The Dunes of Maspalomas is a spectacular 4km field of sand, situated in between the resorts of Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés, and deserves a place on every visitor's itinerary. The dunes and the adjacent lagoon, known as La Charca, form a protected nature reserve where visitors will be treated to sights of unique fauna and wildlife, as well as the dunes themselves.
Contrary to popular belief that the dunes were created by sand blown over from the Sahara desert, the dunes were actually formed through a unique combination of sea and wind. Once sea levels dropped at the end of the last ice age, sand which was at one time hidden by the ocean, was now exposed to the prevailing winds and over time this loose sand was blown around and piled up to form the dunes we see today.
Although it may not be noticeable over a short period of time, the dunes are constantly moving, from east to west, at a rate of around 2 to 5 metres per year. The sand is blown inland from the beach and accumulates around the shrubs, known as balancon, that are dotted around the area. Once the accumulated sand grows larger than its protective shrub, it begins to move across the dune field and so creating the stunning, undulating landscape.
Getting to the dunes is relatively straightforward with easy access from the shores of either Playa del Inglés or Playa de Maspalomas. There's also an entrance point from the Mirador-Dunas Santa Monica on the Paseo Costa Canaria which runs adjacent to the beach at Playa del Inglés. From the heart of the dunes, the views of the island's mountainous interior are superb and the nearby hustle and bustle in the neighbouring resorts is all but forgotten. Some secluded areas of the dunes are popular with naturists and can also often, but discreetly, be used as a gay cruising ground, so don't be surprised to see the odd bit of naked flesh on show. If you'd rather not stumble over the dunes on foot, there are opportunities to explore them from the comfort of a camel's back. Trips can be arranged from the western shore of the lagoon, La Charca.