Vacationing in Gran Canaria

After travelling Morocco for 6 weeks, I decided to fly west to the Canary Islands of Spain, where I would spend 10 days vacationing. I’ve never been an all-inclusive fan, but considering the need for a vacation and the expensive Euro, it seemed more convenient and economic to choose a nice a hotel and not worry about anything.

I opted for the hotel Paradise Valle Taurito on http://www.booking.com for its beautiful location, affordable price and multiple attractions (read my personal reviews listed at the bottom).

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Paradise Valle Taurito is a family self-sufficient resort, offering all the service and amenities you need. Wake up in the morning and enjoy a delicious breakfast on the terrace. Then move to the poolside where you can quietly read a book while sipping on a pina colada. At lunch time, enjoy a fresh seafood paella or snack on a classic burger and fries. If you are in need of more action in the afternoon, move to the waterpark and enjoy the slippery rides. Or simply unwind on your patio admiring the beautiful views of the resort and the ocean nearby. There is also a full service spa for a day of extra relaxation. At night, savour a nice dinner under the stars then perhaps have a stroll on the venue. Shows and entertainment are presented in the public place. There is also an arcade and games room as well as a mini-golf where you can show your skills. If you prefer quietness, hang out at the poolside bar where the friendly bartenders will take care of you. Nothing can beat a nice glass of wine chatting with fellow vacationers.

The black sand beach of Taurito is just a few feet from the hotel. Sandwiched between 2 wind shielding cliffs, it makes it a peaceful and comfortable area to relax, take a stroll or simply watch the warm golden sunsets.

There are many activities in Taurito to choose from. You can book a package with one of the companies located on the beach. Jetskiing, banana boating, parasailing, snorkeling, diving and sailing are all offered in Taurito beach.

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I booked a day diving trip with Delphinus and did 2 beautiful dives at the marine reserve of El Cabron.

Perched on volcanic hills, Playa Taurito is located southwest coast of the island of Gran Canaria, between the port town of Puerto Mogan and the popular town of Puerto Rico. The sand dunes of Maspalomas are only a short drive away. There you can take a camel ride along the desert-like dunes.

The colourful port town of Puerto Rico offers a nice escape whether you want to take a walk along oceanfront promenade, glimpse at the fishermen returning to the marina, have a nice dinner at one of the authentic local restaurants, relax on a lounge chair at the beach or stroll the pedestrianized development surrounded by gardens of bougainvillea, palm trees, bird-of-paradise flowers, hibiscus and other colourful plants. This little “Venice of the Canaries” will simply charm you.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a complete vacation if you don’t cruise along the coast. Whether it is by bus, by car, or by scooter, the road along the ocean offers a scenic drive with the perfect sea breeze. We opted to rent a scooter and rode along the winding cliff roads, wind in the hair, chasing the sun setting over the Atlantic. Epic, scenic, simply majestic.

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Paradise Valle Taurito Hotel review:

  • Location: The hotel is located south west of the island of Gran Canaria, between the towns of Puerto Mogan and Puerto Rico. The sand dunes of Maspalomas are a short drive away. No airport transfer is included with the hotel. You can choose to pay a taxi, but be prepared to pay a good 100 euros. You can opt to take public transportation. Ask the bus station clerk at the exit of the airport which bus to take to your destination. To get to Taurito, we took 2 buses, a total of 10 euros each. It took about 1  1/2 hour. Renting a car could be a great option.
  • Hotel: Very clean and comfortable newly renovated rooms with beautiful views of the resort and the ocean. Hotel always clean and well-maintained. Beautiful flowers and gardens.
  • Amenities: Small but nice pool surrounded by free long chairs. Pool tables, hot tub and free access to water park. The water has fun rides, although could need a good deep clean and TLC on the slides. Entertainment is a bit poor, but great for kids. Games room fun, but bowling is expensive. Mini-golf is a must! There is a nightclub that opens late for adults. Doesn’t get too busy and the drinks are not included, hence a bit pricey. Beach is clean and located only a few feet away. There is also a full service spa.
  • Food and Drinks: As most affordable all-inclusive resort, the food isn’t close to gastronomy. It tends to be a bit repetitive, but overall it is decent and eatable. The drinks are also ok. However, the self-service wine at dinner is horrible. Drinks and wine at the poolside bar are way better.
  • Staff: Had a great experience thanks to the staff. Very kind and helpful and, even after long days, they keep their smiles. Good job especially to the service and bar staff as well as the housekeepers. However, the front desk wasn’t too helpful with indications and recommendations, which made us miss our bus and take an expensive cab to the airport.

Island Life: A Year in the Making

I got here on a 4th of July. Like many islanders I came here to search for a new light, try to brighten up on some points in my life, try to escape the mold; try to create life experiences; try to build a new chapter of my own.

This whole experience was never planned. It came up randomly as an opportunity. Call it luck or not, it came perfectly in a good time in my life, where my heart was looking for recovery and my soul was searching to hold on to something new.

