Charco Azul is one of the few natural pools that you can swim in all-year-round in Gran Canaria. It's just inland from El Risco village just south of Agaete town in north-west Gran Canaria and is about as far away from the resorts as you can get. You can get there by bus from the resorts via Las Palmas and Galdar but it's much quicker to drive.
Hiking to Charco Azul
The walk starts from the GC 200 road in El Risco village. It's 1.6km from the road to the pool.
It's an easy walk although there is one point close to the pool with a steep drop on one side. We've done the El Risco to Charco Azul walk with a four-year-old so we think almost everyone can do it.
The first stretch up through the village with its white houses and abundant flowers and fruit trees (look out for mango, banana, papaya and orange trees) is on the tarmac road that starts just metres to the north of the roadside restaurant. You can't drive up the road and park because the parking spots are reserved for the locals.
Follow the road up until it turns into a track and keep going; there are enough signs to guide you. When you reach the end of the village the track drops into the Barranco del Risco valley and you cross a small stream. Then it's an easy walk up the valley, crossing the stream again until you come to a couple of large rock faces.
These rocks are the only bit of the walk where you have to scramble a bit. The path over them is well worn and hard to miss but a good tip is to keep to the left.
Once you get over the rocks just follow the trail (keep left) until you come to a big shelf of flat rocks and the pool right up against the cliffs.
Swimming at Charco Azul
Charco Azul is at least five metres deep in the middle so you can dive in and swim. You can also climb around the back of the pool and sit on a shelf just over the pool, although you need to be good on your feet to get to it. The water is always cool because the pool doesn't get much sunshine.
While it is known as The Blue Pool, Charco Azul is only blue after rain when there is plenty of water running into it from the cliffs above. During the summer and autumn, it's a deep green colour. If you visit right after heavy rain, there are waterfalls all around you.
To get back to the road just retrace your footsteps along the same path.
Eating at El Risco village
Once you're back in El Risco either have a drink at the big restaurant (Bar Perdomo) by the road or look around the corner for the village shop / bar (called Casa Lolo) . This also has a bar and serves coffee, local tapas and beer. There are outdoor tables under the big tree. The old ladies that ran Casa Lolo for years have retired but it is now back open under new management.
From El Risco south to Mogán
Now that the new inland road is open, it's a quick drive from El Risco to La Aldea de San Nicolas on the west coast and then a fantastic, windy drive along the GC 200 back to Mogán. Don't miss the stunning psychedelic rocks just before the Veneguera turnoff.
For more about El Risco, read about El Risco's beach.