Lanzarote is a small island which makes up one of the 7 larger canary islands in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a popular holiday destination for people from Europe as it has a year round warm climate but it is also a great place to see amazing scenery and eat delicious food. We stayed in Playa Blanca in the south of the island and hired a car to get around – this is the best way to explore the island. Last year we visited for the third time, here are some of the reasons why we love it so much:
1. The volcanic landscape
Lanzarote was born through volcanic eruptions with the greatest recorded eruptions between 1730-1736, this area of the island is now known as Timanfaya national park. We hired a car for the trip but you can’t drive around Timanfaya yourself – there is a car park at the entrance and then you have to go on a coach which takes you around the national park. A recorded guide is played throughout the journey that tells you the history and information about the park along with citations from a local priest’s diary who witnessed the eruptions in the 1700s. The volcanic landscape really makes you feel like you’re on a different planet. At the end of the trip they show demonstrations of geysers by pouring water into the ground. The high temperature rocks underground and the pressure of the water cause the hot water and steam to spray out the surface.
The El Diablo restaurant has a unique way of cooking chickens, they place them over a pit which is heated by the natural heat from the volcano. The best time to visit the park is early in the morning before the crowds get too big (as we were leaving at around 12 pm there was a huge crowed entering the park).
2. The beaches
Papagayo’s five beaches are stretches of natural golden sand separated by cliffs. Getting to the beaches can be difficult, there is just one long road that leads to the beach but the quality of the road is pretty bad, it’s basically a large dirt path. The other option is to get a taxi boat from Playa Blanca but this is quite expensive. It is worth going though – the beaches are beautiful and a lot quieter than the resort beaches, such as Playa Dorada.
3. The food
A lot of our time in Lanzarote was spent eating and one of the most delicious things we had with every meal was papas arrugadas – or wrinkly potatoes. They come with a green mojo sauce, made with herbs like coriander or parsley, a red mojo sauce, made with tomatoes and red capsicum, and white mojo sauce, made with garlic.
El Perigrino tapas bar – We had heard about this restaurant but had some trouble finding it. It is hidden away two streets away from the sea in Playa Blanca. This is one of the best restaurants we’ve ever been to. It’s a tapas bar mainly but they have a few restaurant tables as well. They serve the best mojitos ever. We couldn’t decide what to eat so we asked the owner what he recommended. He brought a selection of tapas dishes including choriso in red wine, croquetas and gambas.
Lanzarote has some of the most unique vineyards in Europe with some of the best award winning wines. The wines here have won so many awards due to the way they are created. The gape vines are planted in soil surrounded by small lava rocks called Picons, these rocks give the grapes a very unique flavour. We drove to Bodegas Rubicon in Yaiza to sample some of Lanzarote’s wines. The vineyard was surprisingly big and had a museum at the back of it telling you all about their history and how the wine used to be made. The wines they offered were delicious, with each one tasting slightly different. We could have happily stayed there all day but unfortunately one of us had to drive back.
5. The natural wonders around El Golfo village
Charco de los Clicos is a small emerald salt water lake set in a black pebble beach, a few meters walk from El Golfo fishing village. The lake was created by an ancient volcanic crater. Micro-organisms growing in the lake cause the water to turn a beautiful emerald green colour. People are not allowed to swim in or even touch the water so all you can do is look, the best view is from the cliff tops above. El Golfo village is also a great place to have lunch, the seafront is lined with plenty of seafood restaurants to choose from while watching the waves crash against the rocks below. Just along the coast from El Golfo is Los Hervideros, a collection of caves made by the ocean crashing against the rocks. There are little walkways you can go through to get a good view of the giant waves smashing against the rocks.
Photos by Matt Pickard