Lanzarote

The Canary Islands are a popular year round holiday destination and each one has a distinct personality. The wildly beautiful island of Lanzarote is best known for the volcanic moonscape that dominates the inland areas; the dramatic beaches range from black, red to almost pure white  making this island unique in its purely natural appeal.

The close proximity to the African coast gives the Canary Islands a distinctly exotic feel to their Spanish heritage and Lanzarote is no exception; a haven for windsurfers, divers and sailors the waters surrounding the island are clear and pure with reefs and shipwrecks that create a scene of wondrous beauty.

Most of the resorts are dominated by hotels that are patronised by tour operators and large groups, quite stringent regulations ensure that these buildings are designed in the most sympathetic way to their surroundings, if you book one of these you will rarely be disappointed, although they do lack that specialness that Lanzarote does so well.

With the wide availability of great produce and the vast amount of great restaurants there is no need to tie yourself to the dining rooms of the hotels and often the preferred accommodation on the island is self catering, this allows you the freedom to create your own schedule; villas are widely available, many privately owned – hiring an inland villa along with a car can give you the best of both worlds, perfect peace and tranquillity amongst the beauty of the island and access to the many glorious beaches and lively towns.

The must visit restaurant on the island is at the heart of the Timanfaya National Park , situated at the top of the Isolte de Hilario volcano, El Diablo is a circular restaurant that amazingly uses the heat from the volcano on which to griddle the meats that they serve; the highlight of the meal is saved until the end when they serve a volcano cake which erupts a stream of lava as the waiter serves, it’s all a bit kitsch but it knows that and embraces it – as you will too.

Bogavante on the southern tip of the island is a great little restaurant right by the sea, the location by the black sand beach at El Golfo is certainly special and the laid back atmosphere lends itself to a lazy afternoon eating great local food and enjoying one if the islands chilled wines.

Cesar Manrique is Lanzarote’s most beloved son, known as an artist, a architect and above all an environmentalist Manrique had a vision for the island, one that has saved it from the high rise hell of many tourist hotspots; visit his foundation just outside Arrecife to get a feel for the man himself and to truly appreciate the meaning behind his many pieces of work that nestle amongst the volcanic reserves. The ground floor has been turned into an exhibition space with works by Picasso amongst others – this unique building on a lava field is a must see attraction.

One of Manrique’s most iconic work is Jameos del Agua in the north of the island – this amazing piece of architecture is an exposed lava tunnel that has been converted into a venue with a swimming pool and a concert hall, there is also a great restaurant and a bar contained within the structure; several nights a week the venue is open until the early hours of the morning and is a spectacular sight.

The Canary Islands are perfect for visiting at any time of year, the summer months in Lanzarote are not unbearably hot making it a perfect family destination and those that can travel outside the peak summer period will rarely be disappointed by the weather, although the wind can be quite bracing and storms are not unheard of.

During the month of August the whole island celebrates the patron saint of the island San Gines, the celebration lasts for almost a fortnight and is a non stop party with festivals, street events and markets; live music and fireworks fill the evening air particularly in the capital Arrecife – the annual regatta takes place during this time with a race to the island of Gran Canaria being the highlight. This is a brilliant time of year to visit the island but as expected the resorts and towns can be extremely busy.

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