* Prices may differ from that shown
My parents live in Lanzarote, so I have a fantastic excuse to jump on a plane whenever the mood takes me, and when funds allow, of course. Without bias, it is my favourite of the 4 Canary Islands.
On approaching the airport, it is immediately endearing. From a distance the island appears as a vast expense of barren peaks, and is truly a volcanic island. The runway is situated right next to the Atlantic Ocean, so it really does feel like you are about to land in the sea. The landscape is reminiscent of what you would expect the moon to be like. It is so barren, and filled with desert like peaks and troughs. The absence of any greenery or flowers means that the island could never be described as traditionally pretty, but it really is interesting, and unlike any other destinations I have visited. To say it lies in such close proximity to its sister islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Fuerteventura, it is worlds apart from them. By law, building cannot exceed 2 storeys high, so many villas and houses tend to have a level underground in order to utilise space, as planning permission is not required for this. Buildings are also required to be white washed. Combined, this gives such a neat and tidy feel to the island. It is such an antithesis to its built up neighbours.
The main tourist resorts on the island are Puerto Del Carmen, Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca, in order of popularity. Puerto Del Carmen is the busiest and most commercialised of the resorts. This is the only area on the island that I would recommend for nightlife. There is a fabulous, long sandy beach here, many hotels and apartments, and loads of beach bars, shops, restaurants and general services. The other resorts are quieter and more popular with families and couples. Beaches in all resorts are fabulous.
To see how the other half live, visit the resort of Puerto Calero. This is a manmade harbour, harbouring very posh boats and yachts, next to a promenade lined with designer shops such as Gucci and Versace. This small but perfectly formed resort is backed by large and beautiful golf course, with a handful of exclusive private villas.
Things to do
There is plenty to do on the island for all. From simply shopping, eating and drinking, to walking round many extinct volcanoes, to taking an organised excursion to the extinct volcano of Fire Mountain or going on a camel ride; there is plenty to do if you want it.
If you are flexible with dates, it is easy to pick up a bargain to Lanzarote. Prices on the island are very similar to the UK, though you may be able to pick up bargains on larger items such as jewellery which are normally cheaper out there than here.
In summary, I would recommend this island to anyone after some sunshine in a very interesting environment. Personally, I prefer the resort of Playa Blance as it's less commercialised than the others but it depends what you're after.
A lovely warm destination at any time of the year
A MUCH NEEDED BREAK
Back in the late spring I felt I needed a holiday. After a depressing few months my husband and I decided to treat ourselves, one of our sons and his fiancée to a week's holiday. We have three other grown up offspring but they had other plans so my husband and I decided we would help towards any holiday they planned later in the year.
Deciding where to go was a little complicated. My son and his fiancée are school teachers and this meant that this holiday had to take place outside of the English school term time if they were to join us.
And as at this time I had mobility problems we wanted somewhere to stay with easy access to a swimming pool (I wouldn't have been able to manage ladder type steps) and somewhere well equipped for those with mobility difficulties such as level ground.
As we had left it close to the spring half term to book anything, flights were limited for the Friday and Saturday, our chosen times to depart. Eventually I booked flights and accommodation for a place I had never been to or hadn't, for some reason, ever fancied visiting. Choice was limited and the accommodation and resort looked as if it might be manageable. I went on this holiday not expecting too much yet hoping for some sunshine and the chance to have a 'chill-out' holiday.
I will say now that I am very glad that we did choose Lanzarote. I was surprised by just how much we all enjoyed this holiday and liked this welcoming island.
THE CANARY ISLANDS
The Canary Islands or Islas Canarias, are owned by Spain. The name has more to do with dogs (dog is 'canis' in Latin) than canaries (as in birds) and there are several theories to the canine link. It is said that the romans encountered many fierce dogs when they invaded, but another theory is that before this the island of Gran Canaria was named after its dog population and another idea is that the islands were named after 'dog seals' inhabiting the sea around the islands.
The Canaries are situated in the Atlantic Ocean and lie quite close to North Africa. The main islands in this group are, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, and Fuerteventura.
The Islands have two capitals, Santa Cruz (Tenerife) and Las Palmas (Gran Canaria)
On his travels in 1492 (while sailing the ocean blue) Christopher Columbus stopped at the islands to replenish supplies for his ships The Pinta, The Niña and The Santa María.
The largest island is Tenerife and Lanzarote is the fourth largest, being thirty-seven miles (60km) long and 12 miles (20 km) wide. Lanzarote is the most eastern of the Canaries, lying about seventy-nine miles from the coast of North Africa.
The capital is Arrecife and the airport is situated here.
The islands are volcanic in origin and this made the flight to Lanzarote very interesting as the plane glided low over the islands and we and could make out the strange volcanic formations seen through the clouds.
Lanzarote offers a pleasant temperature all year round. It is at its hottest in July through to September with an average temperature in these months of 24deg (75 f) in July, 25deg (77f) in August, 25deg (77f) in September, although temperatures reach highs of 28/29 degrees in August.
The lowest temperatures are in January when mostly it will be around 17deg (63f) but I do know several regular visitors to the island in January who say they wear shorts and vest tops when here quite often.
The most rain will fall in January.
The sea temperature is warmest in August.
The most hours of daily sunshine will occur in July with thirteen hours of sunshine to be enjoyed.
We were in Lanzarote for the first week of June and the temperature reached at least 26 degrees. This was a very pleasant temperature owing to the welcome breeze. The weather was warm enough for summer holiday clothes with a cardigan or lightweight jacket being sometimes desirable of an evening. It was hot enough to sunbathe; we needed sunscreen whilst walking about although we did get burnt on one very overcast day whilst walking around and about.
While we were there some days started off overcast but after a while the sun would appear and the sky would turn into a beautiful blue. I thought the weather here would have been perfect for a holiday if it wasn't for the fact that the sea temperature was so cold. I'm used to a dip in the med but the Atlantic in early June wasn't warm enough for us to venture in; we were only brave enough to paddle! Also, the unheated pools in our complex were pretty painful to swim in although we were brave enough to swim for a short while every day. Rainfall is low but we did feel a few drops. Annual rainfall in Lanzarote is 140mm (5.5 inches).
As Lanzarote is volcanic in origin some of the beaches are of coarse black sand but for access into the sea many are ideal as the sand feels smooth enough underfoot and the water is clear. There are also beaches with almost white sand such as Playa Blanca.
We didn't go here for the nightlife but knew this was available for party animals in many places on this island. However, we were staying in a family resort and our evenings mainly consisted of dining out and enjoying a drink or two, whilst having a chat.
There are several lively resorts such as Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise where, if you've the energy, you can boogie until dawn in a choice of bars and clubs.
There are many places to visit and to stay in Lanzarote but the most popular resorts are Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise.
Puerto del Carmen and Playa Blanca still retain traces of the small fishing villages they used to be. We stayed in Matagorda near to Puerto del Carmen and, although Matagorda is small, I liked it and thought there was plenty of facilities for us.
Puerto Del Carmen
This is the biggest resort and was pleasant in June but I would think that it probably gets very busy in July and August. There really is so much here; beaches, restaurants, clubs and shopping galore.
If you want sandy beaches and lots of facilities then this may suit you. It isn't quite as busy as Puerto del Carmen but has a great choice of restaurants, bars and facilities.
This resort seems to be the one that is the most 'up and coming' and is growing in popularity and in facilities. It has a marina.
I thought transport in the area of Lanzarote that we stayed in to be very good. Bus fares were reasonable and there were plenty of buses around but we found that taxi fares were so cheap that it worked out easier and sometimes cheaper for four of us to share a taxi. Taxis stopped outside our complex and were always in good supply so travelling this way was ideal. Wherever we went taxis could be seen. Our taxi journeys cost from Euro3 to Euro5. Taxis were fitted with, and used, meters, were clean, comfortable and had seat belts fitted.
A popular mode of transport seemed to be bicycles for locals and tourists alike.
I liked this island and was surprised how impressed I was. I loved the pretty white villas with their bright painted window shutters and verandas. Almost all buildings are low rise, in line with their government's regulations. Bougainvillea can be seen everywhere, climbing and weaving its way upon walls and trellises. Profusions of other flora can be seen and some exotic, to my eye.
From the outside of our complex we could see a view stretching for miles which, to me, when looking at distant rooftops and white buildings the feel seemed to be a mixture of Spanish and North African in flavour.
I loved the climate. Some days began cloudy but we enjoyed plenty of sunshine every day and enjoyed the heat which was cooled by the welcome breeze.
As walking wasn't easy for myself, making a slow recovery from a knee dislocation, this island suited me well. Many areas are pedestrianized and, even those that aren't are usually well tended and mostly made level. The island is hilly but ramps and steps are commonplace.
We found most restaurants, shops and bars friendly, reasonably priced and very family friendly. We didn't have children with us but the patience and love shown to children by the islanders is wonderful. It is a very family friendly place although not having young children in my nuclear family would actually deter me from visiting her in the busy season as we were told by a restaurant owner that in August Lanzarote is, "Boiling hot and full of kids!" But then again we were in a family resort; there are resorts more suited to couples and singles.
We considered eating out here cheaper than in Cyprus and Greece and its Islands, which is where we mostly travel to. Also the prices in shops were cheaper, we felt. But, as there were two vegetarians in our party we were surprised at the lack of vegetarian options on menus in many restaurants; it was non-existent in our complex.
If I visit Lanzarote again, and I do intend to, then I would probably not go an all-inclusive basis as the island is full of reasonably priced and varied types of restaurants, usually reasonable priced.
I thought that the island was clean, friendly, felt safe and was well organised.
The approach to Arrecife Airport on Lanzarote gives you just a glimpse of the island but it's enough to tell you that life here must have been a challenge for the first settlers and before modern technology lent a hand, most especially with the provision of water. The coach from the airport to our resort in Playa Blanca, on the south coast of the island, confirmed that that challenge has not been entirely met. The landscape is one of almost total desolation; small scrubby plants are just about all that seem to survive in the black, volcanic gravel, alternating with areas of similar but red, iron-rich "soil".
The eastern side of the island is dotted with over two dozen barren hills which betray the island's volcanic past. Lanzarote and its sister islands of the Canaries group rose from the bed of the Atlantic millions of years ago as a result of massive volcanic eruptions, as America drifted away from Europe and Africa. The last serious eruption was around 400 years ago and lasted 6 years. A less serious one occurred around 200 years ago but no further eruptions are anticipated in the next 800 years, thankfully. Only one of the volcanic peaks remains active.
Little oases of greenery can be seen, mostly around the modern settlements, as the residents have used the precious water, produced entirely through desalination, to provide a sense of normality in an otherwise barren world. It is interesting that each side of the roads is lined with the predominant scrub, evidence, no doubt, that they survive largely due to the humidity produced by the exhausts of every vehicle that passes.
Interestingly, despite the existence of geothermal heat as a result of the volcanic activity, subdued though it is, there appears to have been no investment in geothermal power generation such as is prevalent in the nearby Azores and, more prominently, in Iceland, to the North. Indeed, investment in any form of green energy seems remarkably scarce; there are a few wind turbines set on the top of one of the peaks but that's about it and yet the Canaries is ideal for wind energy power due to the almost constant wind that the islands experience. Indeed, there also seems to be very little by way of solar energy despite the very high level of sunshine! All the electricity seems to be the result of burning oil!
We went and explored in a hire car and, once you get around the island you begin to realise how different the north is to the south; they could almost be completely different islands. The vegetation in the north is much more lush (relatively speaking), reflecting a climate that seems to be subject to more humidity. The northern end is somewhat higher and the temperatures here appear to be more temperate. It could also be the result of the most recent volcanic eruptions having affected the south of the island much more than the north although, after 400 years I would have expected the difference to be much less.
