A hike + a day trip to Agüimes
Playa de Arinaga is a coastal town, but there's also Cruce de Arinaga, a 10 minute bus ride away, which initially can be confusing when trying to sort out the local buses! Located in the southeast of Gran Canaria they're both local areas and not overly visited by tourists. The beach (Playa) town has an amazing coastline - but for anyone considering a visit here they should know that it's one of the windiest areas on the island. Evidence of this is clearly visible - the area is full of "windmills" which generating electricity. Like many other parts of the island there's also a large industrial area on the edge of town.
At 2km in length, the wide promenade runs along the beach from one side of the town to the other. Along the way there's a selection of restaurants and cafés plus lots of seating - much of it shaded. A large part of the beach consists of rocks and stones, but when the tide is out more sand appears, although it's mostly "black." Some parts are windier than others and there's quite a few wooden decks that serve as sun beds in the more sheltered areas. At one end of the promenade is an unattractive "run off" canal, but at the other end is Risco Verde bay, where along with the wooden sun decks there's areas equipped with ramps for swimmers, allowing easy access when entering the water. This entire coastal area is known to be excellent for snorkelling and scuba diving.
At this end of the promenade there's also an open air "museum" consisting of old lime kilns…..but the promenade doesn't end there. We went up a set of steps, past the kilns to anther section, whhere there's a hiking trail. We followed this trail up a large hill to Arinaga lighthouse, from where the 360 degree views are excellent. In one direction is Playa de Arinaga and Risco Verde Bay - the other way is of Cabrón Beach, which is where we were headed. This small and beautiful cove can be accessed by car - but unless it's a 4 X 4 it's better to walk in. If you've rented a car then driving in is definitely not a risk worth taking as there's lots of bumps along the way! Hiking in we passed a large youth hostel where there's parking - after that it's only about a 10 minute walk to the beach.
With just a few small buildings (rental ?) there are no services here, so if you plan to stick around for any amount of time, bring supplies. Without shops or restaurants it's a quiet paradise, favoured by divers and snorkelers. No chairs, no sun parasols - and virtually no people - this very small cove has calm, crystal clear water that's sheltered from the wind. The beach isn't fully accessible due to a steep path and some bumpy and crumbling steps that lead to it. There were just 2 people sunbathing plus another couple with a small baby and a dog ….if remote and quiet is what you're looking for - this could be your place! We dallied a while, enjoying the views, before turning back around and heading back to the lighthouse (no longer in use), which is now a restaurant. We enjoyed a welcome beer on the large and lovely outdoor terrace before hiking back to town.
Our first trip out of town was to Agüimes, one of the best examples of a traditional Canarian hill town. The old town has been carefully restored in order to attract tourists - prior to this it was not considered a tourist destination. It's quite small with just a few narrow streets - but its restoration is done well, creating a calm and peaceful atmosphere. There's a few statues scattered throughout this meandering and interconnected area - for example a donkey and a camel - but no explanations are given….although in the past camels were often used as work animals. There's also some interesting tiled artwork depicting a more rural lifestyle. Most of this little labyrinth is only for pedestrians, but care is needed as cars are allowed on some of the narrow streets. Set in a small plaza there's a shaded park, where concerts are often held. Directly across from the park is the church of San Sebastián. There's also a small museum in the old town .....we visited both.
*A quick note here for anyone visiting Agüimes - hours at both the church and museum are quite limited and although people can while away their time at a couple of small restaurant/cafés in the old town, their hours are also limited! *
For us, the museum was the most interesting of the two places. Housed in a building that belonged to the bishops of the region, this former "palace" consists of eight small rooms set around a central courtyard. The entrance - where the fee is just a couple of euros - has a small gift shop. Each room follows periods of the historical, geographical, social and industrial aspects of this region, beginning in 1491 when the monarchy established the Catholic Church in Agüimes. It was established after Spain finally conquered the area in 1483.
One room in the museum covers various local uprisings, including one in 1718 when land was taken away from a segment of the population that had always farmed there, albeit without any ownership. The workers were imprisoned, but after support from protesters + sporadic riots, they eventually won the right to buy the land.
Mass emigration is also covered, including many who fled to Cuba during the mid 19th and early 20th century. A copy of a letter from Fidel Castro sent in 1986 to a friend in Tenerife speaks highly of "The Canarian who was the humblest of emigrants. He didn't go to Cuba to oppress or exploit, he went to work and struggle at our side. He helped forge the country with his industry, fought and suffered, raised a family and gained dignity as we all did, in the free, revolutionary Cuba of today." Apparently ties between the Canarias and Cuba are still strong today.
Just before heading home, we took a quick look at the church which had finally opened its doors. Designed in the late 1800's it was finally finished in 1940. Built from stone blocks, the Church of San Sebastián is an example of Neoclassical architecture in the Canaries. There are bell towers on either side. Inside there's a main chapel, with a smaller chapel on each side. Although the outside is pretty austere, the chapels have plenty of gold and there are some interesting pieces of art….some relatively modern.
We made our way back to the town's bus station and confidently caught the correct bus (which is sometimes a challenge), but when we changed buses at a large intersection we boarded one going in the wrong direction. Fortunately Trevor noticed it immediately and the driver let us off and pointed out the bus stop we needed. So far we've found the bus drivers in Gran Canaria much more patient than other places we've visited!
Val Sounds like you & Trev are still enjoying every minute exploring the area & museums. Cannot imagine how many steps you conquer in a day
Glynis Thanks Val, you’re absolutely right - as always, we’re enjoying exploring our new area. We do cover a lot of ground, but make up the calories by eating the yummy bread and pastries here - not forgetting the ice creams! I really appreciate you taking the time to support my writing efforts x g