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Why Surfing in Gran Canaria May Have Cost Me My Bachelorhood

In this article, British surfer and artist James Gardner (from ) describes his adventures surfing on the island for a week and how it lead to finding classic waves, amazing scenery, and possibly the sound of wedding bells…

My first impressions of the island were good.  Within an hour of leaving the airport, I was in the water in Arguineguin, surfing great waves and just in a pair of board shorts (bearing in mind that earlier in the week I had been surfing in western Ireland in a 5:3mm wetsuit with hood and boots on). The surfing just continued to get better and better, scoring great waves every day of the trip, twice a day sometimes.  I'm not sure whether I have been just lucky with the waves or if the south west and indeed the whole island were underestimated in the surfing press.  The variety of surf spots was incredible, with the type of wave differing greatly around the island.  I am also very impressed with the standard of surfing on the island.  The locals surf so well, they are comparable with surfers from right around Europe and even the USA. The young surfers here impressed me particularly and I think that it will only be a matter of time before a Canarian surfer achieves a high ranking in the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals).  I have also noticed a much higher female surfer turnout than in the UK, which is really great to see. I believe that the secret to the island and its standard of surfers is its consistency of waves.  In the UK for example, surfers can go for long periods of time without waves.  With year-round swells and good conditions, the Canarian surfer can improve a lot more. In my own case, even after just a week of intensive surfing, I found I was pulling manoeuvres that I had never done before. I couldn't believe some of the sessions, the waves were so perfect that I couldn't get out of the water; I was just thinking that by next week I would be back in the UK and it would probably be flat!  It wasn't just the surfing which left an impact; the rest of the island was a real surprise for James and his girlfriend Madeline.  Some surf checks took us to parts of the island with such amazing scenery and sights.  It was almost unbelievable and incredibly surprising to see - having read rather different reports on this ‘touristy' island which really sold it short.  A few standouts were arriving in Puerto de Mogan by boat, accompanied by dolphins.   Cenobio de Valeron and in particular Barranco de Guayadeque, with its vast forestry, sheer cliffs and cave dwellings, was reminiscent of something prehistoric.

How a surf trip to Gran Canaria became a life-changing experience… “It would be fair to say that surfing on the island hasn't been un-eventful out of the water.  The warm weather and consistently good waves may have cost me my bachelorhood.”  Let me explain.  My girlfriend of several years, Madeline, has long been subject to my insistence that she would love surfing if only she gave it a try.  In England, her excuse has always been “it's too cold” or “the waves look rubbish.”  Here, with both obstacles removed, I set about persuading her to have a go. However, this was again met with a negative response.  Frustrated and with maybe one or two too many beers in me, I rather foolishly suggested that if she tried surfing and achieved a ‘face ride' (where the beginner surfer moves out of the white water onto the smooth face of the wave) then it would be time to organise an engagement party. Before I had finished stating the rules of this agreement, she was organising a surf lesson with Surf Canaries Surf School.  As I said, the clean waves of the island meant that even before lunch Danny (the instructor) had Madeline standing up and riding the white-water, and aware of our bargain, was trying to push her into her first face ride as I stood nervously on the beach, photographing the lesson to examine the evidence before any picking out of rings… Rather contentiously, one of the photos appears to show a certain amount of ‘green face.' It has yet to be fully analysed, but the early signs are worrying.  What was even more alarming was Madeline's insistence on going on a second Surf Canaries trip to quash any doubt.  “It seems that my surf holiday to Gran Canaria has given me some of the best surf of my life, tired arms, amazing memories and possibly a wife!”


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