Travel diary to Lanzarote, the beautiful island
Small land seemingly lost facing the Moroccan coast, in the middle of the Canary Islands, whose image as a mass tourist destination can tend to scare us away, Lanzarote island has so much to offer with its dazzling beauty unlike any other. A trip that is totally justified, to immerse yourself in its capricious nature and to see how this intensely volcanic land has given birth to a unique and fascinating art-de-vivre. Let’s go to Lanzarote!
Lanzarote, a world away
Spanish through the twists and turns of history, Lanzarote is nonetheless a journey to another continent, so much closer to African lands than to the mother country, an island born from the upheavals of the earth and volcanoes that have shaped a breathtaking landscape, a recent and rough land of lava and stones, with tones that oscillate between ochres, browns, blacks, a few miraculous touches of green, and the blue of the Atlantic Ocean. This is undoubtedly its main asset, this astonishing nature, and a biosphere of great richness classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The island is best visited by car, its small size makes it easy to get around, and the freedom it offers means you can avoid the east coast where a few ugly hotels have sprung up as a result of the erratic tourist developments in this part of the world. Fortunately, this ugly area can be avoided very easily, to leave room for the grandiose nature and villages that have kept their unique charm.
Close to nature
Lanzarote’s geological history is recent and the last major volcanic eruption was only 300 years ago, and it shaped the island as we see it today. The scenery of Timanfaya Park is what makes a trip to Lanzarote unforgettable, and the reason why we also accept to step on a tourist bus to get up close and personal with it. We imagine a trip to the moon would not be more exotic: the volcano and its caldera literally seem to have emerged from the earth the day before, and the lava, which flowed without stopping for 6 years, has covered the landscape with anfractuosities, reliefs, where nothing grows, a mineral desert which is never tiring as the palette of colours which is deployed seems to be that of a very inspired painter.
We marvel at the fact that even where there is nothing left, the men and women of Lanzarote have still managed to recreate life, using the resources available: The other wonder of the island are the zocos, these spaces creating a perfect geometry where the earth, of a fiery black, welcomes as in a nest the vine plants, of a deep green, surrounded by small walls made of tiny volcanic stones, the picón, which protect the plants from the powerful wind, retain water, a precious resource here, and allow the production of a marvellous Malvasia wine. To be tasted in the wine farms and bodegas around La Geria.
Architecture, the other treasure
The local boy, celebrated in Lanzarote as he should be, is architect/artist César Manrique, whose work on the island is prolific, and whose vision and determination to protect his island has done much to stop the appetites of property developers.
César Manrique encompasses in one slightly-mad artistic gesture what makes this island so extraordinary: its lava landscapes, the whiteness of its houses, the clear sky, the arid vegetation, to create works that dazzle. Our favourites are:
Fundacíon César Manrique: what used to be his home, full of surprises
Jameos del Agua: an improbable place carved out of volcanic rock, mysterious caves with openings to the starry sky, where a restaurant, a bar and a concert hall are installed.
Jardín de Cactus in Guatiza, a totally surreal place where the bold greens of the cacti bring striking images
The mighty sea and the small white villages
As if the spectacle of nature was not enough, Lanzarote also offers charming white villages with blue or green shutters, where you can stop, eat and sleep, such as Hariá, Yaiza and Uga, all three of which have been well preserved from mass tourism.
A place to sleep: Caserio de Mozaga in the heart of the island, a rural retreat full of charm, as well as the Finca Malvasia , very chic, in a fabulous setting in homage to César. Manrique.
For food, where pleasure is as much in the plate as in the decor: La Cocina de Colacho in Playa Blanca, Mácher 60 in Mácher, and Tacande in Hariá
Lanzarote is also a great place for surfing and swimming, the climate is ideal almost all year round, and our favourite beaches are Famara in the north (for surfing) and the Papagayo reserve in the south for swimming in turquoise waters.