While Maspalomas is famous for its golden sand dunes and palm-lined oasis, there is a hidden garden right in the middle of the resort that gives off much more tropical vibes.
From mangoes to Aloe vera via exotic cactus
The free Parque Botánico de Maspalomas garden is packed with hibiscus and bougainvillea but also has lots of more exotic exotic flowers, succulents and trees that you won’t see in hotel gardens. It’s also home to wild birds and lots of big, orange butterflies.
As soon as you walk in you’ll see Aloe vera and some huge cactus on your right. Note the fascinating Galapagos Islands cactus that have evolved trunks to keep their leafy pads and tasty fruit out of reach of the giant tortoises.
As you wander around, you’ll come across a wide range of tropical fruit trees and exotic flowers. During our visit in August, the mangos were ripe and we even picked a couple up of the path for lunch. We also spotted cactus fruit, a macadamia nut tree, passion fruit vine and a Barbados cherry tree.
Look out for the moringa tree from India with its bulbous trunk and delicate leaves. The moringa is famous because its leaves, seedpods, seeds, roots and even flowers are edible and rich in nutrients.
Traveller’s palms make the perfect photo
The Parque Botánico has a remarkable variety of plants and you rarely see the same one twice as you wander about. It’s well worth walking all the paths as you never know what’s in flower around the next corner.
The most impressive part of the garden is right in the middle where a huge clump of Madagascan traveller’s palms rise 10 metres into the air. They are a great backdrop for a tropical selfie or group photo.
There aren’t many places where you find plants from all over the world growing together; it’s a good reminder that the climate here in Gran Canaria is about as perfect as it comes (unless you are an Edelweiss).
When to visit the Maspalomas Parque Botánico
The best time to visit the Parque Botánico is at 10.00 sharp when it has just opened. It’s still cool the local birdlife visits to feast on fruit and wash in the sprinklers. Look out for Canaries, hoopoes, goldfinches, waxbills and even parakeets.
The Parque Botánico is located at the north end of palm-lined Avenida Touroperador Neckermann in Campo Internacional resort. It’s just a short walk from Playa del Ingles and a taxi ride away from Meloneras. The garden is open on weekdays (except fiestas) from 10.00 to 18.00 and entrance is free for all. It’s rarely busy and is a peaceful place to spend a hour.
Just a kilometre eastis the much larger Parque Urbano del Sur with its lake, running track and shaded lawns. It doesn’t have the variety of plants that you’ll find in the Parque Botánico, but it’s shady lawns are perfect for a siesta and it has a cheerful cafe right by the lake.
From jungle to desert in Maspalomas
If you still have the energy, walk out of the front door of the Parque Botánico and head south along Avenida Touroperador Neckermann towards the Maspalomas dunes and lagoon. Notice that the palm trees that line the streets are Washingtonias from the United States. In contrast, the famous palms lining Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles are Canary Islands palms.
It’s a three kilometre walk to the sea that takes you past the Maspalomas golf course and then over a small bridge (look out for the big lizards living next to it). Then, you get to the lagoon with its resident herons, egrets and (if you are lucky) osprey. Finally, you reach Maspalomas beach and the famous lighthouse.
From here, the Maspalomas sand dunes stretch east for kilometres. The best way to explore them is to walk east along the beach towards Playa del Inglés. This way, you can combine walking up a dune or two with a cool swim in the ocean.