Faro 2 is a shopping center on 2 floors in what is called the Maspalomas country side "Campo Internacional de Maspalomas" - in this area there are many golf resorts and the price in Faro 2 is a bit on the higher end, but there are lovely shops, supermarkets, restaurants and bars there and I always stop there while walking from Playa del Ingles to the beach of Maspalomas. The architecture of the mall is outstanding as you can see from the photos - and there is a mini-golf next to the mall.
It is said that 2.200.000 people visit Faro 2 every year, so don't miss it while visiting Gran Canaria.
During the weekends there is a very popular flee-market on the parking lot in front of Faro 2.
In January and February 2011 Maspalomas beach suffered the worst erosion in recorded history and the beach has all but washed away. I couldn´t believe my eyes when I saw it in February 2011. Almost all the sand has gone and there are big rocks there now. There used to be 3 meter´s deep sand here. What a loss.
To blame for this were 4 metre high waves which sucked away tons of sand from the beach. And this happened over ca 2 nights.
Playa de Meloneras is right by the end of the Meloneras area. It is a small beach but with less wind than Playa de Maspalomas. You can walk far into the ocean and swim there in calm waters, but watch out for the rocks as you walk into the ocean, people (I as well) were literally dancing on them, as they cannot be seen, only felt. But then the area is clear.
In this area there are beautiful 5-star hotels, behind the beach is the 5-star hotel Playa Meloneras Palace H10 and by the promenade are other beautiful, luxury hotels. I include a picture of the hotels in a travelogue.
Behind the beach is Playa de Meloneras shopping center with shops and restaurant (see my photo). Behind the beach is Playa de Meloneras shopping center with shops and restaurant (see my photo). It is lovely sitting in the restaurant in the tower overlooking the beach and surrounding areas.
Now (March 2011) this beach has changed dramatically and is full of stones.
The beach is a 10-15 minutes' walk from Playa de Maspalomas.
El Mercado Municipal is an inside and outside market which is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8:00-14:00. But it starts to close around 13:00. It is quite big and very popular which all kinds of stuff for sale, mainly clothes and shoes, but also fruit stalls and jewellery.
Here you can find all kinds of fake bags, Chanel etc. and the price is ridiculous and as I don't like to haggle I walk away. But this place is all about haggling and it is extremely lively, every time I have been there there were crowds of tourists. It is so crowded that the traffic police needs to stop traffic for people to pass the street. And taxis have a lively business. Inside there is a café and food-stalls.
Well worth a visit just for the fun of it.
Where ever I travel in the world I always look for a botanical garden, I just love them :) The Botanical Park of Maspalomas (El parque Botánico de Maspalomas) is a nice little (covers an area of 12.000 m2) botanical park located at the end of the golf area in Maspalomas, right at the bottom of the hill which takes you to Playa del Ingles. Because of the location it has a special microclimate. It has about 50 different species, ranging from a vide variety of palms from all over the world to all kinds of vegetables, medicinal and aromatic plants. It has a nice sitting area where you can rest and look at the beautiful plants and trees.
The opening hours are from 10:00-14:00h except on weekends and holidays. There is no entrance fee.
I am going to add another tips with flowers only, they are so beautiful that they deserve a tip of their own!
Maspalomas is not only known for its beach and Dunas, but also for the old lighthouse Faro de Maspalomas, which is a landmark by the beach of Maspalomas. The lighthouse is 65 meters' high (some travel guides say 55??). It actually took 28 years to finish the lighthouse and it shone for the first time on February 1st 1890 - the first structure to be built there surrounded by sand, but is now surrounded by tourists and shops and promenades and hotels and probably the single most photographed thing in this area.
There is a reef in front of the lighthouse which is said to be a part of the lost city Atlantis (see my last picture).
The Holiday World in Maspalomas is a kind of a landmark in this area as you can see the 27 meters high Ferris wheel from afar, be it night or day. There is also a roller coaster and a laserdrome and all the exciting rides which a funfair has. Inside there is a very popular bowling alley, Internet café, amusement arcades, a gym and a spa, two night clubs, cafés and restaurants.
