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Friday, 27 February 2015

Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

Updated 15th February 2016

The Canary Islands lie off the western coast of Africa.  With plenty of warm sunshine all year round, they are a popular holiday destination.

The island of Gran Canaria is the second most-visited of the Canary Islands, attracting around 3 million holidaymakers every year.  I visited the island in January 2015, and again in February 2016.

The main holiday resorts are on the island's south coast.  The largest of these, Playa del Inglés, is also one of the largest holiday resorts in Europe.

There are no railways on Gran Canaria.  Bus services around the holiday resorts, and around the whole island, are provided by Global (Salcai Utinsa).

Around a dozen routes provide regular services within Playa del Inglés and its neighbouring resorts, Maspalomas and Bahia Feliz, and to destinations further afield.


Summary timetable information for the principal bus services on Gran Canaria (or those most likely to be of interest to visitors to the island) is contained in a leaflet, which I picked up at Gran Canaria's airport.  The leaflet lacked a map, but here is a diagram of the services it contained (click on the map for a larger version):


 
On all routes except one, the buses I saw in and around Playa del Inglés were two-door single-deck vehicles.

 







 





 



 





 







 
 









 















While some of the buses had two axles, I also saw plenty which had three.




























Development of Playa del Inglés started in the 1960s.  As well as hotels, apartments and bungalow complexes for holidaymakers, a number of commercial centres were built containing shops, cafés and bars.

This image was taken outside the Cita centre, the frontage of which includes replicas of landmarks from a number of European cities.  Bus route 30 is one of several limited-stop services linking the coastal resorts with the island's capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.


The one service I noted which was not provided using single-deck buses was an express service linking Gran Canaria's airport with Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas.

This service is provided using coaches in a dedicated livery.

















In Maspalomas, a modern bus interchange has been built at Faro Maspalomas.












Not all of the stops at the interchange are alongside the kerb.






 
Further holiday resorts have been developed along the coast to the west of Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas.  These include Puerto Rico and Puerto de Mogán.

This image was taken in Puerto Rico.



 
As in Maspalomas, a small interchange has been built in Puerto Rico.











 

At Puerto Mogán, the main bus terminal is a very basic, off-road parking area.









Minibuses operate from Puerto Mogán on an infrequent route which runs inland.  These images were taken in Teror, in the north of the island.  I didn't manage to get a photo of the minibus in Puerto Mon.

 










I did not notice any low-floor vehicles being operated by Global.  All of the buses were high floor, with several steps.  Newer vehicles are equipped to carry wheelchairs, with wheelchair lifts fitted to the second set of doors.  While this does provide for passengers using wheelchairs, a low floor vehicle would provide easier access to parents with pushchairs or buggies, and to any passengers who are infirm.

Although many services appeared to be operated with a mixture of accessible and non-accessible buses, I have not been able to find any information about which services (or even which timetabled journeys) are operated with wheelchair-accessible buses.




Fares on Global's services vary according to the distance travelled.

As well as displaying the times of buses serving the stop, bus stops carry information displays listing the principal destinations served from the individual stop  As well as showing which routes serve each destination, they also show the adult single fare (and, in some cases, the return fare).

At stops where a shelter is provided, the display is on both sides of the shelter.  Below is a close-up of a typical display:



 

Not all bus stops have shelters.  Where no shelter is provided, the bus route and fare information is provided on a freestanding display:





Some of Global's fleet carry advertising liveries.  These vehicles advertise a visitor attraction close to from Playa del Inglés.










More intriguing was the advertising I spotted on this vehicle:



The advert is in Norwegian, despite being on the Canary Islands thousands of kilometres from any part of Norway.  However, around 10% of visitors holidaying on Gran Canaria are Norwegian.

There are plenty of private coaches to be seen around Gran Canaria's resorts.  One of their principal functions is to transport passengers between the airport and their holiday accommodation, on behalf of tour operators.

Some of the coaches are painted their operators' own fleet colours...


















...while some wear the liveries of the tour operators...


















... or of an individual hotel:










Not all of the coaches are full-size.  I did notice one or two minicoaches at work in and around the resorts.
















Taxis are plentiful, at least around Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas, and fares are relatively cheap at least for local journeys around the resort.







Some of the holiday accommodation is some distance from the beach, at least in Maspalomas.  Free bus services link some of the accommodation complexes with the beach.

 







 
In some cases, coaches are used, while in others buses are provided.

Ironically, unlike the regular public bus services, the buses I saw on the services to the beach were low-floor.

The free buses are available only to people who are staying at the holiday accommodation which they serve.
 





Tours of Playa del Inglés are provided by a tourist train, which picks up outside one of the commercial centres.







 

When I started this blog, I never imagined that I would write about camels!  However, one of Gran Canaria's most well-known landmarks is the expanse of sand dunes at Maspalomas.

Naturally, the dunes are not suitable for conventional bus tours, but a camel safari offers tours of the dunes.
 





Along the coast, Puerto Rico and Puerto Mogán are linked by boats which are clearly aimed at the tourist market.

















The white-liveried vessels are operated by Líneas Salmon.


A competing service is operated by Líneas Bluebird.

Both operators' vessels continue east of Puerto Rico as far as Arguineguin.



In Puerto Mogán, there is also a submarine trip operated by Submarine Adventure














There is no harbour at the beach resorts of Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas or Bahia Feliz.  As a result, boat tours cannot operate from these resorts.

Global offers a Bus+Boat ticket in conjunction with Lineas Salmon.  This is a return ticket to Puerto Mogán, including a one-way boat trip from Puerto Rico to Puerto Mogán or vice versa.

A number of buses were advertising the Bus+Boat ticket in January 2015.


 
The Submarine Adventure also offers transfers to and from Playa del Inglés and Bahia Feliz.

These transfers are provided using coaches.









In this post, I have concentrated on the holiday resorts along Gran Canaria's southern coast.  I have written a separate post to describe the transport system in Las Palmas.

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