When gay men find a place they like, they tend to stick to it. That's why Gran Canaria is still a resort of choice year after year. Accommodation is plentiful and you can get flights from operators like EasyJet, Jet2, Vueling and RyanAir for little more than £120 return including taxes off-season. For OutUK Neville Walker reports from Spain.

At about 10:30pm every night of the year there's a shift change at the Yumbo Centre in Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria. It's not the staff who are changing over, but the clientele.

Before 10:30pm, families browse cheap leather goods and sportswear. German couples with lemon sweaters over their shoulders relax with an after-dinner drink.

After 10:30pm - curfew time for families and yellow sweaters - the centre fills with a very different, hedonistic crowd: higher spending, better haircuts. It may be the archetypal package-tour resort, but Playa del Ingles with Maspalomas is also the biggest gay resort in Europe. The Yumbo Centre is very much its epicentre.

There are almost 50 different venues within the Yumbo Centre and the majority are either gay or gay-friendly.
For a while, the two worlds meet and mingle. A few straight tourists stay longer to take in a drag show, safely risqué and - performers aside - not particularly gay. But the two worlds are, for all their peaceful co-existence, astonishingly separate.


For gay tour operators, Gran Canaria represents up to 90% of their winter business. Despite new trends in gay travel, Gran Canaria and the other gay favourites - Ibiza, Sitges, Mykonos and, to a lesser extent, Torremolinos, Palma and Benidorm - show no sign of losing popularity. For these places, gay tourism is an important part of the local economy, which translates into a welcome for gay visitors rather than just grudging acceptance.
Rob Harkavy, director of one leading gay tour operator says, "Hoteliers love the fact that we're a gay company because they tend not to get their hotel rooms or apartments smashed up, and they tend not to get complaints from other residents about terrible drunken revelry at 4am."

The established resorts offer facilities on a massive scale for gay visitors. Sheer size creates a safe and welcoming atmosphere, and there is little if any reported homophobia or violence against gays.

It would be hard for new destinations to muscle in - the promise of two gay bars isn't enough: 22 and you might be in business. It's one reason the list of gay favourites changes so little from year to year.

Zipper Video's Euroboy Hard 4 video was filmed in Gran Canaria.
Photo: Euroboy.


The gay visitor's typical day in Gran Canaria doesn't start early. Most exclusively gay accommodation isn't in the concrete jungle of Playa del Ingles but in its bungalow suburb of Maspalomas, which is quieter, leafier and easier on the eye. But Maspalomas boasts one of the most spectacular beaches in the Canary Islands and gay visitors take full advantage.

Gay beaches tend to be quieter, more remote and less spoilt by mass tourism. Maspalomas offers seclusion in abundance. There's a gay section of the rather windy beachfront, but there's also a substantial gay section in the vast dunes behind it.

The sheer beauty of the dunes.
Photo: Phil Thurston.
From the lighthouse going Eastbound, the first 500 yards or so is a clothed zone. It then changes into a (heterosexual) naturist zone as you approach Kiosk number 4. The gay naturist area begins some two or three hundred yards further on as you pass another of the Kiosks, before the beach goes back to a general naturist, and then a clothed area, as you approach Playa Del Ingles.

The dunes are the daytime counterpoint to the Yumbo Centre, big enough for everyone to have a dune each if they choose. Trees act as windbreaks and help create suntraps as well as offering privacy. It's no coincidence that the gay section is adjacent to the naturist area: both groups crave privacy and many gay men like to sunbathe naked.

Once you've reached the gay beach you'll find a few parts which are clothing optional but most of it is sans clothing. The bars here are reasonably priced, toilets are available, there's good music and overall it has a friendly atmosphere. Kiosco Beach N°5 can be a trek to get to through the dunes but it is worth it. They offer wind breakers, parasols and loungers for hire at a reasonable price. The music is very loud! If you want to relax on their sun beds you may have to use noise canceling headphones or find some other way to reduce the volume.

Bar Strand-Apo-Theke not far away is another casual, gay-friendly hangout built on the sand featuring pints, pub comfort foods & views with some great cocktails. Music wise they have a welcome mix of Euro pop and lots of international classics from the 70s & 80s. It's definitely worth a visit for a cold beer after a hard day sunbathing as it attracts a mainly younger, German speaking crowd. They also have very nice views of the beach from their windows.


After a day on the beach, many gay men make their way to the public terrace in front of the Riu Palace Hotel in Playa del Ingles. It's a chance to see what the people from the next sand dune look like up close and to watch the sun set behind the Maspalomas lighthouse. Some go on to the Cita Centre for coffee and cakes at Café Wien. It's one of the few culinary highlights of southern Gran Canaria and features a number of traditional Austrian delights.
After sunset, many take a disco nap to prepare for the night ahead as dinner tends to be served late. Canarian food is best described as simple with an exotic touch. Traditional ingredients are found in dishes often reminiscent of a typical granny’s cooking. In the highly populated areas it can end up as nothing more than the steak and seafood mediocrity of a rather predictable tourist menu.
Cardones, Grand Canaria - Photo: trolvag
CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Soon it's 10.30pm again and time to go back to the Yumbo. It offers gay bars of every type - convivial places, cruisy ones and even bars for gay pensioners, who can have a waltz and a schnapps at Na Und.

