It’s far too easy to walk into the marina at Puerto de Mogán and stay by the sea all day long.There are coconut palms to sit under, bougainvillea arches to selfie under, and hungry fish to keep you occupied between coffee and lunchtime.
But I think it’s a shame to spend your whole day at Puerto de Mogán at sea level. After all, doing nothing is always more fun if you feel like you’ve earned it.
So I set out to explore the highs and lows of Gran Canaria’s most famous marina. To start, I have to turn my back on the sea and head uphill.
Flat land was always at a premium in Gran Canaria, even at sea level. This is why most Gran Canaria villages are built on rocky outcrops rather than on the level. Puerto de Mogan’s original fishing village is no exception.
The village clings to the cliffside just behind the marina and the path to the upper houses is steep. It’s best to walk up early in the day, even during the so-called winter, when the air is still cool and the shadows deep. The houses, almost all whitewashed, face out over the sea and are separated by delightful little lanes and pathways.
It’s only a little place but it’s easy to get lost down a dead end. I always say hello to people here because this is a local spot and you are a guest in people’s backyard.
After a few wrong turns (you can follow the signs but where’s the fun in that) I get to the viewpoint at the top of the village. From here there’s a sneak peek of the secret rooftop terraces of those pretty marina houses. And a view that stretches across the valley to the beach and to the steep cliffs of the south coast.
It’s a much easier walk back down to the marina and after the effort it’s a good time stop for a coffee. But I don’t dawdle, because there’s more to see on the other side of the valley.
1300 years of the view
From little square at the bottom of the village, shaded by a vast ficus tree, I cross the humpback bridge over to the beachfront and walk past the sand, palms and restaurants.
On the far side of the valley, just inland from the beach, Mogan’s prehistory is on display at the Cañada de los Gatos archaeological zone.
Before tourism and even before the Spanish, Puerto de Mogán was inhabited by Gran Canaria’s original inhabitants. Excavations at Cañada de los Gatos show that the Canarii lived here at least 1300 years ago and that their settlement was an important one.
The entry fee of just a few euros is worthwhile as I get to wander around a prehistoric stone village with informative panels explaining how the Canarii lived. The mystery is why the Canarii chose one side of the valley for their village while the modern Canarians picked the other.
It’s a question that keeps me distracted as I hike up above the ruin to the rock ledge that gives me another panoramic view of Puerto de Mogán. A pair of kestrels calls the ruin home and spends its time hovering over the rocks waiting for a lizard to get careless.
I’m not the only one who starting to think about lunch.
Into the blue
By now, the sun is blazing and it’s time to head down to the sea to cool off. I could just go for a swim at the sandy beach, or hop on the famous Yellow Submarine at the end of the harbour wall. But instead I jump in off the pebble beach just east of the beach breakwater. Here the water is deep and cool and the fish swarm over the rocks. It’s easy to spend an hour hovering in the cool water with the sun blazing down on my back.
Once I’m out of the water, it’s definitely lunchtime. The only question is whether I can bring myself to order the fresh fish having just spent time with them in the ocean.
Maybe today I’ll stick to chicken.