Many people want to rent a car when they’re on holiday in Gran Canaria. The island is called the “miniature continent” and if you’re happy to lie by the pool by day and drink in the hotel bar by night, that’s fine. But what if you want to explore the island? The best way to do it is to hire a car – or a jeep! Or even a buggy: http://driveforcegc.com/buggy_tour.html
You can either hire a car at the airport or from a car hire company in the resort. I’ve done both. Here is a quote form for airport car rentals: http://www.spanish-airport-guide.com/gran-canaria-car-hire.html
It’s cheaper to hire a car in the resort because there are different companies competing with each other on prices (especially in the quiet months). However, the photos of what is available and what the vehicle is going to look like are completely different things! Car hire in the Canary Islands will set you back 20 euros a day for a small basic car. You will need to leave your credit card details or a deposit of a couple of hundred euros. You will also get a map so, if you can make head or tail of it, it’s time to start exploring! This is an irreverant look at the car hire process:
You find somewhere that rents cars. It is siesta time so you have to wait outside until 4pm. You are welcomed in by a nice, helpful, English-speaking man and shown what is available. You decide a 3 door Renault Clio is good value at 30 euros a day. The salesman recommends the Nissan Terrano since it is only 5 times the price but 6 times as comfortable. You go for the Renault Clio.
You are offered 10 day hire for the price of 9 but you politely explain you’re heading back to Blighty in a week. You hand over your euros and are the proud owner of a rent-a-wreck. Well, at least nobody will steal it. After a couple of miles it starts making a “funny noise”. You take it back. The “nice, helpful, English-speaking man” has been replaced by a “not-so-nice, surly, non-English-speaking man”. Oh. You do an impression of the funny noise and point to the car. The man shrugs and says “qué?” You do another impression of the funny noise, point to the car and shout loudly in English “CAR MAKING FUNNY NOISE, NO GOOD” because we all know that foreigners understand English if you talk s…l…o…w and LOUD, right? In the end, you decide that putting up with funny noise is preferable to standing around doing impressions of funny noises all afternoon. You stare at your Gran Canaria map and venture out into the unknown in your rent-a-wreck.
Can I just make one little hint here? WE DRIVE ON THE RIGHT! I’ve lost count of the number of tourists I’ve seen hurtling down the road on the left, only to swerve at the last minute when they see a freight truck coming towards them.
Canarian Rules of the Road
I’m not a driver myself but these are the rules of the road I have picked up in my 8 years here.
- Drive as quickly as possible, especially through the towns. If you can see other cars behind you, you are going too slow.
- Sound your horn as much as possible. You need to keep checking it works, right?
- If somebody takes more than 2 seconds to cross the road, sound the horn.
- The faster you drive through a red light, the less chance you have of being caught.
The first time a friend of mine hired a jeep for us both to “explore the mountains” was one of the most hair-raising days of my life! It is worth driving into the mountains but be aware that there are sharp drops and the terrain varies from “not too bad” to “dreadful”, meaning that a 4 wheel drive is necessary for a lot of the mountain roads. Most tourists drive slowly and are amazed by the brave (or suicidal) Canarian drivers hurtling past them!
Car hire is recommended if you want to see more of the island. Don’t forget there are mountains, pine forests and banana plantations here as well as the beach!