This small town was the original capital of the island and is situated in the middle of the island. The centre of the town is largely old properties. Most are either shops, bars or restaurants. We went there in a Sunday because on this day they hold a street market. This is clearly an event that draws the crowds. Apart from those, like us, who travelled by car, there were row upon row of coaches which had brought tourists from resorts around the island. Out-of-town parking is around Euro1.50 for the day.
After wandering around the stalls for a while, and making a couple of purchases, we stopped for a tea and coffee at Palacio del Marques, which is actually a wine cellar and restaurant. They were happy to serve us just hot drinks and we had a couple of delicious slices of apple strudel with them, in the central courtyard, where you are well protected from the wind, which was quite strong, Teguise being quite high up in the middle of a very open landscape.
Mirador del Rio
This panoramic viewpoint is built almost entirely into the top of the mountain overlooking the little neighbouring northern island of La Graciosa and much of the northern coastline. You can get outstanding views so long as the weather is good and if it's not then you can view from inside through the huge windows. However, if the weather's not that good then it probably isn't worth a visit at all since there is very little else here!
Cueva de los Verdes
These caves are the result of volcanic lava flows, which have emptied out and left behind kilometres of tunnels. Here you can take a guided tour of a section of these tunnels. We found it fascinating. The tour takes about 45 minutes. You do need to be reasonably able-bodied. There is one feature in the tunnels that makes you gasp. I won't spoil the experience but, when the guide asks you to be very quiet and not to make any disturbances, there is a VERY good reason. The reaction was gasps and laughter. Recommended.
Guinate Zoological Park
Not well advertised, we visited on the Sunday that we went to Teguise. When we arrived we were the only visitors there and so had the place to ourselves. The park is very much what you would expect: it mostly dedicated to birds, displayed in reasonable sized aviaries. There are enclosures for other creatures as well, such as meerkats and wallabies. There are two walk-through aviaries, one consisting of a covered pathway between around ten enclosures, and a very much larger one. We enjoyed these most as you get to see the birds flying around you in much more "natural" surroundings.
There is also a "parrot" show every hour, where the owner shows off his birds and the tricks that they can perform. By the time the show came around there were a few other visitors.
Timanfaya National Park
This is to the west of the island and is where the only active volcano is found. The whole area is carefully preserved by the authorities because of the unique nature of the landscape, which is subject to much scientific investigation regarding the way in which lava flows affect the surrounding areas and the degree to which wild life survives within this inhospitable environment.
You may drive into the park but have to leave your car in the car park. The volcano field is explored only in one of the park's coaches. The tour takes around half an hour. We found it enthralling but there is one big problem: trying to take pictures is difficult because the coach is entirely enclosed and you get reflections off of the inside surface of the windows, which can spoil the shots you take. An open-top bus would have been preferential.
The main departure point for the coaches is also where the restaurant, bar and souvenir shop can be found. Next to the restaurant is the "cooking hole", a well dug down to the rocks heated by the subterranean magma chamber, over which are cooked the meats served in the restaurant. You can feel the heat rising up the well and it is substantial. We didn't sample the results though.
The guides also demonstrate how close to the surface red-hot rocks exist: there are several holes in the ground into which they toss straw, which instantly bursts into flame, and pour water, which erupts in a geyser of steam.
The road to the park passes a camel park, where you can, for around Euro6 have a 20 minute ride on these "ships of the desert". I'd never done it and neither had my wife, so we gave it a try. Different but quite enjoyable.
All across the island you find vineyards producing local wines, almost entire from the Malvasia grape. The interesting thing is that these ancient vines are all pre-phylloxera stocks. The phylloxera beetle was accidentally imported to Europe from America in the 19th century and totally devastated most of the European vineyard, where the vines were non-resistant to the depredations of the beetle. The bug never made it to the Canaries and probably wouldn't have survived anyway, due to the nature of the soil and to the climate. European vines are all now grafted onto resistant American stocks so these Lanzarote wines are some of the few around the World that show what wines might have tasted like before phylloxera arrived.
The vines are grown exclusively in the black soils and each vine stock is grown in a deep depression in the ground, half surrounded by a low wall of black stones. Apparently the purpose is for the stones to draw the dawn condensation out of the air and to allow it to seep into the depression to water the vines. I suspect that the vines may actually get most of their moisture through the depth to which their roots inevitably grow in this type of environment.
You can take a tour at some of these vineyards; we didn't but if you decided you wanted to, in my opinion the best tasting wine on the island came from the El Grifo vineyard.
We enjoyed our stay on Lanzarote. I have separately reviewed our resort of Playa Blanca. Beyond this resort there is much to see and we tried to get around as much as we could. We didn't get to the main town of Arrecife and I understand it is worth a visit, if only for the shopping. If you do, be aware though that, unlike the tourist resorts, the shops close from 12 until 5, as is common in most Spanish towns. Do hire a car though and take a tour around the island; don't spend all your time on the beach.
WHERE DID YOU GO AND WHO WENT?
LANZAROTE is the most northerly of the Canary Islands and is also one of the smaller islands. The first impression you get as you drive out of the airport is how black it is and as the most recent volcanic activity was only in the 1860s the evidence is actually very fresh geologically. When doing research prior to our holiday there did not seem a lot of things that you MUST see on the island. This holiday was one taken with our daughter, son in law and four month old granddaughter so we wanted somewhere warm, not too far to fly and where medical attention could be easily obtained if needed and Lanzarote fitted the bill nicely in March.
WHEN, HOW AND WHERE DID YOU STAY?
We flew with Monarch and booked our accommodation separately at the Pueblo Marinero in Playa Blanca but unfortunately when we arrived they had suffered a huge storm and the two bedroom apartments had been flooded so they moved us to the nearby Rubimar Apparthotel which was just across the way and then thrown in free breakfast for the week to compensate. I have written a separate review on this resort.
WHAT DID WE DO AND DO WITH A YOUNG BABY?
What do you do on a small island with a tiny baby? Well as our little granddaughter is a very amenable baby we did quite a lot.
TIMANFAYA NATIONAL PARK:
One day we went to the famous Timanfaya National Park. This is almost like visiting the dark side of the moon. The landscape is black there is very little vegetation just miles of black rock and sand in various shapes. It cannot really be compared with anywhere else I have seen and is a must see if you are visiting Lanzarote.
THE GREEN LAKE:
El Golfo is a tiny village and it is where you will find one of Lanzarote's natural wonders, El Lago Verde, or the green lagoon. This little lake of emerald green water is the center of a volcano that has been partly eroded by the Atlantic sea. The green colour has been created by the accumulation of algae which makes it slightly less appealing but it was interesting to look at..
JAMEOS DEL AGUA:
The collapsed volcanic tube has been converted by Cesar Manrique into a stunning place of natural and artistic beauty. The pool in the base has tiny little blind, albino crabs in it which I had never seen before. The café is so lovely and cool compared to outside and you can enjoy the hanging gardens and the pool/lake in the cave. At times this is covered to make a stage and the whole area converted to a concert hall.
This part natural and part artistically created man made cave is a true delight. The white and blue pool (you cannot go in it) is a visual treat with plants hanging down and the blue sky peeping through the open cave top. A combination of tropical gardens, bars and a restaurant surround this underground lagoon and creates an atmosphere which is hushed and cathedral like.
There is a further art exhibition area and a gift shop but we didn't bother with these as we were enjoying the cave experience and the fantastic hanging gardens which cascaded down from the rocks around the cave opening .
CESAR MANRIQUE FOUNDATION:
Having been so impressed with Manrique's creations in Tamanfaya National Park and Jameos Del Agua we decided we would continue our sightseeing with a visit to Manrique's personal home which has now left to the Cesar Manrique foundation.
This 'house' was designed by Manrique to use the natural volcanic rock formations and he created a fantastic house built in and around the rocks. It was fantastic; some of the walls were smoothed out and painted in a thick shiny white paint which lightened up the underground areas. The seats were shiny brightly coloured plastic - a bit like those in Elvis' Graceland.
Upstairs was more like a traditional art gallery with examples of his paintings and other artistic creations. Some were more interesting than others but that is what art is all about - different things appeal to different people.
Large windows were created to look over the lunar volcanic landscape and there was another of Manrique's signature blue pools with white surrounds set down amongst the lava formations.
This was a wonderful, fascinating artistic building. I am not sure how comfortable it would be in the winter months. The sofas looked quite hard, not the sort you would curl up in to watch TV but it looked great.
Outside there is a cactus and succulent garden. There was a small shop and tiny café where we enjoyed a coffee and young grace had her bottle. The house was not pushchair or wheel chair friendly as you had to walk up and down steps cut out of the rocks which were narrow and quite low at times but the art gallery part upstairs was okay.
Playa Blanca has a very long sea front walk way which we enjoyed on a number of days. You walk past restaurants and shops at the town end but gradually you pass fewer buildings and looking out sea wards you can see Fuerteventura in the near distance. It is a pleasant quiet area in March but I suspect it gets busy in summer.
There is a small market on Wednesday at the Rubicon Marina which was a pleasant place to wander around in the sunshine beside the harbour area. There were a number of cafés and places where you could sit with a drink and people watch or look slightly further and watch the activity in the harbour.
Teguise was once the Capital of Lanzarote but today' and is a really lovely little old town with over 500 years of History. On Sunday there is a busy Market with hundreds of stalls and entertainers around the area. The local bars and stalls serve a selection of food and drink to keep you happy while wandering round in the sunshine.
In the market square there was a group of older people dressed in traditional costume singing and playing instruments. It was a most sedate affair but quite interesting and picturesque with the church behind but not greatly catchy musically.
The entire town was one huge market and there were so many different stall selling everything from fresh cheeses ( we bought several) to aloe vera creams to T shirts and toys and many other clothes some more attractive than others. It was a lovely sunny day and we had a great time wandering round with the push chair stopping to enjoy different local snacks and a coffee or two.
On the way from the car park to the market there was a house with the most extraordinary garden. It was full of what most people would regard as rubbish, computer screens, chairs, prams and dolls and some were quite disturbingly contorted. It was most bizarre and I can't imagine what he was trying to create as it was obviously intentional but truly ugly and quite disturbing too. Everyone was stopping to look.
Carnival in Playa Blanca
One evening it was carnival and being Spanish this called for an extremely noisy parade through the town. There were several strange floats, very loud drums and people dressed up dancing and obviously having a very nice time. There were no sweets thrown at us this time and because it was so very loud our little granddaughter started to cry so after about 10 minutes we crossed through the parade and walked back to our apartment leaving the celebrations to the younger people. Spanish people do enjoy dressing up and having a good parade and the louder the better it seems.
Although Lanzarote is not a huge island it is extremely different scenically. Everywhere is black, the soil ,the rocks and the sand. The houses are often painted white to contrast with the blackness. The area around Playa Blanca is blacker than the other end of the island but it is marginal. The landscape is strangely lunar and bleak and there is little natural vegetation. The vineyards have small stunted vines hidden in half moon hollows to protect them from the wind. It was interesting but I'm not sure that I would like to live there as it could get very monotonous.
We found plenty to entertain ourselves with for a week that was of interest to all the adults in our group and things that were possible to do with an amenable baby. If you had a grizzly toddler then some could have been more difficult to enjoy but we have always expected our children to adapt to different situations and our daughter feels the same so we did what we wanted to do and took sufficient equipment, bottles and food to keep little granddaughter happy.
I'm not sure I would go back as there are so many other places I'd like to see and we rarely go back to the same place. If we do return we do so to explore things we missed and as far as we are concerned we have explored as much as we want to on Lanzarote. We are not great at the sitting round the pool or on the beach holiday so we probably won't return but it is certainly worth a look in my view.
Thank you for reading and hope this has been useful.
This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name
I recently spent a week in Matagorda, an area within the wider resort of Puerto del Carmen on the edge of Arrecife airport in Lanzarote.
