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Las Palmas Atlantic Sailing Guide

Las Palmas, a city on the northern side of Gran Canaria, is the capital of the Canary Islands. This is where Columbus left Europe to discover what is now the Americas! ‘Muelle Deportivo de Las Palmas’ is the most popular harbour and a central hub to stop, shop, and prepare for sailing out to the Atlantic. Over the years I spent about a total of five months in Las Palmas, hopping on (&off) boats, provisioning and exploring. I discovered some useful info for those setting sail for the Atlantic whether you’re already on a boat or not.

A sense of place

Las Palmas is the capital of the Canary Islands (Spain). It’s a city that really has it all. Las Palmas has an ideal mix of island and natural living with all the luxuries and cultural ambiance of a city. Las Palmas is lively, active, and outdoorsy. The locals are superfriendly, proud and happy to live here and they all call it paradise. There is quite a cultural mixture here of European winter escapers, as well as ethnicities from all over the world.  The cultural agenda does not seem to have a day off. Every day there is something fun organized somewhere. From live music on the street, to food events, and sports activities, competitions, rallies and races.
Though the Spanish food is amazing, Las Palmas has plenty of diversity in food and restaurants available, with many vegan options too. With endless summer climate, it’s nice to spend the winter months here. With the culinary greatness, it’s no wonder everyone is so active all the time. You got to gain and then lose those pounds. If you just go for a stroll around you’d see people playing beach volleyball, Stand Up Paddle surfing, surfing, playing paddle tennis on the beach, doing yoga on the beach, running the beach or boulevard, mountainbiking, sailing, climbing, diving, walking, inline skating, and long boarding. The opportunities are endless

The city is kind of divided into two parts: The old town in the east, called Vaqueta, and Las Canteras area in the west. The bit in between is residency, the marina and harbour, some shops in Triana. There’s quite a lot of noisy traffic around the marina but with the different beaches around the corner, you’re back in the fresh air zone in no time.

Inland Gran Canaria is a must. Almost 50% of the island is a Biosphere Reserve. Nature is just stunning. Las Palmas is a nice basecamp to explore the rest of Gran Canaria Adventure paradise. With stunning nature, the steepest elevation in the world, lots of greenery, hiking, biking and climbing trails, water and outdoor sports all around the island. 236 kilometers of coastlines, sea current that bring life close to shore for under water fun. Add the perfect climate to that and it’s an all year round playground!

The Sailor Community

It’s the perfect place to meet water-loving people with a shared love for the ocean, with the same dreams, mindset and nomadic lifestyle. You can meet all kinds of adventurers determined not to wait for retirement to make their sailing dreams happen. Some are sailing around the Canary Islands; some are just chilling in this harbour enjoying la vida Española or making a difference for a healthy ocean. Some are preparing for the Atlantic Ocean passage.

The cost of living

Las Palmas is fairly cheap. You can manage on a budget. Hostels in the Canary Islands go from €15/night. For food, plan for another €10-€20/day. If you eat where the locals eat, you can have a beer or tapa for just €1!

Searching for a boat to sail across

Lots of people show up every year looking to catch a sailboat ride across the Atlantic. Captains can decide last minute they want crew, for extra fun, safety, funds, or sleep. Or crew that’s already on board leaves for whatever reason.

Is Las Palmas the best place to find a boat to sail across the Atlantic?

There is no best spot. Las Palmas may be the epic center of where most boats sail out for the Atlantic. Many boats come here to prepare, find the boat parts and provisioning they need, and the marina is big and fairly cheap. That said, Las Palmas is also the place that attracts many people looking for a ride. Elsewhere there may be fewer boats that possibly need crew, but also less aspiring crew.

When to be in Las Palmas?

Between November and May boats sail across. Many boats leave in November so they can have the full Caribbean season on the other side. From mid-December until after New Years it’s quiet. As from January many boats set sail again. Winds are generally good in January – March. Until around April boats set sail for the Atlantic.

