Maspalomas Dunes - The Desert in Gran Canaria

Maspalomas Dunes - The Desert in Gran Canaria

Spain
Spain

When Is the Best Time

The “Dunas de Maspalomas” of Gran Canaria are for sure unique and a Must-Visit. When we reached the dunes for the first time it was an aha moment. After walking along the hotels and through the RIU Hotel we suddenly spotted this fascinating landscape. We didn’t expect such a desert vibe on the Canary Islands.

Maspalomas Dunes in winter

With more than 4 million visitors annually this magical place can get crowded at times. However, if you don’t mind walking for a while in this 400 ha huge Nature Reserve you can find “instagramable” spots and tranquillity.

Maspalomas Dunes and clear blue sky

The best time for an unforgettable visit to the Maspalomas Dunes is either in the morning, in the late afternoon or watch an amazing sunset here.

Maspalomas Dunes during sunset
The Maspalomas Lighthouse to the right is 60 m high completed in 1890 according to Wikipedia

Spring, autumn, and winter are great seasons for Gran Canaria. To avoid the crowds, watch the sunrise from the majestic dunes. The sand is hot during the day and burning in summer. Walking barefoot on the dunes is impossible. 

Wheelchair accessible until the Maspalomas Dunes Outlook

Wheelchair accessibility until the dunes outlook after the information centre. The scenery is already spectacular from "Mirador Las Dunas" at the end of this footpath.

Crowds 

Dunes, Outlook, and Riu Maspalomas Hotel
Maspalomas Dunes, the Mirador, and the RIU Palace Hotel

Due to the popularity of Maspalomas Sand Dunes and the excellent sunny weather many resorts were developed nearby. It is a touristy area that’s for sure. To beat the crowds, arrive early for the sunrise. The majority is still sleeping after the party. Famous are the awesome sunsets. The busiest time is around midday and from 5 pm onwards when it tends to get colder. However, if you don’t mind to walk you have the dunes for yourselves.

Awesome Tours in Gran Canaria
 

 

Weather Maspalomas 

Kite Surfer in the south of Gran Canaria
Strong winds in the south - famous for Kitesurfer

The south of Gran Canaria is a great destination throughout the year experiencing just a little amount of rain between October to March. The Atlantic Ocean influences the pleasant weather and temperatures in Gran Canaria. It is always a few degrees warmer here at Maspalomas than in the north. It is frequently windy throughout the year the reason a pullover is needed for the evening. The wind can be an issue on the dunes and a scarf and glasses are recommended.

Spring (March-May) 

The Maspalomas Dunes at midday on a sunny day

Spring is busy, but not too crowded. It is warm, but not too hot. Pleasant temperatures around 24°C in the south and roughly 22°C in the north. Night temps are on average around 16°C. Some quick showers occur during this season rarely for longer. The sea is refreshing cold after the winter around 20°C. 

Summer (June-September)

A couple on the dunes and a sailing boat in the back on the Atlantic Ocean

The summer is hot, almost always sunny in Maspalomas and Playa Ingles. With climate change, the summer is getting hotter reaching almost 40°C like in July 2021. It is the second peak season of the year like elsewhere due to the summer school holidays. Hotel rates are higher early booking is required. The beaches are crowded in the south. It is a splendid time for sunbathing and swimming. Nevertheless, expect UV 12 during the day.

Maspalomas Dunes

Sunscreen, a hat, and shade are essential. The sea temp in June is on average 22°C reaching 24-25°C at the end of the summer. If you also want to hike in the summer temperatures are bearable in higher elevations and at Pico de las Nieves. However, the sun is intense. Although fall officially starts in September it is more a summer month.

Autumn (October-November)

Playa del Ingles in the back of the Maspalomas Dunes
Playa del Ingles in the back of the Maspalomas Dunes

Like spring autumn is busy but not overrun. Day temperatures in October are still more like summer at least 25°C and November roughly two degrees colder. Night temps are slightly below 20°C. First rain showers occur in October. Nevertheless, it doesn't rain much in Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles. After the long and hot summer the sea temperature is warm in autumn usually around 25°C.

Winter (December-February) 

Maspalomas Dunes are cloudier in winter
Maspalomas Dunes are cloudier in winter

The winter is one of the peak seasons in Gran Canaria. It never gets too hot, hiking temps are pleasant, and the sea is cold between 19-20°C. Many Europeans visit Gran Canaria to escape the cold winter for a while. Snow occurs only in the mountain range on higher elevations occasionally rain showers in the south.  

Maspalomas Dunes and one person only

Maspalomas lays in the warmest area of the island. Day temperatures are rather warm above 20°C in the shade and colder at night around 15°C. Summer clothes are needful and a jacket for the morning and evening. Even in the winter you easily get sunburnt with UV 6.

Don't miss out my top tips for nearby places at the end of the article.
 

Top Accommodation Next to the Maspalomas Dunes

Riu Palace Maspalomas Hotel in front of the dunes

There are several hotels within walking distance to the Maspalomas Dunes and Beach. The location, the view of the dunes and the sea are sensational in the RIU Palace Maspalomas Hotel just in front of the dunes. You can't wish for better. 

