Hit the north coast of Gran Canaria with a visit to El Puertillo

Drive west along the GC-2 from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the direction of Agaete and the first beach you'll hit, after around 10 minutes, will be an Arucas one. Bañaderos' El Puertillo may be dwarfed by the likes of the more famous Las Canteras and Maspalomas, but it's special in its own way. You're unlikely to hear any language on the beach other than Spanish, for a start.

Little port

El Puertillo

They love their diminutives in Spain, and at a mere 360 metres wide, El Puertillo, the beach of Bañadores village, is just that. Puerto means port in Spanish and puertillo little port. That's what this playa originally was, with the rocks serving as a great spot to drop anchor and unload both goods and people.

New prom

El Puertillo promenade

Where the decidedly non-resort El Puertillo has been spruced up is its recently-constructed promenade, paseo marítimo. Running parallel to a similarly newish piscina natural, seawater swimming pool, there are two beach bars which attract a young and trendy clientele. Head to the swimming pool at weekends or public holidays when the beach can get a bit crowded.

Bunker up

El Puertillo bunker

As well as a place to lounge about on, El Puertillo's a working beach. The kids start young on the fishing front, using a wire and cheese in the rock pools behind the beach itself. To the right of the actual playa, you'll see anglers casting off the roof of a machine-gun bunker dictator Francisco Franco constructed to defend against attacks along the north coast of the island.

Taking the rough with the smooth

El Puertillo

El Puertillo's not the smoothest of beaches. In fact, it's known as a dark-sand beach, although its hue looks closer to corn than molasses if the above photo is anything to go by. When the beach extends to its full length and the beach becomes less rocky and more sandy, the local kids like to play an enthusiastically-competed game of football which is nonetheless open to children and, indeed, adults who don't hail from the area.

Those of a lazier disposition will prefer to watch the sun go down over neighbouring Tenerife, perhaps from one of the seafront bars/restaurants. In summer, there's an open-air cinema where you can watch a blockbuster for free with the temperature remaining in the 20s as day becomes night. And even it's a non-beach day on the weather front, you'll find it incredibly easy to eat well in El Puertillo. And who knows? You might even see your lunch being caught.