I recently received this email from a couple in Bucharest who are wondering about Gran Canaria for disabled visitors. For example, how easy is it get around the island in a wheelchair and can they do boat trips and other tours?
We are a couple from Bucharest, and we are planning our first trip in gran canaria for this winter. We will spend 21 days in gran canaria; first we will stay for 14 days in an apartment in Playa del Ingles (from 21 Dec to 5 Jan) and, after that, we will move for a week to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
We’ve already booked the apartments and we are very happy. We’ve read a lot about Gran Canaria and everything related to accessibility (I’m in an wheelchair so I have special needs). The apartment pool that we’ve rented in Playa del Ingles even has a pool with special ramps for a wheelchair.
What we don’t know is, for example, how accessible is a boat (we want to go on a trip to see the dolphins – if it’s possible and if they will want to appear)?
And another important thing is that we will be alone for Christmas and we don’t know how we’ll spend that evening in Playa del Ingles, so can you make some recommendations for a nice bar or pub with friendly people? Do we need to make a booking in advance for the Christmas Eve, in which case do you have any idea how we should proceed?
Sorry for the questions but, after I read your website, I decided to test my courage and to write you this email. Thanks a lot in advance and we count each day that passes until our flight to Gran Canaria.
Thanks for your email!
The first obstacle will be the airport but it isn’t an obstacle as such because all the terminals are adapted for disabled travellers. That includes the ramps, lifts and disabled parking spaces. There are plenty of disabled-friendly hotels too, and yours sounds good.
The promenade along the south coast is also fine for wheelchairs. You were right to book Playa del Ingles and Las Palmas rather than the hilly Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is nice to visit because you can stay around the bottom area and not venture up the hills. They’re pretty steep! Amadores is flat. There are ramps leading down to the beach from the bus stop and then the path along the back of the beach where the shops/restaurants are is wide and flat also.
If you want to do a boat trip, that will have to be from Mogan or Puerto Rico since there is no harbour in Playa del Ingles or Amadores. I don’t know about the boats in Mogan but I worked on a dolphin boat in Puerto Rico and they’re OK.
From memory, I don’t think the ramps on to the boats are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair so perhaps you wouldn’t mind being carried on. Then there are a couple of steps down usually, from the ramp to the body of the boat. I know it’s not ideal but that’s usually what happens.
As for finding the dolphins, ask when you book your trip because some boats offer a free second trip if they don’t find the dolphins on the first trip. The dolphins are wild animals and sometimes they’re hard to find! Other times they’re so close to the harbour you can see them from the top of the harbour wall. Also you can occasionally see them from the ferry. Not all boats offer a free trip if you don’t find the dolphins so choose your boat with care. Dolphin trips in Gran Canaria are usually successful and sometimes you get to see whales, sharks or turtles as well.
All the shopping centres offer good wheelchair access so you can get around the shops, bars and restaurants. The pavements are wheelchair-friendly too although there are some exceptions in the older areas. You can get adapted taxis with wheelchair lifts in Playa del Ingles, Meloneras and Maspalomas (you need to phone +34 928 154777 to book one) and also to and from the airport. The buses are modern and some of them have ramps at the back to wheel yourself on and off. Others just have a wider door so, like with the boats, you would need to be carried on.
I’m not sure when you celebrate Christmas in Bucharest, whether it is December 25 like in the UK or December 24, but in Gran Canaria the evening meal is usually on December 24 (not for the British!) You can usually book somewhere when you arrive. A lot of the bars and restaurants will have posters outside telling you what they are offering for Christmas day and how much it costs, then you can take your pick and reserve two places.
December and January are usually warm and sunny. Not as hot as the summer months but many people find that more comfortable. Let me know if I have missed anything. If I think of anything else which might be helpful I will let you know 🙂