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19 Dec 2011

Maspalomas: The Amazing Beach and Dunes

The amazing Maspalomas dunes

Maspalomas beach and sand dunes are the westernmost edge of the Sahara Desert. They stretch for 6 kilometres from Maspalomas to its twin resort Playa el Ingles. Calm waters and plenty of space make Maspalomas Beach popular with families and nudists alike.

To get to the beach from Maspalomas resort, head down towards the lagoon and the lighthouse. Most hotels and bungalow complexes in the resort operate a free bus that drops you right by the shore at the western edge of the beach. here you are right by the Charco de Maspalomas lagoon and the historic palm grove.

From Playa del Ingles, walk through the dunes to the sea from the end of Avenida Tirajana early in the morning or for sunset. Its much further than it looks and hard work in the midday sun. Alternatively, head down to the beach in front of the Kasbah shopping Centre or walk left from Avenida Tirajana along the footpath until you get to an easier access point.

The nudist section of Maspalomas beach is right in the middle in front of the highest dunes. It is signposted but pretty hard to miss! The gay nudist area is focused around the drinks kiosk flying a rainbow flag. Nudist sunbathing on Maspalomas is a little surreal because of the constant stream of holiday-makers walking along the shore between Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles.

There aren't many places where you can sunbathe nude on a Saharan sand dune!

Swimming on Maspalomas beach is almost always perfectly safe, especially if you stay at either end close to the lifeguard towers. Strong waves in 2010 changed the shape of the shore and created new currents. Sadly a couple of people died before the beach returned to normal. Pay attention to the lifeguards and don't swim if you see a red flag.

Food and drink kiosks along the beach sell cold drinks, ice creams and sandwiches. Take water as relying on the kiosks for water gets very expensive!

Right of the lighthouse a new sea front promenade called Lugar Las Meloneras runs all the way to Meloneras Beach. The restaurants and bars along this walkway are the newest in Maspalomas and among the best.

A separate group of older restaurants to the left of the lighthouse along Paseo del Faro contains a couple of long-standing local favourites such as El Senador. As is so often the case in Gran Canaria, the best restaurants are older, established places rather than the shiny new ones. An exception to this Samsara Restaurant overlooking the Charco de Maspalomas lagoon.This Asian fusion place has only been a round for a couple of years but is one of the few restaurants in the resort that is often booked out.

Only a couple of Maspalomas hotels have direct views out over the dunes and they aren't cheap. The five-star
Gran Hotel Residencia sits in a privileged location within the palm grove next to the lagoon. You can't afford it. Really, you cant! For views of the dunes that don't require a remortgage you are better off in the RIU Palace in Playa del Ingles.

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