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Lanzarote – the Black Pearl of the Canary Islands

Lanzarote plain and woman
Photo taken by Ben Salter | flickr.  Lanzarote plain and woman

Lanzarote, the fourth-largest Canary island and located near the African coastline, tempts and surprises with its unusual landscape and contrasts of colour.

In 1730-1736 Lanzarote was hit by the longest volcanic eruption, which lasted for 6 years and permanently changed both the island and the everyday lives of its people. The lava entombed much of the fertile land and settlements, and part of the territory was covered in a thick layer of dust. This powerful natural force, however, created some spectacular sights and unlikely contrasts, which now charm the island’s every visitor.

Lanzarote, volcanos
Photo taken by Jo Beverley | flickr.  Lanzarote, volcanos

Thanks to a number of craters and volcanic caves, some areas of Lanzarote look more like the Moon than our planet. Here you’ll also find many unusual black cliffs that are washed over by the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic. Just drive a few kilometres further, though, and you’ll also see a number of long, white sandy beaches, some of which have been awarded the Blue Flag award. These beaches welcome holidaymakers year-round.

The cities and towns, located along the coast, are bursting with heritage from times when the volcanoes hadn’t yet changed the lifestyle of this Spanish island. Resting in the shade of palm trees, here you’ll find a great number of restaurants, cafés, excellent hotels and shops – the island is seething with life!

Lanzarote
Photo taken by Ben Salter | flickr.  Lanzarote

Lanzarote is small. It measures only 60 km south to north, and 20 km west to east. Most of the island’s 213-km-long coastline is cliffy. The climate here is similar to that of North Africa, enjoying warm and sunny days all year-round.

During the coldest period, which lasts January to February, the average temperature is around 22 degrees, dropping to 14 degrees at night. June to August, thermometer columns jump to 29 degrees on average, sometimes reaching a scorching 40. Water temperatures fluctuate between 17 and 24 degrees. The sun is out 300 days out of the year, and the rain is a rare guest, showing up more regularly only in November through March.

Photo taken by Inaki Queralt | flickr.  

Even though the island can’t be said to be very green (the island is characterised mostly by palm trees, olive trees, and cactuses) the locals, who settled down in its central part, such as the district of La Geria, have even found a way to grow grapes, which they use to make Lanzarote’s Malvasia wine. To retain moisture and protect the vines from wind, each plant is seated into a pit, which is several metres in diameter and depth, and girdled with a tiny stone fence in the shape of a semicircle (called zoco). The island‘s oldest winery, the 18th-century El Grifo, still makes around 400-600,000 bottles of the drink ever year. It’s also home to a wine museum.

Lanzarote is an exporter of fish, goat's cheese and sea salt that’s been extracted in its southern part since time immemorial.

Playa de Arrecife, Lanzarote
Photo taken by Gabriel Villena | flickr.  Playa de Arrecife, Lanzarote

The island is full of worthwhile attractions and monuments, many of which have been created by the island’s own architect César Manrique. You would be hard-pressed to find a place on the island which hadn’t benefited from his talents.

The winds blowing from the Atlantic create excellent conditions for having fun in the water: swimming, diving, surfing, power kiting, and more. Fishing is also quite popular here. Land-wise, most of the island’s resorts are great for cycling, hiking and playing golf, which benefits from favourable weather all year round.

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