English pubs. Overcrowded beaches. Tourist-standard food.
These are probably some of the first things that pop into your head when a holiday in Gran Canaria is mentioned, and while you'd be right, because all those are to be found on the island, GC is actually a gorgeously rich slice of Canarian-Spanish life.
I lived there for four-or-so months, and soon discovered that hiding underneath all the tourist tack was an island of pretty fishing villages and local foods that rival mainland Spain.
If you're going on a holiday here, skip the extremely overrated Playa Del Ingles area (please, just don't bother) and explore its true beauty.
Here's what you have got to experience for the real local vibe:
Agüimes Hill Town
This picture-perfect old cobbled town is well worth a wander around, and is known for its bronze statues and colourful streets.
This is also a great place to start off in one of the local cafes before trekking through the caves of nearby Guayadeque.
Camping at Playa de Vargas
Camping by the sea in Gran Canaria isn't easy as most campsites are up in the mountain, but at Playa de Vargas the tents are just behind the beach.
This is the ideal spot for surfers and windsurfers, as the beach gets some solid waves and strong winds. The campsite does nightly BBQ's and is all-round adorable.
Hiking through Agaete valley
Walk up through the green hills of the island's largest nature reserve, Pinar de Tamadaba, and finish up with a tour of the region's family-owned coffee farms.
Local meats and cheeses are the perfect way to end your trek.
Filling up on authentic, local foods
If you love seafood, you'll be in absolute paradise in Gran Canaria, as everywhere you go you'll see fisherman hawling in their fresh catch.
Order a side papas arrugadas with every meal, otherwise known as Canarian Potatoes, which are yum and wrinkled and come with a red or green spicy 'mojo' sauce.
Finish off with a Leche y Leche, a shot of espresso with condensed milk at the bottom which you stir through the coffee.
Strolling in the old town of Puerto de Mogán
Could this be the most picturesque fishing village you'll ever see? Yes, 100%.
All you can see is whitewashed walls, blooming bougainvillea flowers, and boats at the marina, you won't want to leave this paradise. Here is where you'll find some of the tastiest restaurants on the island, including hidden gem Jack el Negro.
Dining in a restaurant carved into a cave
Delve into the ravine of Guayadeque and gorge on local treats in one of the many little restaurants that locals have built into the caves of the mountains.
The views after your lunch are insane.
Swimming at a secluded beach
My fave is Playa Pasito Bea, a sandy little cove that's popular with local dog owners.
It's technically a nudist beach but don't worry because the majority of people keep their swimming togs firmly on. The sunsets on this stretch of sand are not to be missed.
See? It's a lot more than it's cracked up to be...