Arrecife – Lanzarote
Less well-known than the larger Canary Islands, Lanzarote’s dramatic volcanic landscapes are far different from the lush tropical greens of neighboring Tenerife and Gran Canaria. The golden sands of Playa Blanca, on its southern coast, are backed by tall cliffs and tempered in the summer by refreshing trade winds. A 20-minute ferry ride away, the long, white beaches of Fuerteventura are known worldwide as some of Europe’s best for surfing.
The biggest tourist attraction on Lanzarote Island is the Puerto del Carmen. This quaint old fishing village has been transformed into a bustling vacation destination with a wide selection of hotels and restaurants. The area has more than six kilometers of sandy beaches with calm waters.
Those visiting during the first two weeks of August will be delighted by the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen. This religious festival honors the patron saint of the fishing village, which is decked out with colorful bunting for the occasion. The village celebrates with a traditional procession of richly decorated boats. One of the boats holds the statue of the Virgen del Carmen, while other fishing boats follow in a twilight maritime parade.
The countryside outside of Puerto del Carmen is also worth exploring. The volcanic activity that created the island of Lanzarote can be seen in the dramatic landscape of craters, canyons, and valleys. The island is a UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve because of its unique natural environment.
You won’t want to spend all your time at the beach, because Lanzarote is such a fascinating place. Half-day excursions from Playa Blanca will take you to the summit of the simmering volcano of Timanfaya, where you can lunch on chicken grilled directly over its Vulcan fire.
Tour the tortured landscape of lava swirls and caves, then collect a handful of tiny green gems on El Golfo beach or go for a camel ride on the volcano’s slopes.
Lanzarote’s famous Cactus Garden (Jardí¬n de Cactus), based toward the north of the island in Guatiza, is one of the island’s hottest attractions all year round. Developed under the guidance of local artist César Manrique it showcases over 10,000 different plants.
Among these are the outstanding works of Spanish artist/architect Cesar Manrique, whose vision and talent saved Lanzarote from the ravages of unchecked mass tourism. He used the island’s unique landscape and resources to create stunning tourist attractions: a stylish modern home inside a lava bubble, a swimming pool in a collapsed lava tube, a restaurant and concert hall inside a huge volcanic cave, and a beautiful cactus garden in an abandoned quarry.