Puerto de Las Nieves on Gran Canaria is a bit of a strange fish. The Fred Olsen ferry linking the island with neighbour, and rival, Tenerife docks at the small fishing village. But most passengers just keep on going, heading to a destination that isn’t Puerto de Las Nieves.
As a result, its restaurants are still frequented predominantly by Gran Canaria locals who know it as a good place to go for a seafood meal.
Puerto de Las Nieves and its big brother, Agaete (with which it is almost joined at the hip) are quite quirky little places that deserve more than a passing glance from the car window.
Puerto de Las Nieves
The surreal alarm bells went off as we descended from on high, on the last leg of our walk across Gran Canaria, to emerge at La Palmita and a small park whose bright sculptures were nearly as big as the park itself.
Next up was a rather effeminate looking character in his underpants, dancing his way towards the coast. This one was a monument to a local dancer and choreographer.
Just to reinforce the suspicion that Puerto de Las Nieves was no run of the mill Canarian fishing village, our route to the end of the road at Playa de Las Nieves was temporarily blocked by a gleaming white stretch limousine. Not exactly the sort of vehicle you expect to find on streets that a SEAT 600 may struggle to negotiate.
The ‘out of place’ visuals were continued by the glitzy occupants of the limo who were on the beach, in full wedding gear, gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes with the famous Dedo de Dios (God’s Finger) as a backdrop for their special moment. At least it would have been the backdrop had the finger not been snapped off during Tropical Storm Delta a few years ago. It was a scene straight out of a cheesy South American soap opera.
We’d just completed a long walk and were ravenous to the point of derangement – a state that wasn’t helped by the distinctive aroma of freshly fried fish that wrapped us in a tantalising shroud. The South American wedding crew had commandeered the Dedo de Dios restaurant so, after a quick perusal of menus, we opted for Restaurant Las Nasas.
Restaurant Las Nasas (Calle Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, Tel +34 902 898 650)
It’s a bit of a travel cliché to talk about restaurants being good because they’re filled with locals, but the small terrace overlooking the port at Las Nasas was packed with a mix of stylishly dressed locals and blokes who looked as though they just stepped off their fishing boats. The food clearly appealed to ‘locals’ from a variety of backgrounds rather than those just looking for cheap eats – even though in this case the prices were pretty good. A bowl of creamy smooth gofio escaldado (a fishy paste made from toasted cereal – gofio), a sizzling pan of gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and a leggy fried octopus drizzled with cilantro sauce set us back less than €20.
With a couple of glasses of chilled white wine it was the perfect lunch for setting us up for our walk back to our base at Las Longueras.
Puerto de Las Nieves morphs into Agaete and before you know it you’ve left one village and have entered another. Agaete has an attractive little centre with the Iglesia de la Concepción lording it proudly over a pretty little square which also has one of those seriously authentic Canarian bars with multiple tall thin doors providing a choice of entrances – almost more doors than there are seats inside.
The centre of town was further prettified by being decorated by a posse of colourful crosses that had been constructed from everything from flowers to discarded paper to fishing nets. It was the Día de la Cruz (Day of the Cross which is celebrated across the Canary Islands on 3 May). Apart from us, there were only a handful of locals to view them… and they spent more time watching us with barely concealed amusement as we photographed the crosses from every angle.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check out the Huerto de las Flores (flower gardens). We left Agaete after pondering whether a Lincoln-esque statue of Francisco de Armas in the plaza of the same name was supposed to be headless or not (the answer is not), passing a sign advertising local coffee – not something you’ll find anywhere else in Europe. Another curio.
And just as we thought we’d left all the little oddities behind, the Agaete Valley had one last whim to share with us.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+