Gran Canaria’s natural swimming pools | My 6 favourites

Visiting beautiful Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands? Lucky you! This Spanish island off the African coast is known for its otherworldly volcanic landscapes, variety of things to do and, of course, its fantastic beaches.

But what if the Atlantic Ocean is too rough to swim today, something that happens on a regular basis? Or if you’re looking for a safe and shallow place to take the kids for a splash? Worry not: the island has an in-built solution. Its natural swimming pools are well worth visiting for both snorkel enthusiasts and those just looking for calm waters.

Let’s have a look at 6 amazing natural swimming pools in Gran Canaria that are almost always calm, beautiful and suitable for beginning or nervous swimmers.

My favorite: Punta de Gáldar

Amenities: No

Snorkel: Great

Easy to reach: Yes

If, like me, you’re a fan of somewhat hidden spots and don’t mind trading comfort for natural beauty, you’ll love the natural swimming pools at Punta de Gáldar. Located at the island’s north point, these pools are relatively large and almost never crowded. The area is beautiful and it’s well-worth bringing some snorkel gear. This is a natural haven for colourful fish, aquatic vegetation and a host of interesting invertebrates.

You can reach Punta de Gáldar by parking in the residential area and walking down a short paved path marked by a sign. It can be handy to bring a folding chair if you have one, as the spot is rocky. There may be some shade provided by larger rocks, but not a lot, so don’t forget your sunblock either! There are some stone steps that you can use to get into the water, but they’re a little slippery and it’s a good idea to bring beach shoes.

Don’t forget to have a walk around and check out the various tide pools.

Tip: There are many more natural swimming pools in this area. Check out the small pool at Norte de Galdar, hidden gem La Furnia, the tide pools at Los Cangrejos and the more organized swimming area at El Agujero.

Natural swimming pools at Punta de Gáldar, Gran Canaria photographed from above.
Natural swimming pool at Punta de Gáldar, Gran Canaria (Canary Islands in Spain).
Underwater photo of bottom dwelling fish surrounded by macroalgae.
Photo taken in Punta de Gáldar.

The classic: Piscinas Naturales de Agaete

Amenities: Some

Snorkel: Average

Easy to reach: Yes

Probably the most well-known natural swimming pools are those at Agaete, located in the island’s northeast. It can get a little crowded in the high season, but you should usually be able to find yourself a spot. The location is great, with the Atlantic in all its splendour right by your side. Waves crash on the rocks just a few meters away, spraying into the air while you float in perfectly still waters.

Although snorkelling here was nothing too special, I did enjoy it and got to see some local aquatic life like blennies, rockpool shrimp, gobies and other fish. The fact that there are multiple pools is also nice. One is located further from the sea and totally calm, a second one can get a bit more water movement, and the pool directly on the ocean can get quite a bit of wave activity.

As an added bonus, there’s a pleasant enough little normal beach next to the pools, though keep an eye on the flag to make sure it’s safe to swim. There are some amenities here including toilets and a changing area, plus there’s a small bar where you can score some snacks and drinks. I had a much-needed glass of wine after my swim since I went in the off-season and it was pretty chilly!

View from the steps of the natural swimming pools in Agaete, Gran Canaria.
Gran Canaria's natural swimming pools | My 6 favorites

Very large: Los Charcones

Amenities: No

Snorkel: Average

Easy to reach: Yes

Another fun option located in the north, this one’s easy to reach from the main highway to Las Palmas and you can walk right up to it by means of a nice little promenade. There are multiple pools, some pretty large, and they’re all shallow and calm enough even for beginning swimmers and children. It’s best to go at low tide so the sea doesn’t cover the pools.

Snorkelling here was nothing special, although it’s still fun, especially if you’ve got the kids with you. Various fish and invertebrate species get trapped in the pools at low tide and are easy to spot. When you’re done, just slap a beach chair on the concrete to relax, or move to nearby sandy Playa el Puertillo for a bit more comfort.

There are a few restaurants and bars close to the pools, though no public toilet. Showers to rinse off the salt are located between the parking area and the pools themselves. Remember that this spot is popular with both locals and tourists, so it can get a bit crowded in the high season. And be careful, some of those flat rocks are super slippery!

Natural swimming pools at Los Charcones in Gran Canaria.

Rarely crowded: Roque Prieto

Amenities?

