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Gran Canaria: family fun on the wild south coast

On Gran Canaria’s wild south coast, water parks, submarine tours, body surfing on volcanic beaches and floating about in your own private moat makes a wet week’s break one to savour

Gran Canaria: family fun on the wild south coast
Exploring the beaches in Gran Canaria. Image: Getty

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The back door of our room leads out onto a moat — a thin strip of water that fringes a handful of neighbouring apartments at Ocean Beach Club. During my first evening at this quiet spot in southern Gran Canaria, it’s illuminated and extremely tranquil to behold, particularly as I lie back on my lounger and listen to the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash onto the nearby beach.

But on a family holiday, nothing stays tranquil for long, and come morning, that serene strip of water is suddenly home to an inflatable dolphin, a giant inflatable flamingo and my two very noisy, splashy children. It’s a rare pleasure to have our own patch of pool, and great for the children, particularly my three-year-old daughter, Dora, who can’t yet swim. But inevitably, as is the way with children, the novelty of this soon wears off and I’m forced to leave the precious moat and find myself instead in the resort’s infant pool, watching a boisterous water aerobics class being led by Lollo, a giant cuddly giraffe in a dress.  

Dora can’t quite bring herself to join in, but seems content enough to sit on my lap and observe. It’s the type of uneasy truce we’ve grown accustomed to, but the water is warm and it’s fun watching the other children noisily giving it go.

From there, it’s off to the main pool, where snatched moments on a sunbed with a book and a frozen strawberry daiquiri are interspersed with lengthier splashing sessions – during which my elder daughter, Lena, delights in finding new and increasingly violent ways to tip me off the inflatable flamingo. It’s not entirely restful, but with the Atlantic Ocean in view, I could quite happily spend the whole holiday this way.

But yet again, when kids are involved, things have a habit of escalating. And thus, the following day, my partner, Rachel, and Lena find themselves hurtling down a tube in pitch darkness before being spat out into the water below. Nearby, I make vain attempts to persuade Dora to give a much tamer turtle slide a try. With so many of the resort’s pools at our disposal, the trip to the nearby Aqualand waterpark could have felt like an unnecessary indulgence. But it doesn’t, particularly once Dora finally overcomes her trademark reticence and begins working her way through the numerous mini slides at her disposal.

With one triumphant watery excursion under our belts, I once more feel the pull of my treasured sunbed. But — yes — when kids are involved, nothing’s ever that simple, and the following day we find ourselves once more immersed in water, this time in a little yellow submarine, descending twenty metres to the seabed off the coast of nearby Puerto de Mogán. I’d hoped to see evidence of life, and I’m not disappointed, with vast schools of silvery fish shimmering past our porthole. As we go deeper, we spot several surreal-looking Atlantic trumpetfish, while bluefin damselfish and striped bream add welcome splashes of colour.

Another victorious if initially reluctant excursion completed, we spend a happy afternoon being thrown by the waves back onto the black volcanic sand of the resort’s neighbouring beach. Then, once the kids are in bed, I return finally to my lounger, and listen to the sea. This time the moat isn’t so tranquil — after four days of sunshine, a storm has broken, and we’re treated to a spectacular autumn downpour.

As I sit back, sheltered from the rain, watching flashes of lightening on the distant horizon, I wonder how I’ll describe this holiday to friends. “Wet”, I decide. “Wondrously so.”

Ocean Beach Club in Playa del Cura is one of Thomas Cook’s own-brand Sunwing Family Resorts.

Essentials

Where
Ocean Beach Club, Playa del Cura, Gran Canaria.

Who
Glen and Rachel went on holiday with Lena (8)
and Dora (3).

Best for
A lazy, watery break with young children.

Highs
“Being able to go swimming every day.” Lena.

Lows
“Having a temperature on the first day.” Lena.

How to do it
Thomas Cook offers seven nights at Ocean Beach Club by Sunwing in Playa del Cura, from £1,239 per family (based on a family of four) on a self- catering basis. For an additional £790 the whole family can go all-inclusive. Prices are based on two adults and two children under 14 years sharing a ground-floor, sea-view terrace room, departing from London Gatwick on 30 May 2019, with standard luggage, resort transfers, 24-hour Connected Service and ATOL protection. Excursions to Aqualand and on the Yellow Submarine Gran Canaria are available at extra cost.

Published in the Family 2019 issue, distributed with the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)