So this pillion girl was lucky enough to get to Lanzarote during the summer, and I can honestly say it was a fantastic experience. Having stayed in Costa Teguise on the east coast of the island just before Christmas last year, I was looking forward to taking another week away in the BeLive Experience Lanzarote Beach Hotel as the pre-Christmas break had been so relaxing.
BeLive Experience Lanzarote Beach Hotel
I can’t take away from the fact that the location of the BeLive Experience Lanzarote Beach Hotel is exceptional, and the staff on site are the friendliest and the most helpful I’ve ever come across. Kudos to my friend, Siobhán, who recommended it to us last year. I opted for a sea view room at Christmas and again in June this year as I feel the view of the ocean is so relaxing and there’s a bit of fun in watching the comings and goings around the beach and boardwalk areas. But, oh, the problems in trying to book the room. It takes forever to get an email back from admin staff, and I had to phone on two occasions – queue an astronomical phone bill. And, holidaying in June is very different from December. Our pre-Christmas stay had been quieter and there was never a problem accessing a sun lounger at the pool during the day. Those mornings in June when we rose for breakfast, sometimes arriving at the restaurant at 8 or 8:30, there would be towels pegged to almost all of the sun loungers while their prospective owners either ate breakfast or lay on in bed, and we observed the same people sprawled out on the loungers from those early hours until just before dinner in the evening. Not that we minded that much as we were too busy exploring the island itself to have time to be at the pool.
Car Hire, Lanzarote
We hired out a little Fiat 500 – a really cute little city car – for the week we were there, and spun around the island in it. (Two extra wheels on holidays make for a handier way of carrying the suitcases rather than me hanging them on my back I suppose.) It was also a great way of seeing all parts of the island and meant we weren’t restricted to bus schedules or days that tours operated. But beware of the hidden extras and small print with regard to things like insurance and refilling the fuel tank. I’ve read elsewhere from other visitors to the island that it’s often better to wait and book a hire car near the hotel. And parking can be difficult depending on where you’re staying too. In Costa Teguise we had to park quite far down the strip on a couple of occasions as spaces were at a premium.
Day 1 – Jardín de Cactus, Lanzarote
The cactus garden (Jardín de Cactus) was one of the first main tourist attractions we visited and it was really impressive. I never realised there were so many different varieties and sizes of cactus plants (“4,500 specimens of 450 different species of 13 different families from 5 continents” according to the Jardín de Cactus information website, and another work attributable to César Manrique, the artist and architect responsible for much of Lanzarote’s planning and tourism development.
The gardens are beautifully laid out and the gift shop and café are discreet, subtle buildings that take nothing from the magnificence of the cactaceae landscape.
We did have a laugh though at some of the more unusually formed cactus plants. I think this one looks like a baby waiting to be picked up. He’d be the last baby I’d pick up.
Lots of people were queuing for the toilets, but most of them just wanted to take photos of them rather than use them, including me.
Jameos del Agua
Jameos del Agua is simply stunning. A clear, dark, silent lagoon lies beneath the roof of a volcanic cave, lit slightly by sunlight. It is residence to thousands of tiny, albino crabs found only in Lanzarote. Tourists can make their way along a pathway at the side of the cave while peering into the clear depths to spot the crabs. They’re so white you can just about make out their features (the crabs that is, not the tourists).
At either end of the cave is a café/restaurant and I’d imagine it’s a wonderful experience to have dinner there in the evening. Apparently they host weddings there too.
Outside though is probably the most spectacular feature of this attraction. El Jameo Grande, a startlingly blue pool with a dazzling ice white surround. In fact, that’s what I thought it was at first glance in the strong sunlight. On such a hot summer’s day all I wanted to do was jump into that beautiful clear pool for a swim, but the thought that a few stray crabs from the pool in the cave might have made their way outdoors for a visit was enough to prevent me from stripping off.
We were lucky enough while we were staying in Lanzarote to get tickets to see Ángaro , a show at Jameos del Augua which I’d definitely recommend especially for anyone with an interest in percussion instruments. The show takes place in a cave behind the pool which was adapted as an auditorium, and it’s a fantastic experience.
Day 2 – El Golfo/Lago Verde
El Golfo is a semi-submerged volcano with a green lagoon (Lago Verde) at it’s base. The striped, russet colours of the volcano are very dramatic against the emerald green of the lagoon and the ash black volcano sand, and it’s a popular place for tourists to take selfies, so be prepared to queue for your photos. It doesn’t matter what time of day you visit as its beauty and striking colours are very impressive, although you might be lucky enough to get some spectacular photos while the tide is in. My tip – Google the place and have a look at other photos that people have taken as there are some incredible images out there.
