Maspalomas Beach and Sand Dunes - A Must See in Gran Canaria
The Maspalomas Beach and Sand Dunes are situated in the south of Gran Canaria and constitute a protected Nature Reserve space since 1987.
The area of Maspalomas is one of the most popular tourist centers on the island and the sand dunes play a big role in the popularity of the resorts developed around them.
The Maspalomas Sand Dunes occupy an area of around 400 ha (1000 acres) and although some people thought the sand arrived here from the Sahara Desert, this is not a true fact.
How the Maspalomas dunes were formed
The Atlantic Ocean, along with the wind blowing on this coast, is responsible for the formation of the Maspalomas Dunes.
The sand was washed up from the bottom of the ocean during the last ice age when the water retreated and the sand was left exposed. Over a long period of time, the winds blowing here carried the golden sand towards the shore and this is how the dunes were born.
Even today the dunes are still moving constantly from east to west, at a rate of 2 to 5 meters per year. The wind coming from the ocean blows the sand towards the shrubs, which in Spanish are called El Balancón (traganum moquinii). This is a bush specific to the Canary Islands, which appears especially around sandy areas like the beaches and the dunes. Besides being found around the sand dunes of Maspalomas, this bush can also commonly be found in Fuerteventura, in the sand dunes in Corralejo National Park.
Walking on the Maspalomas dunes is allowed only the dedicated paths
After the lockdown in 2020 as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, the authorities have announced that the general aspect of the dunes had improved due to the absence of people, so it was decided that the Maspalomas Dunes Special Nature Reserve will have permanent surveillance to guarantee its protection.
So from now on, it is only allowed for people to walk over the dunes following the 8 km of trails, which are properly signaled for visitors to know where they are allowed to go or not.
There will be police and environmental agents present on the ground, to make sure that the rules are respected by everyone. The surveillance team has the ability to issue fines to anyone who does not follow the rules, so we advise you to only access the Maspalomas dunes through the appropriate routes.
How to get to Playa de Maspalomas and the sand dunes
It is easy to get to the dunes from the beach in Maspalomas and also from Playa del Ingles. There is also an entrance from the Dunas Mirador, in Paseo Costa Canaria which is adjacent to the beach at Playa del Ingles.
Driving distance to Maspalomas Beach:
- from Puerto Rico 21 km; 21 minutes drive
- from Puerto de Mogan 27 km; 27 minutes drive
- from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 60 km; 45 minutes drive
- from Teror 70 km; 1 hour drive
Bus lines that will take to Faro de Maspalomas bus station (Estacion de Guaguas)
- Line 5: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - Playa del Ingles - Faro de Maspalomas
- Line 18: Faro de Maspalomas - San Bartolome de Tirajana - Tejeda
- Line 25: Playa de Arinaga - Faro de Maspalomas
- Line 66: Airport - Faro de Maspalomas
Things to do at the Maspalomas Dunes
Since the space is so vast, you can take your time to explore around and enjoy the beautiful landscape. Although the dunes are a popular attraction on the island, there is always a place to be found if you desire to have intimacy and a quiet moment away from the crowds.
The lighthouse is very close to the dunes and since it is a tall structure it is easy to get to it just by walking in its direction. The construction is 56 m tall and it is only surpassed by the Morro Jable Lighthouse in Fuerteventura, which measures 59 m in height.
The Maspalomas Lighthouse it still active and the area is full with shops and good restaurants. It is well worth the stroll and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery as well as all the entertainment that is to be found in the streets.
Details about Playa de Maspalomas
- Length: 2,700 meters
- Width: 75 meters
- Sand type: Fine golden sand
- Access: Easy on foot / Car
- Location: See on Google Maps
- Parking: Yes
- Bus: Yes
- Nudism: Yes
- Toilets: Yes
- Showers or Footshowers: Yes
- Bins: Yes
- Restaurants: Yes
- Sunbeds & umbrellas: Yes
- Lifeguards: Yes
- Sports area: No
This beach is considered among one of the most unique beaches on the island, due to the views of the dunes and also the island's mountainous interior.
The beach is also popular among nudists, especially the part near Playa del Ingles.
Maspalomas Beach has lifeguards and calm waters, but there are no toilets on the beach. Families with children prefer the beach section near the lighthouse, because it is the safest for small children.
Maspalomas beach looks wonderful at sunset and you should especially avoid walking through the dunes in the afternoon, when the sand gets very hot.
You can take a romantic walk at sunset along the 2 km of beach towards the Punta de Maspalomas, then you can continue your walk towards the resort of Playa del Ingles along the shoreline.
If you plan on getting to the beach by car, it is advisable to arrive early in the morning, since there are far too few parking spots for the number of tourists that drive here.
Maspalomas Lagoon, also known as La Charca, is located among the dunes and it is an area of great importance. The place is considered an important bird nesting center and there are many protected birds species living here.
The place is also frequented by migrating birds such as the kingfisher, curlew and egret.
The local authorities are making an effort to protect the habitat of endangered bird species, but this proves to be a difficult task with all the construction and development that is being done.
Camel rides at the Maspalomas sand dunes
This is a popular attraction in the area and some people see it as a way of protecting their feet from walking on the hot sand. The tours leave from the east, they go towards the lagoon and give you a chance to enjoy the views without getting tired.
We are not fans of camel riding and we never tried this type of attraction (not in Gran Canaria or anywhere else), so it's not something that we would recommend.
At the end of the day, it's no wonder that the dunes and the beach in Maspalomas are on top of visitor's preferences, with so many things to do in a landscape that looks so unique and magical.
The beauty of the place conquers everyone's hearts and once you come to see with your own eyes the beautiful landscape, you will fall deeply in love with the place.
Maspalomas Beach is a charming destination, and once you get to know it, you will want to come back here again and again.
- Best Apartments in Gran Canaria: Monte Feliz (San Agustin) • Club Vista Serena (Maspalomas)
- Popular Hotels in Gran Canaria: Radisson Blu Resort & Spa 5* (Puerto de Mogan) • Occidental Margaritas 4* (Playa del Ingles)
- Join Gran Canaria Forum on Facebook for more tips about the island.
- See our dedicated guide for the best places to stay in Gran Canaria.
- Best Tours & Excursions: From Puerto Rico: Dolphin Watching Cruise • Guided Buggy Tour
FAQ about Maspalomas dunes and Playa de Maspalomas
If you're staying nearby we recommend you walk to the dunes. If you're staying in another resort, we advise you to take the bus up to the big bus station near the Maspalomas Lighthouse and walk from there to the beach or the dunes, since the area is very beautiful.
Yes, there is a dedicated area for naturism on Playa de Maspalomas, which is properly signaled. The beach is in fact famous in Gran Canaria for this reason and nearby you also have the Magnolias Natura resort, one of the world's great naturist resorts.