Enjoying thrills and spills at Aqualand

The Aqualand water park
The Aqualand water park
The yacht being towed to Gosport. Credit: GAFIRS

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The blue water of the lake was inviting, but as I hobbled barefoot over stones at the edge, I braced myself for the icy shock that was surely in store.

It never came. Instead, I launched myself into cool, refreshing waters and admired the view of a cloudless sky, rocky hills and the pines that shaded the lake shore.

Forget infinity and wave pools, this was the real thing - and the best way to cool down after the heat and dust of a 4x4 safari, even if I couldn’t persuade my 14-year-old son Tom to join in.

All too soon it was over. ‘We leave in five minutes,’ boomed Stephen, our tour leader.

Tom and I were on a week’s break in Gran Canaria, with me looking for a laid-back lounge in the sun while sensing this wouldn’t be enough for a teenager.

Gran Canaria is the most heavily populated of the Canaries, a cluster of islands in the Atlantic, but an autonomous region of Spain. It’s shaped like a volcanic cone, the highest point is at nearly 2,000 metres in the middle, and has been called a miniature continent with the sand dunes of Maspalomas on the coast to the mountains and ravines in the centre.

We had left behind the often ugly, overdeveloped coastal strip with its busy road, concrete hotels and apartment blocks, for the natural beauty to be found in the island’s interior.

Our ‘safari’ had begun at Puerto Rico on the coast.

It was a squash in the back of the Landcruisers and there was no roof to shield us from the sun.

We got rid of the dust by taking a shower back at the Hotel Orquidea in Bahia Feliz (happy bay), a small resort among the many that sprawl along the south east coast.

The Orquidea is right on the beach. In high season, it’s aimed at families and has a creche, kids’ club, organised games and playground.

Its three pools are set in attractively landscaped gardens, but with so many people settling down at the poolside for much of the day (the hotel has 255 rooms), it does get crowded.

With our poolside berth secured, I would have been happy to lie back with a book.

But my son had other ideas. Thrills and spills, noise and action were his idea of a good time.

So we found ourselves boarding a bus outside our hotel for the Aqualand water park.

The place is huge, with an array of twisting, plunging slides towering over the pools.

Soon I was speeding down a tunnel in complete darkness, or being shaken and stirred in a giant rubber ring before being dumped over what felt like a precipice.

Back at the hotel, Tom was (finally) ready to unwind, taking over the Jacuzzi that came with the master bedroom of our eighth floor penthouse suite. It boasted stunning sea views, two balconies and other teenage must-haves, a fridge to be stocked with goodies and huge satellite TV.

Like an increasing number of holidays, this is on an all-inclusive basis, so all the basics are already paid for and I was glad not to have to carry cash around.

I insisted we try the tapas at the El Sultan restaurant, where one meal is covered by the all-inclusive tariff. But Tom didn’t share my taste for the delicious sizzling chorizo cooked in Asturian cider, or the prawns in garlic and chilli. No, it was pasta from the buffet for him.

But we did agree that we preferred the pools to the beach, where the sand was a disappointing grey colour, though the sea was pleasant.