Here, there's no sex discrimination: in Gran Canaria, the girls are in the front line alongside the guys, all looking to find "the wave". Just take a look at some of the local champions: the Taylor sisters, who run their own school, are probably the best example: Marina is a former World Champion in bodyboarding, and Adelina, European Surf Champion.
Are you looking for a little adrenaline release? An escape from boredom? You have a choice: surfing, windsurfing, bodyboarding (better known on the island as 'boogie') or kitesurfing. As for suitable conditions - the wind, beaches, waves, water temperature and good weather - the island will take care of that: along its 236 miles of coastline, the water temperature ranges from 18 degrees in winter to 22 for the rest of the year, and all the variables combine to provide ideal conditions for the four sports.
The waves here are strong. The ground is mostly volcanic, so there is no great movement of sand and the waves focus at one point. In addition, the good weather means there's no need to be decked out in neoprene from head to toe, and a number of local surf schools headed by experts offer courses at all levels.
Each weekend, the young locals pop their boards and sails in the car and head round the island in search of the right winds. There are around fifty areas with suitable waves spread along the coast, which makes it easy to find one near your home or hotel; wherever you are based, there's bound to be a good spot to watch the experts, or maybe take the plunge yourself.
The best locations:
Surf and bodyboard
There are 23 recommended spots along the coast for these two sports, most without crowds and some practically deserted. The northern zone between Confital, with the Monjas wave, and Galder, with the Bocabarranco, is the best as it's rocky, with waves up to five metres and heavy surf. When the sea is coming from the East and the wind drops, the best places are around Pozo Izquierdo. There are also good conditions in the south and west, on the point that separates the Playa del Ingles from Maspalomas, and at Maspalomas lighthouse and Arguineguin.
Gran Canaria is considered a windsurfing mecca, second only to Hawaii. Of the 21 spots where all forms of the sport are practised, the most popular is the Pozo Izquierdo beach in Santa Lucia de Tirajana; it's particularly suited for those with reasonable experience and skill on the flat who want to start on jumps and other aerial figures. The site is home to the yearly world championships, where top international stars compete, and it has produced many champions, such as the sisters Daida and Iballa Ruano. The conditions prevailing throughout the year also mean you can enjoy the sport at Ojos de Garza, Tarajalillo, Bahia Feliz, Playa del Aguila, San Agustin, Anfi del Mar, Playa del Ingles and Puerto Rico. The best choice depends on your skill and the adrenaline rush you're after.
In Gran Canaria, as soon as the trade winds blow - which is usually for much of the year - you'll see people in bathing suits head for the sea with kites in hand. These are kitesurfers, fans of this, the latest craze on the local beaches. It's a bug that provides an adrenaline boost to the athletes who, week after week, seek out the best spot to show off their skills at the jumps and manoeuvres. Gran Canaria has suitable spots for all skill levels, from golden sands to volcanic beaches. Vargas, in the south of the island, is the favourite spot for the true fans. This is not a beach for your common-or-garden sun worshipper or swimmer. Nor is it for beginners. It's expert territory. You'll also find groups of kiters on the point at Maspalomas and not far from the Playa del Aguila and Tarajalillo beach in Las Burras.
Surfing and windsurfing schools:
Tel 928 22 04 37 / 699 17 54 71
Gran Canaria Surf School
Tel 928 27 68 65 / 606 83 09 78
Oleaje Surf Club
Tel 686 16 13 44
3RJ Surf School
Tel 928 49 11 42
University Surf School
Tel 928 45 10 51 / 661 36 03 37
Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria
While on the island, don't miss:
The mixture of African and continental landscape has given this volcanic island the nickname of "the small continent". A continental microcosm, where you can travel from the amazing Maspalomas dunes to Guayadene's dizzying cliffs, which rise to a staggering 2,000 metres. Gran Canaria is home to important cave paintings, such as the cueva pintada - "the painted cave" - at Mogan. There are also impressive Gothic monuments, such as the church of San Juan Bautista de Arucas, built from the blue stone for which the area is famous.