Matagorda has a couple of commercial centres consisting primarily of restaurants, pubs, shops and games arcades, numerous hotels and apartment complexes and a superbly well maintained beach. Matagorda is beautifully set between the coast with its sea views, a backdrop of volcanic mountains and... the airport!
Being on holiday with my 2 year old, the airport (or in fact more accurately the aeroplanes constantly in view at close range) was in actual fact a great success in terms of easily accessible diversionary entertainment for moments of potential tantrums. However, had I not been accompanied by a toddler or if I were not someone quite mesmerised by the sight of a plane just a few hundred feet above my head, I can imagine that the fairly frequent (gentle) roar of the engines may not be so welcome to all holiday makers.
Having said that, despite the planes, Matagorda is quite a peaceful resort. It does not have the same endless seafront row of bars, restaurants and clubs that make up the main strip of Puerto del Carmen, but it does have a sufficient amount for a good evening out both in terms of eateries (and I must recommend the Sapporo Japanese restaurant) and live entertainment. We also found that when the entertainment in venues at the commercial centres did not appeal, the larger hotels and complexes with their own entertainment were happy to welcome non-residents. In particular we gatecrashed the entertainment at Hotel Beatriz and the Costa Sal complex. If, however, the buzz of the main strip is more appealing, a taxi there from Matagorda is just a few Euros.
As someone who enjoys sport the coastal path at Matagorda offered the perfect route for a morning run. With the sea on one side and mountains on the other and not a vehicle in sight for the majority of the route, it was a runner's dream. Judging by the number of runners out at 8am along the path, I can only assume that I am not alone in this view.
Matagorda is also very well placed for excursions to any destination on the island, with the furthest points taking little more than an hour to reach. Whilst we had the benefit of a hire car, I did also notice plenty of advertisements in our complex reception for bus excursions to the various places of interest around the island.
On the whole, I would recommend Matagorda to anybody who (in addition to having at least a passing interest in aircraft!) enjoys a calmer beach holiday with beautiful scenery and coastal walks and who is not primarily there for the nightlife.
Lanzarote is one of the canary islands, it is a spanish speaking island which is why a lot of people assume it is in spain or just off spain when infact it is actually just off the coast of africa so is a lot hotter than spain.
It takes around 4 hours to get there by plane from the uk.
It is hot all year round in lanzarote so is a perfect place to top up your tan no matter what time of year you are traveling.
Lanzarote is basically a volcano the whole island is the result of a volcanic eruption so a lot of the land is very steep hills so it may not be the most ideal place for the very old or disabled.
The majority of the beaches are black volcanic ash although i have visited a beautiful white sand beach there aswell.
on all my visits to lanzarote, and there have been 8 in total now we have stayed in puerto del carmen which has lanzarotes buisiest night life which is why i first chose this area as i was a teenager who loved night clubs when we first went to this island. The main town is a bit like blackpool in the sence of all the shops being in a big long row for miles along the sea front and above all of these shops are bars and night clubs which are open from early in the morning around 10am untill around 4 am. Although there is a lot of hustyle and busle here it is very family friendly and we have returned with our children to the island with no problems at all, although i will admitt there is very little for the children to actually do here other than the beach.
There are some fantastic day trips out to places like fire mountain, up a volcano and to a traitional market which are both great fun.
There is lots of choice of accomodation on the island ranging from studio rooms costing very little to 5 star hotels all inclusive, my personal preference is la mar apartments in the old harbour as they are fantastic, mid priced and a few minutes walk from the main strip but far enough away for peace and quiet.
There is loads of food choices here that are realy good and english food is served pritty much every where, linicars, bottles and goofys are great for food aswell as mcdonalds and burger king being there. The majority of the bars serve food too and mostly of a great standard due to the competition.
Although i will say it is a very clean place where you never see any rubbish on the streets and bins are emptied daily you do get a lot of cokroaches in the street which i hated.
This is one of my favorite place to go on holiday.
I love Lanzarote, we have been twice this year so far and also hoping to return in October.
We went with Thomson both times and stayed at the same hotel (cinco plazas).
We stayed in the main touristy resort of Puerto del carmen. If you want somewhere quieter its best to visit other parts of the island as this is the clubbing capital where most of the tourists go!
We always hire a car so we can see some of the beautiful places on the island.
Our top favourite places are as follows:
1. The papagayo beaches: These beaches are pure golden white sands and perfectly clear waters.
There are a number of different beaches here, some of them reached only by climbing down what can only be described as a cliff! But some are easier.
Beware of the nudists as it is a big nudist beach.
2. Orzola beaches: These beaches are pretty quiet, you will only find the odd nudist, as they are not easy to get to!
They are very unusual as they have lots of volcanic black rock but the sand in between is pure white! Don't expect much of a swim as its not easy to get into the sea, but perfect for nude sunbathing or fishing.
3. Cueva de los Verdes: We have visited here once and it was fantastic. It is basically an under ground tunnel that has been left after the volcano last erupted. Definitely worth visiting but not for the claustrophobic!
4. Mirador del Rio: This view point is fantastic BUT they charge you to look out and there are other view points around the island that are free and just as good!
5. Timanfaya Mountains of Fire: Fantastic trips around the volcanos, you are driven round by coach and also shown experiments and see chicken cookin on the heat of the volcano. Also a restaurant The El Diablo and a shop.
A little way down the road you can go for a camel ride (not tried this yet).
6. Famara beach: Perfect for surfers as it is very windy but a loevly beach surrounded by beautiful scenery.
PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK:
1. Top favourite restaurant is The royal in Puerto del Carmen. Perfect food and fantastic staff! Very cheap.
2. Emma's Cantina in old town Puerto del Carmen. Lovely Mexican food and really great staff.
3. Tropical nightclub in Puerto del Carmen, gorgeous waiters and cheap cheap drink! Also allow children all night..
People call Lanzarote (Lanzagrotty) i have no idea why because it is a beautiful island and hot all year round, what more do we want?
Lanzarote is a small island, a part of the Canary Islands. I have visited Lanzarote five times and stayed in the quiet resort of Playa Blanca on most southern point in the island.
As the island is off the coast of Africa, the temperatures sore the 30's which makes it perfect sun bathing weather. The sun shines from around 9am til late afternoon so there is plenty of hours to get in the sun.
The town of Playa Blanca is not for those who want to have fun nights out or a crazy holiday. I saw some girls with tshirts that said Lanzarote '07 on them so obviously they thought they were in for a good time and I felt sorry for them, because the town is for relaxation only. There are a few bars that open at night time and throughout the day like Mollys Bar, Wax Bar and Zoo Bar. There is also a bar nearby called Rooftops apparently but I never went to it. Those who are looking for a good night out, the main nightlife is in Peuta Del Carmen which is a taxi ride away. There you will find lots of bars and clubs for all ages.
The beaches at Playa Blanca are absolutley gorgeous with white sand and blue seas and skies. The beaches are not overrun by young children, but there are a lot of families who visit. You can always find sunbeds which are reasonably priced or patches of sand, it isn't full to the brim with tourists. A lot of Spanish and German people visit Lanzarote.
The beach sports are excellent with lots of things to do, from jet sking to paragliding. They are reasonably priced however not cheap enough to do them every day!
The small shops in the town are nice for small gifts and pieces of art work, and even souveniers from the island that are well priced. I love Lanzarote and its beaches and culture. Playa Blanca is for those who want a relaxing time, I would head to nearby Peurta Del Carmen for a more "nightlife" style holiday.
I have holidayed in Lanzarote on more than a few occasions. My last visit (at the time of writing this) was in 2009.
Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands and is situated 79 miles off the coast of Africa. Even though the islands are close to Africa, they are actually Spanish islands and the language spoken is also Spanish. There are seven Canary Islands and Lanzarote is the fourth largest even though the island is only 37 miles long and 12 miles wide.
It is a clean and unspoilt island. Most of the buildings are white and due to local authority regulations there are no eyesores such as billboards or high rise buildings.
Lanzarote has all year round sunshine and only has 5.5 inches of rainfall each year. The daytime temperature typically varies between 21 and 29 degrees, depending on what time of year you visit. The wind tends to pick up in the evenings, so I would advise taking a jacket out with you.
There is one airport on the island - Arrecife airport, which is situated between Arrecife (the capital) and Puerto Del Carmen. Getting a taxi to your destination is fairly inexpensive because of how small the island is. Most UK airlines fly to Lanzarote and the flight time from London to Lanzarote is around 4 hours.
The first thing you will notice when visiting Lanzarote it how black the island is. In the 18th and 19th century the volcanoes on the island erupted which resulted in the island being covered in black sand and rocks. It sounds a little grim I must admit, but it really is an amazing sight. Due to the dry climate and lack of erosion much of the island has remained almost the same as it was back then.
The second thing you will notice is how many volcanoes there are. There are hundreds of volcanoes scattered all over the island, many of them still live.
Whilst the volcano eruptions made a big affect on the surface, they also affected below the surface. The Cave of Los Verdes is well worth a visit. It is the longest volcanic tunnel in the world (6km long, 15 metres high and 15 metres wide) and is absolutely beautiful.
Again, because of the dry climate there is not much vegetation or greenery. Cactus and palm tress are Lanzarotes equivalent of Englands grass and oak trees.
Costa Tequise is the town where I stay when I visit. It is a quiet town on the East of the island and is around a 15 minute drive from the airport. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and sandy beaches there. It is nearby Teguise which is a small, traditional town which is full of cobbled streets, old buildings and churches to discover. Every Sunday morning Teguise is home to a big, traditional market where you can pick up all sorts.
So, what else is there to see and do in Lanzarote?
A must do is Timanfaya National Park which is situated on the North West side of the island. You are shown a number of demonstrations which show just how hot it is just a few metres below the surface (temperatures reach between 400°C and 600°C). Demonstrations include watching food being cooked on a volcanic barbecue (there is also a resturant where you can eat the food), dry bush being placed into a hole in the ground and catching fire almost immediatley and pouringwater into a hole in the ground only for it to shoot back out seconds later. There is also a coach ride which takes you round the 'fire mountains'. It's full of breath taking views and the tour features audio commentary in different languages. There is also the opportunity to ride a camel up the volcanoes.
There are two parks for the kids and animal lovers - Rancho Texas (situated nearby Puerto Del Carmen) and Guinate Tropical Park (situated in the North).
Rancho Texas is a park that has all different animals from tigers to skunks and crocodiles to sealions. There are live demonstrations, panning for gold, wild west shows, pony rides and places to eat.
Guinate Tropical Park is set at one of the highest points on the island. It has a large variety of tropical birds and animals. It is also home to Penguin Paradise which lets you see the penguins from above and below the water. Unlike Rancho Texas this park does not have a theme, it is set in a serene atmosphere with waterfalls and views overlooking La Graciosa (a small island off the coast). There are places to eat and a childrens play area.
If you are interested in the marine life but prefer not to go snorkeling then you can visit Lanzarote Aquarium, situated in Costa Teguise. There are lots of tropical fish, rays and sharks to see (you can also swim with them for around 120 euros) and touch pools for everybody to touch and learn about certain marine life. Lanzarote Aquarium is not an all day attraction, so why not spend the rest of your day at The Cactus Garden nearby Guatiza where there are over 1000 different species of cactus.
Another one for the kids and teenagers is the Aqua Park which is in Costa Teguise. It has numerous water slides and makes for a good day out.
If you are looking for the best place to find shops and restaurants you should find everything you need in Puerto Del Carmen. This is probably the 'liveliest' town on the island.
Puerto Calero is also worth a visit. It's situated nearby Puerto Del Carmen and has plenty of shops and restaurants but the best thing to see is the marina which is full of huge yachts. Submarine and yacht excursions can also be found here.