Snorkel? Good

Easy to reach? Yes

Another secluded little gem up north, this is one you’ll have to check the tide for if you want to go for a swim. The waves can get pretty strong at high tide! It’s well worth a visit, though, with magically wild surroundings. The waters are crystal clear and definitely have enough sea life to warrant bringing your snorkel gear. Behind the pools, the Atlantic bashes on the rocks in full force.

You can park right at the top of the descent ramp. The pools are reached on foot by means of a short, paved access road that ends in a large flat concrete slab where you can lay down. There are no amenities and it’s a good idea to bring some beach shoes to avoid any sea urchins. Visit the nearby town if you want a snack and a drink after your swim.

Tip: To reach Gran Canaria’s more hidden natural pools, including this one, don’t count too much on your GPS. It’ll get you close, but after that, it’s best to keep an eye on the road signs. Don’t worry if you find yourself on a somewhat bumpy road in the middle of nowhere surrounded by banana plantations – that’s perfectly normal!

Natural swimming pools at Roque Prieto in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands.

Family friendly: Castillo del Romeral

Amenities? No

Snorkel? Not really worth it

Easy to reach? Yes

Staying in the south of the island and don’t want to go too far to visit one of Gran Canaria’s natural swimming pools? Although most of these natural wonders are located in the north, where the ocean tends to be too wild to swim in the open sea, you still have a few options. One is the public swimming pools at Castillo del Romeral. These pools are particularly great for families thanks to their calm and safe waters, plus the fact that there’s a children’s play area next to them and plenty of bars and restaurants nearby.

The water in these two large pools doesn’t tend to get deeper than 2 meters (6.5 ft) and is crystal clear with some aquatic life. It’s not much of a snorkel location due to the lack of natural rock, although it may be a good spot to let the little ones try their goggles for the first time.

Remember to bring a beach chair, as the entire area consists of flat concrete. There are some palm trees to provide shade and multiple nice little beaches at a stone’s throw. The only downside of the whole thing is that it’s almost always very windy here.

Natural swimming pool at Castillo del Romeral, Gran Canaria.

In the east: Arinaga

Amenities? No

Snorkel? Average

Easy to reach? Yes

Not too far from the aforementioned Castillo del Romeral is Arinaga, another charming small town that sports a nice little promenade and is each to reach by car. The natural swimming pool here is a sort of cross between a rock pool and a beach, with sloping edges rather than access stairs. Due to the way it’s laid out, this is probably the best choice for folks with reduced mobility.

This is the only one on the list that’s surrounded by sand rather than hard rocks. You can swim safely due to a wall blocking off the waves, especially during low tide. Take your snorkel to see a few fish and other aquatic life, and don’t forget to have a walk around the town after your swim.

If you’d like to visit the natural swimming pools in Arinaga during high season, be sure to get there early, as locals enjoy the spot and it can get crowded. There’s lifeguard service in the high season, but no showers or toilets.

Beach and natural swimming pool at Arinaga, Gran Canaria.

BONUS: Faro de Punta de Arinaga

Amenities? No

Snorkel? If the pools are deep enough

Easy to reach? Relatively

I just want to close off the list with another one of my favorite spots in Gran Canaria. There’s a lighthouse close to the aforementioned town of Arinaga. We drove up there to have a bite at the restaurant, which is perched on the hill and offers some nice views. Leaving the car parked there, we made our way down a sand path to an area filled with natural tide pools (you can see it from the restaurant).

The place is called Punta de Arinaga and it’s totally worth a visit if you enjoy exploring a little! I spotted loads of sea life in the pools, including sea hares and colourful nudibranchs. I didn’t take a dip myself, but there were some spots that would be deep enough to get in and cool off, even if you can’t really do much swimming. Not much in the way people around, aside from some other folks puttering around the pools peeking at the fish and invertebrates. The landscape is just gorgeous.

Tide pool at Punta de Arinaga in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain.
Close-up underwater photo of a sea hare (Aplysia dactylomela)
Taken at Punta de Arinaga. Sea hares are a common sight here!

Where should you stay in Gran Canaria?

Everyone’s got their own preferences, but based on my personal experiences, I’d say the following:

  • Stay in the capital of Las Palmas if you’re into exploring: it’s well-connected and the city itself is also nice enough.
  • Stay in the south (like Maspalomas) if you’re a beach bum or party lover: you’ll find sun, sea, sand and disco here.

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If you have any more questions about Gran Canaria’s natural swimming pools or want to share your own experiences visiting this stunning island, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!