What keeps it low key is the winding access roads and a focus on agriculture and traditional life. There's no real attempt to cater to tourists in Santa Lucia and even the roadside restaurants serve food to local rather than guiri tastes.
Santa Lucia is an hour's drive from the coast along some of the island's windiest roads. It gets the south sunshine but is high enough to stay cool during the summer.
Visit on market day for a glimpse of local life in the town as it's pretty quiet during the week. We advise just walking up through the town from the road until the houses stop.
For a rural alternative to Gran Canaria's resorts, Santa Lucia is up there with the Agaete Valley as an alternative destination.