With one of the most advanced web portals on the island, the Maspalomas area wins by right the “tourist award” of the entire island: it’s a huge square of land of 1060 hectares (to compare, think that the Botanical Garden of Gran Canaria is just 10 hectares) in which in May 2015 passed and had their holidays more than two millions of tourists.
Maspalomas is the Canarian Venice, the small New York that faces Africa, as well as it pretend to be one of the most prestigious areas of the island.
Unfortunately, this is not always true. It obviously depends on the type of tourism we are looking for. This kind of society is based on luxury and the fake impression that you can “find always ready” what you want, which is also a bit of a holiday ideal for many… but not for us by Moustache Van. Nevertheless, it is impossible to talk about Las Palmas and the island of Gran Canaria without even mentioning Maspalomas, since it was artificially created with the purpose of containing tourists.
In fact, practically all the south of the island has been used as a large tourist resort, with palaces and residential centers as far as the eye can see. At any time when you get tired of walking you can easily meet a bar, a shop or an entire shopping center where you can get in and relax, maybe spending a few euros more for your holiday in the tropics.
Before the tourism came, Maspalomas was the name of a hamlet that today is San Fernando. The current name of the turist area may derive from Rodrigo Mas de Palomar, a settler and soldier from Majorca, or from Francisco Palomar, a Genoese friend of Alonso Fernandez de Lugo who settled in the area, after purchasing 87 Guanche slaves from Güímar.
At the present-day Maspalomas is bringing on an ambitious development project, organized by an International Ideas Contest opened to any member of the International Union of Architects, held in 1961. The promoter was Don Alejandro del Castillo, owner of most of the spaces under construction. At that time, the contest was won by the French office SETAP and paved the way for this particular way of “touristic urbanism” that unluckily served as model for later tourists developments in other Canary Islands.
Maspalomas converted completely into a fully equipped town, much closer to the touristic concept than to the preservation of the same ambient, or micro-equilibrium of the species. It has a large variety of infrastructure and public institutions (barely seen in other areas of Gran Canaria), including private clinics and two hospitals. More than this, Maspalomas is full of commercial locals and foreign schooling institutions (Spanish, English and Swedish schools), shopping & convention centres, two casinos, English-language cinema, golf courses, sports centers, thematic parks and a Summer University. But no one of the local citizens live there, it’s an isle in the island.
The area of the nature reserve Charca de Maspalomas includes also the Natural Reserve of the Dunes, which constitutes an important landmark of Gran Canaria itself. They constitute a very important point in the process of migrating birds between continents.
Maspalomas is very appreciated from the tourists of North European countries as a winter destination (it’s not a case that in the area there are specific not-Spanish doctors and entire districts with foreign names, such as Sonnenland). So, the most common nationalities of people living here are: Sweden, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, etc.
More than this, Maspalomas remains as the largest tourist destination in the Canary Islands and a worldwide-known destination for LGBT tourism.
Talking about its monuments and places of interest, there is a lighthouse of 56 mt high, named El Faro de Maspalomas, at the southern point of the area: from there it starts the 12 km long beach (with the famous Dunes) that brings you directly to Playa del Inglés.
Watch out! Not all the people knows that this is also a naturist area, so be prepared to undress and enjoy the sun bath! 😉
All the beach slopes gently into the ocean and is controlled by life guards, that also have the right to advice you where the “naked zone” ends (before the corner with Playa del Inglés).
Even if the area is full of tourists and it’s prepared for this purpose, don’t expect to see skyscrapers of very high buildings: compare to the majority of the other cities in the world, Maspalomas has a very rural style. The point is that the volcanic conformation of the island and some conscious decision of the landlords allowed the area to be free from monsters that hide the ocean view, or damage the ambient in a irreversible way. So, a part of the thousand-of-ants residences you won’t see nothing more in Maspalomas.
The idea of our group is that the south of the island of Gran Canaria has been dedicated, over time, and continues to be dedicated even today only to mass tourism, the one that brings most of the money. The government, unfortunately, manages them in the development of the same areas, sometimes forgetting that there are others more in the North, or even just inside the island, which would require more attention.
This, of course, is not just from the point of view of tourism, but from the human side of the question. We hope that in the future the money inversions will be made in the right places, and the projects will be developed homogeneously, so that not only one area of the island but the whole place can have benefits from it… maybe even just starting from reading an advice on a blog! 😉