Almost every hotel and apartment block has a swimming pool, plus there are lots of beautiful beaches to visit. I would personally recommend the long, sandy beaches of Puerto Del Carmen. Other nice beaches can be found in Playa Blanca (South of the island) but beware of the nudies! Big waves can be found in La Santa (North West of the island) which is good for surfing, whereas windsurfers would prefer Costa Teguise. Jet skiing, snorkeling and parasailing is also available at many beaches.
Lanzarote has duty free tax which means things were always a lot cheaper than back home (alcohol, cigarettes, restaurants, electronics, etc), although sadly this isn't really the case anymore due to the recent recession and such.
In my opinion the best way to get the most out of your holiday is to rent out a car. However, if you don't want to drive (they drive on the left-hand side) there is a very good bus service which runs all over the island. Taxi fares are also fairly inexpensive.
I wouldn't recommend Lanzarote for people wanting a lively, clubbing holiday (Tenerife would be the better island for that in my opinion). Nor would I recommend it for thrill seekers or people wanting an adventure type holiday. I would definitely recommend it to familes, people wanting a relaxing holiday and people who enjoy discovering new things.
This review was inspired after a heated discussion with my fiancé. I really wanted to go back to Lanzarote for our honeymoon but we have now decided on Egypt. Most of you will think I am absolutely potty but to me Lanzarote is the most amazing place. I have been 7 times and every time just gets better.
WHERE IS LANZAROTE?
Lanzarote is situated just 70 miles off the coast of Africa and is the most Easterly of the Canary Islands. The island is 37 miles (60km) long and 12 miles (20 km) wide, making it the fourth largest island in the Canaries.
WHY IS IT NAMED LANZAROTE
Lanzarote was called Tite-Roy-Gatra which translated as "Rose-coloured-Hill". A Genoese navigater, Lanceletto Malocello arrived on the Island in 1312 who made reference to the island in the "Dulcert Atlas" as the Island found by Lancelotto Malocello. The name Lanzarote is the direct translation into Spanish of Lancelot (Lancelloto).
Therefore the name Lanzarote was derived from the Navigator Lancelotto. So contrary to popular belief that Lanzarote also referred to as Lanzagrotty due to its ancient Spanish traditions popular belief is wrong! I will endeavour to explain why the opinion that the Island is Grotty is wrong! Sure it looks like teh surface of the Moon but thats what makes the place special!
Firstly to get to Lanzarote you have to travel for four hours across some rather interesting features. I fly from the south west and usually travel over the English Channel, over France over the Pyrenees mountains, over Spain then over the Atlantic Ocean starting descent for landing. This route rarely changes on the outward journey but is slightly different on the inbound journey. As most people arrive in Lanzarote by Air at Arrecife (ACE) Airport. This airport is also sometimes locally known as Guacimeta.
Air traffic control can get a little bit busy therefore the plane tends to bank around the southern coast of Lanzarote and start its descent over the sea. Over the sea I hear you ask...yes that is correct I will explain the joys of this airport in the section 'things to see in Lanzarote'
The Airport is located between Arrecife (the Capital) and Puerto del Carmen.
Due to the excellent views and superb landing facilities I would advise that you sit on the left hand side of the plane in seats 1-11 for the best viewing, film and photo opportunities.
The second tip I can offer about your journey is to stand in the far right passport queue as it certainly goes quicker and they tend to have more security officers on site. As mentioned previously the airport is rather small compared to a lot of busy international airports and the baggage collection can be A) slow at busy times and B) bags can sometimes go walkabouts this has only happened to us once when the baggage handlers went on strike. You may remember a programme called 'Lanzarote Airport' with a man called Erkin he helped us get our bags back.
The locals are very helpful and do appreciate any efforts you make to speak Spanish so do try, although most speak great English.
TRANSFER TO HOTELS
Now you have arrived in Arrecife and you now need to find your way to your hotel. If you have decided to book a package holiday then its likely these are included in your holiday price so ignore this. If however you have booked your apartment/hotel privately you will need to get a taxi to your accommodation.
If you are going to get a taxi jump in a taxi marked with Tias or San Bartolome as these charge on average 5-10 Euros less than the Arrecife cab.
ARRIVAL AT HOTEL
This section is split into two types self-catering and Half/Full-Board.
If you arrive during the day the first thing you should do is to search for the local shops Supermercado and HyperDino are two of the better supermarkets. You can recognise Supermercado with a 'SPAR' logo and HyperDino with a picture of a rather cute dinosaur. Collect as much bottled water as you feel you may need for your stay. The water can give you a nasty feeling in your tummy and tends to make you go toilet quite a lot! If you arrive at night the chances you will need water is unlikely anyway so pop to the shop in the morning.
The shops do in fact sell a lot of English products if you do plan to cook meals in your apartment however it is fairly cheap to eat every night - in the 'places to go to eat' I have given examples of places to eat and approximate prices.
If you are half or full board the chances are that you will have everything provided for you however I would still advise that you search for a shop and buy a large bottle of water for brushing teeth and drinking (when all the bars have closed!)
There are many things to see and do in Lanzarote I will list the excursions here and suggest tips for the best experience. I will also give a rating for each one as even in a fortnight there is too much to see and do although you could easily drive over the island in a day.
Last Minute Excursions provide excellent excursions all over the Island however to hire a car and to 'pay as you go' at the excursions is just as easy and enables you to see as much of the Island as possible.
The Excursions are well priced but it works out a lot better to get a hire car for 2-3days and explore hidden coves. See the section on car hire if you wish to hire a car for part of your holiday. You can explore the North of the Island one day and the South the next so to help you out I have put North and South next to the places to help you plan a journey.
CUEVA DE LOS VERDES (The Green Caves) "North"
The Cueva de los Verdes are part of the Atlantida underground system formed approximately 3000 years ago during the volcanic eruptions. They can be found in the North of the island. The original inhabitants, often referred to as the Guanches, and later the Hispanic population, would shelter here from Pirates that once tormented the Island. The tunnel is over 6km long it is the longest volcanic tunnel in the World. The caves hold a secret known only to those who have visited unfortunately legend has it that by breaking this secret it will rain continuously. The lowest part of the cave is used occasionally as a concert hall and the acoustics in this part of the cave are ideal for concerts.
TIP: Ensure that you are as near to the front throughout so that you can see the secret properly. Also sometimes the Spanish tend to talk after their commentary so the nearer to the guide that you are the more likely you are to hear the commentary. Most excursions are like this and by the end we learned that by talking during the Spanish commentary they learned how annoying it was. It's a shame but many tourists have complained about this part of the tour.
Opening Hours: 10am - 6pm (final Admission 5pm)
JAMEOS DEL AGUA "North"
This cave system is part of the Cueva de los Verdes mentioned above. The word 'Jameo' refers to a volcanic cave with a collapsed roof, of which there are many in this part of Lanzarote. You will find out more about Cesar Manrique below however this Lanzarote born artist helped to create these caves by adding a swimming pool, gardens and an auditorium. The auditorium hosts regular Canarian music. The underground salt water Lagoon is the home of a Species of Blind Albino Crab that can only be found here.
The caves are open everyday 9.30am until 7pm but on a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 7pm - 2am for live events.
CESAR MANRIQUE "North" (although sculptures are dotted over the Island)
Cesar Manrique Cabrera was born on the island on April 24, 1919 in Puerto Naos, Arrecife. Cesar Manrique was a painter, sculptor, architect, ecologist, monument preserver, construction advisor, planner of urban developments, outliner of landscapes and gardens. His view was that the island should be preserved and to avoid the damaging effects of tourism he put rules on the height of buildings and suggested that all houses should be white with brown or green doors.
Cesar Manrique built his home in 7 lava bubbles and here you can see some of his pictures and artwork. Cesar Manrique died at the age of 73 in 1992 but his memory still lives on due to the lasting effect his work has had on the locals and tourism.
SUNDAY MARKET AT TEGUISE "North"
Teguise used to the capital of the Island until 1852. In the centre of Teguise is a lovely town square, the San Miguel Plaza, which becomes the centre of a market, which is held every Sunday morning. At this market you will find many locally produced crafts as well as "replica" watches, belts, wallets etc. The food is also lovely here with German sausage, Swedish cuisine and the typical British cheesy chips and burgers.
TIP: miss out the scammers on the side of the road who will charge 1-5 Euros to park in their back gardens but the car parks are a long walk from the market. If you continue driving and turn into the village there is free parking in the centre of the market.
TIMANFAYA (The Fire Mountains) "South"
The Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) were created between 1730 and 1736 when more than 100 volcanoes, covering more than 50 km², rose up and devastated this part of the island. Several villages in the [path of destruction were also wiped out.
The last eruptions were in 1824 and the landscape appears exactly is it did back then with few plants struggling to grow. This part of the island is a fantastic sight for any tourist and I must say after 7 years I still love to go back. The unique 'Martian' landscape and rare plant species have been used for many movies.
While it is not possible to just wander freely around the Volcanoes, a Coach Trip around the National Park is included in the entry fee. The Tour features an Audio Commentary that includes excerpts from the diary of a local Priest who was an eyewitness to the eruptions. TIP: Sit on the Right hand side of the coach near the front for the best viewing, film and photo opportunities.
Other demonstrations take place on top of the mountain showing how hot the area is and to remind us that these volcanoes are still live. Temperatures just a few metres below the surface reach between 400°C and 600°C). Dry brush thrown into a hole in the ground catches fire immediately, while water poured into a bore hole erupts seconds later in the form of steam like a geyser.
You can also sit in the 'El Diablo' restaurant and eat food cooked over the volcano. Avoid disappointment as food is no longer served after 3pm so make sure you arrive early.
If you hire a car you can also stop at the foot of the volcano and take a Camel ride across the Volcanic landscape but this is not included in the 8 euro price for the Timanfaya tour The camel ride is approximately 8euros in addition to this.
Opening Hours: Everyday 10am - 6pm
NICE PLACES TO SEE
MIRADOR DEL RIO "North"
The Mirador del Rio provides spectacular views La Graciosa (When you read this imagine Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) saying 'Leviosa' this is how it is pronounced)
The early inhabitants of the island used this site as a Lookout point as Lanzarote was often attacked by pirates.
You can view this spectacular lookout point for a small charge of 2.70euros however if like us you fancy a bit of a challenge a dirt track can take you to a better vantage point for free. If you would rather pay however the opening hours are Everyday 10am to 6pm.
EL JARDIN DEL CASTUS (the cactus garden) "North"
El Jardin Del Cactus was designed by Cesar Manrique. The large collection of
cacti is home of the cochineal beetle famous for making the red coloured food dye.
The restored windmill and strange metal sculptures are an impressive sight especially when compared to the barren volcanic landscape.
EL GOLFO "South"
El Golfo is a volcanic crater eroded by the sea it is filled with sea-water that has been filtered through the black sand. The sand seperates the lagoon from the sea.The lagoon is green in colour due to algae living in the water this in contrast to the black sandy beach and weird formations is quite a peculiar sight and an excellent photo opportunity.
LOS HERVIDORES (Boiling waters) "South"
On a rough day in the sea you can see water spurting out of the top of these caves and holes formed by the lava flow. As the waves crash into the caves, mountains of white surf are produced, giving the appearance of 'Boiling Waters'. I am yet to see an amazing eruption of water maybe you will be luckier than I am.
4/10 maybe more if I could see it!
We stumbled across this place 3 years ago and have continued to go back the modern fishing harbour for luxury yachts is an amazing place to eat on an evening and watch the sun go down.
PLACES TO EAT
Eating out in Lanzarote is rather cheap and an enjoyable experience. Walking along the sea front of Puerto del Carmen you can choose from a steak house, TexMex, Chinese, Indian, Pizzeria, Tapas or you could choose from the many Irish bars of which there are many. I enjoy the popular starter of prawns in sizzling garlic oil and a huge steak. Desserts usually come out with a sparkler which often causes havoc amongst any children in the restaurant
I will give a basic guide to the price of meals that we have had on holiday
Garlic prawns 5.99-8.99euros
Garlic bread 2-5euros
Steak, chips and onion rings 5.50-15.00euros
All you can eat Chinese 5-6.95 euros
Ice cream sundae 4-6 euros
Chocolate cake 4-6 euros
Cheesecake 4-6 euros
This is just a selection but as you can see much of the food is very well priced and the portions are very generous.
