'The Englishman's beach' is how Playa del Ingles translates; those naming the holiday resort had great foresight as today thousands of Brits flock here for sun, sea and San Miguels. Situated in the south of Gran Canaria, the resort is one of the largest and busiest in Europe and its main attraction is the wide sandy beach that stretches from the Maspalomas dunes to San Agustin in the north. The Playa del Ingles seafront is lined by a lovely pedestrian promenade, the Paseo Costa Canaria, planted with lush gardens. With its conglomeration of high-rise hotels, apartment blocks and shopping malls, Playa del Ingles will not win any awards for architecture or sophisticated ambience, but the ever-growing holiday resort, purpose-built for pleasure and leisure back in the 1960s, is hard to beat for good value summer fun. Although mainly geared towards the younger market, families and older visitors are also attracted to Playa del Ingles by the glorious year-round climate and endless beach. Those who want to avoid all the hubbub can find quieter spots on the long, spacious beach, and should be sure to get accommodation well away from the party centre.
There is a fine choice of shops in Playa del Ingles where visitors on holiday can indulge in some duty-free delights, including cheap electrical shops and stalls selling imitation designer gear and African curios. The shopping is mainly confined to the dozen or so shopping centres and each centre has its own distinctive character. Visanta is best for duty-free electrical goods as they offer a European guarantee and refunds if visitors change their minds about something. Yumbo is the biggest and most popular shopping centre in Playa del Ingles and also houses the Tourist Information Centre. Five minutes away are the Kasbah and Metro centres, but the widest selection of quality designer wear is in nearby Plaza Maspalomas. Travellers should be aware that some salesmen can be quite aggressive. It's best to haggle hard and remember that the shop next door probably sells the same thing. The San Fernando Market is held every Wednesday and Saturday morning, offering the same sort of stuff.
The best eateries in Playa del Ingles include Taberna La Cana for fantastic Spanish seafood, Tapas Bar Capaco for their great tapas selection, and Restaurante Hong Kong for something different. Fast food (including McDonalds), Chinese, Italian and local cuisine are all available, as well as rows of restaurants serving something with chips.
Playa del Ingles is packed with bars, pubs and clubs, especially in the Kasbah centre, which is home to the famous Cream and Pascha nightclubs, both of which pump out the best in dance music until the early hours. Chinawhites is also immensely popular. Still in the Kasbah, the Hippodrome, Havana and Sugar, a small cocktail bar, are good places to start the evening. The English and Irish centres are also lively and entertaining. The Yumbo centre is orientated towards the gay scene at night and Rickys Cabaret Bar has regular drag shows; the centre is also popular with families looking for a less hectic evening. There are quieter bars along the promenade and a casino on the edge of town.
For those in Playa del Ingles who have had enough of the beach, there is loads of entertainment and activities for all ages including amusement arcades, mini-golf, tennis, golf, sky diving, water parks, go-karting, horse riding and camel riding. Water sports in Playa del Ingles include scuba diving, jetskiing, windsurfing and banana boat rides.
Visitors should be aware that there are lots of steps from some hotels and apartments to the beach, and that the centre of the Playa del Ingles holiday resort can be very noisy late into the night. The resort is also full of salesmen and touts which can be an annoyance.