Features » Twitters from Spain
THE UNIQUENESS OF GRAN CANARIA
Barrie Mahoney / 2010-08-27 06:53:58
I often receive emails from readers asking why I moved from the UK to the Canary Islands, and to Gran Canaria in particular. In this ‘Twitter’ I will attempt to answer the question, but my apologies if it sounds as if I work for the Tourist Board. I don’t, but I just happen to love the island!
Gran Canaria is often called a “continent in miniature”. It is a fitting title because of the island’s uniqueness of having several climatic zones within the one relatively small island.
There can be snow on the mountains, whilst you are swimming in the sea or sweltering in the heat of the desert. In Gran Canaria, there are craters, volcanoes, waterfalls, mountains, pine woods, palm groves and beautiful sandy beaches making it a naturally stunning and interesting place to visit or to live. With its seemingly endless sandy beaches, dramatic mountains, deep ravines, sweeping sand dunes and lush green vegetation many have come to regard Gran Canaria as the jewel of the Canary Islands.
Whilst the north of the island frequently experiences dense, low cloud, often blocking out the sun for hours at a time; the southern coast of the island is perpetually cloud free and guaranteed rain free during eight months of the year, making it a popular destination for sun-seeking tourists. Average temperatures on the island are 24°C in summer and 19°C in winter.
Unlike some of its neighbours, Gran Canaria has extremely varied landscapes with European, African and even American vegetation. There is hardly anywhere else in the world where you can find such differing landscapes and climate zones in such close proximity to each other.
What is the reason for this uniqueness of the island’s climate? One of the reasons is the unusual shape of the island, which leads to a great variety of microclimates. While the climate is dry and sunny almost all year round in the coastal regions, particularly in the south, as you move up to higher altitudes, the influence of the sea is reduced and the clouds are retained by the mountains.
This produces great variations in temperature from the temperate zones of the lower regions or valleys and subtropical forests to the highest zones where the temperature can fall to 0 ºC. It's not too unusual for people to go sunbathing and swimming on the beach and then to find themselves playing around in the snow on the mountain tops just one hour's drive later.
The sea is equally as warm with temperatures fluctuating between 18 ºC in the winter months and 22 ºC during the rest of the year. This, together with the estimated annual rate of 2,700 hours of sunlight in Gran Canaria allow you to make the most of the day, whether you are on the beach, playing a sport, on a day trip or enjoying an outdoor activity.
People often mistakenly think that if the winter is so warm on the islands then the summer heat must be overwhelming, but this couldn't be further from the truth. The summer in the Canary Islands is softened by the trade winds that refresh the islands and give it mild summers. Indeed, one small village on the on the island’s east coast, Pozo Izquierdo, is often said to be the “windiest place on earth” and there is rarely a shortage of a refreshing breeze.
However, in the last couple of years there have been one or two weeks in August where the temperature has climbed higher than usual. As a bonus, research from the international scientific community claims that the island’s capital, Las Palmas, is one of the cities with the healthiest climate in the world.
I could go on, but I am fast running out of space. All I can say is, come over and see for yourselves. You will be made most welcome!
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s website: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his latest novel, ‘Journeys and Jigsaws’ (ISBN: 9781843865384).
© Barrie Mahoney