Family day out – Aqualand, Gran Canaria
Sometimes I think the recipe for a successful family holiday with a toddler or kids is ice cream, water, sunshine and (ideally) sand.
We had to forgo the latter at Aqualand but with a child pool and gentle slides, huge twisty scream-inducing slides for me, a wave pool, lazy river and pirate ship to explore, we really weren’t missing out.
After a first lazy day in Gran Canaria, we decided to make our first day out almost equally lazy – a short drive from our villa to the waterpark where my vague original plan of staying for an hour or two and heading back for naptime turned into most of the day. Frankly, there might have been riots all round if I’d stuck to the timetable.
We had the bonus of going slightly out of season, as well as out of school holidays, so the whole place seemed half empty. No queueing for slides, no fighting for loungers, no cramming into a pool with dozens of others – based on reviews, it’s worth getting there early if you do go in peak season.
And the size means that there’s plenty to explore during the day, so that you aren’t bored after an hour, but without being too overwhelming if you’re visiting with toddlers.
There are height restrictions but even with Minnie in tow at less than 90cm, there’s a lot of toddler-friendly fun especially if you base yourself around the kids’ pool with its slides.
You do have to rent the loungers, at 3.50 Euros each for as long as you want them so we set up camp in one spot and always left someone metaphorically guarding the beach towels. There are also lockers you can use.
One drawback with a slightly nervous two-year-old is that all the kids’ pool slides are for children only.
With the smaller ones, it’s easy enough to stand next to it and encourage them down, but unless there’s two of you, there’s no way to settle someone at the top of the bigger slides than dash back to the bottom to catch them – even then, Minnie wasn’t the only one refusing to go on at all. So it’s a shame there’s no option to slide down together.
Once you are big enough, there are plenty of slides to pick from, most of which you go down in huge inner tubes so you can speed along in pairs if you fancy. Top tip: If you’ve wedged your bum right into the tube, you will unintentionally put the brakes on at the start until the lifeguard starts to snigger at your attempts to shuffle it into the slide… (there’s a mistake you only make once).
I had a huge amount of fun, especially on the ‘Racer Twin Turbolance’ and Tornado, only calling it a day when a nap-free Minnie started to melt down and I inhaled half of the pool at the end of one speedy drop. You need to take flipflops etc off so be prepared to do some hopping from foot to foot on the hot ground as well.
In between sliding, you can splash around in the wave pool with a siren to warn when the waves are starting or lounge in more inner tubes as you float very lazily along the lazy Pirate’s River. And under the slightly unexpected waterfalls.
You can also pay extra to swim with sealions – I always feel faintly uncomfortable about activities like this, although Minnie loved watching the sealions in their tank, and they seemed pretty content (as far as I can tell with a sealion).
Need to know
Tickets cost 27 Euros for adults, with discounts and family tickets available online (although you need to print out tickets and have to buy them in advance).
Child tickets are based on age and height, so five to 10-year-olds and/or 1.10m to 1.40m cost 19 Euros, toddlers (aged three to four or 90cm to 110cm) cost 9.50 Euros. Under-threes are free.
You can also buy combined tickets to Aqualand and Palmitos Park zoo for 57 Euros for adults and when we visited, there was the option to buy a much cheaper re-entry ticket.
The waterpark is open from 10am to 5pm from September 1 to June 28. From June 29 to September, it’s open to 6pm but check the site for most up-to-date details. Attractions shut half an hour before closing time.
Food is available on site and ours was cooked to order with generous portions. When it’s busy, this could mean long queues though so it’s worth taking a picnic if you know you’ll be staying all day.
Disclosure: My entry to Aqualand was courtesy of Gran Canaria Tourism. All opinions and loud squealing on the video remain my own.
Images and video copyright MummyTravels/Cathy Winston