Now that the fascination with Gran Canaria and Tenerife is slowly calming down, Lanzarote is turning into a rather upmarket destination. It is one of those lands that you either hate or love. It's tiny and it literally takes 45min to 1h to drive from the north to the south parts of the island, even less from east to west. Interestingly, it's also almost completely covered in volcanic rock - basalt. You can drive for miles seeing only black rock, wondering if it really was our beloved mother nature or someone just did that with a digger. The heart of the area affected by volcanic eruptions in the 1700’s is now the Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park and it is one of the most stunning and at the same time disturbing views I have ever seen. Looking at all the cooled lava makes your really respect the power of nature. The volcanic activity changed the face of the island completely, adding to its size and leaving whole areas of black rock known as 'badlands' where green vines sprout from black lava.
Oddly, despite it being full of volcanos, it actually is the least mountainous of all the Canary Islands. The relatively flat terrain of Lanzarote helps to make the island stand out and makes exploring particularly easy. Whereever you are you either see the volcanoes or silhouettes of three smallest islands around Lanzarote: Alegranza, Montana and Clara or the other Canarian beauty: Furtaventura. Occasionally it gets really mysterious and the landscape is blurred by the dust which literally stains everything: houses, cars, even cats. It comes from the Sahara desert and mostly brings a lot of really hot air that makes even me look for shade.
With its beautiful beaches, year-round sunshine, parched earth and clean villages, this enchanting island attracts tourists and especially surfers from around the world. The north of the island is relatively windy so if you are thinking about a beach holiday I would probably suggest heading to the south or going to Gran Canaria. Surfing on other hand is fabulous. There are many parts of the north great for water sports, however the most famous one is called Famara Beach. Long strip of sandy beach and ever-present waves make it the surfer’s heaven. During the day it's full of surfing students however they normally opt for the smaller baby waves closer to the shore so if you are good at this you can go as wild as you want. It’s also very safe, just imagine how many life guards you have around you!
It’s definitely not a party island such as Gran Canaria, Majorca or Ibiza. You can see that the moment you step off the plane and figure out the average demography. Don't get me wrong, I bet you can party until you drop. Puerto del Carmen is definitely the naughty corner and Famara Beach is known for weed, but in general it's a very quiet place. All activity and nightlife mostly happens within the grounds of the big hotels.
When I visited Gran Canaria a few years back I was overwhelmed by the amount of kitty cats populating the island and gathering in central locations in the evenings to supervise their dominium. It literally felt like we are the pets and they are the masters. Every evening we went out to find crowds of cats just looking at us. Some of them looked heathy, some didn’t but they still sat there observing. As the cats were mostly neglected, the hotel staff weren’t too keen to let the cats in or even feed them in fear they will keep coming back. We saw acts of cruelty and love and the whole view was just distressing. Lanzarote stroke me with it's love for animals. At our hotel staff had created a feeding space where the cats can have their meals, all of them were clean, warmed and some of them were neutered. They knew what they can and can’t do and all the non-cat lovers had to just suck it all up as the cats were part of the furniture (sometimes literally). We also discovered two non for profit organisations/simply amazing people: Freddy's Cat House and and 9 Lives. Freddy is particularly incredible as he is just one man building little cat houses, feeding and taking care of cats around Playa de Blanca. They installed a bunch of cat feeding stations around the whole island, making sure that the animals are well fed and safe. Kept the cats healthy and controlled their reproduction. Cats seemed really happy, they were still running the island but the cruelty visible in Gran Canaria wasn’t present.
If you want to rest and relax on your beach towel - go to the south. If you want to surf, do paddle boarding and other water sports - north is your place. If you want to be less active but have some social life go to Puerto del Carmen. Cycling is another fabulous activity perfect for warm and sunny winter days in Lanzarote. If you are really serious about active holidays or want to train towards a marathon, triathlon or other, Lanzarote offers you one of the best purpose built sport and active holiday resort in the world: Club La Santa. They have over 30 different sports and free group instruction. As for surfing, Lava Flow Surf has been the most effective school I have trained with. They helped me progress and move beyond my stuck point without putting pressure on achievements. They know when you are ready and they give you something new to work on.
Just as all Spanish food, Lanzarote’s cuisine is fantastic. They are very proud of their potatoes so maybe try them to know what they are talking about. You can literally go to the Canaries any time of year and have good weather. Sure, it gets windy and storms aren’t totally unknown, but most of the time it is sunny with an average temperature of 22C. Even when the islands are at their hottest, in July and August, the temperature is usually only in the mid-twenties. Whenever you go, it is nearly always warm enough to swim and sunbathe. With only 4.30h flight, short hotel transfer and year round sunshine, Lanzarote really is an amazing place to recharge your batteries without being overwhelmed, bored or exhausted from sightseeing. If by any chance you feel that you have had enough, from Playa Blanca take a ferry to Furtaventura and try surfing, paddle boarding or just be a tourist over there (it’s only 7 miles away). We are already plotting a surfing and yoga retreat in 2018 so stay tuned.