The funfair opens during the Spring-Summer from 18-23 and Autum-Winter from 17-23, weekend till 24h and is lovely all lit up during the night, but the bowling alley and inside activities, including the gym and spa are open during the day.
There is never a dull moment here and I visit it often. I especially like it at night, I am a kid at heart and get mesmerised by the Ferris wheel.
Now this is a lovely square, with a fountain and lovely mosaic benches, lots of flowers and a big entrance gate. Across the street is the oasis in El Oasis de Maspalomas. So this is a beautiful area to hang out in :D
The area around The Nature reserve in Maspalomas is called The Oasis in Maspalomas. Next to it is a lovely little oasis, a lot of palm-trees and walking under the palm-trees there gives you a feeling of being in a real oasis as the branches of the palms form a roof over your head. Just watch out for branches falling ;) This is a perfect place to hug a tree. Worth a visit.
Behind the Riu hotel in Playa del Ingles there is an Information Center on Las Dunas. Here you can find all the information and pictures which light up when you press a button, on when and how the nature reserve of Las Dunas came about and the process and progress it has taken. And about all the animals, birds and reptiles in the nature reserve. The funny thing though is that the information was only in Spanish, disappointing as I really wanted to know more about this project.
Meloneras is on the other side of the light-house Faro de Maspalomas. It is a beautiful area with a long promenade, lots of shops in Boulevard de Faro, beautiful luxury hotels, cafés and restaurants. It is always filled with life. It hasn't got big beaches like Maspalomas but people sunbathe in the rocks. At the other end of Meloneras there is a small beach, Playa de Meloneras (see my tip). This is an expensive area and quite different from Playa del Ingles.
The Dunas of Maspalomas look like Sahara and are 25 km2, with a lot of sand hills, making it an interesting walk. The sand is mixed, some of it comes from Sahara, so this is authentic. A large part of the Dunas is a part of a nature reserve linked to the Charca in Maspalomas. Every day hoards of people take a walk in the Dunas, you can see the stroll of people from early in the morning and then coming home before dark. There is vegetation and palmtrees in the Nature reserve and one is only allowed to walk on 3 marked paths, marked with different colours and as in all nature reserves the nature is to remain untouched. This is sooo not the case there, bear cans and junk in so many places, one is not to sunbathe nude in the nature reserve - again so not the case and one can expect to encounter a nude person wherever one goes.
Now there are other rules for the big sandhills of the Dunas, they are not a nature reserve and there one can sunbathe wherever one likes, and there are people all over sunbathing, in the nude or in bathing suits. This is a great place to sunbathe, surrounded by hills of sand. However it is so difficult walking in the sand and one gets tired easily, it is like walking in snow. But all in all The Dunas are not to be missed. The Dunas stretch to Playa del Ingles so when walking home from the beach one has to cross the Dunas or walk alongside the coastline which in my case was a much longer walk.
Varadero shopping center is a large shopping center in Meloneras, surrounded by shops and restaurants in this area. It stands by the promenade and is on two storeys and has got many shops, restaurants and cafés. Netto supermarket is there as well. It is a bit more expensive than the shops in Playa del Ingles, but Meloneras is a more expensive area.
Maspalomas pond and dunes were declared special nature reserve from 1994. This protected area, Charca, provides a resting spot for birds migrating from Europe to Africa (it was lovely seeing a whimbrel there, which migrates to Iceland in the summer time). A large part of the dunas are protected as well. This area is unique in The Canary islands for its botanic and faunistic value. I add information on the dunas in another tips. The Charca is filled with fish, one has to stop and gaze when schools of fish look for food. This being a nature reserve it is strictly forbidden to feed the fish and it says so on a sign - but in Spanish only, so more than once I saw people throw bread to feed the fish. There are myriad of bird there as well and there is information about what birds and fish you might be able to spot there.
There is a lovely park behind the lighthouse Faro de Maspalomas. If it is too windy on the beach one can seek shelter there and sunbathe between the low palms in the park which provide perfect shelter. There is a pond in this small park with a bridge and a scary looking fountain (see my picture). As the park is right behind the promenade of Meloneras it is quite lovely sunbathing there and watching the crowds go by.
El Boulevard de Faro is next to the park.