Gran Canaria resorts aren’t only in the south of the island, you know. There’s capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, for example, in the north east. Along with Agaete, in the north west.
Agaete, more village than town, is the capital of the municipality of the same name. You can reach it along the GC-2, where you’ll feel the spray of the Atlantic, from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in around half an hour. Here are four things to do there.
- Enjoy a day trip to Agaete
- Have a holiday in Agaete
- Indulge your tastebuds in Agaete
- Party hard in Agaete
1. Enjoy a day trip to Agaete
Easily accessible from the capital along Gran Canaria’s second motorway, Agaete represents a great day out on the island. Whitewashed Agaete with its bustling port, Puerto de las Nieves, looks like it’s been airlifted from the Aegean to the Atlantic. By law, houses have to be painted with white walls and green/brown doors (in the village and valley) or white walls and blue door (in the port).
Start central with a visit to the main square and the Iglesia de la Concepción. Younger than it looks, this parish church was builit in 1874. It took the place of Agaete’s first chapel (constructed in 1515) which burned down in a fire.
From the church, head to the Huerto de las Flores botanic garden (free to enter Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm). Originally owned by the De Armas family, it was born after a friend of the family returned from holiday with seeds to plant. 100 species now grow here, endemic to all of the five continents including a chewing-gum tree utilized by the famous Wrigley company.
Elsewhere, take a trip to the Valley of Death, the Maipés archaelogical park. This onetime necropolis is located in the badlands of the Valle de Agaete. You can visit Guía‘s Cenobio de Valerón granary along with this graveyard for a combined fee of €5.
Don’t miss Agaete’s water features either. Walk up from the hamlet of El Risco, on the serpentine GC-200 which leads to La Aldea de San Nicólas, to reach El Charco Azul (the Blue Lagoon) and down for the Atlantic which you can swim in off a beach that feels like you’ve reached the very ends of the Earth. Nearby, Guayedra’s another out-of-the-way playa whilst the beaches in Agaete’s Port of the Snows, Puerto de las Nieves, get packed as resort beaches on Gran Canaria are wont to do. Walking along the promenade in the direction of the GC-2, you’ll find some natural swimming pools.
2. Have a holiday in Agaete
There are a range of accommodation options if you want to stay more than a day in Agaete. The first involves a turn off to the right on the GC-2 just before you arrive to Agaete’s centre, leading to Urbanizacion El Turman’s four-star Roca Negra. There’s another four-star hotel in the port, the Hotel Puerto de las Nieves, as well as the two-star Hotel El Cabo.
If you’re after a more rustic break, head to the Valle de Agaete and Hotel Rural Las Longueras. Agaete’s valley is also home to Casa Rural La Asomadita. El Risco, meanwhile, houses the Las Rosas complex, handy for the family-friendly walk to El Charco Azul.
3. Indulge your tastebuds in Agaete
There’s dark magic at work in Agaete. For its valley is the only place in the northern hemipshere to grow coffee which you can taste at the Cafeteria Huerto de las Flores and, even closer to the source, at San Pedro’s Finca Los Castaños. Because of its chocolately qualities, Agaete coffee is best taken black without sugar even.
You can also sample the dark stuff at the neighbouring Bodega Los Berrazales. Along with goats’ cheese, tropical fruit, and wine for €6 an adult. Navel oranges the size of a baby’s head are not the only fruta in the valley which is a natural habitat to the fruit and fibre of avocado, mango, orange, and papaya.
On the restaurant front, the muncipality’s best eateries are to be found in Puerto de las Nieves. The menus and indeed standards are service are of similarly high quality at Ragú, Restaurante El Capitá, and Restaurante de Puerto Laguete where fresh fish and seafood dishes are brought to you by experienced waiting staff rather than a cast of resting actors. Visit El Meson de Bocadillo for a choice of more than 40 fillings for your roll and Bar El Perola, opposite the main church, for free monkey nuts whose shells are tossed onto the floor (good for the wood, apparently).
4. Party hard in Agaete
The best and biggest fiesta in Agaete occurs every 4th August. La Rama sees villagers descend from the Tamadaba massif, not a cutting-edge urban grime outfit but Stone Age mountains formed by volcanic activity four to five million years ago, carrying pine branches. They walk through the Agaete streets to the oompah sounds of the La Banda de Agaete, heading towards the port where they’ll thrash the Atlantic in a symbolic ritual practised by the island’s aboriginal descendants as a prayer for rain. This is a secular accompaniment to the Illustre Ayuntamiento de la Villa de Agaete’s Fiestas Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves.
The more religious side to these festivities held in tribute to the muncipality’s patron saint comes in the form of the Roméria de la Virgen de las Nieves. This romería sees local pilgrims, clad in traditional Canarian costume, head to the Iglesia de la Concepción by foot or float, with or without farm animal in tow. The pilgrims carry offerings to la virgen de las nieves, the virgin of the snow.
The offererings are all edible, the point being that seeds had been sown and grown on local land. Not that everything ends up at the church, however, as there are handouts of hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and even papas arrugadas con mojo (boiled salty new potatoes served with a spicy sauce). Romerías are less solemn occasions than other religious celebrations, the likes of Semana Santa for example. Ones on GC see plenty of dancing, playing, and indeed, singing, of traditional Canarian folk music, so it really is a meal and show for free.
One of the island’s best music festivals, the Womad-like BioAgaete takes place later in the month. There are a number of stages in and around Puerto de las Nieves. In 2016 this festival, where bands perform for free and volunteers staff proceedings to raise money for local charities, takes place from the 18th to 21st August.