Lanzarote - an island of beauty and character. If you want to relax and enjoy the sun and the beaches then Lanzarote is for you. If you want a break from relaxing, then take advantage of Lanzarote's many unique sights to see and places to visit. You can reach these by hire car, or by excursion bus. You can book excursions at various places on the island. If you feel even more energetic, then the island has plenty to offer. Here is just a small selection.....
If you just wanting a relaxing day or even a more energetic evening then many people stay in and around Matagorda and the surrounding areas of the Jameos centre and Los Pocillos or venture out to central Puerto del Carmen or Puerto del Carmen’s old town (el pueblo).
The area from Matagorda through to Los Pocillos has magnificent beaches with bars, cafes and restaurants along the way so there is no need to go too far for a relaxing day. The same areas have a wide selection of venues for an evening meal and entertainment. Perhaps take a stroll from Villa Rosa to Matagorda's shopping centre and have a pre-dinner drink in one of Matagorda's bars or restaurants as, depending on the time of year, the sun goes down (the sun sets at about 6:00 pm in the winter and 9:00 pm in the summer) or perhaps stay at home and dine alfresco.
If you are moving further afield to Puerto del Carmen you can walk the 4 kilometres to the central area or flag down a taxi or pick one up at the rank in Matagorda or Los Pocillos. Take a taxi down the main Avenida de las Playas and get dropped off either in central Puerto del Carmen, near the casino, or in the old town, perhaps by the Biosfera Plaza at post office roundabout, or down in the harbour. Either way, pick a restaurant that takes your fancy. You can get a taxi back when you have had your fill and, depending on the time, you could catch "last orders" in Matagorda shopping centre before retiring!
Once a sleepy fishing village, Puerto del Carmen is now the liveliest and most popular resort on the island. As well as having a large selection of shops, bars and restaurants, Puerto del Carmen is also a centre for some of the popular water sports and sea excursions from the harbour in the old town.
Lanzarote's Tourist Board promotes seven centres of art, culture and tourism. If you have not already come across César Manrique, you will know all about him when you have visited any one of these attractions!
These buildings and monument are located north of San Bartolomé just outside the village of Mozaga. They were created as a tribute to the Lanzarote farmers who over the centuries evolved their own system of irrigation thereby overcoming adverse climatic conditions. There is a restaurant, styled after a typical farm house, boutiques that sell traditional local artistic products, and Manrique's sculpture dedicated to the forgotten endeavours of the hard working farmers.
This area resulted from six years of intermittent volcanic eruptions from 1730-1736. You can visit the Timanfaya National Park by car or by excursion coach. There is an admission fee to the park, which includes a guided coach tour of scenery unchanged since the eruptions through of the area. The multilingual tour allows visitors a clear picture of the staggering natural catastrophe that took place. You can visit a restaurant where food is cooked on the heat of the volcano below, and the guides will demonstrate the heat in other ways.
Situated at the very north of the island, this Manrique viewpoint overlooks the little Isla La Graciosa and three tiny islets out to sea. This old artillery post also has spectacular views of the multi-coloured salt ponds directly below on the seashore. The uninterrupted views can be enjoyed from an indoor snack bar or an outdoor observation terrace.
The volcanic eruptions of Monte Corona, some 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, created a black landscape at the north of the island, similar to Timanfaya in the south. The eruptions formed one of the longest volcanic tunnels in the world - over 6 kilometres long. The Greens' Cave (most probably named after former owners of the area), is situated inside this tunnel. Visitors can take a guided tour of a kilometre of tunnel and galleries, which can reach a height of some fifty metres and widths of some fifteen metres. The recommended visit time is one hour.
A "jameo" is a volcanic cave with a collapsed roof. Los Jameos del Agua are located inside the same volcanic tunnel as Cueva de los Verdes, in a section that is closest to the shore. César Manrique turned this volcanic feature into one of the island's most interesting sights. The cavern contains an underground lake with albino crabs that are unique in the sea world at this depth. There is an outdoor pool area with lush sub-tropical vegetation and a concert hall located amid an underground volcanic cavern.
