Lanzarote may have built a reputation for busy tourist resorts and package deals but this volcanic Canary island just off the northwest coast of Africa has so much more to offer than just sangria and sun loungers.
Whilst there are plenty of excellent beaches, entertainment and nightlife on the island, if you want to get to know something of the real Lanzarote then it’s worth straying a little off the beaten path.
For a day trip from Lanzarote don’t follow the crowds to Fuerteventura but head to the tranquil island of La Graciosa instead. The island was thought to be the setting that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and with just 700 inhabitants and no roads it is the kind of place where you can feel pleasantly remote from life back home. For a peaceful day spent on sandy volcanic beaches eating locally caught seafood, or cycling around the coast, La Graciosa is the place to be. Ferries to the island leave from Orzola in the north of Lanzarote and the 2km journey takes around 15 minutes.
Although Lanzarote is volcanic, few of those who visit for a holiday ever explore this fascinating side of the island’s history and geography. The Timanfaya National Park is the main volcanic area in Lanzarote and makes for a fascinating day out and a break from the sandy distractions of the beach.
There hasn’t been an eruption here since the 1800s so there are no safety worries, but there is plenty to see in terms of the incredible volcanic landscape that is made up of more than 300 volcanic peaks. For obvious reasons it’s not recommended (in fact it’s prohibited) for tourists to go off and explore the volcanoes on their own. However, it’s very easy to arrange a trip to this area from all the major resorts and there are some great guided treks available, which include an exploration of the flora and fauna of the island, as well as the chance to see this awe inspiring lunar landscape up close.
For those with an interest in an alternative lifestyle, the Finca del Mar (www.fincadelmar.com) in Arietta is a really unusual day out. The Finca del Mar is a farm that is powered completely by wind and solar energy and so it’s a perfect example of modern eco living. You can also pick up some healthy treats here for lunch as visitors to the Finca can pick their own fruit and veg to take away with them. If you’re looking for accommodation that’s slightly off the beaten track then why not book into one of the Finca del Mar’s cosy yurts.
If you’re a fan of aspirational properties then the whitewashed beauty of Casa of Lagomar (www.lag-o-mar.com) is definitely worth a visit. Built into the cliffs in the style of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, the 1970s Oasis de Nazaret show home was once snapped up by Hollywood legend Omar Sharif who then allegedly lost it again in a game of bridge.
There are gardens, caves and tunnels to explore here, shady spots in which to sit and take five with a coffee and cake, as well as a restaurant, bar, Omar Sharif Museum and an art gallery displaying the work of local artists.
For many tourists, a trip to Lanzarote is focused on enjoying the man made delights of the island. However, if you want to see more of the real Lanzarote – to learn about the people who lived there and the landscapes that have made the island what it is today – then heading slightly off the beaten path can be an exciting experience.
Photography by Ashley Buttle.