Volcanic landscapes, clouds in constant movement against the clear blue sky, sunshine, wind, white houses and singular architecture made by the international artist, Cesar Manrique, caves and lagoons, crystalline waters, beaches of golden sand, all this is distinguishing of Lanzarote.
Lanzarote is situated just 70 miles off the coast of Africa and is Eastern-most of the Canary Islands. The island is 37 miles (60km) long and 12 miles (20 km) wide, making it the fourth largest island in the Canaries. To the north of the island, we find a group of small islands, La Graciosa, Alegranza, MontaÃ±a Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste, which form the Chinijo archipelago. 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 the island seem to be from another world. Caves, mounds and rocks with shades of red, ochre, gold, copper and orange can be found, giving one the feeling of being on the moon, or in Mars. With the play of light and shadow, it is simply enchanting.
The name Lanzarote was given by the Genovese sailor Lancelotto Malocello, one of the first explorers of the island. The original inhabitants called Lanzarote âTiteroygatraâ which means 'the colored hills' â so called for the red hues of the landscape. Today called 'Conejera' by the locals, Lanzarote is also known as âthe island of 100 volcanoes.â The region has a landscape of more than 300 volcanoes. Perhaps the most stunning volcanic feature of Lanzarote is the longest volcanic tunnel in the world, the Atlantida Tunnel. It is more than 7 km long and includes the huge La Cueva de los Verdes and Jameos del Agua.
The port of Arrecife, capital of Lanzarote, is to be found on the southeast coast. Places of interest include Teguise (the old capital of the island), with the Guanapay Castle set on a volcanic cone, and the oasis-like HarÃa, MalpaÃs de la Corona, where the immense volcanic cave Los Verdes can be found.
Lanzarote is the least mountainous of the Canary Islands, having large amounts of flatlands. The only native tree life seen is the palm tree, found in the banks of the gorges or âbarrancosâ and the bottom of the valleys. The palm groves of Haria, situated on the outskirts of the village is a sight to witness.
Also in Haria is Mirador del Rio, a tourist attraction designed by the infamous Cesar Manrique. It has breathtaking panoramic views over the neighboring island of La Graciosa. South on the east coast, there is Los Jameos del Agua where Manrique created a bar and restaurant plus an underground auditorium through a system of volcanic caves. The narrow volcanic tubes connect a lagoon in the main cave to the Atlantic Ocean. Here you can witness the high and low tides. The crystal clear waters of the lagoon are the habitat of the tiny, blind albino crabs that can only be found in the island of Lanzarote.
Close to Los Jameos del Agua is Casa de los Volcanes where you can discover the nature of volcanic activity, the eruptions that have occurred on the Canary Islands and the other active volcanoes that are situated throughout the world. Cueva de los Verdes or âGreen Caves,â is opposite Jameos del Agua. Itâs part of a system of caves that starts at the 609-meter high volcano Monte Corona and ends 7km away, 50 meters below the ocean. The caves are an attraction not to be missed. A tour of the caves is possible if accompanied by a guide familiar with the infinite labyrinths of the caves. Truly, it is volcanic activity that mainly defines the island.
The lava fields in the National Park of Timanfaya, declared a national park in 1974, are also worth mentioning. The entire island is one massive structure built by consecutive volcanic eruptions on an instable base. Here one can appreciate a great variety of geological phenomena as well as a large biological mix of some 180 various plant species. In this impressive habitat, human presence is practically zero. The park has a spectacular lunar aspect with different tones of ochre and grey. awe-inspiring in its majesty and barrenness. The most popular excursion is to the volcanoes on camels. The restaurant El Diablo offers specialty dishes of the island, grilled over geothermal heat.
The local authorities of Lanzarote have regulations on the style of development of the island. Billboard advertising and high-rise buildings are not allowed, with the exception of the Grand Hotel in Arrecife.
Despite its volcanic nature, Lanzarote has several beautiful white beaches such as at Playa Blanca, Papagayo, Famara, Orzola, Puerto del Carmen and Las Cucharas.
With regards to vegetation, the island has species that have adapted to the conditions of the island -- lack of rain, poor terrain, and wind. Though it is such an arid island, it possesses an endemic range of plants, beautiful and rare. The volcanic ash and craters have now been turned to their advantage through a innovative method of vine cultivation.