Away from the crowd of snap happy tourists, the beach below is a little more peaceful, although it seems anyone who makes their way this far prefers stone stacking to selfies.
Well…..everyone else was doing it….
Around Lanzarote in a Renault Twizy
How cool are these little cars? As we were driving towards Timanfaya Park we saw a convoy of them headed towards us. They look like so much fun to drive and, according to Annie Bennett in her blog Mooching around Spain, they’re very economical to run. They’re certainly a real eye catcher. If I was travelling to another island and hoping to explore, this would be my vehicle of choice (next to a bike, of course).
Day 3 – Camel Riding Lanzarote
In the middle of Timanfaya you can take a camel ride for the price of €12 per camel (€6 per person), and you can opt for a professional photo for €5 which is worth having so you can have a picture of yourself with your camel. It’s not very easy to take a selfie of yourself with a camel as you’re riding it, although the camel behind me took a great fancy to my camera. He kept coming up behind me and nudging me.
He was quite a young camel I think. I was able to get a good look at him and check the metal muzzle around his head which didn’t look too tight. He did seem to object to one particular guide at the start point and I really hope that the camels here are treated well.
Timanfaya National Park
A bit different from Christmas time when we took a coach tour into Timanfaya National Park. This time there was a barrier up and, because we were in the car, we had to pay an admission fee at the barrier. The admission fee allows you into the visitor centre but you need to take a bus to travel the Route of the Volcanoes.
Below are some photos that I took from the bus when we took the tour of the volcanos before Christmas. The landscape varies so much in shape and colour, sometimes with deep red and russet hues, and other times with a pale brown lunar-like shade.
Day 4 – A Day of Rest
After three days of cramming a lot of driving and sightseeing in, we decided to take it easy on the beach beside the hotel. We picked a great day for it, awaking to glorious sunshine that morning.
It’s worth paying the few euros for a sun lounger for the day. Most of the sun lounge areas have wind barriers surrounding them, and Lanzarote is a breezy island so it’s nice to have a bit of shelter.
Day 5 Market Day
The biggest market on the island of Lanzarote is in Teguise on a Sunday and, like any market, you can get some great bargains and a lot of touristy souvenirs. In Teguise you can find almost anything – cheap leather belts for a euro, brightly patterned scarves for a fiver, a multitude of musical instruments made from wood, leather handbags, colourful hippie clothing, hair ornaments, jewellery, linen, locally produced wine and cigars, paintings, the list is endless. I am the greatest person in the world for wandering around these fabulous market places though and coming away with nothing. For me, the best part of the day is sitting and having a coffee and getting in a spot of people watching.
Which reminds me….food….
Is it any wonder I came home from Lanzarote 7lbs heavier than before I left with all the food I ate?
Sure, you have to live!
Day 6 – LagOmar
LagOmar is an incredibly beautiful and spectacular mansion and architectural art piece. Built into the rock face above the town of Nazaret, and incorporating a sequence of natural caves and tunnels, it stemmed from an idea of César Manrique and was designed by the artist Jesús Soto. Surely the most interesting story surrounding this stunning residence is that Omar Sharif, while filming on location in the area in the 1970s, saw the house, fell in love with it, and bought it from it’s owner, British developer, San Benady. He then subsequently (the very next day, like….) lost it back to its owner in a game of Bridge. I hope nobody ever falls in love with me the way that Omar Sharif fell in love with the house at LagOmar.
The view from the sitting room is amazing. In fact, the views from pretty much every part of the house, which now operates as a museum, are spectacular. If you’re disappointed that you can’t book to stay in the actual house, then don’t be. There are apartments on site available to rent. They cater for two people and have access to their own private pool, so you can experience a little piece of paradise for a while.
Castillo de Santa Barbara
About five minutes drive from LagOmar, this impressive fortress stands on a hill overlooking the town of Teguise. Although we didn’t go inside the Castillo de Santa Barbara (Museo de La Piratería), we did get to see the fantastic views from the hill where it is sited.
It’s amazing how much the landscape varies across the island. What struck me was how much there is to do on an island where volcanic eruptions 300 years ago resulted in lava covering a quarter of the island’s surfaces. The climate, of course, attracts sun worshippers to Lanzarote, may of whom return year after year. Adventure seekers visit for the surfing, diving, hikes in the volcanoes, running (there are marathons at various times of the year), and cycling. Then there is the architecture and the beautiful buildings designed by Cesar Manrique. And, in addition, the friendliness of the Lanzarote residents will ensure it’s popularity as a travel destination for a long time, particularly during the winter months.
I think I’ve almost convinced myself to go again….