The weather in Gran Canaria and usually in all the Canary Islands is very stable and pleasant throughout the whole year, which is why the island is also known as the “Island of Eternal Spring”. The days are usually sunny, with many hours of sunlight and mild temperatures without big variations.
However, I recommend you to read this article very carefully. Because of the geographical location of the island and the direct influence of the trade winds, it is also called the “miniature continent”. This is due to its climatic, geographical diversity and its flora and fauna. It is very important to know these characteristics in order to plan your holiday successfully.
Normal climate in Gran Canaria
In Gran Canaria it is quite complicated to determine the seasons as we know them, this is why the Canarian people say that they always live in an eternal spring. The weather in Gran Canaria depends a lot on the region you are, but generally, temperatures vary between 16ºC and 28ºC throughout the year and there is practically no rain.
If we distinguish between summer and winter, we have the following weather in Gran Canaria:
Summer (June to October): minimum temperatures of 21ºC and maximum temperatures of 27ºC, few clouds, no rain and little wind. On days whithout breeze, it is very hot. The water temperature is normally 24ºC, ideal for cooling off! The hottest month is usually August.
Winter (November to May): Minimum temperatures of 16ºC and maximum of 23ºC, half of the time it is usually cloudy and there may be some rain. This is the season with the strongest wind, in some areas even very strong. The water temperature drops to 19ºC, a bit cold for my taste. The coldest month is usually February.
Best month to visit the island
To describe the best month for a visiting the island, you have to consider two aspects: the best time for tourism and the best time for the beach.
If you want to do outdoor activities on sunny days, without rain and with pleasant temperatures (between 20ºC and 27ºC), I recommend you to come from the end of May to the end of August. June is the most pleasant month.
If you just want to go to the beach and this also on sunny days, without rain, but with a higher temperature (between 24ºC and 28ºC outside and warm water) I recommend you to come from the end of June to the end of September. August is the ideal month for beach holidays.
Climate by region
There are several microclimates on the island of Gran Canaria. This is due to the trade winds, the conical shape and its almost 2000 metres elevation gain. The trade winds usually blow from the north and the mountains act as natural barriers that trap the clouds and their humidity. It makes the north very green and the south completely dry. This happens on the coastal plain, but the altitude also influences the climate. As the clouds get caught at an altitude of about 1,500 metres, this also has a direct effect on the humidity and temperature and therefore on the landscape, flora and fauna. If the wind direction changes, this has a complete effect on the weather in Gran Canaria. Luckily, this happens only rarely an only for a few days.
If we divide the island into three main zones according to its altitude and each of them in its northern and southern part we have the following zones:
Coast (up to 500 meters): The northern zone is usually windy, cloudy and with lots of waves. The southern zone is protected from wind and waves, it is almost always cloudless and usually it doesn’t rain. It’s similar to a desert and it’s very hot -> the ideal zone for the beach.
Middle zone (from 500 to 1500 meters): The northern zone is very humid and cold at night, it usually rains and when it doesn’t, the clouds make it look like it would. The vegetation is very green, making it ideal for nature excursions. In the southern zone there is no vegetation and during the day normally it’s very hot.
Summit zone (more than 1500 meters): In the summit zone you can observe the same effect as in the middle zone, but humidity is lower. This is very important because cold in combination with humidity is something very unpleasant. From the summit you can often see the cloud cover. During the day it is quite hot and at night it is cold because there are no clouds. Definitely put on thick clothes for possible night excursions.
East and West zones: I did not specify these zones because they are a mixture of the previous ones. The eastern zone of the island is still dry and quite windy, ideal for those who want to practice windsurfing or kitesurfing. You will see that it is full of wind generators, as the wind always blows there. The western area is a bit greener, but quite steep on the coast, which has saved it from the effects of tourism and urban development. The highway ends right here.
Which region is better?
Well, as you could see so far, the weather in Gran Canaria is very changeable. There is a wide choice and it really depends on what you are looking for. In this article I have put together some general tips for planning your trip. I will try to help you, but the final decision is entirely up to you.
If you come in winter, especially in February, you will probably not find the weather you expected. Although this is relative, there are countries with snow and here you can walk around in short sleeves. If you want to go to the beach, go in any case to the south of the island, specially to the area of Mogán, which is very beautiful and not as touristic as Maspalomas.
The northern area is probably not the best option, the weather may be good or maybe not. If you plan to go into the mountains, remember that it can rain and it can get a bit cold. The humidity makes every jacket look too cold.
In summer the weather will be great, almost with cloudless days and no rain. In this case I recommend that if you come in mid August, try to stay away from the southern part of the island. It will be full of people and with a suffocating heat.
