun loungers, umbrellas, sandcastles and paddling.
The promenade here has loads of cafés, restaurants and bars where your little ones can shelter from the midday sun while eating ice cream or a cold drink, and you can enjoy a spot of people watching from the shade.
Walk a little way out of town past the lighthouse and you reach the dramatic sand dunes the town is famous for. The area is a nature reserve and, with its almost extra-terrestrial landscape, a great place to explore with the kids.
Insider Tip: The sand dunes and the beaches out of town are popular with nudist sunbathers so if your children are of a particularly sensitive disposition you might want to warn them in advance.
Wherever we go on holiday, I always take the kids to a waterpark if I get the chance. When it’s hot they love splashing around in the kid-friendly zones and, to be honest, so do I.
In Maspalomas the vast Aqualand waterpark has an impressive area for younger kids which it calls Kidzworld, what’s more they offer a reduced rate for toddlers (3 to 4 years) and children (five to 10 years) and under twos go free.
Divided into two sections, Mini Park offers a range of rides, slides and races all appropriate size and speed for the under-10s while Polynesia has a paddling pool playground, slides, water games and waterfalls for the little ones to play in.
If your kids enjoy the zoo then get yourself a joint ticket to Palmitos Park when you book the waterpark above. The zoo here is a great size for small children with a range of animals from primates and aardvarks to wallabies and meerkats. There’s also a range of birds of prey which the keepers take out to do flight demonstrations and a dolphinarium where the dolphins do tricks and play for the crowds (well, for fish actually, but you get the idea).
This is a bit of a weird one, but perfect for any aspiring cowboys and cowgirls out there. Sioux City is a recreation of an American Wild West frontier town complete with gun-fights, barbecues, there are even Native American rain dances and Mexican acrobats doing crazy things with lassos. I’m not sure what it’s doing here, but I do know my kids loved it!
What child doesn’t love a fairground? Well Holiday World in Maspalomas is best described as a permanent fair with everything from bumper cars to pirate ships and, for the more adventurous, a roller coaster. There are rides suitable for all ages of young children and – my kids’ particular favourite – pony rides are also offered here.
How to Get to Maspalomas
There are regular flights from the UK to Gran Canaria Airport with a range of budget airlines, including easyJet and Ryanair. The flight time from the London airports is around four and a half hours.
From the airport to Maspalomas is a thankfully short 20-minute drive, so there’s not enough time for the kids’ excitement to wear off and the complaining to start. To reduce stress at the airport I would advise booking your airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before you leave home (they offer a great shared transfer service which is really economical). You then meet the minibus at a prearranged place and are taken straight to your resort.
Where to Stay:
Apartamentos The Koala Garden Suites – The bright, cosy apartments (each with a private balcony) at Apartamentos The Koala Garden Suites are a great choice for families with young children. Not only are there two swimming pools, a playground and a games room, which looks more like a games arcade, there’s also a football pitch.
Bungalows Vistaflor – The bright modern accommodation at Bungalows Vistaflor is set around a lovely sun terrace and swimming pool. There’s a playground for the little ones and a regular shuttle bus to take guests to the beach.
About Shuttle Direct:
A leading provider of private and budget transfers in Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct is a great, stress-free way of getting you and your family from the airport to your holiday destination. Simply book your private car or group transfer online before you set off and a driver will be waiting for you when you land – no stress, no hassle.