I’ve been living in different countries and have been a digital nomad for quite some time now. And let’s be honest, saying goodbye is not getting any easier. Oftentimes, people say “We’ll meet again.” or “We just come back another time.” But I also heard: “Coming back isn’t the same as staying…”
That is true as things move on whilst you’re gone, and no two experiences are ever the same even if it is the same place with the same people. And sometimes, the second time is even better than the first time. That’s how it was for me in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Getting to know Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The first time I spent in Las Palmas as a digital nomad was in January 2022 and I stayed for four weeks. One month was exactly the right time to see all the popular places in Gran Canaria and to get an idea of the lifestyle you could have in this place.
The main reasons I had chosen Las Palmas were the mix of city life and surf lifestyle. There are multiple surf breaks along the beach promenade in Las Palmas and you can easily find surf lessons and equipment hire. When I wasn’t exploring the island, I was in the water.
I also noticed that there was an active digital nomad community with multiple meetups and events per week. There was Volleyball, Salsa and Bachata, Yoga and hiking. But I didn’t have time for any of that.
I had this feeling that after four weeks, I had just about seen everything and was ready to start living there. I had to leave though, and I was convinced that I would return the following winter.
Returning to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
I usually stick to my word. I returned in January 2023. This time, I stayed eight weeks, and I was looking forward to fully indulging in the digital nomad lifestyle in Las Palmas.
I had booked the same room in the same coliving as the year before. I arrived by ferry in Las Palmas after a surf trip to Fuerteventura over New Year’s. It was Tom who opened the door for me to let me in. I knew him from the year before. I came into the kitchen and there was Julien making one of his famous quiches. I knew him from the year before. There was Nic running through the hallway, being late for a date. I knew her from the year before. I was greeted with some deep and honest hugs. And after my New Year’s trip, I finally had easy access to a washing machine, a luxury for a true nomad! It felt like coming home.
The lifestyle in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Apart from the homely feeling I had, I was also excited about all the things I would do and all the people I would meet.
The digital nomad community
There is an active community of expats and digital nomads in Las Palmas and there is really no reason to ever spend any time alone. The best option to get in touch is the Slack group Live it up, Las Palmas! This is the place where people connect and find out about anything that’s happening in town. You can join the channels that interest you and connect with others. For many things, there are also WhatsApp groups. You will be added to those once you connect to people on Slack.
Every Tuesday night, there is a meetup at Bar San Remo. This is also a good place to meet people.
If you wanted to, you could do a Yoga class every day at any time of day in Las Palmas. There is so much on offer that it is hard to keep track of it all. You will also see them advertised in the respective Slack channel. Yoga classes in Las Palmas take place in studios, but also in parks and on the beach. I loved my Friday mornings at Las Canteras when the sun slowly appeared in between the houses and warmed our bodies in the several Yoga poses.
I also went on a 2-day Yoga retreat at a finca in the mountains near San Mateo and did a SUP-Yoga-session at sunset. I couldn’t help it and had to interrupt the flow to jump in the water and get a photo! Beautiful memories!
Dance, dance, dance
When I was in Las Palmas for the first time in 2022, I had joined exactly one Salsa and Bachata class. That was all I had time for. But I wanted more of it. I knew that this activity would be my priority for my second stay in Las Palmas and there was a 4-week-beginner course starting mid-January. It was perfect! It took place in a stunning outdoor location by the waterfront in Las Palmas: La Marquesina. Not only did we learn in this course how to dance Salsa and Bachata; but we also formed friendships and I miss the weekly dance classes and socials with the group!
It was the main activity during my first stay in Las Palmas and it continued to be during my second stay. All the surf schools around La Cicer and Las Canteras beach have special offers for long-term class packages and there are multiple options to hire or store boards in the area. My favourite spot is the longboard wave Muellitos right by the wave breaker next to the Auditorio. It works best at mid to low tide. When the tide times didn’t work for me (or when I had work calls), I went to the beach break. The waves there are sometimes very steep though and often close out on you.
There are other surf breaks around Las Palmas, but you need a car to get to them. I was not able to find out whether you are allowed to take a surfboard with you on the bus.