In general, tourism is concentrated in the south and in the capital. An interesting option is to stay in the eastern part of the island. The capital is 15 minutes away and the south less than 30 minutes, so you have the choice. I recommend the coastal area of Telde, especially the beach of Melenara. There are holiday apartments, but practically no tourists. Another area little known to foreigners is Arinaga, although it is a bit windy here.
If you want to avoid the heat, the capital is also a good choice. The beach of Las Canteras is a huge and very beautiful natural swimming pool. At this time of the year you can also consider accommodation in the countryside, but try to avoid the hottest months.
The panza de burro (literally donkey belly)
Due to the trade winds and the shape of the island, there is normally a permanent cloud cover in the northern part. The wind pushes the clouds away and the mountains stop them. This phenomenon is usually more intense in the months of July and August and here it is known as panza de burro (donkey belly). Don’t forget this when you stay in the capital, as the beach of Las Canteras is usually completely affected. In summer, this cloud phenomenon usually disappears in the afternoon.
The panza de burro is a mixed blessing, on hot days it is useful because it acts like a natural sunshade, but it can also simply ruin the day because it hides the sun all day long. It can happen that in the south of the island there are high temperatures that are quite unpleasant and instead in the north it can be a very pleasant day due to this effect.
Don’t forget: If it’s cloudy in the north of the island, it’s certainly sunny in the south. But if it is very hot in the south, you can enjoy a much more pleasant temperature in the north.
Calima is the name that is given in the Canary Islands to the fine dust in air. It comes from the African continent when a sandstorm rages in the Sahara. When Calima prevails, the air takes on a hazy and yellow aspect that sometimes reduces visibility to less than 50 metres.
The occurrence of this phenomenon has a direct influence on the weather in Gran Canaria. It is something that happens very often and normally it’s not a problem, as it’s light. It is very easy to see when Calima prevails: if you look straight to the mountains, you can see a light yellow fog. But it is also very easy to see it on the cars, which are covered with a light layer of dust. After two or three days everything passes.
If the amount of dust is a bit higher, it creates a greenhouse effect, so the feeling of the heat is very strong. In this case, you just have to drink a lot of water and try to cool down somewhere close to the coast, the beach or the pool. If you don’t have any serious breathing problems, don’t worry because it is not harmful. If the opposite is the case, I simply recommend you wearing a mask.
Another aspect that makes the weather in Gran Canaria attractive is the average of 12 hours of natural light. The shortest day of the year is in December with 10.5 hours, and the longest day is in June with almost 14 hours of light.
My advice for you if you have sun-sensitive skin is to bring a good sun protection, at least factor 50. The UV index (ultraviolet) is usually very high (don’t forget, we are closer to the equator!) and it is normal to see sunburned tourists similar to a gamba. If you have never suffered from sunburn, it is neither healthy nor pleasant and can ruin your holiday. My recommendation is to avoid the direct sun between 1 and 5 pm.
Temperatures per hour
A characteristic that influences the weather in Gran Canaria is the combination of the trade winds and the cold water sea current that comes from the Atlantic Ocean. This provides a natural “cooling down” and helps to maintain a very pleasant climate compared to other points on the same latitude (we are right next to a huge desert).
In this graph you can see the temperature by month and time of day. The darkest area shows the night and the brightest area the day. On the right side you see the hours.
Probability of rain
Rain is quite unusual for the Canary Islands, especially in the south. The season with the highest rain probability is from mid-November to mid-January. The remaining 10 months can be considered dry, but if you want to make sure it doesn’t get wet, July is definitely the driest month.
This is only relevant for the northern region of the island. The clearest months are from the end of May to mid September. July you will hardly see any clouds xin the sky.
The cloudiest months are from mid-September to the end of May. November is the month with the highest probability of clouds, 40% cloudy or 60% partly cloudy.
How can I choose my clothes for Gran Canaria?
As I already told you, the weather in Gran Canaria strongly depends on which region you are in and if it is summer or winter. There is a proverb that says: “If you want to go on a tour of the island, take a chamarrita (something warm) with you, just in case…” As a general recommendation, I can give you the following tips:
If you only want to go to the beach:
- In summer: Shorts, short sleeve shirt and flip flops
- In winter: The shorts depend on the cold weather, during the day you can wear them, but at night it is better to take something warm with you.
If you want to see the island or if you are travelling in the mountains:
- In summer: Exactly the same as on the coast, but take a jacket with you for when the sun goes down. Never trust the heat you experience during the day
- In winter: Onion layer principle highly recommended, but also thermal clothing. The humidity makes the cold feeling unbearable