Things to do in La Graciosa.
Your complete guide to the eighth Canary Island
“The sea was calm and the horizon was a blanket of reddish mist. We are in awe of the magnificent untamed nature of this wilderness, among so many uninhabited islands.”
This is what Alexander Von Humboldt – one of the most famous naturalists in the world – wrote in his diary as he approached La Graciosa in 1799.
Sandy streets. Beaches straight out of a Bond film. Charming local people. Paellas to die for. Getting around by bike. The most heavenly sunset swim you’ll ever experience. Words cannot describe this 29 square metre island that boasts more preservation orders than Ben Hur has Oscars.
Are you ready? The let’s go to La Graciosa!
How can I get from Lanzarote to Fuerteventura?
But is it worth the effort? What is there apart from beaches?
There’s always one isn’t there? The cross-examiner in the group that puts even the best-laid plans into question. They’re onto a losing battle with La Graciosa. There are so many reasons to go, that it’ll be case closed in thirty seconds.
– The ferry journey alone is worth it because you pass some magnificent cliffs.
– And they also say the it is home to the Canary Islands’ most exotic cove. let’s see if you can spot it!
– And there’s a little market where some ladies make hats by hand.
Great, so how do we get there?
Bursting with enthusiasm we set off with Lineas Romero, a company that also offers a convenient transfer from Arrecife. Perfect for those who haven’t hired a car.
The ferry leaves the port of Orzola. We pickup the car in Arrecife, the island’s capital, and in around 35 minutes we’re parked on the quayside of this quaint fishing village. We’ve still got time for a sandwich, half a lager and a sea sickness tablet for the most nervous passenger among us.
One of the best things about this ferry service is that you can take your bags, surfboards and bikes at no extra charge. And above all, you can also take your pets on board. I’ve left my Yorkshire terrier at home this time. But it’s good to know that if I visit La Graciosa again, he can be with us on the corridor and deck without the need to stay in his carrier. They just ask is to keep him on a lead, and if the animal is of one of the more dangerous types, that he also travels with a muzzle. This is just common sense for a peaceful coexistence, and the same rules apply in the park in front of my house.
Lineas Romero operate ten trips a day between the ports of Orzola and Caleta del Sebo. The earliest boat sets off from the Lanzarote coast at 08:30. After that, they run at convenient intervals: 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:30, 16:00, 17:00 and 18:00. Two extra ferries also run between May and October, leaving Orzola at 19:00 and 20:00.
A 7-kilometre trip that takes around 30 minutes. It crosses the strait that separates Lanzarote and La Graciosa, called El Rio. The landscape is breath-taking and the journey is over in the blink of an eye. It’s a wonderful experience: a nautical adventure in the bracing sea air.
Ah! The ferry has a bar and onboard Wi-Fi. But leave the LOLs and hashtags for later. Enjoy the deep blue sea around you and disconnect.
How can I get from Fuerteventura to La Graciosa?
Is it difficult to travel from Fuerteventura to the eighth Canary Island? Of course not! Nowadays, a combination of ferries and buses make this quite a convenient trip.
Here’s how you do it. The best way to get to La Graciosa from Fuerteventura is to catch a ferry with Líneas Romero from Corralejo to Playa Blanca. The journey across the Bocaina Strait takes 45 minutes with a choice of seven daily ferries from Corralejo: at 9.00, 10:30, 11:30, 11:50, 13:30, 17:30 and 19:30.
The boat leaves you at the quayside in Playa Blanca, the perfect place for a coffee and a snack while you watch the boats bobbing up and down in the marina. There’s also a bus stop on the very same quay: wait for the number 6 which passes by every hour, which will take you to the bus station in Arrecife. When you arrive at the multicoloured station building, look for the number 9 which goes to the port of Orzola. The timing is coordinated with the ferry that will take you to your final destination: La Graciosa. Check the times that suit you best, take some reading and some games on your tablet then sit back and enjoy the ride.
