From camel riding to canoeing, from botanical gardens to banana riding.Gran Canaria is a small island with a huge variety of things to do and places to visit. There are museums and cultural events, dramatic landscapes to explore, beautiful beaches and a wealth of sports and leisure activities geared to international tourists.
Topping the list of "must do" activities for most visitors is a camel ride through the famous sand dunes of Las Maspalomas and the Valley of Fataga in the south of the island. Gran Canaria has two livestock farms dedicated to breeding dromedaries in conditions very similar to the creatures' natural habitat (the Sahara Desert).
Another firm favourite, especially among youngsters (and dads who never quite grew up!) is the Aqua Sur water park at Maspalomas. The park is the biggest of its kind on the island and has safe slides and pools for young children and thrill rides for older visitors. There are wave pools, kamikaze chutes, foam slides, restaurants and mini-golf.
Palmitos Park, also in Maspalomas, is home to more than 1,500 exotic birds, 4,000 species of fish and 160 species of cactus. The park also has a butterfly house, gibbons and alligators. The nearby Crocodile Park also makes a good family day out. Besides the crocodile shows you can see Bengal Tigers, chimpanzees and baboons.
Step back in time and enjoy some wild west entertainment at the Sioux Western Theme Park at San Agustin, near Playa del Ingles. This is all good old fashioned cowboy-style cavorting with six guns blazing, high noon shoot-outs and drinks to cool off in the Three Stars Saloon.
Puerto de Mogan, west along the coast from Playa del Ingles, is a delightful village with some excellent fish restaurants and a lively local market on Fridays.
For a day's shopping and a spot of island culture, head north to the capital Las Palmas. The city has a wealth of historic buildings in a variety of elegant architectural styles. This is a lively metropolis where you'll find many good shops and restaurants, bustling boulevards and beautiful parks and gardens.
Places of interest here include the 16th century cathedral of Santa Ana, the city's centre of religious worship which took 350 years to complete. There's the Christopher Columbus Museum (the great explorer replenished his fleet here before continuing on his adventure to the New World). The Canarian Museum charts the island's history before the Spanish conquered it in the 15th century. The Jardin Canario (Canarian Garden) eight kilometres from the city is also worth a visit with its 500 species of indigenous plants.
Inland, to the south west of Las Palmas, you'll find the mountain village of Teror which appears to float in the air, 575 metres above sea level. The mountain views are breathtaking and the village has several impressive colonial-style houses.
Guia, in the north west, makes another fascinating excursion with its Cenobio de Valeron cluster of caves, enclosed by a sea of petrified lava.
At Agaete, on the north west coastline, you can see an impressive canyon carpeted with plantations of papayas, avocados, coffee and bananas. Here you'll also find the natural spa waters of Balneario de los Berrazales.