I never really put any thought before into the Caribbean. I mean it is touristy, easy to travel to, very modern and built with big hotels and amenities. All the opposite of what I am looking for when I travel. But this time was not about backpacking. It was about leaving home, on my own, at an older age and moving into the unknown. I was there to work and step away from my reality to get a better understanding of it. I had no expectations.  Just a work permit, a one-way plane ticket and an open heart and soul.

With hesitation at first, I took courage by the horns and entered in a whole new adventure. The first couple of months were cruel. I missed friends and my puppies growing up. I missed the family that I built in the past 9 years. I missed the mountains, the lifestyle, the fresh air of my homey Canadian West Coast. I missed home. But there were reasons why I was here. I needed to put aside loneliness and the feeling of longing for home and start living this island experience. After 2 months residing in an old hotel room, I found a cozy condo on the beach. And when my co-worker Jo from Whistler came down on the same opportunity, I felt that a part of me found home. Now, it was time to start that island life!

14 months later I am sitting on my balcony drinking my latte overlooking the Caribbean Sea and I remember those days that went by. I remember day one when the taxi dropped me at destination and the humidity attacked my hair permanently; I remember when I first dipped my toes in the ocean and marked (literally) the Caribbean as my new territory. I remember my first kiss with a stingray, my first dive in the clear waters of the Antilles, the first time I went wakeboarding under the sunset light and trying so hard not to fall and be a prey to sharks. I remember jetskiing the angry sea and holding on to my dear life. I remember the crazy parties, theover consumption of Jager and the nights that once were to forget now became nights to remember. I remember the friends I met, the ones that left, the ones that stayed, the ones that inspired me in future projects.

I remember the pride I had to welcome my mother and my friends from home in my paradise. I remember leaving home with no shoes and going for lunch to restaurants on the beach. I remember walking home from work while the sun sets over the horizon. I remember going for a snorkel right in my front yard. I remember meeting up with my mother in Cuba for a weekend. I remember grabbing my mask and fins and going diving in the morning and clocking in at work with a massive mask mark on my forehead. I remember cheering my roommate on the beach between 2 bottles of Riesling after deciding to purchase a Jeep (with 2 months left to our journey). I remember the with great DJ’s, the boat parties, the famous Sunday Fundays. Like a captain stirring his vessel, I drove my island life through memorable experiences, a bottle at hand (eh, no judgements, I live on an island)!


It surely has been a legendary rollercoaster and a hell of good time! No regrets, only great memories that will last.

Cayman Islands, I raise my glass to you today: cheers to you and thanks for the good ride! Ya Man!

When Does It Start to Feel Like Home?

So when does it start to feel like home? Is it by the number of pairs of shoes that you collect in your condo’s entrance? Or with the number of swimwear that accumulates on your towel rack? Or is it by the repetitive salutations of acquaintances that you encounter at the grocery store, local pub or just strolling down the beach at night? Maybe you realize that your skin surprisingly started to toughen up to the daily absorption of tropical UV rays and the bombing of mosquito bites, fire coral burns and jelly fish stings? How much and how long does it take to really consider yourself… at home? 

I recently found a different taste to the island: the adaptation to the constant hot, humid and sunny weather, the homey comfort of my apartment, the growing circle of friends and acquaintances (at the end, you pretty much met the whole island), and the feeling of being ok with living far away… But do I feel like home?

I still miss my friends, my dogs, the mountains and my life back home. It will almost be a year that I landed foot on this rock. It was interesting to see the emotional progress. I came from being scared and lonely, to feeling comfortable and at ease. And as this Caribbean chapter is about to end, I am not sure if I am quite ready to let go of it yet.

The first 5 months of being away, I still starved to go back home. And then a friend told me: ‘’you JUST got here. This is a new habitat for you. It takes time to mark territory, build amenity and create contentment and assurance. Don’t run back to comfort zone and security. Experience and learn about those feelings you have and grow out of it. Be strong, be confident. This island has a lot to offer, be kind and heart open and go forward. Give yourself the time to be completely submerged with the venture that you gave yourself and get out of it enlightened and accomplished. Don’t give up, just not yet’’. He was right. I came back home on vacation for the Holidays and it was hard to come back to the island. But weeks went by and I committed to my ‘’Cayman To Do List’’. I kept myself busy not only with work and social gathering (which literally were 2 full time jobs during my first months) but I started to fill my time off with stimulating activities. I really got into scuba diving and I try to go on the water at least twice a week. I attempt to go to places I haven’t been, try a new restaurant for lunch or drive around the island in search of a Sunday getaway brunch. I want to take advantage of the Cayman Airways’ low airline fares to explore the islands nearby, like I did when I met up with Mom in Cuba for the weekend. I want to do it all and give this island experience a big and sincere ‘’check’’. I am even considering purchasing a car, just for the liberty and the freedom for my last months on the rock. But hold on a minute, wouldn’t this be getting closer to settling down?





















So yeah… After those months of serenading loneliness and homesickness, here I am in Grand Cayman, living the Island Life at its fullest. With doubts at first, but no regrets at last, I stuck to the guns and battled through this separation anxiety that followed me all along. I realized that we all moved away from something, and we all felt lonely at first. But I had to remember that we are all lonely together. So there I go on this piece of rock in the middle of the Caribbean, telling myself: this is starting to feel like home…