I would suggest the Slow boat for Chinese, La ponderosa for Tapas and Pizzas, Chiquitto for Tex Mex and a good steak these are chain companies so are situated in the main tourist areas. I would also suggest a lovely meal in Puerto Calero slightly pricier than the tourist spots but very nice and in a very nice setting, especially as the evening draws in, the sunset behind the volcanoes is a breath-taking experience. There is something special about eating a meal on the sea front.
In addition to thee above Canarian food is also very tasty, so if you get a chance make sure you visit a traditional Canarian restaurant. The potatoes are very nice they are boiled in sea water and baked. They look like tiny wrinkled baked potatoes but taste yummy. Fish is another popular meal in the Canary Islands obviously due to being so close to the sea.
PLACES TO GO FOR FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT
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You will often get many people standing along the road giving out leaflets dragging you into bars we have found that by going up to these places you can often get the cheapest drinks as they are hidden away from the sight of passers by so rely on good advertising.
In Puerto del Carmen Linekers is a great place for live sport and live entertainment, Palms is another great place for live bands, hypnotists and cheap drinks offers.
PLACES TO GO FOR ADULT ENTERTAINMENT
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My favorite place is Flanagan's a drag show in an Irish bar. I always enjoy the nights here although the humour is a rather acquired taste!
Ceasars is another great place to go for a good night out with great drinks offers and live entertainment.
I would suggest using a hire car to see the many places that cannot be seen from an excursion coach. Car Hire is very cheap in Lanzarote. Here are a few point though to keep you safe on he roads. Driving is on the right hand side of the road, most petrol stations only use cash the Spanish police are very strict so adhere to all rules, as fines are 'on the spot'. You must always carry your Driving License, passport and rental agreement.
Before signing any agreement with a car hire company check that they include insurance, taxes and petrol etc. do not sign until you are sure of the agreement. You will need your Driving License and passport to hire a car and will need to be over 21 years old, usually with a clean license. I have found that Cabrera Medina, Direct cars, Roccio and Hertz are the reputable companies.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT LANZAROTE
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Many people like the canaries as the weather is almost guaranteed all year round during the months of January-May the temperature can range from anything between 21-26 degrees with 7-11 hours of sunshine. The hottest time of the year is August-Septmber where the temperature range from 29-32 degrees. The sea temperature is at its hottest in October at 24 degrees and coldest in April at 18 degrees. Which is still a reasonable temperature. It can get very windy at times due to its location in the sea. Sand can sometimes get blown in the eyes and the locals advise bathing with camomile tea which works very well at cleansing the eye.
The language spoken in Lanzarote is Spanish however most people speak English in the restaurants, you may be sensible though to go prepared with a phrase book as in some places the only language is Spanish.
Food is well priced. I brought back a lot of alcohol which I managed to get at a great price saving myself lots more than if I had bought it in England. Be careful though as you can no longer take liquid back in your hand luggage though so it has to be packed carefully in your suitcase.
Clothes are very well priced especially the designer brands Zara, Bershka and Pimkie where you can pick up shoes, trousers and tops at a fraction of the UK price.
It is best not to drink the tap water so buy and use bottled water. Bottled Water is fairly cheap and reasonable.
Plugs in Lanzarote are round two pin plugs and they use 220volts and are 50Hz so you will need an adapter plug to use your own appliances. These can be picked up rather cheap from any supermarket fairly cheap, you can also pick these up in duty free on the way out.
The predominant religion is Roman Catholic and it is a pleasure to join in with the local celebrations. If you are fortunate to go at the time of year when they are celebrating a religious or patriotic festival you can see fireworks, taste free Canarian food and watch the many processions through the towns.
It's strange but landing in Lanzarote feels like I am arriving at my second home, so many times I have dreamt of living in Lanzarote, soaking up the rays, enjoying the nightlife and working in a bustling environment. Everyone seems happy and friendly...then again a holiday once a year is great, but living there would be too much. I just hope its not too long before I can return, I miss that beautiful Island.
I went to Lanzarote for the first time in November 2004 as a late holiday with my then boyfriend; we booked a last minute deal with Thomson for two weeks in Puerto del Carmen. I had never been to Lanzarote before but my boyfriend had raved about it, so not knowing much about it, I researched a bit of the history before we went. Lanzarote is one of the most beautiful and amazing places in the world, the most gorgeous of the Canary Islands...
~ A Brief History ~
Lanzarote is mostly known for its Volcanoes, it is the furthest east of all the Canaries and isn't very far from the African coast, so you can imagine even in November it was very humid.
The original name for Lanzarote is Titeroygatra which means 'the coloured hills' this is because of the fantastic red colour of the landscape, which is truly beautiful.
The island is 37 miles (60km) long and 12 miles (20 km) wide, which makes it the fourth largest island in the Canaries.
Lanzarote has a warm temperature throughout the year and is the flattest of the Islands; the average temperature is 24 degrees in August and 17 degrees in January.
The Island is particularly lush for sun-worshippers with its white-sandy beaches and clear waters; it also has a constant wind, which is great for water sports such as yachting, windsurfing and kite surfing.
Lanzarote has been tinted with black, giving a different but wonderful look to the landscape, a definite wow factor and quite astounding when you see this for the first time.
~ The Flight ~
When I flew out to Lanzarote, we went from Gatwick airport; I have never flown from here before. Our flight was quite early and we flew with British Airways, the typical return ticket would cost around £100, but I'm sure if you shopped around, or had the flights in with your holiday package a better deal could be found.
We flew to Arrecife which is the capital of Lanzarote and got a coach to our hotel, which took around 45 minutes, the flight from Gatwick was approximately 4 hours.
~ Hotels ~
There are many hotels available in Lanzarote and we stayed in La Penita in Puerto del Carmen.
This hotel is probably more for couples than families and has mostly one bedroom apartments; we had a balcony, with a partial view of the sea and a brick wall! But we didn't really spend much time in the room as there is so much to do.
There was a bath and shower room and one room with twin beds (just in case you have an argument with your other half!). There was a well-equipped kitchen with microwave, kettle, fridge and small freezer compartment. Plenty of cutlery and glasses.
There was also a TV with news channels, but you had to give a deposit of £10 for the remote control.
There was also access to a room safe if need be, we found this useful as we were out most days to keep our passports and anything valuable in there.
La Penita is just 100 metres from the beach, bars and restaurants were also very close by, which was very handy, the hotel also boasted a tennis court, swimming pool and a smaller pool for the children, sun beds were widely available, there was a small bar/cafe which did amazing cooked breakfast which we had nearly every morning (typical English)
La Penita is at the heart of Puerto del Carmen, which is the main tourist destination in Lanzarote. I would definitely recommend La Penita for couples or singles, the staff were extremely polite and the rooms were cleaned daily with fresh towels and beds made (well you are on holiday after all)
There is so much to do in Lanzarote, seriously 2 weeks was no where near enough, and we did run out of money towards the end of our holiday, with all the eating out, excursions and car hire. Here are just a few of the amazing places to visit. Firstly the volcanoes...
~ Timanfaya National Park ~
Picture this - We had hired out a car a couple of days into our holiday and one morning, dressed in a bikini, sarong and flip flops my boyfriend thought it would be a great day to visit the Timanfaya National Park. It didn't take us long to get there, the roads are very well signposted and touristy friendly, there was a long straight road up to the park, either side were reddy orange boulders and it looked like we were in the middle of nowhere.
When we reached the park entrance we paid an admission of 6.61 to get in and travelled further up this road to which seemed like a mountain.
Firstly there is demonstrations on just how hot the ground is at this park and just metres below the surface the temperature is between 400°C and 600°C, (still picture me in my flip flops) I could feel the heat through them and had to keep hopping around, (I looked so silly in my bikini and sarong, I could have throttled my other half)
The demonstrations were throwing dry bushes into a hole which immediately catches fire, also there were small holes in the ground and water was poured into these holes and within seconds steam would shoot out. (trying to catch this on camera was particularly hard)
There was a restaurant called 'El Diablo' , which looked really nice inside there were windows all around looking out to the deserted landscape, we didn't eat there but looked around, and everything is cooked naturally from the heat of the ground. There was a cast-iron grill placed over a large hole in the ground with a rack of chicken cooking as we walked past, the heat was intense and incredible to believe.
There were opportunities to take camel rides around the Volcanic landscape if I was dressed appropriately I would like to have gone on one of them, but didn't fancy making a complete fool of myself, much to the disappointed of my boyfriend (grrrrr)
Instead we took a coach excursion around the landscape which was just as good, if not better in an air-conditioned coach! Be brave though if you go on one of these, the very narrow windy track seems impossible to get through but the drivers don't seem fazed at all. A couple of times I braced myself for falling over the edge.
Most of the craters you pass are extinct and some have lain dormant for years, so there isn't any fear of an immediate eruption, or so we were told.
There was an English speaking tour guide that took us through the surroundings, it was a fantastic trip and a must see when you visit Lanzarote the landscape is truly amazing and hard to put into words.
The park is open from 10.00 to 6.00pm every day.
~ Jameos del Agua ~
We visited this cave system by car as it is to the North of the Island, there were loads of coaches of people and cars and is really popular with tourists, we accidentally stumbled into the EXIT of the place and therefore got in free, although we had to walk from the back to the front but it saved us some Euro, although it only costs a small 6.61 each to get in.
Now Jameos del Agua is a volcanic cave, Jameo refers to a volcanic cave with a collapsed roof, there are many wonders and amazements here including an Auditorium which seats 600 people and is renowned for it's excellent acoustics, there are often concerts held in the evening, I couldn't believe that this was actually inside a volcanic cave and it truly a beautiful place.
There is also a swimming pool, restaurants and gardens, all very stunning. The swimming pool looks like paradise, the water is crystal clear blue with a palm tree hanging over the water, and apparently though you aren't allowed to swim in it.
Also there is an underground salt water lagoon which is home to a rare species of Blind Albino Crab which can be found nowhere else. They were really tiny, but there seemed to reflect light of them so you could see lots of white like sparkles in the water. It was really amazing.
I really enjoyed visiting here and it was well recommended by our holiday rep, it is extremely popular, it was really busy when we went.
The opening times were: Everyday from 9.30 - 19.00
~ The Cactus Garden ~
Now I wasn't particularly dying to go and see the cactus garden, this was more of my boyfriend's choice, but surprisingly I had a great time and was quite amazed at what I saw.
As you have probably guessed this is a garden of Cactus and was designed by the late Lanzarote Artist Cesar Manrique, who also helped create the Jameos del Agua spectacle.
The garden features over a 100 species of cacti and is an amazing collection, some where huge and towered into the sky, there were also some odd shaped cacti which I found quite funny as some were quite rude!!
There was also a restored windmill up some stairs above the restaurant area that you could easily get to and the views were amazing, the restaurant was nice, we didn't stay and eat, but had a refreshing coke which was much appreciated.
They also had a lovely little souvenir shop, where unfortunately we purchased a rather huge extremely prickly cactus.
The Cactus Garden is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, walking around looking at the many different colours and shapes of cacti and it is set so beautifully in Lanzarote's surroundings.
~ Catlanza S.L. ~
As we found out on our first day Lanzarote has a lot to offer, but of course because we only had two weeks and a limited amount of money, we decided to only go on a couple of the best sounding excursions. One of which was a day out on a million dollar Catamaran (what really did it for us was the offer of free beer all day) : - )
The surrounding sea in Lanzarote is filled with beautiful fish and the Catlanza excursion is a fantastic way to explore these.