The ARC and ARC+ sailing rallies depart from Las Palmas in November every year. The harbour can be pretty hectic during the weeks prior to these events. This year there are about 50-80 people looking for a boat during the ARC.

Where to meet the sailors?

Meet sailors around the marina at the reception, the Sailors Bay bar, the laundry machine, or just walking or rowing, SUPping, chatting around the harbour and bay. Make friends! Don’t just as ‘for a ride.’ Captains duck dive away when they see another ‘one of those hitchhikers’ coming. They’re busy preparing. Time it right.

Las Palmas also has a vibrant digital nomad community which is nice to mingle into if you’re an (aspiring) online entrepreneur.

Where to print your crew advertisement?

InkCrea (+/- 6 minute walk from the marina). Open from 9.00 to 17.00 (it does not close for siesta). It’s 0.08 cents for a black and white print.

Ways to find a boat

Make friends and stay determined. Perhaps the person you talk to doesn’t have a crew opportunity. But maybe his new neighbour sailing in does. Throw out many lines and eventually, you’ll catch one. Also, keep checking online on the different platforms (find some suggestions here)

A few words of encouragement

Know that opportunity for a crew spot can arrive anytime! Don’t give up, Stay determined. Believe, Make friends, throw out many lines, online and offline. Wear a smile. And enjoy the journey! It’s all part of the fun!  I’ve waved many boats goodbye that took on Crew, either found online or here in the harbour. Some aspiring crew looks for a boat for two months. Some find one in a day. Captains find the right crew in a day but sometimes that also take weeks or months. Also realize it’s not just about finding a boat, it’s about finding the right boat. It’s a long ride and you must feel great about the captain, crew and boat. And vice versa of course! But trust me, the adventure is worthwhile. Good luck! Make it happen!

After three Atlantic Crossings I have wayyy more tips to share! I’ve put them all in book Ocean Nomad (available as E-book and in Print). 400 pages to help you on a happy, safe and meaningful ocean crossing. I also offer a personalized boat find service. Don’t want to spend weeks searching? Let me search for you. No boat, no costs.

What to do in Las Palmas?

Clichee but it’s about the journey, not the destination. Make it fun!

In Las Palmas

  • Go for a surf, hike, SUP, sail, volleyball session.
  • Head for the old town every Thursday evening for la Ruta de Pinchos. For €2 you can get a beer, a tapa and great Spanish ambiance in la calle (the street). A great place to meet the locals but also sailors in social mode, a great time to make friends! Bring your own plate or re-use the one they give you. It’s horrendous the amount of trash that’s generated on these evenings.
  • Every Friday, and sometimes on Saturday, there’s live music on the streets in Las Canteras.
  • Visit the church in the old town where Columbus made a prayer before he sailed out. For a small fee, you can climb the stairs to the top for a beautiful view.

Elsewhere on the island

It’s fun to take the bus and explore the mountains for a day, or weekend. Gran Canaria is an island with one of the highest elevations in the world. Almost 50% of the island is a Biosphere reserve. With lots of greenery, hiking, biking and climbing trails outdoor fun is guaranteed. Put your sport shoes on and go on an adventure. This can also be an excellent crew bonding activity before sailing out.

Where to stay in Las Palmas?

If you’re not staying on a boat (yet), where to stay? Las Palmas marina is a 30-minute walk from the old city centre, and a 20-minute walk from the popular boulevard, Las Canteras beach (Great surf spot too!). For your own convenience, don’t stay too far from the harbour. I prefer staying in Las Canteras. It’s super nice to jump straight into the sea after waking up, to go for a beach run or surf session. An extra euro is worth the seaview accommodation! Or stay closer to the marina. It’ll save you lots of time walking.

Free Accommodation

  • The beach next to the marina 😉
  • Couchsurfing
  • Atlas in La Isleta
  • Try to find a place to stay in the marina. Perhaps you can sleep on someone’s boat in exchange for lending a hand. It’ll give you lots of interaction opportunities with other sailors.

