If you’re in a hotel chances are you’ll be bored of the basic (and I mean BASIC) entertainment so I recommend putting your warm glass of San Miguel down and seeing the island,which you can cover in a day if you hire a car. If you’re a bit nervous going it alone then there are plenty of air conditioned coach trips available (though you’ll pay twice as much.
As with the other Canary Islands, Lanzarote is Volcanic in origin. Due to the recent eruptions during the 18th and 19th Centuries, many parts of Lanzarote appear to be from another world, often described as ‘lunar’ or ‘Martian’.
The dry climate (and lack of erosion) means that the Volcanic Landscape appears much as it did just after the eruptions.
1. Timanfaya – Amongst the many stunning Volcanic features of Lanzarote has the longest Volcanic Tunnel in the world, the Atlantida Tunnel, which is over 7 km long and includes the La Cueva de los Verdes and Jameos del Agua. Take a coach trip up Timanfaya volcano and national park. It is a must see – much like being on the moon and you can experience first hand the terror of the Spanish driving as coaches screech up the bendy volcanic paths. It’s like being transported to another planet – the world BC if you will.
- The green lagoon – Another bizarre but beautiful drop off it the green lagoon or La Lago Verde which is as it says on the tin – the brightest green lake you will ever see as if it is filled with kryptonite. Beware of the restaurant next to the lake though. As soon as you sit down the over zealous owner clashes down bread and serves a bucket of white fish (which nobody there asked for) and then gets extremely angry if you refuse to pay.
- Hidden caves – Los Hervideros is a series of hidden caves with incredible coastal views. Caves are a major draw on the island. We visited Jameos del Agua which is a cave/lagoon full of blind white crabs which glow in the darkness of the cave. Pretty eerie but a spectacular sight. You could imagine a pirate movie being filmed in any of these caves. A truly gorgeous step away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist scene.
- Beaches – Despite the Volcanic nature of the island, Lanzarote has several beautiful white beachessuch as those at Playa Blanca, Papagayo and Caleton Blanco though I warn you these will be full of fellow Englishmen wearing a factor 2 and slowly tanning to dust. For the active, you’ll find the best surf at Famara, windsurfingat Costa Teguise and world-class sports training facilities at La Santa Sport.
- Manriques house – My favourite trip was visiting Manriques house and the Cactus Garden that he designed. César Manrique was born on the island and his work is incredible – modern art and architecture at it’s best. His home illustrates how he loves the island and takes inspiration from it, using mixtures of volcanic rock and sleek modern design to create some fantastic effects.
- Market fun – I love a market so had to take in Teguise Market (Sunday) and Haria market (Saturday). Teguise wins the market wars as the atmosphere feels much more authentic despite the many tourists. You really can buy pretty much anything here – ranging from genuine, locally produced handcrafts such as pottery and timples (a small Canarian guitar) through to Chinese mass-manufactured tat and the obligatory African woodcarvings. As with any market, try and haggle but don’t be rude – start at 50% cheaper and work upwards.
When out and about I urge you to eat at any of the local restaurants you happen across (except for the angry man that shouted at me near the green lagoon). If sights aren’t your thing then just exploring the beaches and whiling away the day with some fresh tapas and sangria will make a great change from the hotel surrounds and allow you to take in the islands culture.