This was our third visit to the Canaries, but the first to this fascinating island. It was different, smaller and (so far) less developed for tourism than Tenerife.
One of the most striking aspects was how every building around the island, in residential, rural and tourist areas, was painted brilliant white – apparently a local ordinance for all buildings in recent times. This was inspired by Cesar Manrique, the famous and locally-born artist and architect, who also inspired the declaration of the island as a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO. The white villages and towns make a vivid contrast, shining in the sunshine against the backdrop of the black volcanic mountains and dark brown lava rocks and the volcanic soil on the lower slopes and agricultural areas. In fact, it was quite astonishing to see how much cultivation there is, including vines growing horizontally and screened from the Atlantic winds by low stone walls. The local Malvasia wines are an unexpected pleasure!
A guided bus tour through Timanfaya National Park and the Fire Mountains revealed just how nearly- active are the volcanos, with demonstrations for visitors of the heat and fire potential just a few feet below the surface – sufficient to set firewood alight or to cook chicken on a metal grill over a hole in the ground! However, the last volcanic eruptions were in the 18th century and any signs of further activity are closely monitored. There is also a mountain-top restaurant and an area below where a hundred or more camels are patiently waiting to provide rides.
The lunar landscape in this part of the island makes up a stunning visual scene against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean and the weather in mid-March was pleasantly warm (mid 20’s) and mostly sunny.
The airport at Arrecife is modern, efficient and large, clearly designed to handle busy periods of holiday arrivals and departures, and no doubt also prepared for the future expansion of the island’s tourism.
We stayed in the smaller resort town of Puerto del Carmen, just 10 minutes by taxi from the recently built “boutique” hotel, La Isla yel Mar (the island and the ocean) which proved to be an excellent choice. It is located above the town, providing clear sea views and just a 5-10 minutes walk from the seafront. As well as the white walls, the hotel design is a very modernistic glass and chrome development and the guest rooms (84 in total) are spread around the hotel grounds in small units. The main building includes the spacious and light reception area and two excellent restaurants – the Buffet for breakfast and dinner, and the Kentia Gourmet Club for more formal dinner (with a supplement) together with an elegant cocktail bar and nightly entertainment. There is also a bar and light snack service by the spacious pool.
So for a mainly restful week’s holiday, Lanzarote worked well for us – but for the more adventurous or energetic, there is much more to see and do around the island including historic buildings and museums, cactus gardens, beaches and yacht marinas.