Budget Accommodation

+ 5 minute walk to the harbour: La Fabrica (love the vibe here) and Alcaravaneras hostel (has private rooms).

Another nice hostel is Utopia and Big Fish in Las Canteras but it’s a +/- 20-minute walk to the marina from there.

Book your hostels in advance. On the spot they charge more and they are often booked out in high season (November- January).

Entrepreneur Accommodation

If you’re an online entrepreneur or freelancer you can also stay at the digital nomad co-living accommodations around town and take advantage of the internet facilities. The Roof is very close to the marina (My book Ocean Nomad – the Atlantic Sailing Crew Guide – is in the library here :). Restation is another option where you can use the wifi and printing facilities.

Mid-range Accommodation

Apartamentos Vacaciales Las Palmas Urban Center.Self-contained apartments close to the marina

Hotel the Fataga – Next to Mercado Central. This is where the ARC crew usually stays in the month of November.

You can check out my page on recommended travel resources for budget friendly /free accommodation platforms

How to get around in Las Palmas?

Rent a Bike

My preferred way: by bicycle! Las Palmas has cycle lanes throughout the city. Spanish style. Sometimes they just end. Also, it’s cool to cycle uphill or take a mountain bike with the car or bus inland. Take bikes in at night. They get stolen. It happened to me.

There’s a free public bike service where you can grab a bike for 30 minutes: ByBike. You must register and pick up a card. Or rent a bicycle (+/- 30 euro/ week or  €75 / month)! Cheapest bike rental in Las Palmas: Bike Station.

Walk

It’s all walkable. Note that from Las Canteras to the marina is about a 20-30 minute walk and from the Old town (Vegueta) to the marina 30-40 minutes walk. There’s a bus stop close to the marina, or my preferred option: by bike.

The beach and boulevard in Las Canteras is a nice half an hour stroll. There’s a walking (& bicycle lane) all the way to the south of the island which has some nice seaviews. It’s also nice to walk up the hills to get a nice view of Las Palmas.

The bus

One ride costs 1,40 euro and brings you to the other side of town. You can hold the bus at the different busstops along the street. From ‘Estacion de Guagguas Bus station’ Buses leave to elsewhere on the island. There is one big busstation at Parque Santa Catalina (between the port and Las Canteras) and one in Triana, just before the old town.

The bus from the Airport to Las Palmas is a few euro’s and leaves every 20 minutes.

Taxi’s

Taxi’s are and you’ll see them everywhere (white cars). They have a starting rate of 1euro-something and then add cents per distance. A ride from Las Canteras to the old town is around 8-10 euro. A taxi ride from the Airport to town is 30 euro.

Provisioning tips Las Palmas

With provisioning you can make a HUGE difference for a healthier ocean. Read more on conscious provisioning for an offshore passage. The Spanish supermarkets are the worse when it comes to plastic packaging! Try to avoid them as much as you can.

The central market (Mercado Central) is a great place to source your food. You can have your fruits and veggies delivered to the boat from here with reduced packaging. The places around the Mercado Central also provide budget friendly provisions. The old town has another market (Mercado Vequeta). On Sundays, there is a farmer’s market at San Lorenza.

The Indian Supermarket at the end of Las Canteras is a great place to find all sorts of spices, seeds, nuts, and teas at reasonable prices.

The Pharmacia on Plaza Santa Catalina in Las Palmas gives over-the-counter antibiotics to ships.

Carrefour sells unbleached toilet paper you can throw over board (Learn what else you can and can’t throw over board)

Local foods
One of the few places in Europe where you can buy tropical fruit grown locally! Mango’s, papayas, banana, kaki fruit, walnuts Yum yum! Also try local wines, aloe vera products, mojo rojo and verde (local sauce) made in the Canary islands.

Organic food shops: La Zanahoria and Spar natural Also sells ocean-friendly detergents, shampoo and toiletries and all sorts of sprouting seeds so you can have fresh veggies anywhere at sea.

