Spring in Gran Canaria comes in waves of colour and lasts for over five months because the island is so variable. The island is, quite literally, carpeted with flowers.
Things start in January when the almond trees blossom in a show of white and pastel pink. It’s bee heaven and the gentle buzz of the island’s indigenous black bees is an integral part of spring.
Then come the waves of yellows and purples as houseleeks, cinerarias, buglosses and brooms bloom in sequence. A smattering of red and orange poppies and yellow lotuses decorate the roadsides.
Spring in Gran Canaria waxes and wanes all the way until May when the sun finally bleaches the island back to the ochres and reds of the lava. Then island’s plants lapse into a long siesta that lasts until the end of summer in November.
The Gran Canaria spring experience
So really, if you come to Gran Canaria at any time between Christmas and May, you have to get up into the highlands and seek out the colour. Get a bus, book a tour or, to really see the island in full splendour, rent a car.
From south Gran Canaria, drive inland and up one of the deep valleys or barrancos that split Gran Canaria from the highlands to the coast.
From Maspalomas, drive inland up the Fataga Valley past the Arteara palm groves and through Fataga village. Stop here for coffee (you may need it after the hairpin bends) and a wander but don’t dawdle as there’s a lot to see ahead of you.
The roads winds on and up towards the great rocks core of the island where the pine forests have stood for millennia. Look out for the delicate purple flowers of the local lavendar, and the yellow puffs of lotus amongst the pine trees.
Try the Gran Canaria flower juice
Stop in any village shop, in Tunte town high above Fataga for example, and you’ll see the jars of local honey. It’s a thick, intense concoction of flower juice from plants that grow nowhere else on Earth and far removed from the runny, sanitised stuff you get in supermarkets.
It’s great on toast.
There’s nothing like a spring walk
Having driven all the way up, it’s now time to park the car and walk away from the tarmac. In the springtime, any path will do. Walk into a narrow valley, or through the patchwork of fields that fill every flat area. Along with the ubiquitous buzz of the bees, you’ll find clouds of white and orange butterflies and hear the chirp of crickets that always seem to be just out of sight.
Lunch is easy as every village has a couple of bars and restaurants serving local specialities. For the most authentic food, pick the place that makes the least effort to draw in visitors; it’s the one that caters to the locals and will do the simplest and tastiest food.
Anything with goat and rabbit will be superb and the papas con mojo always seem to taste best at altitude.
Back down to the ocean
What goes up must come down so choose a route that brings you back to the coast. The easiest is the road that connects Cruz de Tejeda to Las Palmas and runs through the greenest part of the island.
There’s little exposed rock here as the north of Gran Canaria gets Trade Wind mists and harvests their moisture. Canary Pine trees even have needles that have evolved to turn mist into droplets and channel them towards their roots.
As you come down towards the north coast, Las Palmas city and Las Canteras beach appear through the clouds. It’s not a bad place to finish a trip across Gran Canaria but if you’d rather stay in nature, stop at the Jardín Canario botanical garden just outside the city and wander amongst the dragon trees.
The great thing about springtime in Gran Canaria is that you never quite know what to expect. One year the whole island blooms at the same time while another sees spring creep across the island from north to south.
To find out what it’s like this year, you just have to go and see. You won’t regret it.