PARASAILING is surprisingly peaceful and any reports that I shut my eyes and screamed wildly at lift-off are total lies.
Dangling 200 metres above the Atlantic, the slick black coastline of Gran Canaria shimmered in the afternoon sun.
But from up here, it was clear there is more to the island than 37 miles of fly and flop-friendly beaches. Get on, or above, the waves and you’ll see Gran Canaria from a new perspective.
I was on the Spanish island, off the coast of Africa, for a weekend of water sports and activities at sea.
I stayed at The Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso & Hotel. Built directly into the volcanic cliffs, it boasts unspoiled sea views and is just a ten-minute drive (or 20-minute walk along the seafront) from the sandy shore and restaurants of Playa de Amadores and the adjacent harbour.
Despite the temptation to enjoy the all-inclusive food, two pools and Thalasso spa, I dragged myself away to get back on the waves. I’m no sailor, but I do love being on water and there are so many ways to experience the ocean here.
Low season is a great time to take one of the many trips to see dolphins in their natural habitat, because boats tend to be less crowded.
The Spirit of the Sea boat runs two-hour sailings throughout the day and I was lucky to spot several pods of graceful bottlenose glide through the water.
Kids will love the glass-bottom boat, where they can get up-close and personal with the aquatic wonders beneath the waves. But if you’re a thrill seeker, there’s plenty more on offer.
Mahy Marrero is the owner of Canary Watersports and has been running his business for 30 years. Reassuring to hear when you’re about to be hoisted 200 metres in the air via a parachute hooked to a speedboat.
Besides the parasailing, he also offers jet-skiing, and we were taken by speedboat to a jetty moored off the coast where we got to hop on and race. Make sure you have time to let your lunch settle before your trip — I’d foolishly tucked into a slap-up lunch at the Marina Suites.
The 4H nautical themed residence is a popular place to stay thanks to its modern, family-friendly self-catering suites which can work out as better value for families.
Their infinity pool is also incredible and they have decking on rocks over the water, where they hold regular yoga sessions for guests. It’s bliss.
Maybe it was the combination of sea views and sweet Sangria, but the paella lunch was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.
For those who want a little more luxury, take a sailing trip on the Five Star Boats catamaran for a jaunt up and down the coast. If you reserve one of their double beds, you’ll get a bottle of Prosecco thrown in, but be warned — it’s more party boat than chilled cruise.
If this all seems less relaxing than you would like, do not fear. This island is full of surprises. Wine and rum tours have become increasingly popular, especially when mixed with cycling across the hilly, volcanic terrain. While Puerto de Mogán is a 30-minute boat trip away.
Known as “Little Venice” thanks to its waterways and quaint, colourful houses, it’s a great place to while away the afternoon with a glass (or jug) of Sangria. Plus, you want the perfect photos — jewel-coloured flowers drape over alleyways and I admit, I spent some time posing here.
Again, if you would rather be land-based, just 40 minutes up the coast is the capital Las Palmas, founded by the invading Spanish in 1478, who named it for the abundant palms found there.
Guided by Anna, who has lived here her whole life, we walk through the modern Triana district into the old town of Vegueta, lined with quaint galleries and narrow streets of locals chattering and mopping up tapas.
Anna is a font of knowledge, guiding us to the house of Christopher Columbus, who passed through Las Palmas on his way to the Americas. The city boasts a stunning beach, Las Canteras, whose reef protects half of the coastline from waves; perfect for swimming.
While the other half of the golden sandy beaches are open to the waves; ideal for surfers and the local surf school — something I passed on.
After all that seafaring, I had just the energy for a snooze on the beach.
GO: GRAN CANARIA
GETTING/STAYING THERE: Four nights’ B&B at the Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso & Hotel is from £434 based on two sharing including flights, 23kg luggage each and an airport transfer. See easyjet.com/en/holidays.
OUT & ABOUT: See Gran Canaria Blue to book for water activities and accommodation on Gran Canaria.