Lunch was included as well, we also had the chance of riding on the jet ski with a professional and to go snorkelling, we chose to do the snorkelling as the jet ski was quite busy, I have never snorkelled before and hate the taste of sea water, but I was determined to give this a go, and I'm so glad I did.
It was the most amazing experience, there were so many different kinds of fish and it was so wonderful to swim around and explore them, I felt very safe swimming around by the Catamaran and as we had stopped for a couple of hours, there was plenty of time to eat, snorkel and relax.
The Catamaran had trampoline style beds which we laid on to sunbathe and it was really easy to move around on the boat, a really luxurious excursion.
There is also opportunity to raise the sails and steer at the helm, but I preferred to put my feet up with a cold beer enjoying the sun and gorgeous views.
On the way back it was a bit choppy on the water and most people stayed inside as some people were getting drenched! but apart from that I would recommend this as a must excursion if you visit Lanzarote, it was a great day out.
November 1st to April 30th
Adult 51 euro
Children 30 euro
Gold 55 euro - adult only
3 hour excursion
May 1st to October 31st
Adult 61 euro
Children 35 euro
Gold 65 euro - adult only
4 hour excursion
~ Rancho Texas Park ~
Another one of our excursions was to the Rancho Texas theme park which was also recommended and was a great day out. It is a Western Style theme park with a Nature park which was full of gorgeous birds and snakes, also including crocodiles, turtles, iguanas, armadillos, prairie-dogs and many birds of prey.
There was a brilliant parrot show, where these three parrots, did some wonderful tricks, riding a bike (a very small one of course) playing games it was a really good fun show, we also got a photo taken with the parrot on our shoulders and had the opportunity to purchase these at the end of the day on our way out.
We also saw another bird of prey show, which was out in the open, we sat on stone steps and the handlers were calling the birds from one side to the other and they flew so close to everyone that you could feel the breeze as they flew over my head, which was quite scary, but hopefully perfectly safe.
We saw a Crocodile show which was fantastic, the man who did the parrot show also did this one, he took a crocodile out of the water by it's tail and did various tricks like sitting on it and putting his hand in it's mouth (eeek) he was still alive by the end of it though.
There are also themed nights, I didn't experience any of these but they had posters up and advertisements, which boasted live music and dancing which seemed like great fun.
This theme park was just outside Puerto del Carmen and was just 10 minute coach trip and was a great day out yet again.
~ Restaurants ~
We ate out every evening and worked our way down Puerto del Carmen, we had Italian pizza's, fish, steak, everything that you could image, Chinese and Indian, was all on offer here, and the prices were reasonable we spent no more that around 15 euros each evening, the waiters were so polite they couldn't do enough for you, there was a generally buzzing atmosphere and I really enjoyed eating out somewhere different each night, of course we found our favourite places and places we didn't find as good. But generally Puerto del Carmen has a lot to offer food wise.
~ Arrecife ~
As we had the car we went out one evening to explore the capital of Lanzarote Arrecife and decided to eat out in the main city.
We didn't find it difficult to get to Arrecife but once you get there it's like a maze we parked quite far away from the centre so had to walk about 20 minutes and when we thought we were getting near, we seemed to be walking alone along what seemed like deserted back streets, as we were all togged up with nice clothes and stuff, I didn't feel particularly safe and nor did my boyfriend, we quickly turned round and half ran back to our car, haven given up on dinner decided to drive back to Puerto del Carmen. That was the first and last time we went to Arrecife.
I'm sure in the daytime it would have been better, but time got the better of us and we never ventured back.
~ Jet Ski's ~
I'm sure anyone who has been on a jet ski, will understand my little rave about them, my first time on one, me and Mark (boyfriend) got on jet ski, I was feeling excited and apprehensive, but we took off quite suddenly and soon I found myself whooping and screaming with the wind in my hair, it was such a great experience bobbing over the waves, with the odd splash of sea water in my face but it was worth it.
We had to stay within four buoys and got told off a couple of times for going outside these, there was an electronic cut off, if we went outside the buoys and they would cut the jet ski off. This was quite a good idea.
I would definitely recommend this to everyone and anyone, I will be going on a jet ski whenever I get the chance on my next holiday, and it was a pure buzz.
~ In Conclusion ~
Well thank you for reading this all so far, I cannot rave anymore about Lanzarote, it was a truly amazing experience and there was so much to explore and do, it wasn't one of the general beach holidays where you get up grab a sun bed and toast for the rest of the day, like some of my holidays, I actually got up and explored what Lanzarote had to offer and I'm so glad I did.
Me and Mark did run out of money towards the end, but we did buy a lot of stuff, volcanic rock and fake Dior hats and bags etc(oops), I had a genuinely fantastic time, the people were great and friendly. I would love to go back again and do some of the things I couldn't do the last time.
It's a great place for families, couples and singles, there are always lots to do, or even if you don't want to do that much the beaches are lush, the food and beer is great.
thumbs up from me!
thanks for reading. Lisa x
So remind me again youre off to Lanzagrotty next week? asked a colleague just before the Easter school holiday.
Having now got back, I cant think what she was on about.
Sure, if you got to a popular resort like Puerto del Carmen and dont move off your deckchair until its time to eat pizza and chips whilst watching Sky TV football, then Id agree that its grotty, but then, if that describes your idea of a holiday, along with cheap beer and fags, youd love staying there.
Personally, Id rather rent a back room at the British Legion to get the cheap beer and take a sun-lamp with me at least I could lock the door and get away from my fellow countrymen and women (and their bloody kids).
However, if you stay somewhere like this and DONT like it, then really you have only yourself to blame,
a) For not researching your subject first, and
b) For not getting off your arse once you got there.
Anyway, lecture over, and as you can imagine, I DIDNT stay in Puerto del Carmen; in fact I didnt stay by the coast at all. Having said that, nowhere in Lanzarote is far from the sea. At 817 square kilometres, its just over twice the size of the Isle Of Wight, my favourite yardstick for island measuring perhaps I should invent a new unit called the IOW or Vectis, so that would bring Lanzarote out at 2.3 Vectii. Just dont get me started on Australia.
WHERE IS IT?
Lanzarote is one of the inhabited chain of Canary Islands, which, whilst technically part of Spain, sits off the Moroccan coast in the Atlantic, some way south of Madeira. Lanzarote is the closest to North Africa at around 90 miles from land and 200 miles from the Moroccan port of Agadir.
Most people fly there, either from northern European destinations or take internal flights from Spain. You CAN get there by car, but the ferry from Cadiz takes you to one of the bigger Canaries, like Tenerife or Gran Canaria, from where you decant to another ferry. A flight from the London area takes about 3.5 to 4 hours depending on wind conditions. We took 4 hours going, but only 3 hours 20 minutes coming back not bad for 2,000 miles.
Unlike Spain itself, and rather more like our own Channel Islands, EU duty tariffs do not apply, so whilst normally dutiable goods are cheaper there, beware the miserly Customs limits on tobacco, booze and that £145 worth of other goods, when coming home.
No doubt this is one of the reasons why the Canaries in general are so popular with cruise ships.
THAT MOST BRITISH OF QUESTIONS
The other reason is the weather. Being on a similar latitude, the Canaries are to Europe what Florida is to the USA, ie. a favoured winter holiday destination. The only major difference would be the all year round tendency to be a bit breezy, and in fact the Lanzaroteño government have not been slow to harness wind turbine energy.
We were there for the pre-Easter week in the UK school holiday. The weather peaked at 34C on our first full day, which according to Gonzalo, our hotel owner, was excessively hot. It later settled to a more balmy 24C by lunchtime every day. For somewhere a long way out to sea, it can still be eerily airless at certain times of the day. Evenings spent outdoors could benefit from covered arms, so ladies, if you must insist on wearing a gown-less evening strap, expect to get goose-pimples.
It goes without saying that, windy or not, sun tan lotion is strongly recommended, in fact especially when its windy, as this lulls you into thinking that the sun isnt hot.
SO WHATS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE PLACE?
In common with its larger family members, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, its origins are volcanic, having risen from the sea millions of years ago, from an offshoot of the Central Atlantic Ridge, which more or less runs from Iceland to Antarctica. Its volcanic activity could be termed dormant or inactive, since there hasnt been any kind of eruption for about 300 years. However, in geological terms, this is but a pin-prick on the left buttock of time. Theres nothing extinct about Lanzarotes volcanic activity, as anyone whos had their lunch cooked by geothermal energy in the Timanfaya National Park will testify.
What Lanzarote doesnt have are any of Gran Canarias or Tenerifes lush green valleys to offset the stark beauty of the moonscape that confronts you at almost every turn.
When the last eruptions occurred, lava flowed for a period of 6 years in the 1700s, leaving massive rugged areas that make your ankles hurt just imagining trying to cross them on foot. They are almost an intimidating experience, since some of the boulders that have been pushed up and thrown at crazy angles, are the size of a London bus. When you pass through these fields on new roads, you get a moles-eye view of what a newly dug flower bed would look like to a creature that size!
Nothing but viciously sharp pumice and other igneous rocks stretch for miles. The eruptions did in fact cover one quarter of the islands land mass, whilst admittedly making the island bigger in the process. Personally, with the heat haze rising from the near-black lava, I find it beautiful, in the same way that Apollo astronauts commented on the moon. At least terrain like this is safe from the property developer!
All of Lanzarotes mountains that scar the skyline are volcanic cones, and in some cases its easy to see where the lava flows emanated, usually out of the side of the cone at a point of weakness. The top of the cone is usually reserved for the lobbing of boulder bombs and ash. It therefore follows that nearly all of Lanzarotes soil is of volcanic origin, either ash thrown up from the cone, or wind-eroded lava.
As you can imagine, not a lot grows here, but thankfully for the wine drinker, the low-lying Malvasía grape vine, grafted from Cretan stock hundreds of years ago does quite well, cowering behind individual wind breaks made from pumice dry-stone walling.
As a result, the El Grifo (The Griffin) vineyard produces some pretty passable reds and whites and a rather nice Rosado (rosé). The budget Blanco Seco (not the dearer aged for 4 months in barrels version) has a pale almost water-like appearance like Portuguese Vinho Verde, but is nonetheless quite full-flavoured, and is delicious chilled. Its also pretty cheap at no more than a few pounds (restaurant price).
If I had to pick say, two aspects that I found so fascinating about this place, I have to say that the way in which its sparked a latent interest in vulcanology in me would be one, and the artist, César Manrique would be the other. To a certain extent, the islands fiery past and the life and works of Manrique are intertwined.
ALL HAIL MANRIQUE
Manrique studied along side other Iberian giants, such as Picasso and Miró, but it wasnt till he returned to his native Lanzarote, that he really started to make his mark, in so many ways. Shocked at the way tourism was changing the unique way of life, he became a self-appointed mentor of aesthetics, and on doubt made a nuisance of him self too, like those people that make a hobby of objecting to all planning applications.
Despite the fact that he died in a car crash in the 90s, ironically at a junction hed been campaigning for to be made safer, his mark is everywhere. Sometimes, youll come across a roundabout whose sole purpose in life is to house a Manrique sculpture. Many of these are animated, but not designed to move quickly, for fear of distracting motorists. Its more a case of funny, wasnt that pointing the other way yesterday?
As an aside, some of Lanzarotes roundabouts are so huge in terms of radius (and in the middle of nowhere) that you tend to lose the plot and wonder when this one way street is ever going to straighten out!
The lack of high-rise buildings is another Manrique triumph. Having spotted the multi-storey Grand Hotel in the centre of capital Arrecife, he got the government to agree to no more tall buildings. I gained the impression that the planners sneaked this one in while he was away! He also got them to agree that any painted window frames and doors should be the traditional green to compliment the white of the walls to this day, nearly all inland properties have their windows doors and shutters painted thus, or just plain varnished. Some blue and white exists, but only in beach areas.