The attraction also has an interesting museum of volcanic history.
The Cactus fields around Mala Guatiza on the north east coast, were the centre of Lanzarote's cochineal industry with several hundred acres planted with the prickly pear or tunera cactus from which the cochineal beetle was collected for its dye.
Manrique's Jardin de Cactus is home to over 10,000 cacti and succulents of 1,450 different species growing in beds at ground level and in several levels of terracing.
Built as a fortress in 1799 to protect the harbour from pirates, the interior of this castle, located between Arrecife and Costa Teguise, was converted in 1975 to house the International Museum of Modern Art (Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo - MIAC) in the upper halls and stairs.
César Manrique oversaw the restoration and renovation of the ruined Castillo de San José and the lower level has his glass walled restaurant and bar.
Much of Lanzarote's architecture was inspired by César Manrique, a painter, sculptor and architect who was given the task of shaping Lanzarote's future as a tourist island in the 1960s and 1970s.
The César Manrique Foundation is situated in the house that the artist occupied, located at Taro de Tahiche. Built in 1968 over a lava river from the eruption that took place on the island in the period 1730-36, it uses five volcanic bubbles to create an impressive living space in the lower level. However, the upper area and the outside of the house are inspired by traditional Lanzarote architecture.
Today, the building is used basically as a museum. The reforms, almost all of which were carried out by Manrique himself, were intended to convert the building into a museum open to the public. The basic structure of the original building remains unchanged. The outside garden, including a pond and a mural, was completed between late 1991 and early 1992. The museum houses the Foundation's contemporary art collection which belonged to its founder. It is a small sample of contemporary art from the Canary Islands and includes three halls dedicated to Manrique.
Puerto Calero, a 4 kilometre drive down the coast from Puerto del Carmen (or a few minutes in a taxi), is one of Europe's most beautiful marinas. Even if you are not of the boating fraternity, you can enjoy a peaceful environment while dining in one of several restaurants which offer a wide range of international and local cuisine and watching luxury motor cruisers and fabulous sailing boats make their way across the harbour.
Costa Teguise, north east of Arrecife, has the island's main Aqua Park just off Avenida El Golf. There are gentle options for the younger children as well as white-knuckle rides. There is also a bouncy castle, children's slides, boats, shops and restaurants.
Lanzarote is a popular watersport destination, and with numerous training organisations on the island, it is ideal for experienced and beginners alike.
Lanzarote's trade winds make parts of the island excellent for windsurfing. Locally, Matagorda has favourable conditions, while spots around Costa Teguise are probably the best known. The sea around Jameos del Aqua and Famara on the north west coast provides some tough surfing. The experts advise that October-April is the best serious surfing season and that a short-sleeve full-suit and booties is the appropriate amount of rubber and protection for the average winter surf session.
Lanzarote offers some of the best diving in the world. Highlights include close encounters with various varieties of fish, wreck and cave exploration, and views of marine life rich reefs. There are plenty of diving schools on the island, including many in Puerto del Carmen and two in Matagorda
Lanzarote has facilities for on shore and off shore fishing. Expeditions are available from Puerto del Carmen and Puerto Calero.
Puerto del Carmen also has facilities for parasailing and jet skiing.
Moving away from the water there are sports such as tennis and squash and the island boasts two 18 hole golf courses, one in Costa Teguise to the north east of Arrecife, built in 1978, and a second newer course between Puerto del Carmen and Tias.
For serious sporting, the Club La Santa sports complex on the north coast, is open to the public.
If you feel energetic, hire a bike from one of the numerous bike hire shops including Flintston Bikes in the Matagorda shopping centre. Here you can hire bikes and tandems and well as 2 and 4 seater quads by the hour!
For an interesting day or evening out you might visit the Rancho Texas theme park on the outskirts of Puerto del Carmen. The park has a collection of wild animals including white tigers and crocodiles and there are shows throughout the day. Rancho Texas also incorporates a water park pool and sunbathing area. The evening shows include Country and Western nights.