Maspalomas Dunes – Gran Canaria's Desert

Gran Canaria

The Maspalomas Dunes are a beautiful sand desert reminiscent of Sahara scenery on Gran Canaria, the second-largest island of the Canaries. The view here is truly spectacular, with towering golden sand pyramids changing shape periodically due to the wind's whims; you can see the blue ocean from their peaks, reaching up to 10 meters (33 feet).


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The Maspalomas Dunes ecosystem has protected status due to its high natural, geomorphological, botanical, and faunal value, and it coexists with the area's tourism development. It has an absolutely gorgeous 6-kilometer or 4-mile beach, a dune system, a palm grove, a brackish lagoon in the Atlantic Ocean, and varied wildlife. The sand dunes at Maspalomas, the south of Gran Canaria, cover 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) and are one of the island's top five attractions.


I've never been to the Sahara, but this was not my first time in a sandy desert like this one in Gran Canaria, Spain's island. Lithuania, where I grew up, has stunning sand dunes, such as Grey Dunes or Parnidis Dune in the Curonian Split, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although I'm a forest enthusiast and not a big fan of deserts, I did enjoy exploring Gran Canaria's diverse landscapes and visiting the Maspalomas Dunes.


Formation


The sand dunes at Maspalomas are not from the Western Sahara, which is only 250 kilometers (155 miles) away. From the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, waves washed up crushed mollusk shells, which the wind later dispersed over a wide area during the Ice Age.


Gran Canaria
Maspalomas beach

Gran Canaria
Maspalomas Dunes from the south

Trails


The reserve's 8 kilometers (5 miles) of trails feature over 1,500 bollards and information signs, promoting responsible and sustainable public use of the ecosystem.


Flora and Fauna


Unique to the Maspalomas Dunes are both its flora and fauna. The plants here are primarily salt-tolerant species such as the aulaga, the Canary Islands tamarisk, the sand sedge, the sea-grape, and the smooth flatsedge, including endemic species like the Canary Palm tree and the salado. The Gran Canaria giant lizard is an endemic reptile that is the largest of the Canary Islands' species, reaching lengths of up to 80 centimeters (2.6 feet). The hoopoe, a typical desert bird, is also abundant in the dunes.


How to Get There


Maspalomas is 58 kilometers (36 miles) south of the island's capital, Las Palmas. Thanks to Global, a public transportation service that connects the various parts of the island, and to the island's taxi fleet, the tourist town is an easy and quick destination when you are on the island.


Where to Stay in Maspalomas


Booking.com offers a wide range of lodging options, various discounts, and exceptional customer service. For a list of places to stay in Maspalomas, click here.


Booking.com


Gran Canaria: Camel Ride in the Dunes of Maspalomas


If you want to enjoy a camel-riding desert safari, relax in a comfortable 2-seater saddle, and experience the landscape of Gran Canaria, book the Camel Ride in the Dunes of Maspalomas. Children under the age of three can ride for free with their parents.


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Have you ever visited the Maspalomas Dunes? What, if any, impression did you have? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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