Excellent Resort in Meloneras Close to the Dunes

Lopesan Villa del Conde Resort & Thalasso in Meloneras

The Lopesan Villa del Conde Resort & Thalasso Hotel is another wonderful accommodation with an excellent location. Next to the hotel is a 24x7 bike rental. That is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a sundowner on the dunes.

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Gran Canaria, Maspalomas
Spain
Spain

Maspalomas Beach and Sand Dunes are located in the south. The dunes are constantly changing by the wind and during the night appearing virgin each morning when most footprints disappeared. We visited the sand dunes several times, once after rainfall. The entire dunes looked cleaned and renewed. 

Maspalomas Sand Dunes after rain

It is a 60 km drive from the capital city Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the east, 26 km from Puerto de Mogan, and a 90 km – one hour drive from Agaete in the northwest. Experiencing some of the finest weather the entire year.

3 Entrances to the Maspalomas Dunes

Maspalomas Beach - entrance to Maspalomas Dunes
Maspalomas Beach; the dunes are in the back

  1. From the east from Playa del Ingles
  2. The west site from Playa de Maspalomas next to the Maspalomas Lighthouse
  3. Or take the path outside through the RIU Palace Maspalomas Hotel. 

 

Most people come from the RIU Palace Hotel side as we did soon after the hotel is already the outlook - mirador where you can sit for a while. When you start walking to the dunes and the silky sands, everything looks closer than it actually is. It takes time and can be a little exhausting climbing up and down the sand dunes. Don’t come in a rush. You easily spend half a day around the dunes and the sea.  

New Regulations  

Marked trail through the Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve
Marked trail through the Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve

Nowadays, there are strict rules to protect the dunes from shrinking. The sand is drifting to the beach and sea. New sand was brought several times already to let the dunes grow again. There are 8 km of marked trails where visitors are allowed to experience the sand dunes of Maspalomas. Some local people are still not convinced that this will stop the loss of the dunes. The occurring wind and the Atlantic Ocean are damaging the dunes far more. There are plans to guard the dunes in the entire area. This means one day, you can’t walk unrestricted any longer. However, we hadn’t seen any guard or sign.

Parking 

The roundabout in front of the RIU Hotel
The roundabout in front of the RIU Hotel; parking on either side of the road to the hotel

You can park your car for free in the entire area. Depending on your arrival time, a little luck is needed to find parking nearby.

  • There is plenty of onside road parking, but not enough direction RIU Maspalomas for the busiest time of the day. 
  • There is another big car park for the dunes visit where you may find a space Google Maps Link
  • At Playa del Ingles is also a big parking lot Google Maps Link
     

9 Facts About Maspalomas Dunes

Maspalomas Dunes Map
Map of the Maspalomas Dunes

  1. Stretching 5.6 km from east to west from Playa de Ingles to the Faro de Maspalomas. 
  2. It’s an almost one km walk, from the inland to the sea 
  3. This long stretch of fine sand became the status of a Special Nature Reserve in 1994
  4. The sand is not from the Sahara; these are crushed coral reefs from the last ice age. 
  5. Access for free
  6. Information Centre after the RIU Hotel, open from 9 am-4 pm only. Restrooms are available next to the Info Centre, but open only during information centre operating hours.
  7. 8 km of maintained trails leading through the dunes and along.
  8. Maspalomas Dunes are a famous spot for sunsets.
  9. There is a nudist beach close to Playa del Ingles.

Packing List 

  • Wear trainers instead of walking barefoot. Depending on the season and time of day, the sand can be hot. I saw shards of glass here and there; not many. 
  • Carry plenty of water, especially during the day. In the end, you may spend more time in the dunes than expected. 
  • Bring a scarf to protect your mouth if it gets too windy. There is lots of wind on Gran Canaria in the south and south-east therefore famous for kitesurfing.
  • Sun protection and a hat are highly recommended during the day. The sun is powerful even in the winter.
  • Towel and swim clothes for a bath in the sea when reaching the very end of the dunes.

My Top Tips Nearby

Vacas Canyon

This is one of the Must-Visit places in Gran Canaria; the Barranco de las Vacas. It is a famous Instagram spot, but there are quiet times as well. Read my detailed guide about Vacas Canyon.

Las Salinas de Arinaga

Depending on where you stay on Gran Canaria, combine the breathtaking dunes with the picturesque Las Salinas de Arinaga. Watch the hard work to get the salt from the evaporated seawater. The owner of the saline does not speak English. However, he is super friendly and selling the salt for a small amount.

Las Salinas de Arinaga from the outside

Even if the saline is not open, you can see the stunning colours of the production from the wall. This is definitely a Must-Visit place in the south. Attached is the location of the salinas Google Maps Link. We came from Arinaga Beach and walked along the sea to get there. The main road was closed because of road construction. 

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I love adventurous trips and my husband…