 

Read more about finding a boat to sail across the Atlantic Ocean and Ocean passage provisioning tips on planning, food choices and storage in Ocean Nomad.

Ahoy!

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El Medano Tenerife: a kitesurf & adventure travel guide

Southern Tenerife seems for many adventure seekers a ‘no-go’ because of the big tourism developments and touristic crowd. Don’t let this hold you back from visiting the south coast.
Costa del Silencio in particular: the south-east coast. The old fishing town of El Medano (meaning Sand dune) is the place to be, especially for wind and kitesurfers looking to extent the European summer. El Medano is the kitesurf town of Tenerife. Here’s a little El Medano adventure travel guide that helps you plan and get settled when thinking to go adventuring and/or kitesurfing in El Medano, Tenerife.

El Medano: a sense of place

La Montaña Roja is the landmark, a 171 high volcanic ‘red mountain’ and protected natural reserve, where you can climb, hike and cycle. The area around the ‘mountain’ is the playground for the waterlusted adventure seekers. El Medano is a chilled-out laid-back town that hasn’t been conquered by invasions of northern European beach people. As opposed to other parts of Tenerife here the Spanish vibe is definitely present. Fisherman are catching the tapa of the day, elderly people are chitchatting on the boulevard benches, and locals and adventure seekers are having una caña (draft beer) somewhere at the plaza or wooden board walk in the no-traffic zone.  It’s one of these sticky places where you could end up hanging out wayyy longer than planned.
Kitesurfing in El Medano Tenerife. This is the kitesurfspot in El Medano

Kitesurfing in El Medano

El Medano is the kitesurf and windsurf spot in Tenerife. Thanks to the volcanic landscape on Tenerife, North East winds accelerate, and have made El Medano a popular spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing in Tenerife. Where in the rest of Europe wind- and kitesurfers squeeze themselves already into 5 mm wetsuits in november, El Medano is still ok in board shorts (not for shivery types like me though).  Statistical July – August – September have the most windy days. As August is super crowded is places like Tarifa, El Medano could be a nice alternative. Windy days range from 15 up to 35 knots. It has made the place a windsurf world cup spot. When the Calima (strong hot dusty Sahara wind) is on, wind can go up to 35 knots. The bay at Playa los Balos has flat water or little swell. The spot is beginner friendly and there are many schools to choose from. The spot more upwind at playa El Cabezo is for the more advanced riders, where you can surf some sideshore waves. The wind usually picks up around noon and often lasts long enough for some sweet sunset sessions. Wind direction is side onshore. In the rare event of wind coming from the west you can kitesurf at Tejita Playa on the other side of Montaña Roja.
Cool PKRA kitesurf video of Tom Herbert shot in El Medano

Adventure things to do in El Medano

Rent a bike in El Medano

Cycle the Costa del Silencio! There’s nice coastal trail going from El Medano to San Miguel. The volcanic formations and erosions have created a super stunning coastline. Most beaches have an info point where you can learn more about the characteristics of the ecosystem. This is an easy peasy bicycle route. Inland there is more hardcore road and mountain-biking to ride. After all Tenerife has the highest peak of Spain! You can rent a good Mountainbike at BikepointTenerife. Hostel Los Amigos has budget bicycles which will get you along the coastline for 2 euro/day only.
Adventure things to do in El Medano Tenerife

Birdwatching in El Medano

The Montana Rojo is a special nature reserve with sand- and mud-based ecosystems. The area of Montana Roja has become a Special Natural Reserve and with more than 100 bird species it has been declared a Bird Area of International Importance. The Klentish plover is an endangered specie that can be spotted here.

Go Surfing in El Medano

El Medano and around has many surf breaks and board rental shops.

Snorkeling & Chilling

Chillax, have a picknick, go for a snorkel session and watch a sunset at La tejita Blue flag beach. There is a beach bar and beachwear is optional;)

Salt water pools of Tenerife

Go dipping in the saltwater pools that can be found along the coast of the Montana Rojo nature reserve. With high tide they are filled up and filtered by the volcanic rocks.  in a number of locations within the reserve, fed by seawater filtered through the sand at high tide.

