Entertainment on your doorstep: You don't need to travel far in the Canary Islands to enjoy a splendid day out
Saturday 31 October 2009
If there's one thing the Canary Islands aren't short of, it's family attractions. Many of these are clustered around the major towns and resorts, so they're easy to access.
There are two main hubs on Gran Canaria the southern resort of Maspalomas and the island's capital, Las Palmas, in the north. In the centre of Las Palmas, families with fidgety kids should spend some time at the Museum of Science and Technology (00 34 828 011 828; museoelder.org ). Any museum that greets visitors with a sign saying "It is expressly forbidden to NOT touch the exhibits" is going to be a sure-fire hit with children. Here they can operate the controls of an F5 fighter plane, see how astronauts live, or become a TV weather presenter. Admission 3; closed Monday.
With year-round warmth in the Canaries, it's not only sensible to drink plenty of water but also to spend time immersed in the stuff. Rides such as the "Kamikaze" and "Anaconda" add a little drama to a drenching at Maspalomas Aqualand (00 34 928 140 525; aqualand.es/grancanaria ). Open 10am-5pm daily; admission 25 for adults, 17.50 for children.
Nearby, soak up all the fun of the fair at Holiday World (00 34 928 730 498; holidayworld-maspalomas.es ). Fill the family up on hot dogs and then see who's got the strongest nerve (and stomach) after tackling the roller coaster, big wheel and sky-drop. Open 5pm-midnight daily; rides from 5.
At Palmitos Park (00 34 928 797 070; palmitospark.es ) just outside Maspalomas, birds of prey put on a powerful display and the Komodo dragon is impressively stoic, but it's the performing parrots who steal the show with dozens of child-pleasing circus tricks. Open 10am-6pm daily; admission 23, children 17.
Also at the edge of this southern resort, you'll find a touch of the "wild west" at Sioux City (00 34 928 762 982; siouxcity-grancanaria.com ), a Western movie-set town populated by knife-throwing Indians, Mexican bandits and can-can dancing showgirls. Expect to witness bar brawls and bank robberies galore. Open 10am-5pm daily except Monday; admission 14, children 7.
The largest of the Canaries draws visitors in their millions, mainly to Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos in the south, and also Puerto de la Cruz in the north. This trinity of resorts harbours most of the island's main attractions, including the phenomenal Siam Park, Aqualand, Jumgle Park and Loro Parque.
Africa is just 100km from the coast of Fuerteventura, but seems a bit closer at Oasis Park, with its giraffes, hippos, cheetahs and other exotic wildlife near the island's Costa Calma resort. In Corralejo too, Baku (00 34 928 867 227; bakufuerteventura.com ) provides a walk on the wild side with an animal park and slip-slide water park. Open Friday to Tuesday, 10am-5pm; admission for both parks 30 adults and 18 children.
At Rancho Texas near Lanzarote's main resort of Puerto del Carmen (00 34 928 841 286; ranchotexaslanzarote.com ) you can cross even more continents in a few steps. One minute you're watching white tigers and a sea-lion show, the next it's gold-panning, Indians and lasso displays. Open 9.30am-5.30pm daily; adults 15, children 10.
The gardens, waterfalls and lakes at Guinate Tropical Park (00 34 928 835 500; guinatepark.com ) near Haria offer a tranquil oasis to share with ostriches, flamingos and macaws until the peace is shattered at penguin feeding time. Open 10am-5pm daily, admission 14, children 6.
The three smallest western islands La Gomera and El Hierro and La Palma are, in essence, nature parks ideal for outings. However, one urban attraction on La Palma is worthy of investigation. A full-scale replica of Christopher Columbus's ship the Santa Maria sits in the centre of Santa Cruz de La Palma. To youngsters, it's a pirate ship. To those in the know, it's home to La Palma's Naval Museum. Open Monday to Friday 10am-2pm, admission 3 adults, 1.50 children.
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