There's a whole selection of bars to choose from in the Yumbo Centre. Many offer cabaret shows, themed nights, or drinks specials - Macho Macho serves European lager and plays Dutch and German traditional music; but there's also Bar Junior; WunderBar; Bar Diamonds; Spartacus; Bar Peppermint; Coco Loco Bar; and even a bar called Chez Funny Boy's! Adonis Bar bill themselves as a forerunner for today's high standard of gastronomy, serving some good food, cocktails and drinks, and you'll find a load of gay guys enjoying the leather and feathers at Centre Stage, where every night is Julie Andrews night.


Bars with open-air terraces are a great way to make eye-contact or there's plenty with dark-rooms to make other types of contact. Cruise, Strong Construction, Tom's Cruising Bar and Mantrix are a few names of places you could enjoy, whether you wanted to cruise or not - all have darkrooms.

The Factory Cruising Bar in Avenida 8 de Marzo, claims it's the largest cruising bar in Gran Canaria with Glory holes, orgy bed, turntable, 3 slings, private cabins with real comfortable beds, huge labyrinths, cinema, piss zone, military zone, SM zone and a St. Andrew's cross. Their special theme nights include Kink, Fucktory, Orgia, Nu-Di-Ty, Pigs and Raw. You can guess what happens at most, but it's a clean and friendly bar with a good mix of guys.

TImE oFF (Romeo/Julio) is another cruise bar this time in the Avenida de Francia is also a popular Fetish Club in Gran Canaria. Again it's possible to play in super clean environment, you just need to go downstairs from the main entrance and follow the corridor. Bar Hell Cruising Fetish has a basement area that offers many options but it's sometimes full of guys, and other times almost empty.

Reds Club is a 2 minute walk from the Yumbo. It's a club on two floors of pure kink waiting for you to let your desires loose. There's a bar, smoking area, private cabins and big orgy beds which are often popular with their clients. Zoo Mens Bar in Avenida de Tirajana offers a whole host of different theme nights. Rubber, Bareback, Dark Room, Bears, Fur, Naked, Sportswear, Jocks, Lycra, Military and Leather are just a few. Monday to Friday afternoons they also host "Cum and Go" sessions from 2 to 6 each day.

The Hole Fetish Cruising Bar is 5 mins away from Yumbo Centre, and offers a very hot and cruisy atmosphere and different theme parties. It is a big club on two floors with several bars, slings, lockable private cabins, multiple adult film viewing areas, darkrooms, beds, glory holes, a fully ventilated indoor smoking area, a ‘wet area’ and lockers to keep your valuables in.


Nightlife doesn't get going until around midnight, when the slicker, more international bars start to fill up. Each pumps out the latest Euro-hits on video. Tubos is the first to fill, then the crowd moves around to Mykonos before reaching the Metropole Disco after about three hours. The crowd is younger than in the downstairs bars, with more evidence of time spent at the gym.
Beach and lighthouse of Maspalomas. Photo: Bareta.
Despite the absence - except at weekends - of Canarian men, this procession from one bar to another is the most Spanish feature of Gran Canaria's gay nightlife. Drinkers who linger too long in one bar will find it empties as the in-crowd moves on. If you are in the Yumbo at 4am, you'll find that the upper level begins to wind down just as the large disco bars on the opposite side of the centre crank up the energy.

To be honest, you haven't really done gay Gran Canaria until you've been at one of the clubs until the bitter end. No wonder the gay presence on the beach seems to start late and melt away during the day. Gay men rarely have the best suntans on the plane home.

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Adonis Bar (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; Website)
Bar Diamonds (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; T: +34 635 11 11 08; Website)
Bar Hell Cruising Fetish (Avenida de Gran Canaria 24, Maspalomas; T: +34 636 63 40 19; facebook)
Bar Junior (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas)
Bar Peppermint (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas)
Bar Strand-Apo-Theke (Paseo del Faro 36, Boulevard El Faro, Maspalomas; T: +34 626 97 97 83; facebook)
Café Wien (Avenida Francia, Maspalomas; T: +34 928 76 03 80;Website)
Chez Funny Boy's (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; Instagram)
Coco Loco Bar (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; T: +34 648 29 05 46Instagram)
Cruise (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; Website)
Hotel Riu Palace Maspalomas (Avenida de Tirajana, S/N, San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Maspalomas; T: +34 928 76 95 00; Website)
Kiosco Beach N°5 (Las Palmas Beach; Website)
Macho Macho (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; facebook)
Mantrix (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; Website)
Metropole Swimming Club (Calle Poeta Alonso Quesada, S/N, Las Palmas; T: +34 928 24 43 46; Website)
Mykonos Bar (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; Website)
Na Und. (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; facebook)
Reds Club (Barbados Apartments II, Avenida de Tirajana 17, San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Maspalomas; Website)
Spartacus (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas)
Strong Construction (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; Website)
The Factory Cruising Bar (Avenida 8 de Marzo 31, San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Maspalomas; Website)
The Hole Fetish Cruising Bar (Avenida de Gran Canaria 24, San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Maspalomas; Website)
Time off (Romeo/Julio) (Avenida de Francia, Maspalomas; Website)
Tom's Cruising Bar (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; T: +34 695 11 58 11; Website)
Tubos Bar (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas)
WunderBar (Yumbo Centre, Maspalomas; Website)
Yumbo Centrum (Avenida Estados Unidos 54, Maspalomas; T: +34 928 76 41 96; Website)
Zoo Mens Bar (Avenida de Tirajana 17, San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Maspalomas; Website)

S/N stands for "sin número" which means no number in the street!

Revised February 2024.


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