If you live outside Europe, chances are the Canary Islands don’t feature on your travel radar. Even in Europe, the archipelago is often marketed as a year-round holiday destination for the average sun-starved European.
Tired of the English weather, we decided to get our fill of sunshine by flying to Lanzarote, the most easterly island of the Canarian archipelago. To our surprise, we discovered that Lanzarote is a bit of an oxymoron- parts of it, especially Playa Blanca and Puerto del Carmen, are geared to the package holiday market, but steer clear of those parts and you will discover stunning landscapes and golden beaches. It is this OTHER Lanzarote, boasting of lava rocks, sleepy tapas bars, unique vineyards, and the azure waters of the Atlantic, that this series will focus on.
We flew with Thomson but a number of portals in UK offer Lanzarote holidays at competent prices. It took us a while to recover from the landing of our flight. The size of the island and the position of the Arrecife airport ensure that the plane hovers over water for a while and hits the runway mere seconds before landing. Once we had recovered from the exciting, albeit stomach-churning landing, we noticed the complete absence of high-rise buildings and hotels. Volcanic mountains and azure beaches punctuated with whitewashed houses dominate the landscape of Lanzarote.
This is due to Canarian architect Cesar Manrique, who worked with the Ministry of Tourism to develop an eco-friendly model of development for Lanzarote. Villages populated with picturesque whitewashed houses with green and blue shutters add an inimitable character to the island.
Whitewashed houses surrounded by volcanic mountains
Manrique’s philosophy intrigued us so much that we spent our first days in Lanzarote familiarizing ourselves with his work by visiting his house, Fundacion Cesar Manrique, which has been turned into a museum. The avant-garde architect carved his subterranean house from lava bubbles, and each room uses natural vegetation (cacti) to adorn tables carved out of volcanic rocks. Rest assured, you will come away covetting a house similar to Manrique’s unique abode.
Manrique’s sculpture- Man, Dog, and Donkey
Vid at the entrance to Manrique’s house carved out of lava bubbles
Manrique’s drawing room carved out of a lava bubble
His unique touch can also be witnessed in Jameos Del Agua, a series of connecting caves and grottoes. Here a surreal staircase leads to volcanic bubbles and passages that have artistically been carved into a café and a concert cave.
Walking into a volcanic cave at Jameos Del Agu
Café carved inside a volcano at Jameos Del Agua
Bruised Passports’ Tips
- Go early to avoid the crowds at Fundacion Cesar Manrique
- Follow your visit to Jameos Del Agua with a spectacular sunset at Mirador Del Rio
Need help planning a trip to Lanzarote? We have some sample itineraries here