Best things to see and do on a winter sun getaway in southern Gran Canaria

Sprawling out on a sunny beach is one way of getting over the stress of Christmas. Sprawling out on a load of massage tables is better.

Forget trudging around museums and old ruins – my wife and I just needed to unwind and not move that much. So we jumped on a four-hour flight to Gran Canaria for a gruelling programme of spas and sunshine. 

This circular Canary Island off the coast of north-west Africa has earned the imaginative nickname  the Round Island.

It is only 29 miles across but that is space enough for some beautiful ­beaches and top spas.

Liz and I flew into the capital in Las Palmas, in the north, and had a half-hour transfer south to the ­region of Maspalomas.

This area is close to the popular tourist resort of Playa del Ingles, but far enough from the clubs and ­all-night bars for some peace.

And peace was what we wanted. So the Seaside Palm Beach, a stone’s throw from the sandy beach and Maspalomas dunes and nature reserve, was the perfect spot.

The hotel was built in the 70s and was fully refurbished a few years ago but has kept its ­retro-chic look. It has three large pools – a thalasso salt water swimming pool, the main one and a children’s area that is ideal for splashing about.

Behind the garden is an excellent spa where I had a herbal ball ­massage, which involved hot bags of herbs. A first for me.

Liz kicked off her back-to-back treatments with a relaxing hot stone treatment. It’s a wonder the pair of us did not fall head first snoring into our dinners at the restaurant.

The hotel alternates between a tasty a la carte four-course meal and a lavish barbecue, where you can eat as much local fish and meat as is physically possible. Added bonus – the wine we had was a lovely white from nearby Lanzarote. After ­pigging out we strolled along the beach, passing the lighthouse to watch the sunset.

You can also drop into Cafe del Mar to catch some cabaret ­before ­staggering back to base.

In search of more spa action, we visited the new Salobre Hotel resort, a 20-minute drive inland. It has a fab spa and 18-hole golf course – one of eight courses on this tiny island.

But we only had time for one – and the spa won over the green.

We did make time to wander around the quiet town of Maspalomas to have a gawp at the duty-free designer shops.

For relaxation with a twist, you can head down the coast to the San Austin Gloria Palace hotel and its massive thalasso. Here, guests and visitors can exercise in the water doing a circuit of the jets, Jacuzzi and hot and cold pools.

It takes about an hour and you come out feeling fit and relaxed, ready to take in some sun and a cold beer on the rooftop pool bar.

Puerto de Mogan is a beautiful old fishing village which has grown into a thriving harbour packed with yachts, hotels and bars and ­bougainvillea-covered restaurants.

It is also home to Submarine Adventure, where you can dive down to 30 metres on a genuine ­submarine. It holds about 30 passengers and everyone gets a porthole to peek through to watch out for wrecks and colourful sealife.

We returned to the surface ­laughing and feeling like brave ­underwater adventurers.

Once safely back on dry land, you can lunch in one of the harbourside restaurants and then explore the pretty side streets and bridges of this little Venice.

A ten minute walk away from the harbour is the Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa, built on the site of the old tropical gardens. And they have not forgotten it – inside in the sitting areas they have kept some of the mature trees and giant palms.

Oh and they also have a luxurious spa here and offer some brilliant treatments to help you unwind.

Clocking up four massages in four days is not bad going. I reckon we could have cancelled the flights and floated back to Britain.

Book the holiday

  • Rooms at the Seaside Palm Beach cost from £200 per night, B&B. You can find out more on hotel-palm-beach.com.
  • Visit grancanariawellness.com and grancanariablue.com, where you can find details on boat trips and ­watersports.
  • Easyjet has flights to Gran Canaria from £30 one way. Find out more on the easyJet website.

  • See ­atlantidasubmarine.com for more on the Submarine Adventure.

More travel tips

  • Take an early morning walk along the sandy beach from Maspalomas to Playa del Ingles.

  • Hire a car or Jeep to visit the centre of the island, taking winding mountain roads to traditional villages.

  • Get a bus to Las Palmas for duty-free shopping and tour the capital. Pack light if you are buying lots of goodies to stay under baggage allowances.

  • Book activities such as golf and boat trips in advance to save time on arrival.

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