THE MASPALOMAS DUNES
The Maspalomas Lighthouse is in the south of Gran Canaria, right in the middle of one of the most visited sections of coastline in Europe. Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés and Meloneras offer a vast number of hotels and apartments, loads of leisure options during the day and an attractive night life around the beaches. People out walking, surfers and nudists mingle freely on a beach which also has quiet, isolated areas for nude bathing.
However Maspalomas is not just known for its enormous expanse of dunes next to the sea, or its great climate. It is also known for its old Lighthouse, which saw the first tourists arrive, and witnessed the area turn into a holiday resort. Ever since it dawned on the first travellers that the warm temperatures were no fluke on this endless beach, the Maspalomas Lighthouse has been the silent witness to thousands of days of sun, honeymoons, dips in the sea and strolls along the promenade.
The decision to build the lighthouse was made in 1861, although it actually took 28 long years to finish. At the time, the place was an uninhabited, desert paradise, cut off from the rest of the island. In order to build the lighthouse, which stands 55 metres high, they used a dock with a small ramp to unload the materials, which could only be brought in by sea.
The lighthouse light shone for the first time on 1st February 1890. It was the only construction at the end of a long strip of sand which started at what is now the Playa del Inglés and tailed off close to the Maspalomas Oasis. It helped to guide steamboats which covered routes between Europe, Africa and America.
Nowadays everything around it has changed. Now it is at the start of a busy promenade area with a whole host of restaurants and gift shops. It is the perfect place to shop, stop off after a day at the beach, go out for dinner or simply have a drink next to the long seashore.
Just a few metres from the promenade, bathers and walkers dive into the sand which marks the start of the Maspalomas Natural Dune Reserve, made up of three eco-systems: Palmeral, Charca and Dunas (Palms, Pond and Dunes) which run in parallel a few metres from the sea. The whole area is an enormous, exceptionally valuable natural space.
The beach has solitary and isolated sections, where nudism is popular. From the Maspalomas Lighthouse to Playa del Inglés, the nudist area is found between beach bars 3 and 4. From Playa del Inglés to the Maspalomas Lighthouse, the nudist area is found between beach bars 5 and 6. Surfers congregate on the bend joining Maspalomas with Playa del Inglés.
Just a little further on from the Maspalomas Palm Tree plantation (Palmeral) you will find another protected natural space, Charca, which lies between the sea and the sand, providing a resting spot for birds migrating from Europe to Africa. The huge expanse of sand dunes start beyond this ‘pond’, changing their shape continually, chiseled out by the wind coming off the ocean.
From the Lighthouse, and heading towards the dunes along the seashore, we reach the Punta de Maspalomas, which connects with the Playa del Inglés. It is actually the same beach, which just changes its name at this point. Visitors here soon latch on to our healthy custom of walking from one end to the other.
Many things have changed since 1861, but Maspalomas continues to be the perfect place to unwind, enjoy the sea or simply while away the hours sunbathing. This hasn’t changed, and neither has the long shadow of the Lighthouse, in the same place as ever. Whereas before it looked out for boats crossing the Atlantic, it now envies beach-goers spending their days under the gentle sun in Maspalomas.