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Flavoured by more than five centuries of ships berthing in its port, Canary Island co-capital Las Palmas (a status it shares with Santa Cruz de Tenerife) is on the upswing.

Subtropical temperatures have long given the coastal city an alluring edge; here, winter is an idea that seems just as distant as the Spanish mainland. Meanwhile package-holidayers who like to make the sand their own come high summer are few and far between in the off-season.

With instability in the southern Med bringing a new influx of visitors to the volcanic isle, younger Canariónes have responded by re-energising their streets with fresher hotels, shops and cafés. Diverse seaside districts have been layered with cheerful colour by generations of émigrés bound for the Americas (a certain Mr Christopher Columbus among them) and this vibrant melting pot is still simmering.

The Canary Islands (the name actually comes from the word canis – Latin for “dog” – rather than the bird) may be scattered a few miles off the coast of Morocco but there is a calm, cool Latin American feel to Gran Canaria, the third-largest island in the archipelago.

Monocle staked out a place on the sand of Las Canteras beach to survey the tide of change.

Beach bums

A recent cold snap blanketed Mallorca with snow. But that didn't stop the people of Las Palmas from playing beach volleyball under the stars, with balmy night-time temperatures of 15C.


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