Excursions to the north and south of Lanzarote, an island of contrasts
Myths I have busted during the last year.
Here’s just a few:
- Orange juice does not lose it’s vitamins due to evaporation (phew!).
- Weeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t make any difference.
- Lanzarote is much more than beaches and volcanoes: its landscape is full of contrasts.
If you’re one of those who thinks that the easternmost Canary Island is just a load of practically identical volcanoes and beaches with little bars, I’ll tell you the same thing that I say to those who think you can see the entire island in three days: you couldn’t be more wrong.
Let’s discover how different the north and south of irresistible Lanzarote really are.
Excursion to the north: Volcán de la Corona and Mirador del Rio.
You only have to drive north along the coast to see the malpaís (volcanic terrain) come into view, along with Caletón Blanco, a cluster of glistening white sandy bays, jet black lava rock and deep turquoise waters. It’s a mesmerising vision.
Or you can head cross-country through the ghostly – and biologically diverse – Jable (a band of desert area that divides south and north), which attracts birdwatchers from all over the world.
Whichever way you choose, just go and explore the charms of northern Lanzarote. If you don’t have much time, then this tour was made for you.
- Caletón Blanco and La Graciosa. We take a dip in the unspoiled bays of Caletón Blanco, carefully climb over the rocks with a good grip underfoot and become hypnotised by a blowhole: when water vapour shoots through a crack in the rock as waves crash against the coastline. You hear an incredible wooooshhhhhhh! We catch the ferry at Orzola and head to La Graciosa (island of only 750 inhabitants). It was recently declared the eighth Canary Island and is a no-asphalt zone, a peaceful paradise with unspoilt beaches like Las Conchas, which you can easily reach by bike. Famous naturalist Alexander Humboldt arrived here in 1799, the first time he set foot on a European island. If you’re around in October you may catch the El Rio swimming competition, an amazing event.
- Mirador del Río You get a rush of excitement on seeing La Graciosa from the Lineas Romero ferry, as it navigates around Punta Fariones, but gazing at it from Mirador del Rio is a spectacular experience. It’s been so well camouflaged into the rock by César Manrique that you can barely see it from afar. El Rio is the strait that separates Lanzarote and La Graciosa. Anyone can admire the view without going into Mirador del Rio, but it’s a shame to miss out on the beautiful architecture and design created by Lanzarote artist Manrique. Inside there is a solitary bench where visitors are bowled over by the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s not always easy to have it all to yourself, but it’s still spectacular. Pure magic.
- Moray goujons and fresh fish. Griddled prawns in Bar El Quemao in La Santa. One dish you shouldn’t miss is the moray goujons at El Risco restaurant in Famara. Make the most of it and spent a night there during the incredible Fiestas de Famara, usually during the last week of August. A paella in La Nasa. Fresh grilled fish in El Amanecer in Arrieta. Octopus at Bar Piscina in Punta Mujeres. Absolutely anything in the Teleclub de Tao, a temple of local food in the countryside. (Teleclubs are typical village social centres). You can eat like a king in the north.
- Natural pools, cactus and jameos. The natural pools at Punta Mujeres are a luxury for those who would rather not get sandy. Charco del Palo is heaven for nudists. Saturday mornings are perfect for buying fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and local handicrafts at Haría market. Haría Extreme trail race is something else, you really have to see it to believe it. Famara beach Jameos del Agua at night. Cueva de los Verdes before six o´clock. The botanical heritage of the Cactus Garden César Manrique’s house in Haría. A walk around the spectacular Montaña Cavera and a beer or two at Lagomar, a dream house set into the mountainside in Nazaret. You never get tired of Northern Lanzarote, and it has an untamed quality that you can’t help but fall in love with.
Sunset in the south: Timanfaya, El Golfo and volcanic wine.
Guaranteed sunshine for beach-lovers. Vines that are globally unique. A Martian landscape blanketed in volcanic ash.
Rafaella Carrá had a point when she sang “Para hacer bien el amor hay que venir al sur” (you must come to the south (of Europe) if you really want to make love).
- Timanfaya and roast rabbit in Tinguaton. We were quite excited about seeing the route in electric vehicle, but they’ll take a few more months to be introduced. In the meantime we had to settle for a bus that takes us around the most hallucinating landscape in the world: The lava fields of Timanfaya. Ochre, yellow, orange and rusty ashes that have remained undisturbed since the 1730 eruptions. You must see (and eat something) in El Diablo restaurant, an ingenious wonder designed by Manrique, before enjoying a camel ride. Try to fit in a trek to Caldera Blanca, the island’s largest crater and savour roast rabbit at the restaurant in Tinguaton.
- The bays of Papagayo and goat meat at Mirador de Femes. Papagayo is a real-life picture postcard. The finest white sand and sheltered coves with crystal clear waters. Always remember that we are in Los Ajaches Natural Park, on the island’s oldest massif, and we must take care not to let our rubbish blow away. Round off your dip in the waters of Papagayo with roast kid in Femes, and a visit to Quesería Rubicón as an aperitif. Artisanal cheese made from the goats you´ll see grazing on the mountainside. A stroll along the promenade at Playa Blanca is always lovely.
- Sunset with wine at La Geria. La Geria was made for sunsets. Those who tend to the vines wake up at the crack of dawn. Those of us who take more of a hedonistic approach show up later to sample the result of the huge effort and brilliant adaptation of this volcanic landscape. All this (and more) is evident in a glass of crisp Malvasia wine. Attention! There are also other varieties. Try them all and call a taxi to get from one to the other. We particularly loved the viewpoint of Bodega Rubicón and the interior of El Chupadero. If you have the choice, come to La Geria on the morning of 15 August: you’ll have the chance to see a traditional Lanzarote wine harvest, just like in the old days. Camels, handmade baskets full of grapes and carried on the shoulders, musical troops and a religious service in the tiny Ermita de la Caridad. The Lanzarote Wine Run and the Sonidos Liquidos festival also deserve a special mention. If you’re a runner, a born trekker or an indie music fan with a fine palate, then you must come and try these out.
- El Golfo, Los Hervideros and Los Dolores. Taste the famous smoked salmon of Uga, plunge into the clear waters of Playa Chica in Puerto del Carmen (with a snorkel to marvel at the beautiful fish), a gourmet session at La Tegala, sunset at Los Hervideros, contemplate the island’s magnificent cliffs, fresh fish in EL Golfo and the must-see Feria de Artesanía, the handicrafts fair that takes place in September in Mancha Blanca. Put it in your diary. Romeria de los Dolores is a religious festival that pays tribute to the day when the Virgin stuck a cross in the ground and halted the flow of lava, saving an entire village. Atheists and pagans also celebrate this festival with wine, traditional delicacies, dance and a fair offering the best of Canary handicrafts (textiles, desserts, leather goods, art and pottery).
If you’d like to see a bit of everything, check out this guided tour of the south of Lanzarote including transfers and entrance to must-see places.
Are you more into Winterfell or is King’s Landing more your thing?
I find it impossible to choose. I choose my route depending on which side of bed I get out of.
If you want it all, you’ll find the most complete tour of the island here.
A word of advice: let you own personal compass lead the way.
You can’t go wrong.