One of the most interesting sites we saw was the Manrique Foundation, formerly his house. This is a sprawling single storey affair built over two enormous bubbles in the lava, from which he created underground lounges or conversation pits (think bubbles perhaps?). Theres barely a straight line in the place, as he tried to blend with nature, rather than work against it. Massive plate glass windows give astounding panoramas of the lava fields and the mountains beyond. The white of the walls is relieved by the use of bare pumice as a building material. Heavy use of plain white is made, including floors, and you may wish to keep your sunglasses on for longer than youd think.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW, AND OTHERS
Other Manrique heritage can be found at Mirador del Río, a lofty vantage point overlooking the straits between northern Lanzarote and the smaller island of La Graciosa. Here again, its built like a cave to compliment the bits that really are a cave, and it makes a very suitable spot for a lunch break.
The Cactus Garden is another Manrique project, being constructed in a disused quarry. Like an inverted hanging Gardens of Babylon, there are terraces down the sides, uncluttered by anything as safety-conscious as fencing.
As with all of Lanzarotes tourist attractions, get there before the tour coaches do. A hire car is a must in these circumstances. Youll recognise the Cactus Garden by the large (Manrique, who else?) sculpture of a cactus outside in the car park.
Another place you need to get to well before lunchtime is the Timanfaya National Park, which is essentially a large tract of the volcanic areas including the main cone of the largest volcano and huge lava fields stretching down to the coast. This reserve only allows cars and buses in up to a particular assembly and parking point, where, if you wish to tour the park further, you HAVE TO get on a tour bus, but it soon becomes obvious why. The circular single-lane route carved for the buses would be highly unsuited to most drivers, and you have to pinch yourself hard to convince yourself that the buses themselves arent on roller-coaster rails. The drivers really can handle these things, as looking for scratches and worse back at the carpark will attest.
The major problem with using a standard tour bus is that you end up taking pictures through tinted glass during their frequent stops. No-one is allowed off the bus, partly to preserve the pristine nature (well apart from the roads) of the reserve and partly for your safety. The tour takes about 30 minutes with a multilingual commentary. Some of Britains open top buses wouldnt have gone amiss here in fact given the weather, theyd make more sense here than they do at home!
Entry to the park is 8.00 per adult, but this includes a seat on a tour coach too. The main centre building, itself touched with the Manrique style of a minimum of straight lines, liberal use of pumice as a building stone and large panoramic windows, is also a restaurant and place where the ever-present geothermal heat just below ground level can be demonstrated in a practical way. At one point theres a griddle over a wishing-well sized hole, upon which food can be grilled. The heat rising from tens of feet down is stifling as anyone silly enough to peer over the edge will know. I dont suppose it would take long for your eyebrows to disappear either.
Park guides also entertain the crowds by throwing buckets of water down boreholes in the ground. About two seconds later, it all comes back as superheated steam in a very dramatic fashion.
Likewise, straw is bundled into a pit, only to burst into flames once its about ten feet down.
So you see that what I said earlier about this being still active is true. All it takes is a hole ten feet deep and you can boil water in two seconds. Its a pity that they cant tap into it in much the same way as the Icelandic government have, but that would mean the precious nature of the park becomes prostituted to the mundane.
On the way out of the park, theres an excellent interpretation centre, giving not only the parks history, but a wider understanding of seismic and volcanic activity, including a demonstration of what the eruptions must have felt like to the peasant farmers of the day.
NIBELUNG FINALLY CAVES IN
Yet another Manrique creation is, or rather, are the Jameos del Agua. Here, he had created a subterranean refuge from what was a lava tunnel created when magma cut a path down to the sea through the existing rock. On finding two places where the roof had caved in, he set about turning this into a tourist attraction. If this all sounds a bit fairy grotto-like, I guess it is. As you spiral down past a bar area set into (you guessed it) a volcanic bubble, you are greeted by an underground turquoise-blue lagoon which has formed from rainwater leaking in through several skylights. Here we are told lives a unique species of near-transparent and blind crab, and yes they are there. Visitors are implored NOT to throw money into it as the copper compounds may spell the death-knell for our little crustacean friends, yet still the prats do. Passing down one side of the lagoon through the tunnel to the next patch of sky, you find yourself in a more coutured area, complete with a smooth-sided blue pool and palm trees leaning over it. Somehow, I half expected a dolphin show or Free Willie to leap out of the water, but nothing so tasteless. It does however get a mite hot down there, sheltered from the wind, so it was with some relief that we climbed out to pass through the visitor centre which has yet another, but different exhibition of seismic and volcanic history. As usual, any adult trying to concentrate on each exhibit is barged to one side by three-foot high kids wanting to press every button and click every mouse in sight before rushing to the shop for their next sugar-fix, designed to keep their attention-span suitably short.
Kids? Luv em but couldnt eat a whole one!
To read my opinions on holiday islands, youd think that they didnt have beaches well of course they do; I just dont like sand in my sandwiches. Canarian beaches are famed for their rather odd black sand in places, this being ground pumice really. This can get mighty hot as matt black is just about the best colour for absorbing sunlight dont do what I did once, which is to lay out a towel early in the morning and then by the time Im ready for an ice-cream discover that I cant bear to walk bare-foot on the sand of course, did I have any footwear? What dyou think? I must have cut a dashing image, waddling my way across the beach using the towel like the sack in a sack race.
Some beaches are sand as we know it, but this can vary from the real thing, wind-blown from Africa to being brought in by the ship load and dumped there from time to time.
A lot of Lanazarotes coastline is VERY rugged, especially where lava flows meet the sea, and can make for very dramatic photographs, especially where breakers meet a blow-hole! It does also have its share of long sweeping bays though, with shallow waters and proper sand. Just beware the wind and look out for the safe bathing flags were 90 miles out into the Atlantic here.
Canarian food is not high in specialities, at least, not the ones they unveil on the public anyway. Grilled fish and other seafood like squid features high on most menus, as its likely to be locally caught, and given the mid-ocean location, BIG.
I have fond memories of huge cross-cut steaks of sea bass, served with Canarian new potatoes in papas arrugadas style. Quite literally wrinkly spuds, these are cooked in such strong brine as to form a dusty salt crust when served up, along with mojo, a sauce served in green or red variants. Unlike traffic lights, its the red variant that makes you go, being pretty damned hot with chillis. The green version is a gentler persuasion, with herbs.
Of course, being part of Spain, typical tapas also apply, and even in such a hackneyed location as Puerto Del Carmen, many restaurants serve up a daunting array of these side dishes (no doubt along with pizzas and chicken and chips). In one place we frequented, the staff were so relieved that someone actually wanted local food and was prepared to order in Spanish that we got the full treatment including free after-dinner drinks and coffees, leaving the other customers wondering what the hell was going on.
Prices are quite reasonable, and one café we frequented in El Golfo actually had a 6 lunch menu, which included a choice of starter, a choice of main course, a half carafe of house wine and dessert and coffee. I think we even got a complimentary drink on the house.
Our own hotels restaurant at the Casério de Mozaga was formidable, except on Tuesday when it was chefs night off. On our first night there, we were remaking our plans around dining there every night, but that would have gone against most of what we holiday for. Incidentally, the hotel was owned and run by Sr. Gonzalo Bethancourt, which might sound a very un-Spanish name, and for good reason. His ancestors were amongst the first Norman-French families to people the island prior to the Spanish colonisation.
Our hire car was a Vauxhall/Opel Meriva, which was pleasant enough, especially since it represented a size-upgrade at no charge. We paid in advance through Carjet at what I thought was a pretty reasonable £113 for the week. Lanzarote Airport is quite pleasant and hassle-free. Hire cars are kept just across the arrivals road under cover.
Beware motorways where the slip road leaves the fast lane!
Drivers here are reputed to be the worst, but all I can say is, whoever said that has never tried driving through Southall Broadway in the rush hour.
There are no trains, but frequent buses run to most parts.
Continental 220-volt plugs apply.
Goods are VAT-free but watch how much you try to bring back they wont be so duty-free once H M Customs get their hands on them.
THAT LAST OBVIOUS QUESTION
Would I go again? Yes, but not straight away. Thanks to Manrique, it shouldnt be ruined even if left for a while!
I visited Lanzarote in April 2002 with a friend. We booked it about 3 weeks before we went and it was not our first choice of place to go but because it was the easter holidays it was our only choice within our budget. It was reduced from £799 to £485 for a weeks half board at the Barcelo Suites in Costa Teguise. Costa Teguise is a fairly nice town, although out of season it is extremely quiet. Very nice during the day to not be besieged by crowds but fairly boring at night to go to restaurants or bars in town and be practically the only people in there. For the most part we stayed at our hotel in the evenings as that was where most of the other guests seemed to stay and also the waiters were quite friendly since they didn't have many people to serve!! The hotel can cater for over 1000 people when it is full. When we were there there was about 300 according to one of the waiters. The weather was not warm enough for swimming since the pool was not heated, but it was warm enough to sunbathe by the pool - until it got too windy that is. Lanzarote is can be extremely windy and while going up the mountain at the national park i actually came back with wind burn on my legs!! The barcelo suites is a well run hotel and is of a high standard. The restuarant serves a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are on half board you can swap a dinner for lunch if you want to go out and eat in a restaurant else where for dinner. The food was ok but practically the same every night and got very boring. The breakfasts were really good though with everything ranging from cereal, to fruit, hot croissants, bread and rolls, cheese, ham, yoghurt plus hot breakfasts of sausages, chips, toast, bacon, egg etc. The hotel is about 10 mins taxi drive from Costa Teguise itself. At first when we booked it we were a bit unhappy that is seemed so far out of town. However taxi's are so cheap (about £1.50 each way) and its easy to get one that it d
idn't matter. It was also nice to not be right in the centre and it was a more peaceful hotel and alot nice than some of them in the centre of town. It also had a lot more space than some of them in town. The hotel was a few mins walk to the local beach, but the beach was absolutely tiny, it was just a little cove. It said it was small in the brochure and looked small in the picture but it really was tiny. Quite pretty though but often deserted and we didn't feel comfortable or safe sitting there on our own since you had to get to it by a subway under the road. The bigger more touristy beach was in costa teguise itself and had proper beach facilities but we didn't venture down there in the day as it was a 10 min taxi ride away (although very cheap) and since it wasn't that warm it didn't seem worth it. We had a couple of excursions while we were there which i would recommend as it is worth seeing some of the island. The main one we went on was an island tour - it took us to Timanfaya national park and we saw the volcanic landscape and the effect the underground heat has. They did a few experiments e.g putting water down a whole into the mountain and the heat caused it to erupt out as steam. We had lunch in the valley of 1000 palms at an ok restaurant - a buffet style thing. We were given an hour for lunch but were done in 10 mins so while everyone else stayed there we decided to search the town for an ice cream and came across a beautiful square with an ice cream shop and we sat outside for the rest of the time under palm trees with whitewashed houses surrounding and it was one of the highlights of the day! We also visited Jameos del Agua - caves which had been formed by volcanoes and which an artist (can't remember his name but basically he has art all over lanzarote) had created rooms and things within the caves. It was really quite beautiful and also fascinating was an underground pool of white albino crabs
- the only place they are found in the whole world. We also visited a vineyard, but although interesting to pass by in the coach it was really only another stop intended to get us buying stuff as we had a wine tasting and were then encouraged to buy a few bottles, but didn't actually get a walking tour of the vineyard or anything. The trip was worth doing though. We also took a coach to the market in teguise town centre and while it was ok to spend a little bit of time there , there wasn't much to buy. They do apparantly have demonstrations of flamenco and other spanish dancing in the square on market day but we didnt' see any. I'm not sure what costa teguise would be like in high season, probably very busy and not so nice. However I would recommend going say perhaps May or June when the weather is warmer but it is not school holidays. I would also definately recommend the barcelo suites for accomodation.
