Snorkeling in Gran Canaria and the Canary Islands

You will find the Canary islands are an excellent place to snorkel ... not as vivid in colour as tropical destinations, but much more prolific that the Mediterranean, and you can see parrotfish, damselfish, wrasse and plenty of other beautiful fish - all year round.

The Canaries, which are in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the West coast of Africa, have a sub-tropical climate. In summer the water temperature in the Canary Islands reach a peak of about 24ºC; while in winter the Canaries, warmed by the Gulf stream in the Atlantic, only drop to around 18ºC.

The Canaries may surprise you as a snorkeling destination :

  • You can snorkel at over 100 spots spread over the seven main Canary Islands
  • You can see angel sharks, rays, barracudas, parrotfish, damselfish and a mix of sub-tropical and European species
  • For more experienced scuba divers there are caves, volcanic tunnels, deep dives and wreck dives.
  • The sub-tropical water is warm enough to use a good wetsuit and you can snorkel all year round

If you are looking for somewhere to snorkel on the coast of Gran Canaria, then some of the best sites can be found in the El Cabron Marine Reserve near Arinaga on the east coast. Here you can see a wide variety of life thanks to the relatively abundant levels of sea-grass, where the fish reproduce in spring. Alongside the common yet colourful species such as wrasse, Blue and Atlantic damselfish, parrotfish, pufferfish, breams, and sea cucumbers you may see lizardfish, weeverfish, blennies or razorfish; and if you are very lucky you can see octopus, cuttlefish and even angelsharks and rays in just a few metres of water.

The snorkeling at the Playa del Cabrón is among the best with a good access from the beach, and several areas of prolific life. There are usually plenty of gold-striped bream, band-tailed puffers, turkish wrasse, bluefin damselfish and parrotfish in the area in front of the few houses. The only problem is access by car .. If you have a hire car you may prefer to leave it by the school and walk the last 200m rather than risk damaging your vehicle. This beach also has no facilities (toilets, bars, cafes, shops etc) so we recommend that take plenty of bottled water and everything else you need with you.

Zoco Negro is a very popular man-made swimming pool near to the main pier in the centre of Arinaga. It may appear to be full of swimmers, but it is also like an aquarium underwater, with big shoals of bream, damselfish, parrotfish, sand smelt and wrasse. And because of the sea wall it is not too deep (just 4m) as well as being very sheltered. You can do a circular route which takes in all the life along the sea wall or just potter around the edges. Sometimes bigger species such as rays come into the area at night, but then get trapped as the tide goes down, and in the past we have not only seen common stingrays, round rays and butterfly rays, but also an occasional timid angel shark trying to sleep away the day in the sand.

If you want to relax with a drink after your snorkel session then there is a small bar just behind the beach, or you can walk along the promenade back towards the pier where there are more water-side bars and restaurants where you can get anything from a cold beer or warm coffee through local tapas up to a full meal.

Risco Verde is within the town of Arinaga, and has similar species to El Cabrón for snorkelling. Here you can park alongside and there is a nice restaurant, and the 'mini-museum' around the Hornos de Cal (restored Lime Kilns). From here you can walk along the promenade around the coast of Arinaga and look at two other places. The swimming pool at Zoco Negro is ideal if you have young family members who want an introductory swim / snorkel. This area is enclosed by a rock wall to make it safe for bathers, and the council have spent a lot of time and money over the last two years improving access and facilities here. Keep walking on the promenade and the area inside the pier is a very sheltered area which is perfect for the less adventurous snorkeler.

The sub-tropical waters of Gran Canaria are warm enough to snorkel most of the year
A wetsuit and the right equipment lets you snorkel for longer
Damselfish can be easily seen from the surface
Risco Verde in Arinaga is a good place for snorkeling as you can park nearby and get a drink from the cafe by the lime kilns

Options for Snorkelers in Gran Canaria

We offer the following options for snorkeling in Gran Canaria:

Unguided Snorkel Excursions

We offer an excellent opportunity for those who do not wish to dive underwater to experience the variety and delights of the Marine Reserve. You can spend the day on a guided excursions can be organised for small groups or individuals and can be run alongside diving excursions for non-diving friends or family.

