Galdar municipality in north west Gran Canaria is famous for its exceptional aboriginal archaeology sites, Galdar Old Town, and superb cheese. However, its coastline is rarely visited by anyone except for intrepid surfers addicted to its barreling reef breaks.
This is a shame because the Galdar is wild and rugged with stunning natural pools and a green fringe of banana plantations and black lava.
In fact, it’s so undervalued that maybe it needs a new name and I think the Horcón Coast is a good option.
Horcón is the name of the sticky substance exuded by banana plants when they are pruned. It’s such a pain that the island’s banana workers are known as Horcón Boys because their clothes and skin are always covered in the stuff..
Where do Horcón boys (and girls) go to try and wash off the Horcón? The Horcón Coast and its many swimming spots of course.
There’s even a famous (and very funny) song and video about them by north Gran Canaria singer Arístides Moreno.
The natural pools of Galdar’s volcanic coastline
El Agujero, Bocabarranco, La Furnia, Los Dos Roques, Caletón de los Cangrejos, Charco de los Espejos, El Farallón; each a natural pool where the booming Atlantic surf is held back by walls of lava leaving calm patches of water perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
How do you get to them? Well, for once I think it’s best to leave out the exact instructions. The pools are small and can get overwhelmed by people, especially at weekends and a big part of their charm is in the experience of finding them for yourself.
Start on the GC2 road that runs along the whole north coast of Gran Canaria, then take the GC202 that connects Galdar to Sarina de Galdar. Then it’s up to you to turn off towards the coast and see what you find at the end of the road..
Bocabarranco and El Agujero are big and easy to find on Google Maps and you can drive right to them. Others have several names and you need to walk from the nearest road or track.
So, if you're in an adventurous mood, take on the drive or hike through the banana fields and little villages that fringe Gran Canaria's north coast and go exploring. The satisfaction of finding that perfect natural pool and jumping in is one of north Gran Canaria's top experiences.
The Horcón Coast's tranquil beach at Sardina de Galdar
If wandering around the north coast of Gran Canaria sounds a little too much like hard work, head straight to Sarina de Galdar. The beach here is sheltered and sandy, and it’s almost always sunny. Sardina also has several local restaurants serve fresh seafood and local dishes like papas con mojo and mousse de gofio.
Don’t miss Punta de Sardina (take the signed exit off the roundabout with a stranded fishing boat) where the Sardina Lighthouse perches on a cliff top overlooking the spiky Roque de Farallon just offshore.
Sunsets at Punta de Sardina are spectacular with the whole west coast of Gran Canaria glowing as the sun sinks into the ocean.
The best time to visit Gran Canaria's Horcón Coast
Timing is everything when it comes to getting the most out of the Horcón Coast. All the pools are at their best at low tide and the north coast is calmest and sunniest in late summer and early autumn.
All you need to take is a towel, sunscreen, snorkel, picnic and maybe a pair of waterproof shoes to protect your feet from the lava.
Note that none of Galdar’s natural pools have any facilities or lifeguards although several (such as Bocabarranco and El Agujero) have local bars or restaurants close by.