There are several other surf breaks all along the north coast of Gran Canaria. I did not surf there, but I took plenty of pictures. When I was in Las Palmas for the first time, my favourite picture day was the day I went to Los Enanos. The surf was firing, and I got some stunning shots and a little sunburn.
The spot every good surfer is waiting for is El Confital, but it only works with a Northeast swell. If it works though, it is barrelling over the shallow reef, almost like the iconic Pipeline in Hawaii. It was working when I was there in January 2023 and if I had to choose one day out of those eight weeks that I could repeat, that would be the day!
There is also La Laja in the east of Las Palmas towards Telde and the airport. This is usually a good option when the waves are a bit too big on the north coast, but there is no surf hire around.
I can only talk about those activities I did when I was in Gran Canaria and there is of course more to do. Some regular activities for digital nomads include basketball, padel, swimming or snorkelling and diving. You can also go climbing, canyoning or do Via Ferrata. The sea and the mountains offer plenty of outdoor adventures for those that seek them.
Eating out and parties
Las Palmas is quite a big city and as such, you have a wide choice of restaurants of all kinds and for any budget and if you want a party, you find a party. I enjoyed it the most when we went for Tapas with my housemates, either at Bodegón Pachichi or Mercado del Puerto. I’m not the biggest party animal, but I joined the guys a few times at an outdoor club called Kopa and we went to Latin Socials at Elder Restaurant or Latin Palace.
In February, there was also Carnival, and which is a big event in Gran Canaria. There were stages at Santa Catalina Park and Plaza de la Música with free concerts almost every night. We went a few times, and it was better than any club could have been.
Activities I would have liked to do more of; Hiking and Volleyball
I’m a very active person and I take any opportunity I can to make memories, especially when I’m travelling. My housemates in Las Palmas sometimes didn’t see me for days and they were surprised when they saw me at all during the weekends. “How come you’re not out and about?” My answer usually was: “I’m about to head out, just quickly getting lunch.” I made use of every minute and still, there were certain things I just didn’t find the time for.
I’m not usually into hiking, but the nature in Gran Canaria is so stunning that even I would have liked to do more of that. I had already joined a group on meetup to explore off the beaten track, but there were always other things going on. I’ll have to do this another time.
I had played a bit of Volleyball at the beach Alcaravaneras when I was in Las Palmas for the first time, but this time, nobody went there anymore to play. Everybody was at Las Canteras. I joined the Sunday Volleyball social two or three times. That was all I found time for.
During the weekend before my last, somebody asked in the WhatsApp group if anybody wanted to play. For once, I had no plans and was free all afternoon. I had seen quite a few answers and decided to join. I used to play a bit in school and could work my way around the court, but I certainly wasn’t a good enough player for 2-on-2 matches. The number of people that had agreed to join looked promising. You guess what’s coming, right? We ended up being only four people and they convinced me to play a 2vs2 match for the first time in my life. It was tough, but the guys I played with didn’t hate me afterwards. That’s a good sign, isn’t it? We even stayed a bit longer on the beach after our matches and made some music. Somebody had brought a guitar.
That’s how I was reminded that it is sometimes good to not have a plan, join something spontaneously and get out of your comfort zone. It was a shame that I was leaving the week after the 2vs2 Volleyball and that I didn’t get to spend more time on the beach with my newly found volleyball crew.
Will I return to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria?
You can probably tell that this place and the people there have captured my heart. It seems as if most people return every winter and when you arrive, you have the feeling that nothing changed because you simply forget the months in between your stays. At the same time, you always meet new people and create new memories.
It is true when they say that coming back isn’t the same as staying. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes the second time is even better than the first time.
This article was written by Julia-Carolin Zeng.
Julia is a Global Circler and fully embraces the digital nomad lifestyle. She is a freelance SEO consultant and translator. Julia was born and raised in Germany, studied foreign languages and has lived in London for a few years. London is still the place she calls “home” and where she returns to in between her travels.
Julia runs her own blog, charlieonthemove.com, where she shares her travel stories with her little companion Charlie.
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