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FANTASY ISLAND

WITH ITS GLORIOUS SANDY BEACHES, YEAR-ROUND SUN AND WARM WELCOME, IT’S HARD TO BEAT GRAN CANARIA FOR A WINTER BREAK

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MIRADOR DEGOLLADA DE BECERRA LOOKOUT

As an LGBT traveller, picking a holiday destination can sometimes be tricky. But even putting its year-round sun and balmy temperatures (above 20 degrees Celsius) aside, Gran Canaria is the place to come for a warm welcome. At 29 miles wide, it is the third largest of the subtropical Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa and is well known for being particularly gay-friendly.

After arriving and dropping my bags off in Playa del Inglés, on Gran Canaria’s southern tip,

I accompanied my local guide, Juan, for a trip around the island. As we drove from the south coast to Las Palmas, the capital city in the north, Juan explained that the islanders’ tolerance is the result of centuries of welcoming visitors from around the world. The North Atlantic trade winds create a cycle of wind that crests down from Europe to the Canary Islands and then across to the Americas, he explained. It means that European sailors passing through the isles on the way to the Americas always called in at Gran Canaria, whose large bay makes it the ideal stop-off point before heading west. Its position in the middle of the archipelago also made it easy to communicate with the other islands before the days of telephones.

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