Stay on the beach until sunset
Even on the busiest day, people stream off the beach in the late afternoon. By sunset, beaches like Amadores and Maspalomas are almost empty. It's a shame as later afternoon it's often the best time to be on the sand. The sun doesn't burn anymore, there's plenty of room, and the beaches look at their best.
Resist the call of the buffet and, at least once, stay on the sand until the stars come out. You won't regret having the beach all to yourself.
Eat at a restaurant with no foreign menu
While menus in 13 languages that weigh more than your suitcase are all very well, you should also experience local Gran Canaria restaurants. The best only have a Spanish menu or don't bother with one at all. Some don't even bother with signs. Don't worry about the language problem, just go with the flow and let the waiter guide you.
Alex says: If it's got flags outside, it's not a local restaurant.
Visit a local beach
Local Gran Canaria beaches have fishing boats on the sand rather than pedalos and the men wear budgie smugglers rather than Bermuda shorts. You never see people with sunburn and the air smells of calamares rather than suntan oil. Gran Canaria's local beaches are a different world and one that every visitor should experience at least for a day.
Get out on, in or under the water
Hire a stand-up paddle board, or a pedalo. Do a diving course or go snorkeling. Go on a boat trip or travel between resorts on the ferry. It doesn't matter what you do, provided that you get wet. The sea around Gran Canaria is warm, clear and full of life and you can't visit the island without getting to know it.
Smell the pine forest
Gran Canaria's highlands are covered with pine trees and when the sun warms them up, they smell gorgeous. It's worth driving up into the centre of the island just for the scent. Of course, you also get the superb landscapes.
For an easy pine forest walk, hike up through the pine forest to Roque Nublo and get up close to the island's trees and its biggest icon.
Crash a crazy local party
If there's one thing Gran Canaria should be more famous for, it's the craziness of its local fiestas. We don't mean the traditional romerias with folk dancing and music (although they are fun), but the fully-fledged madness of Agaete's La Rama and La Aldea's Fiesta del Charcho.
Summer is high season for crazy Gran Canaria fiestas although February to April gets pretty wild thanks to carnival and there's always something going on somewhere on the island.
Eat something bizarre
Sea urchin roe is delicious, flor de Guía cheese is made from thistle juice rather than rennet, and chorizo de Teror is a garlic bomb disguised as a sausage. There's plenty of eccentric foods in Gran Canaria and everybody should try at least one of them. Just don't eat the chorizo on the day before your flight.
If you love seafood, here's the scariest Gran Canarian seafood.
And here are the Top Ten Scariest Canarian Foods
Once you leave the resorts, Gran Canaria gets interesting fast. Follow little roads and lanes just to see where they go, walk a faint trail (talk water and a mobile phone), or mountain bike down the island. The more you explore rural Gran Canaria, the more interesting the island gets.
The whole north and west of the island is tourist free. Please defile it.
Gran Canaria's west coast is epic and the GC 200 road is one of the most spectacular in Europe. At times its hangs over drops of over 1000 metres with safety nets above to catch falling rocks. Everyone should drive it at least once. Or drive the first part from Mogán to La Aldea, then head inland on the GC 210 or GC 606. Both take you through wild and rugged landscapes that are completely different from the flat south.
See the details about the GC 200 here.
See the city
Las Palmas city is a stonking Spanish and Canarian city with a hint of Latino flair. With the old town where Columbus stayed before discovering America and Europe's best city beach, it's a must visit in Gran Canaria.
Start with a leisurely walk around old town Vegueta, perhaps some shopping in Triana district, then head over to the beach for seafood and sunbathing. Here're some fascinating facts about Las Canteras beach to pique your curiosity