When I first read about Lanzarote and saw these beautiful pictures, I had these amazing images in my head: perfect sandy beaches, crystal clear water, amazing cuisine, hot surfers, turtles nesting on the beach… Well, I don’t really know how to say this, but I didn’t really fall in love with the island. No butterflies in my stomach, no sparks, nothing extremely special. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful time with my bff and the people were extremely kind and friendly, very open-minded, but it was nothing I haven’t already seen and I just wasn’t really touched by the landscape. Guess you can compare it with a blind date: either you clicked from the first second or it’s just not it. The latter applies for my “date” with Lanzarote.
I guess this happens when you have been living a life of a jetsetter for almost your whole life, being spoiled at the most magical places around the world. And I am not talking about luxury, I am definitely one of these people who appreciate untouched nature, but for me, I don’t like these traditional tourist hot spots.
Still, I would like to share my personal experience with you, since it is a nice place to visit – but nothing spectacular, though.
Lanzarote in General and its history
Lanzarote is located at a distance of 1,000 km of the Iberian Peninsula and 140 of the African coast and has an area of 845.93 km. and a population of 135,000 inhabitants. In the north of the island are the smaller islets and islands of La Graciosa, Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste.
Lanzarote is pure geology, underwater and moonlike sites, clear waters, thirsty lands, palms’ oasis, it is harmonic life of man and nature. Undoubtedly a land of contrasts. It is the easternmost island of the Canary Islands, identified by the great amount of volcanoes that cover it.
The history of Lanzarote is a mix of cultures and races in constant struggle to overcome the obstacles of the remoteness of the island and the water shortage afflicting the island.
Already known in ancient times by Phoenicians and Romans, Lanzarote was inhabited by people of Berber descent, at least for some two thousand years. These people, called majos, lived on grazing, fishing and a very limited agriculture.
In the late Middle Ages there were visiting genovece or Castilian sailors, until the Norman Jean de Bethencourt, under the command of the Spanish crown, began in the south of Lanzarote the process of winning over the entire archipelago.
Located in a strategic geographical position and incorporated into the vast Spanish empire at the time, the Canary Islands not only became the key to the incessant cultural and commercial traffic with the new lands of America, but increased its relationship with European countries like Portugal, England or France.
Lanzarote, meanwhile, was consolidated as a feudal manor and began a phase of very modest growth, marked by the turbulence caused by economic fragility and frequent pirate attacks.
The modern history of Lanzarote experienced a major change in 1730, when it began a period of powerful volcanic eruptions that transformed the island and although at first caused a trail of terror, soon led to prosperity.
The inhabitants of the island, sharpened by centuries of struggle for survival, created a model of agriculture which is unique in the world with the volcanic ash that dominates the island’s landscape. Those crops allowed greater production and succeeded in increasing exports. However, the future of the island in recent centuries has been marked by the combination of positive economic cycles (thanks to crops such as Orchilla or cochineal) and critical stages of acute drought, famine and emigration.
The traditional weakness of Lanzarote launched a radical metamorphosis in the second half of the twentieth century. This economic turnaround has coincided with the profound political and social changes that have experienced the Canary Islands and Spanish society over the past thirty years.
First it was thanks to the push of a fishing industry linked to the richness of the marine coast of the Sahara, but just when this source of revenue began to fall the island started a spectacular tourism development that was lucky enough to pose as model of the hands of Cesar Manrique .
This artist led a series of enclaves in unique natural aesthetic that combines the power of architecture with respect to the environment. With this, Lanzarote, which now stands as a prime tourist destination, not only offers a privileged climate throughout the year, but has managed to enhance its entire cultural heritage and environment. An island starred by its unusual landscape, that is, by what nature and man have recorded on the skin of the territory over the past centuries.
My three favorite spots
Famara beach: One of my favorites, since this is where I had my first paragliding experience. On the northwest coast of the island, away from the resorts, the long, curving bay is backed by spectacular pinkish cliffs. Pedro Almodóvar chose this dramatic setting to shoot some key scenes of his last film, Broken Embraces. César Manrique, the visionary artist, architect and environmentalist whose influence is seen all over the island, spent his childhood holidays in Famara and always said it was his favourite place.
Surfers, boho types and Scandinavians, particularly Norwegians, who stay in the bungalows on the hillside behind the beach.
What is there to do?
Surfing, windsurfing or kiteboarding – professionals often train here. Book lessons in one of the surf schools in the village. The cliffs are popular with hang-gliders too.
Teguise: For me, the prettiest place with cute little cafés and bars. Teguise, the old capital of Lanzarote until 1852, has become one of the main tourist and cultural centres on the island. Its streets with their palaces, convents and squares stand witness to the passing of the centuries with their 1001 stories.
Teguise sits in the centre of the island, 10km from the coast and at some 220m above sea level. Skirmishes between Christians and Moors and pirate attacks, among other events, have played out in this regal village.
Arrecife Waterside Promenade: We stayed at the Arrecife Grand Hotel so that it was good to have a nice neighborhood to go to after a very long day.
Since 1852, Arrecife has been the capital of Lanzarote and, with a population of 55,400 (2011), the biggest town on the island and also the seat of government. About half the entire population of the island lives here. The name Arrecife means reef and refers to the coral reef which lies quite near to the coast at this point. At the time when deep sea fishing was still an important industry, the harbour at Arrecife was the home of the Canary Islands fishing fleet.A lot has being done in the last years to improve the town for inhabitants as well for tourist visits. Pedestrian areas have been designed, parking garages and above all the renovation of the ocean promenade.Lots of money was spent to improve the waste water system and drain system of the roads and streets of Arrecife. Always when heavy rainfalls are on Lanzarote, shops, flats and roads of Arrecife started to become very quickly flooded by all the water which could not be drained away.