There are also excursions that leave Playa Blanca for La Graciosa that include private bus transport to the port of Orzola and the ferry to La Graciosa. Return, of course. 100% convenience. What’s more, you can make the most of it by spending the night in one of Lanzarote’s tourist resorts (Playa Blanca, Puerto Calero, Puerto del Carmen, Arrecife, Costa Teguise). The next day, the bus be waiting for you outside your accommodation to take you to paradise: the eighth Canary Island.
Don’t think for a minute that the journey will be a drag: it’s a great way to see the stunning landscape of the island through the window. Leave the driving to someone else and relax. What could be better?
Diving and hiking: the best activities to discover the treasures of La Graciosa.
First and foremost: spend a night in Caleta del Sebo or Pedro Barba, if you can, and take a good book in your backpack. This is the perfect place to finish that book, or start a new one. Your imagination will be free to run wild.
Second: Get outdoors and contemplate nature.
Third: take your watch off, deactivate the alarm, leave your mobile to charge in the apartment for the whole day. You know what time it is in La Graciosa by checking the tide, or by the smells that come from the restaurants.
Caleta del Sebo and Pedro Barba, the only two population centres in an island with just 800 habitual residents. Asphalt has not invaded these sandy streets and simply walking along them is enough to boost your mood.
La Graciosa has long been a handy stopover and natural refuge for ships passing through the Canaries. A place where Norman conquerors and island natives (the Majos) exchanged information. Where people were bought and sold as slaves. Where pirate ships docked. The island’s streets bear witness to their seafaring past that still lingers in the present.
My sister decides to go diving in Bajo de las Gerardias and she said:“it’s one of the most beautiful dives I have ever done”. National Geographic agrees with her, hailing it as one of the best in Europe: a 70-metre underwater escarpment which is home to spectacular coral colony (gerardias), some of which grow to over two metres. Red Gorgonians, island grouper…it’s a pure show of nature that rejuvenates your spirit.
The third member of our party decided to go on a walk to the North of the island: Leave the village of Pedro Barba and follow the coast up to Playa de Lambra. This beach is also known as playa del Ambar, as the highly valued Ambergris (an intestinal slurry ejected by sperm whales), for its use in cosmetics, was commonly found here in the past. A little further on you see the Arco de los Caletones, an arch of basalt rock battered by the sea.
Paddling is more my thing and I joined one of the kayak tours on offer by one of the water activity organisers in Caleta del Sebo. I’m pretty much a beginner and I feel safer and more comfortable around others of the same level. Paddling along the coast of La Graciosa is like a dream come true: I feel like a sailor, mesmerised by the landscape, and I’m so hungry I could eat a horse when we get back.
Two of my sisters friends have turned up by surprise in Lanzarote and have decided to join our La Graciosa adventure. They’re bon vivants and hardened travellers: one day they signed up for an excursion to the North of Lanzarote, which includes a visit to Lagomar (an unmissable gem), Mirador del Río and a visit to La Graciosa.
As they still wanted more, the next day they went on an excursion that includes the ferry from Orzola and a trip on board the Juanita Cat catamaran around La Graciosa. They certainly know how to live! Their itinerary includes: a welcome mojito and fruit (they’re very healthy and attack the watermelon); the spectacular backdrop of Montaña Amarilla and a dip at its gorgeous beach; then anchoring off Playa de La Francesa for some snorkelling while the paella and fresh fish is cooking on board. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Bike or jeep? Different ways to get around La Graciosa
We rented bikes in Caleta del Sebo from a lovely man. He gave us his telephone number just in case we needed something, great advice about the tracks we should use and about how much water to take with us. Great service.
Biking along sandy streets is way better than riding on asphalt and it was a lovely ride. I think biking is the best way to get to know the island.
Our destination: Playa de las Conchas. We cycle towards the north and when we see the beach in the distance, our hearts skip a beat. Hello 007! This beach is the funnel for the jable (organic sand made from a multitude of crushed shells), that the wind blows in from the Sahara. The wind blows consistently throughout the year and the ocean currents can be quite strong. Take a dip, relax, but don’t go in over your head. Make sure you keep some energy to claim neighbouring Montaña Bermeja for some breath-taking views of the rest of the Chinijo Archipelago.
