Sand Dunes of Maspalomas are undoubtedly the most captivating phenomenon that you can admire in the southern coast of Gran Canaria. The natural beach created where the dunes touch the shore is a MUST visit for most of the island´s visitors BUT can you imagine, that noone really knows how and when they were created?
According to the experts who effectuated a deep subterranean analysis the dunes were possibly created between 1720 and 1870. Sounds unbeliveable that we don´t have any written reference about the dunes until then.
In the 17 and 18th century several naturalists and cartographers explored the Canary Islands and noone mentioned the dunes in their documents. We could see an indirect proove at 1599 when the dutch pirate Peter Van der Does after unsuccesfull atacks of Las Palmas landed in Maspalomas to bury his dead men and to get water and wood. This would mean there was a beach to desembark on.
However the first weighty reference we can see in 1838 when the waste beach of sand was painted into the atlas of P. B. Webb and S. Berthelot. Also according to the anylysis the creation of the dunes was rather sudden which helps to support the theory that the dunes were formed in 1755 during the huge earthquake of Lisbon that managed to kill 100.000 people. Luckily the cataclysm was productive also in another way and possibly could have given the origin to the sand dunes of Maspalomas.
Until 60ties the dunes were a real paradise for those who managed to see them before the touristic plan in 1962 have been approved and first hotels built. Proyect that originally counted with “only” 15.000 tourist beds finally resulted in a construcion of a seaside resort with 100.000 people capacity (seems like 100.000 is a magic number in the history of the sand dunes) and became one of the leading tourist resorts in all Spain. The reason is simple: almost 6km long golden sand beach and sunny weather invite to enjoy almost any day of the year.
Eventhought some of the proyects counted with the construction on the dunes themselves, luckily they were not approved and to protect the dunes for the future generations they were declared a Nature Reserve in 1987. At the moment the dunes occupy the area of 4 square kilometers and represent an important ecosystem. Among other indigenous plants the surface is dominated by local tabaibas and suculent cardons.
The desert like impression is completed by the fact, that the sand dunes of Maspalomas also have a proper oasis with a lagoon surrounded by vast palm groove. The lagoon is an important asylum for the migratory birds on their long way from Europe and probably has longer history than the dunes themselves, because we have earlier references about it and possibly already the aboriginal inhabitants used to fish in its waters.
It doesn´t matter whether you are young, old, handsome, ugly, nudist, gay or not, sand dunes of Maspalomas is a MUST SEE in Gran Canaria eventhought sometimes when rambling through its sands you can happen to see more than you really wanted! If you prefer to do it in a lazy way, for 12 euros you can also join a real camel caravan.