Guided Snorkeling in Gran Canaria

If you want more support from an instructor then you can join one for a guided exploration of the reserve. If you have less snorkeling experience they will help you with your equipment, basic snorkeling techniques and safety, as well as pointing out and explaining the main species during the excursion. The service includes collection from your Hotel, and all the equipment including a wetsuit. We do a first swim in the sheltered waters of the local sea-water pool in the morning, and then after a break, we go to a second site in the afternoon where you may see different species. Your guide looks after you for both swims, and helps you get the most out of the dya by pointing out strange species and telling you about the marine life you will experience. The price of this excursion is €49 per person.

Rental of Snorkeling equipment

If you are totally independent you can simply hire some equipment from our centre in Arinaga and enjoy yourself snorkeling in Gran Canaria.

Can I take my child snorkelling in Gran Canaria?

Of course! Taking your child snorkelling in Gran Canaria is a fantastic idea. It not only provides them with a fun and exciting experience but also serves as a great way to keep them active and away from their mobile phones. When choosing a snorkelling location, make sure to select one that is calm and sheltered, where your child can comfortably stand in the water. It is advisable to provide them with a wetsuit or shortie, as this will keep them buoyant, protect their delicate skin from harmful UV rays, and ensure they remain warm in the water. So, don't wait any longer! Gather your snorkelling gear and get ready for an amazing snorkelling experience with your child in the marine reserve at Arinaga, Gran Canaria!

Snorkeling equipment

If you enjoy snorkelling then at some point you may want to buy your own equipment. We offer free advice to make sure that you get the equipment that is right for you; masks that fit and don't leak, fins that are the right size and comfortable. You can buy, try and change .. if it is not right we will exchange any item for a more suitable alternative .. or if you are not happy we offer a 100% money back guarantee.

Are there other places where it is safe to snorkel on my own in Gran Canaria?

If you cannot get to Arinaga to snorkel, then other sites that you might consider are the Playa de Mogan or Playa de Amadores on the west coast, or Sardina del Norte, the Playa de las Canteras, or Tufia on the North and East coasts.

Snorkelling on your own in Gran Canaria can be a safe activity if you take some simple precautions and adhere to responsible snorkelling practices. Here are some important factors to consider regarding the safety of snorkelling in Gran Canaria:

  1. Water and weather conditions: Before entering the water, it is crucial to monitor the conditions. Avoid snorkelling off rocky shores and stay away from areas with strong surf, swells or currents. It is essential to choose snorkelling spots within your ability and confidence level.
  2. Visibility: Make sure that the water visibility is suitable for snorkelling. Diminished visibility can make it more difficult to sea any sea life. Choose locations with clear waters whenever possible.
  3. Avoid boat lanes and watercraft: To ensure your safety, stay clear of areas with boat traffic, including boat lanes, pedalos, and jet skis. Snorkelling in areas away from these activities will reduce the risk of accidents or collisions.
  4. Protective gear: Wearing the appropriate gear will protect you and enhance your safety while snorkelling. Consider using a wetsuit or a shortie, or just a T-shirt to protect your back from the sun. These all provide insulation and protection against sunburn and minor hazards in the water.
  5. Respect the marine environment: Always remember to respect the water and the marine life that resides within it. Avoid touching or disturbing any marine creatures or coral reefs. This ensures your safety and helps preserve the delicate ecosystem of Gran Canaria's waters.
By adhering to these safety guidelines and being aware of your abilities, snorkelling on your own in Gran Canaria can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. However, if you are unsure or inexperienced, it may be beneficial to join a guided group for added safety and assistance.

And finally, is it 'Snorkeling' or 'Snorkelling'?

You may have noticed that we have mixed the two terms deliberately on this page! The reason is that the first (with one 'l') is the typical American spelling, while the version with two 'l's is the British spelling. As we have visitors from all around the world we try to cater for everybody. Don´t worry .. there is no difference whether you book a 'snorkeling' trip or a 'snorkelling' trip - we will make sure you have a great time!

Snorkeling is fun in Gran Canaria
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