The Geology of Gran Canaria

The geology of Gran Canaria is quite dramatic, especially when it comes to formations like Roque Bentayga...

Gran Canaria attracts a lot of attention from tourists for its year-long warm temperatures and spectacular culinary offerings, but underneath its glorious exterior lies a rich and fascinating geological history.

The Canary Islands as a whole is the only Spanish-speaking destination where volcanic activity is still recorded, and visitors are able to explore these roots during a holiday to Gran Canaria, the second most populous island of the archipelago.

Once you’ve booked your flights through Monarch, read our brief overview of the geology of Gran Canaria.


The first signs of volcanic activity on Gran Canaria date as far back as 14.5 million years ago (ma), beginning with the building of a basaltic shield volcano. Between 14.1 ma and 13 ma, there were a series of silicic ignimbrite eruptions that led to the formation of a huge volcanic crater.

Further eruptions and lava flows were noted between 12.6 and nine ma, before a three million-year period of inactivity, which was followed by a reawakening that lasted another few million years. Several types of lava were emitted, including phonolites and alkali basalts.

The most recent eruptions on Gran Canaria are those of the Caldera de Bandama, which took place 1,970 years ago, the Montanon Negro (2,970 years ago) and Caldera de Pinos de Galdar (2,830 years ago). Each has left behind fascinating geomorphological structures and formations.

Famous geological landmarks

One of the most popular attractions for hikers and adventurers is el Roque Nublo (Rock in the Clouds), which was viewed as a sacred spot by Guanches, the aborigines who inhabited the island in around 1,000 BCE.

The 1,803-metre volcanic monolith is easy to walk to and a path will lead you right up to the rock, where you can take in magnificent views across the island.

Roque Bentayga is another formation you must visit during your island getaway, and around 104 dwelling caves have been found lurking in its depths. Standing 4,632-feet high, it is a sight to behold – keep an eye out for ancient inscriptions and carvings.

You should also try and explore the Bandama Crater, which is part of Gran Canaria’s Tafira Protected Landscape. Its highest point reaches 569 meters above sea level, and walking around it you will come across volcanic ash in different textures and colours.

Just past the crater is an observation platform, which offers fantastic panoramic views of the north and north-east of the island. This is particularly spectacular on a clear day.

Why visit these sites?

Venturing into these intriguing and historic landscapes is the best way to understand the structure of the island, and not to mention the scenery is out of this world. Because of this, packing a camera for your journey is essential.

Sure, it’s nice to relax on holiday, but on the days that you do decide to be active, a hike in one of the main volcanic areas is the perfect way to experience the great outdoors and enjoy a new and exciting adventure.

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