If you’re looking for convenience and speed, you can pay a driver of a 4×4 Land Rover Defender to take you to the beach, catch some waves at some of the island’s breaks and then go back to the village to eat. Demand for services in La Graciosa increases every year, but the local population struggles to keep a balance between tourism – its main source of income today – and the sustainability of the environment and their own lifestyle.
La Graciosa hosts major events such as the Desafio Octava Isla, a cross triathlon and trail event held in March. Then there’s the Travesía a Nado in September or October, depending on the tides, where swimmers start from the beach at the bottom of El Risco (another spectacular place) and swim 2,600 metres across the strait that separate Lanzarote from the port of Caleta del Sebo. It started as a local race in 1993 and has now become one of the most popular swimming events in the Canary Islands. The atmosphere at the finish in La Graciosa is amazing.
Concerts during the Canary Islands Music Festival, filming for commercials, wedding photography sessions… La Graciosa is becoming increasingly attractive and we need to guard it zealously. So wherever possible, we always recommend using a bike to explore this paradise: this eco-friendly, two-wheeled vehicle powered by our very own legs.
A day in La Graciosa with kids
If a child’s imagination can turn a handrail into a stairway to a spaceship, then just think of the endless games they’ll play in La Graciosa.
Here are just some ideas of what to do with the little ones.
- The ferry itself is the first adventure. Be a good captain and have a laugh with the cabin boys!
- Grab a snorkel and mask and dive in with them: swimming on La Graciosa is like a marine biology lesson.
- The calmest and safest beach: La Francesa.
- The beautiful cove of La Cocina is only a ten-minute walk away: always wear a sun hat, take sunscreen, plenty of water and a good pair of flip-flops: 100 metres of gorgeous turquoise waters that are quieter than La Francesa.
- You’ll find the best shells to play with on this beach and it’s also perfect for paddling (the currents are too strong to venture further out, both for adults and children).
- Driving over potholes in a jeep is all part of the fun.
- Take a stroll over to the children’s playground in the village.
- Let them run free along the sandy lanes while you stay for dessert.
- Go for a short bike ride with the kids.
- Ask the locals where to buy authentic La Graciosa handicrafts from : hats, shirts and textiles. You’ll help them preserve their traditions and the kids will love the island’s typical tiny boats.
Food and restaurants in La Graciosa? What should I order?
Maybe I should opt for the fresh fish? Maybe everything taste better with views like these. Or maybe sitting in the shade dipping bread in home-made mojo rojo is the best starter ever? Maybe… One thing’s for sure: eating in La Graciosa is essentially a relaxed affair.
Two words of advice:
- Choose your restaurant and table at least 30 minutes before you had planned. The choice of restaurants is limited. Enjoy a beer while you browse the menu. And if you arrive at two o´clock in the afternoon during the August holidays, you’re in for a long wait. There are only so many cooks and fish to go around.
- Explain to the waiters that you’d like to try the best fresh local produce they have. They’ll tell you what they’ve caught that day and how they can prepare it for you.
These are some of the typical, must-try dishes:
- Grilled limpets
- Grouper soup, although to savour this authentic local dish you need to order in advance: it all depends on the catch of the day and how many people are in your group.
- Grilled fish ‘a la espalda’ (split, open and grilled skin side down): parrot fish has exquisite, silky flesh, although pink dentex and sea bream are also delicious. All fish comes with Canarian potatoes and salad. Don’t overdo it on the starters or you won’t manage to eat all the fish.
- Gofio escaldado (a kind of thick porridge) with onion, is another must-try.
- Fried goat’s cheese with fig jam
- Seafood stew
- Seafood risotto
Going with kids but they’re still slightly fussy about what they eat? No problem. Almost all of the restaurants offer a kid’s menu in case of emergency: fried chicken, Cuban-style rice, lasagne, etc…
Now that you know how to get there, what to do and you have an idea about the paradise that awaits you, it’s your turn: grab the calendar and book a week off to reward yourself with this experience. 🙂