Hike up Montaña Rojo

It’s only a half an hour hike and the views are priceless.
montana rojo tenerife

Best time to go to El Medano?

All year round! It’s the place where summer continues in European winter. October-January is peak season and you need to book in advance, unless you go camping.

Where to stay in El Medano Tenerife?

Budget places to stay El Medano

  • Los Amigos Backpackers. 15 euro’s per night. This hostel is located few kilometers outside of El Medano. It’s a hostel run by backpackers for backpackers. For 2 euro you can rent a bike. If you leave before noon it’s no problem to take your kitesurf gear on the bike (poco viento). The staff is very active in organising daily excursions and dinner gatherings. Breakfast (cereals, bread, fruit & veggies) and towels are included. The wifi is good. The crowd is multi-national. It lacks Spanish ambience if that’s what you’re after. For people who specifically come to kitesurf in El Medano, you may want to stay right in El Medano town.
  • Casa Grande Surfhostel. 15 euro per night. A budget surf vibe place in El Medano center. Shared rooms only.
  • Hostal Carel. 45 euro’s per night/per room. Budget friendly top location.

Midrange accommodation options in El Medano

  • Hotel Playa Sur This hotel is right on the kitesurf spot in El Medano. You cannot be closer!
  • Casas Bioclimaticas Eco houses powered by the wind. Located a few kilometers east of El Medano. 100% in nature. You would want to rent a car if you stay here.

Check Booking.com HomestaysFlipkey, Homelidays, Atraveo , and Trivago to browse more house rentals and accommodation in El Medano. Or stay with a local and find El Medano accommodation on HomeStay.com or AIRBNB. Numerous nice homestay accommodation in El Medano exist.

elmedano-town-beach

Cool places to Eat & Drink in El Medano

  • For a cafe con leche in the morning or cana after kiteboarding: Veinte 04 Surf cafe, on the square.
  • Tapas? Vetusta Bar Lovely staff, good wifi, delicious tapas! and Bar playa chica (5 tapas for 10 euro’s), both at the paseo Maritimo.
  • Flashpoint: right on the beach. Nice view of the world from here.
  • Go for the catch of the day in the town next to El Medano: Los Abrigos
  • For cocktails? Calima Cafe
  • In the small alleys on the eastern side of the bay you find more nice coffee bars, wifi-bars, an eco food shop and discodancing options.

Local food of the Canary Islands?

Forget about your usual food. These are must tries when in the Canary Islands:

  • Papa arrugadas: Canary Island style salty potatoes which come with a delicious salsa (sauce) Mojo rojo (red) y verde (green). I cannot get enough of this, and of the Mojo especially!
  • Rancho Canario: a tasty local chickpeas soup. Very nutritional!
  • Queso Rojo: the local cheese!
  • Mango’s, papayas, kaki fruit and a lot of them!
el medano fishing town

How to get to El Medano?

El Medano is super close the airport. A taxi ride costs about 10 euro’s. In 15 minutes you can be with your feet in the sand. You can also take a guagua (bus). The Transportes Interurbanos de Tenerife linea 470 bus route passes through the town on its way to tourist town of Playa de las Americas. There are also buses from Santa Cruz.
Or rent a car a so you can do some more Tenerife exploration. +/- 35 euro/day.

Beyond El Medano

There is more in Tenerife than kitesurfing in El Medano. Climb, hike or cycle El Teide, Spain’s highest peak! Further, if time allows, consider going to La Gomera, a green tranquillo (quiet) hiking and biking nature islands south of Tenerife. It’s one hour by ferry or go hitch-sailing. Don’t go there for just a day.

El Medano kitesurf resources

Disclaimer: All recommendations in this El Medano Kitesurf & Adventure guide are my own. Some links are affiliate links, some are not.  If you book through my site I get a few pesos to put into the adventure fund. Thank you! If you would like to know more about this cool coastal town, leave a comment below. Happy to help.