My partner and I have just returned from Lanzarote, our 7th trip in 5 years. Now before you make a quick judgement and decide that we must be a sad couple that always go to the same place each year etc etc ....yawwwnnn! i should tell you that we are fairly fortunate in the fact that we can usually manage to have at least 2 holidays per year, 1 in Lanzarote and 1 somewhere else abroad, this means we can compare other places to our favourite place. On this visit we stayed in the Los Mojones area of Puerto del Carmen, whch is located between the main resort of PDC and the Los Pocillos area(quite close to the San Antonio Hotel for anyone that knows it) and i will just tell you a bit about this area. As we were taking my Mother, my 14 year old daughter and one of her friends with us we decided that we would hire a villa this year and book our flights separately. We got the villa from Lanzarote Villas, this was a detached 3 bedroomed villa with its own pool. The cost was about £600 for the week and the flights were about £130 from Flightline UK. When we had checked prices for apartments with local travel agents, this costing had been very competitive. The price would have been even better if we had been going with 1 or 2 other couples. The villa was amazing, decorated to a high standard, it had a utility room with washing machine if needed, childrens toys, play pen, full cutlery/crockery, 2 bathrooms, everything you could imagine that a villa valued at £300,000 would have, the pool was cleaned once a week plus had a filtration/cleaning system fitted. The closest beach to us was the Los Pocillos beach. This is aprroximatly 1.5km long and about 200m deep. When we first came to Lanzarote 5 years ago this beach was probably another 50 metres deep but it had been caught by the tail end of Hurricane Andrew a few years back and some of it had been washed away. The sand is fairly dark fine sand which can blow up on particulal
y windy days (watch out all you sunworshipers that like to lay on the sand). The more comfatable way of spending time on this beach is by hiring sunbeds and umbrellas, the cost for 2 beds and a brolly is about £4.50 for the day, the day being any portion of the day, same price even if you turn up at 3pm. There are 3 areas along the shore for the beds and these are run by the local council. The sea can be a bit chilly earlier on in the year but believe me it is a welcome relief a lot of the time as the sun can get very very hot, be careful because there is usually a breeze of some kind, you can burn without noticing it, keep an eye on the kids and make sure they have their sun cream on, (what a nightmare trying to get teenagers to apply cream more than once a day). When the tide is in there is quite a steep slope into the sea which combined with some of the large waves, well larger than the med anyway, could be difficult for smaller children as the backwash of the wave is quite strong. Once the tide goes out a little the beach is a gentle slope into the sea and much safer and much more fun for the kids (big kids will have more fun in the big waves). The sea is very clean and clear on this beach and very often you can watch fish swimming around your legs, they will come to the surface to feed if you want to share your sandwiches with them. The beach is kept very tidy and there is also a Red Cross medical vehicle always on the beach as well. There are toilets and modern childrens play area to the rear of the beach and there is also a snack bar here for when the kids get bored with the sand and sea. Close to each end of the beach are some shops and restaurents for when you get hungry and you usually get a local lad walking along selling water, ice cream, coke, fanta, from a cool box if you can't bear to leave the sunshine. For the evening there are plenty of bars, resturants and a couple of family bars with entertainment.
there are plenty of supermarket type shops around if you want to get your own food in. Los Pocillos/Los Mojones is about a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport (cost £5). Young lads will love this as the aircraft do a u turn just off the beach and you get a really good few of the aircraft coming in to land. Saying that i must add that you don't get lots of aircraft noise so it isn't like living on the Heathrow flight path. The airport shuts at about 11pm and opens again about 8.30am, this means no night flights, no disturbance, no keeping the kids amused all night in the airport when they want to go to bed. Just to finish off generally, i do hate it when people refer to this place as Lanzagrotty, for an island of this size 35miles x 20miles there is always somewhere else to visit and other beaches to discover. Even after 7 trips we return to some places on the island a 2nd time a discover something else new. I didn't even mention the volcanoes, the green lake, the caves, the papgayo beaches, Arrecife, Cesar Manrique and his wonderful houses, the caves, the amazing dramatic coastline, the camels, the vineyards, the submarine trip, the excellent diving, the huge Sunday Market, blind albino crabs and there is even more to see than that. Get yourself a car or go on the trips organised by your tour operator, i guarantee you will make a return visit to the island.
LANZAROTE, the island with 300 volcanoes and apparently designated as the area that God wanted man to see to learn about the moon - around 4 hours from the UK, and supposedly very windy. I don't think I realised before going there, that in theory this place is still an active volcano. If driving around the island you will see many black molten ash fields with sparse greenery and a lot of walls, much discussion could not ascertain what these were for, and we can only assume that they are to cash and trap some of the ash should the volcano decide to erupt again. You will also see active geezers dotted around the island, which caused much fascination to the kids. Unlike the other Canary Islands I've visited, there is something about this place, the natives (with the exception of some of the 'charming' taxi-drivers who didn't appreciate us using their seatbelts) were so friendly and welcoming, most spoke at least a smattering of English, and welcomed the kids with a fervour and joy we have not seen since Majorca. For driving the roads are better than Gran Canaria but not as upmarket as Tenerife. We were staying in a hotel in Matagorda, which is a purpose built resort that has developed at the end of Puerto del Carmen, a little further on that Playa de Los Pocillos, and a taxi ride into the centre of Puerto del Carmen cost around 500ptas (soon to change to the Euro). Main resorts on the island are: ·Puerto del Carmen - bouncing with narrow pavements, and I should imagine a nightmare in high season - difficult for those with buggies and those in wheelchairs ·Costa Teguise - had a drive around, but seems to be built up around hotels and much quieter than its near neighbour. ·Playa Blanca - quite an upmarket resort I believe, didn't actually get there. Transfer time from the airport will be short wherever you are staying, and if it is Matagorda or Playa de Los Pocillos, picture you
r hotel with a plane inthe distance, if you can't hack this, then look elsewhere. Both resorts have commercial centres offering a wide range of pubs, eateries and gift-shops. If you are using the transfer coaches, watch your luggage carefully, one of mine got stolen during a 10 minute bus ride, necessitating a lot of frustrating calls to the Thomson 24 hour help line, a visit to the police station and a 3000 charge for the interpreter, typical when I leave the Spanish speaker at home. EATING OUT Puerto del Carmen spans the seafront for a good few miles, and is awash with restaurants, bars, gift-stores, amusements arcades and supermarkets. If you enjoy Chinese or Indian cuisine you really will be spoilt for choice at affordable prices. If like me, you are travelling with two very fussy teenagers, one who like Chinese, the other Indian, then I am afraid your taste buds might not be tickled as much. A chain called LANI's take up much of this parade in Puerto del Carmen, they have a Grill, Pizzeria, Meat restaurant, in fact about 8 restaurants within a 1 mile or so stretch. The food was OK, the service appalling, and we felt like we were all being squashed in together - and to add insult to injury, they served us with what we thought were complimentary bread rolls, only to find out afterwards we were paying c.80p each for the privilege. Main meals are not served with the customary fries and salad but potatoes and vegetables - although to be fair they did agree to let the two kids share a Pizza between them - cost for 3 including desserts and drinks c.£25. The remainder of the time, we ate either in the hotel or La Brasa, a family run restaurant loning it in between the variety of LANI's outlets, food here was good, although service varied dependant on the time of day. Don't forget that menu prices do not include VAT at 5% and if you rate the service you will be expected to leave a service charge. Toma
to Ketchup and Mayonnaise is plentiful,but you might struggle to access HP Sauce. PLACES TO VISIT Aqua-Park - Situated in the resort of Costa Teguise Standard fare - 2450ptas for adults, 2150ptas for children - doesn't take credit cards - and very cold in Winter - we were actually warned off this by Thomsons who demonstrated concerns about the safety of some of the rides. FUERTEVENTURA For about £10 per foot passenger, you can catch the ferry over to Fuerteventura, although we decided to give this a miss - £40 for a car and three passengers. TIMANFAYA NATIONAL PARK & THE MOUNTAINS OF FIRE Whilst I have driven abroad many times before, I was a little nervous at not having my navigator with me this time, and was worrying about how I would cope. Trust me, if you are staying in Puerto del Carmen, all roads on the island point to the capital Arrecife (6kms away), so finding your way back is easy. Back to the park, as you drive up through the mountains of Fire, you will see the camel rides, not amount of cajoling or persuading would get the two girls to take me up on the offer of paying for their rides, the whole surrounding area looks like nothing I have ever seen, alternating between huge amounts of Hardened lava and black/golden sanded mountains. Access to the park itself is controlled and charged for - 1100ptas (c£4.50 - c2.5 Euros) for adults, 550ptas for children, and trust me, you won't walk it up for the trip, you need a car or an organised tour. Once inside the park, you will be guided to a tightly controlled parking area on a very steep slope, definitely not for the fainthearted. There is a restaurant in the park, serving food cooked in natural ovens from the heat from the ground, and glass walled bar where you can just sit and watch the world go by, viewing this not beautiful, yet breathtaking island. Part of the payment into the park, provides you with an opportunity to
take a guided coach tour of 14km this area, with history narrated in Spanish, English and German. This seemed like a good idea at the time, and you get to see the mouth of the volcano and various other sights, but trust me, if you don't have a head for heights, then think carefully as the road is narrow, and seeing a bunch of tourists diving over one side of the bus to take photos is not necessarily my best idea of how to spend an afternoon. Access is forbidden by any other means, as is removal of any part of the volcanic matter. Temperatures under the ground range from 140C up to 600C, and if you stand next to the craters outside the restaurant, you will feel it, you might also being to wonder whether the heat is actually coming from the sky or underneath. SOCIALISING I must confess, with the exclusion of the hotel bar, we only visited one bar all week, the Barge Inn in Puerto del Carmen, run by English staff with a nightly fun quiz, and shot questions all night. The kids decided the DJ was worth looking at, hence we never got to go anywhere else. Still, the beer was cheap, the food good (if actually pricier than the restaurants) and sorry they don't take VISA/Master-card, although they are widely accepted elsewhere - there are also cash machines aplenty. WEATHER I say the island is supposedly very windy, as for the first 4 days, we didn't see a hint of it, but I recognised what they meant during the last three, as the wind nearly took our breath away and the sea was wild. The weather was variable to say the least, sun as sometime during every day, but lowest temperature whilst we were there was 21C, highest 31C, so we couldn't really complain. Two tips, if you are travelling to this part of the world during the winter months, take a jacket for the evenings as it can get quite nippy, and if you like swimming, book a hotel with a heated or acclimatised swimming pool. Because believe me, the water is COLD.
Car Rental was £109 for the week, including air conditioning (booked in the UK through Thomsons) , and diesel was around 25p/litre. SUMMARY Would I go back? You bet - tomorrow if I had the chance - so far we have not been overawed with the Canaries, but this place has something, and there are so many things I didn't get to see because the kids were more interested in the hotel swimming pool. The holiday was relaxing and pleasant and I am already looking for something for October half-term. I am waiting to have the hotel listed, but in the meantime, if you are looking for a short-warm break on a cheapish basis, and don't mind basic accommodation but with good facilities and a heated swimming pool, situated right on the beach, then I can recommend the Sol Lanzarote in Matagorda, available with Thomsons and JUST up to April 2002, although I believe JMC, Airtours and Direct Holidays are also there. Finally, if anyone can tell me what the small walls are for in the fields the length and breadth of the island, then you really will put us out of our misery. Sue Sol Lanzarote http://www.solmelia.com/cgi-bin/solmelia/dirdinamic/hotelhtml?13517
Lanzarote, a Spanish island, is the easternmost of the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 125 km off the coast of Africa and 1,000 km from the Iberian Peninsula.