Gran Canaria, where it is

Index


Introduction


In Gran Canaria, a round-shaped island belonging to the Canaries, the climate is subtropical oceanic on the coast, that is, very mild and sunny most of the year, with mild and spring-like winters, and warm and sunny summers, and also with little rainfall, concentrated in the period from October to March. In inland areas, however, the climate varies according to altitude and exposure. In fact, the slopes exposed to the northeast trade winds receive a moderate amount of rain and are green, while on the southern slopes rainfall is scarce, often below 150 millimetres (6 inches) per year, to the point that the island appears divided in two, the northern part being verdant and the southern one almost desert.

Valleseco, Gran Canaria

The prevailing winds, the trade winds, not only make the northern slopes more humid, but also temper the heat along the coasts during summer; these winds blow more intensely in the afternoon, when they are often moderate or even quite strong.
The days of calima, characterized by abnormal heat and light wind, due to hot air masses from Africa, are relatively rare, and are more frequent in spring and summer: in practice these are the only days when the temperature exceeds 30 °C (86 °F), and from July to September can even reach 40 °C (104 °F), and the heat is unpleasant. The calima is felt also on the highlands, and often even more than in the plains because warm air is lighter and tends to rise, while the coast can be mitigated by the sea.

The coasts



Along the coasts, and therefore also in the major cities, such as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Ingenio, Telde, daytime temperatures are very mild in winter, with highs around 21 °C (70 °F) in January and February, and warm in summer, with highs around 27/28 °C (81/82 °F) from July to September. Here are the average temperatures of the airport of Gran Canaria, located in the eastern part of the island, near Ingenio.
Gran Canaria - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)151516161719212221201816
Max (°C)212122232425272827262422
Min (°F)595961616366707270686461
Max (°F)707072737577818281797572

The rain pattern is Mediterranean, which means that the bulk of the rain falls between October and March, since it is the time when the Canary Islands can be reached by some Atlantic fronts; in summer, on the contrary, in practice it never rains. The total amount of rain that falls in a year is still very low, below 200 millimetres (8 inches), therefore at desert levels. Even in autumn and winter, weeks can pass without a drop of water falling, although occasionally there can be more intense rains, as happened in the past from October to February.
Here is the average precipitation.
Gran Canaria - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)252510610009152030146
Prec.(in)110.40.200000.40.60.81.25.7
Days33210000124422

The amount of sunshine in Gran Canaria is very good throughout the year, however, in addition to the low pressure systems that may pass over the island during the October to March period, in summer cloud banks can form on the Atlantic and reach the island. On the northern coasts, and especially on the mountain slopes exposed to the north, local clouds and fogs can form. The southern coast is therefore the sunniest one.
Here are the average daily sunshine hours at the airport.
Gran Canaria - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours67789910108766

Sea temperature


The sea in Gran Canaria is quite cold in winter, though not prohibitively, and remains cool in summer. In fact the island is located at a low latitude, almost at the Tropic, but in this part of the Atlantic Ocean a cold current flows. Those who live on the island usually swim in the sea even in winter because they are accustomed to it, and also Nordic tourists or those who do not suffer from the cold. Anyway, the sea temperature goes from 19 °C (66 °F) in the period from January to April, to 23 °C (73 °F) in September and October.
Here are the average sea temperatures.
Gran Canaria - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)191919192021222223232220
Temp (°F)666666666870727273737268

The capital, Las Palmas, is located in the north-east of the island, where also the beach called Playa de Las Canteras is located; other famous beaches are located in the east and the south of the island, where also the Maspalomas Dunes are found, a small sand desert along the coast.

Gran Canaria, beach

Inland areas


In inland areas the weather gets cooler as you go up in altitude, and as mentioned the north side has a cool and humid microclimate, with rains of a certain importance from October to March, and even cloudiness and mist are more frequent, in fact there are several towns that are situated in a green environment. At 600/700 metres (2,000/2,300 feet), the daytime temperatures are about 16 °C (61 °F) in winter (and in unheated houses it's cold …) and 25 °C (77 °F) in summer.
The highest peak is Pico de las Nieves, located in the centre of the island, and 1,949 metres (6,394 feet) high. At this altitude, in winter it's cold, so much so that highs hover around 10 °C (50 °F), and lows are just above freezing (0 °C or 32 °F); sometimes the temperature can drop below freezing and even snow can fall; in summer the temperatures are pleasantly warm during the day (but the sun is very strong, so it requires adequate protection, with hat and sunglasses), and cool at night. From the top of the mountain you can see Mount Teide, the highest peak of Tenerife and of all the Canary Islands.

Landscape of Pico de las Nieves, Teide in the background

When to go


The best time for a beach holiday in Gran Canaria goes from May to mid-October. In the first period (May-June), the air temperature is a bit lower and the sea is a bit colder, but the days are slightly longer.
If you want to visit cities and go on excursions to the interior of the island, you can choose April, May and the first half of October.
In winter you will appreciate the mild temperatures and you can often sunbathe, although we can not exclude some days of bad weather. You can also combine a trip to Pico de las Nieves, in search of the snow, with an afternoon on the beach.
On the other hand, weather disturbances can bring high waves, generated by winds different than the typical trade winds, and that can be appreciated by surfers.

What to pack in the suitcase


In winter: light clothes for the day, a sweater and a jacket for the evening, possibly a raincoat or umbrella. To climb Pico de las Nieves, a down jacket, a hat, gloves, hiking boots.
In summer: summer clothes, but also a scarf for the wind, a light sweatshirt, a light jacket for the evening and windy afternoons; comfortable shoes for hiking. To climb Pico de las Nieves, hiking shoes, a sweatshirt and a jacket for the evening.

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