The Maspalomas Beach and Sand Dunes are situated in the south of Gran Canaria and constitute a protected Nature Reserve space since 1897.
This area is the center of tourism on the island and the Dunes play a big role in the popularity of the resorts 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 Dessert, this is not not a true fact.
The Atlantic Ocean, along with the wind blowing on this coast, is responsible for the formation of the 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 the Sand Dunes of Maspalomas, this bush can also commonly be found in Fuerteventura, in the sand dunes in Corralejo National Park.
How to get to the Maspalomas Beach and Sand Dunes
The dunes are situated between the town of Maspalomas and the Playa del Ingles resort and they are a MUST SEE if you are visiting Gran Canaria.
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
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.
This is considered the most beautiful beach 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.
The 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. Here the Maspalomas beach intersects with Playa del Ingles and you can continue you walk towards the resort.
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 centre 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 in the Maspalomas Sand Dunes
This a popular attraction in the area and this could be an option if you want to see the dunes without burning your feet walking in the hot sand. The tours leave from the east and towards the lagoon and give you a chance to enjoy the views without getting tired.
No wonder the dunes and the beach in Maspalomas are on top of visitor's preferences, with so many things to do available.
Still, 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.